Monday, August 30, 2004

All you can eat exclusion

One of my all time favourite books is The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett. I first read it years ago, when I was involved in an unhappy love triangle. The story of love, loss, exclusion and redemption resonated so strongly for me that, as I was reading it, I had to stop occasionally and put my head down, it was almost too much. It's the book I most wish I had written, and it's a book I re-read every year, each time finding something fresh.

It was the theme of exclusion running through the novel with which I most connected. Of mattering, but not mattering, in all the most important ways. During that awful relationship, I was left out in all the ways that counted to me. It was a time when each day I felt like I was standing outside of happiness, looking in. I could see good things played out in front of me, and I didn't know how to get to a place where I could have those things for myself.

In the end, I decided I was sick to death of staring through the window, kicked a big fucking hole in the glass with my steel toed Doc Marten boots like the bad ass I so essentially am, and walked through.

I never thought I would be back to feeling so excluded in another area of my life, but I hadn't bargained on infertility.

At first, when it became a feature, I didn't feel too lost. I just accepted that it was going to take time, and more time, and still more time. But somewhere during all the waiting, the sense of exclusion arrived.

Part of it is that I am at a funny place in the process. I've never been pregnant, so have no frame of reference there. We haven't started treatment yet, so I can't claim my spot on Team ART. We don't know what's wrong, so I can't move on to making decisions about all the options- to keep trying, to adopt, to live childfree. I can't play along with the happy bouncing optimists newly into the "TTC journey" since I have lost any enthusiasm I ever had for cute acronym filled message board and babydust. (Note: Camp CF members, this does not mean you.)

And obviously, I have no children, so cannot take place in all that this entails. Out there, in a world full of parents, I feel it most keenly- because at least among fellow infertiles, there is a sense of community, of understanding.

But I feel stuck, in a general, overwhelming way. I'm in limbo, with my heart sighing and drooping, with my daemon left behind on shore while I drift off to an unknown fate.

Today I went out to lunch with the people in my office branch. Somebody decided the "all-you-can-eat Chinese lunch buffet" was a good notion, so we ended up there. As soon as I sat down, I realised I had made a grave error. A table full of mothers, five of whom have kids under the age of five. The pregnant colleague next to me. The other two, parents as well.

Along with the first round of wontons, cue endless discussion of more back-to-school adventures, of stern teachers, of playground politics.

I took refuge in my heaping plate of egg fried rice and spring rolls. As the talk progressed, I found myself making repeated trips to the noodle bar. One of my colleagues raised her eyebrows at the prodigious amount of food I was hoovering into my mouth.

"Running a lot," I said weakly, though a gob full of lemon chicken. "Always hungry."

Thing was, the talk. didn't. stop. Who knew there was so much to say about the care and feeding of five year olds. An hour and half later, I was slumped in my chair, distended belly groaning, still reaching for more prawn crackers with both hands. And still they went on and on. And on. And on. And...

Look, I am not saying I have to be the centre of attention. I'm not saying that people with something in common, like kids, shouldn't talk about it. But I have absolutely nothing I can contribute to those conversations right now. And sometimes recently, the sense of being so left out, so left behind- when I so much want to be a part of it- is sickeningly, gut churningly intense. There are downright bad moments, like that lunch, where I actually find myself experiencing an urge to stand up and scream.

But no. I couldn't have screamed, my mouth was too full of spare rib. And they continued on, oblivious

"Well, I guess you'll have all that to look forward to,' exclaimed the Big Boss to Pregnant Colleague. Oh, how they all laughed. Ho ho ho.

Fortunately for him, I was too bloated to reach over and stab him in the eye with my chopstick.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

You must have me confused with someone who gives a shit

I am forced to admit that I am officially now a Cranky Infertile. I know, I know, some of you are saying, "what took you so long?"

I'm not sure I can give you a succinct answer. But basically, when I first started this blog, I wasn't really as far down the infertility road as others out there (and admittedly still am not). So I felt a little bit of a fraud, like it was premature to start the real bitching and moaning. Plus, I thought somehow I could be above all that. I vowed I would not let myself become one of those women who frothed at the mouth every time somebody said something crass, or when I saw pregnant bellies flaunted in front of me. I would be calm, poised, gracious about the good fortune of others, or about the insensitivities of lesser mortals.

Now I realise how terribly naive that was. The pain of infertility is something fashioned over time, made realer and stronger with each set back, with each failed cycle, with each loss. And you can't always predict in advance how you are going to cope with it. For me, time is the killer- the longer I have to wait, the more pissed off I become.

I've never been a particularly patient person, and foregoing immediate gratification always makes me extremely crabby. To carry on in that state indefinitely was bound to make me insane with irritability- I can't believe I couldn't see that before now.

Here's how I finally got in touch with my Inner Cranky:

On Friday afternoon, I bump into a former colleague, whom I shall call Wheeze, on the way home from work. Actually, correction, she sees me coming, and immediately barrelled down on me like a runaway train. She is foam-flecked, eyes a-popping.

"I have a bone to pick with you!" she snorts.

My mind races. Has she somehow found about my blog? Has she overheard me snarking on her in the pub?

"You didn't tell me mutual acquaintance was pregnant!"

Oh, didn't I? Damn. I must have forgotten myself there for a minute. Because clearly, as a designated infertile, the only way I can make myself useful to disseminate news of other people's pregnancies. Since I am not able to announce my own good news, I should get on with making sure the happiness of others is properly transmitted.

Now. This is not entirely fair, since Wheeze knows nothing of my situation. Or rather, she doesn't know the current position. But before we started trying, over a year ago, I made it very clear to her, on a number of occasions, that we were keen to get going on the family front, that I couldn't wait to be a mother.

Surely, given the passage of time, that must make her wonder a little bit? Surely, if she was even half alert to the lives of someone beyond her self-absorbed sphere she would have noticed that, despite all that anticipatory chat, I am not pregnant yet.

Mmm, guess not.

"I couldn't tell you, " I say, edging away. "It wasn't my news, and besides, I knew FB wanted to wait to tell people until she was more certain it was going to be OK."

"Ah, yes," Wheeze chortles happily, " I heard about the amnio."

Did you, now? I wonder if you heard what I heard.

You see, I took FB to out to lunch not long after the amnio, and listened as she told me about it. About how scared she had been beforehand. About how much she hated the consultant who didn't give her proper information. How she sat with her mother in the waiting room, and how her mother wouldn't stop talking, talking, talking. About how, before proceeding, the technician pointed out the baby's face on the ultrasound. How FB knew that image would haunt her for the rest of her life if it didn't go well.

I wonder if the same tears came to FB's eyes when she talked to you, Wheeze. Or if you would have even noticed. Because if you'd heard what I heard, you wouldn't be standing there, gossiping about it in the street like it was some idle piece of information, for your own amusement.

"Now," Wheeze says, wagging her finger at me," make sure you tell me if you hear anything else like that. I get very annoyed at being the last to know."

Lady, you must have me confused with someone who gives a shit about how you feel. So, let me make this as clear as possible: I don't give a flying fuck if you are the last to know.

And if I ever do by some miracle ever manage to get pregnant, I'll make sure I stay the hell away from you, you prying bitch cow, you emotional soul-sucking leech.

See, I told you. Cranky.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Souvenir Migraine

Public service announcement: This post will contain repeated and occasionally graphic references to vomiting.

It may also take me awhile to get to a point in any way related to infertility. If any of this bothers you, I urge you to skip it, moving swiftly along to any one of the excellent blogs, links located on the lower right hand side of the page. Thank you for your attention.


If you've been watching the news or reading the paper recently, you may have noticed that the famous painting The Screamby Edvard Munch was stolen at gunpoint from a museum in Oslo on Sunday.

The painting is famous for the sense of torment, panic, desperation and anguish it evokes. At the same time, it's quite quirky, and I find something almost cutely humorous about the way the little guy's head sort of looks like it is melting. I keep a little fridge magnet of it on my desk at work.

Until recently, the Scream was my close to my heart, because it was able to sum up, in a single image, the way I feel when I am suffering from a migraine. I am certainly not the first person to make that observation, so I think this is something to which others who experience migraines relate.

Migraines have been a regular occurence in my life since the onset of puberty. The symptoms, intensity and duration of migraine vary for different people, as do the triggers. Some people get flashing lights and sound sensitivity. My migraines occur by stealth, like a poisonous goblin tiptoeing up behind me with gigantic comedy rubber hammer, gently tapping, tapping, until WHAM. Steel hammer.

I get migraines when I overheat, usually from overexertion when exercising, or when I am under stress. My headaches are generally characterised by a throbbing pain on one side of my head, spreading over my eye. I can feel the blood pounding in the distorted vein. And after awhile, if I don't get to the painkillers in a timeous fashion, vomiting. The worse the pain, the greater the tendency to retch.

Over the years, I have had some real doozies. I can't always remember trailers preceding the headache, but I sure do recall the feature film. Other people collect souvenirs like snow domes, kitschy ashtrays or t-shirts from places they visit- I collect migraines. So much so that I keep a list of Migraines, Best Of. It is as follows:

1. Gettysburg, 1983. Summer. Driving back from the war memorial with my parents. Dad had to pull over car to let me throw up on the side of the road.

2. New Jersey, 1987. Visiting new boyfriend's house. Tour of bedroom rudely interrupted by spectacular head pain and upchucking the chocolate ice cream he bought me earlier. (Side note: Boyfriend later dumped me when he discovered he wanted to be a "she". I shit you not.)

3. St Catherine's, Ontario. circa 1998. Visiting family of future husband-to-be. Aunt talking about how she got migraines. Cue onset of big stinker, made worse by flocked, floral wallpaper in guest bedroom.

4. Lake Ochachobee, Florida. 1989. Traveling with then boyfriend by bicycle across United States. Heat. Campsite. Noisy children next door. Tent. Barfed all over sleeping bag. Repeated at various intervals during remainder of journey. Boyfriend not amused.

5. Turkey, 2000. Summer. Walked in heat of the day from hotel 3 miles into town- no shade, no water. Yakked in taxi on way back to hotel.

6. Scotland, circa 1999. Summer. Completed Glasgow Half Marathon. Involved in car accident with soon-to-be ex husband, narrowing avoiding collision with big wall and death. Puked all over the side of the road. He left me the next day.

7. High Sierra, California, circa 1990. Climbed this. Threw up at the summit, approx. 13, 700 feet. Nice view, though.

8. Inverness, Scotland. 1986. The bus drove right by, leaving me stranded at ruined castle on Loch Ness with my brother. It was January, and snowing. We hitched a lift back to the youth hostel in town with a lorry driver. When we reached the hostel, I went to the girls' bathroom, and threw up so hard, I passed out and nearly cracked my skull open on the toilet seat.

I could go on and on, but I think that gives you some highlights. A lot of roadside puking, to be sure. The list reminds me that, although I have had some truly terrible headaches over the years, I've also done some interesting things.

Since my rendez-vous with infertility, Munch's painting has also become an apt symbol of the way I feel every month when my period arrives, or I hear someone say something insensitive about infertility. I love its tangible expression of my inner turmoil. I hope the Scream is eventually restored safely to the museum where it rightly belongs.

But I don't really want to store up the same sort of memory trinkets from infertility, from failed cycles, or from loss. I'll live with the migraines, but I think those take up enough quite enough space on the shelf.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Nice girls sit at the crappy desk

The kids' schools started back in Scotland today. I've never been to school in this country, but I guess the summer break must be slightly shorter than it is in America, because somehow it seems like the holiday only just started not so long ago. How do I know all this, since I have no children, you ask?

Well, because the woman who sits across me, and the woman at the desk next to her were talking to another woman who sits on the other side of the room, who came over to talk about the school run. It was little Johnny's first day, you know and how did little Mary react this morning, it's her first day too, and oh, her brother Tommy looked so cute in his uniform. And the woman from the typing pool came past and said she couldn't believe her son was in primary eight now, and the pregnant woman, just back from maternity leave chimed in with a discussion about how fast they all grow up.

Don't they just.

Meanwhile, I sat at my desk, alone, quietly gnawing off my left arm.

Yes, my desk. My same old crappy desk. For those of you who followed the saga, I didn't get the Good Desk. I normally wouldn't bore you with something as banal as the outcome of that little incident, but I was touched that so many of you got it, and were rooting for me.

What happened was this:

Eventually, I chivvied the other two colleagues into "formally discussing it". If you are rolling your eyes at that, think how I felt.

Colleague A said she wasn't that "bothered", as we say here, and she dropped out it. Colleague B said he wasn't that bothered either, but that "it would be nice." He kept repeating that.

I finally said I was bothered, that I really wanted it, and if he didn't stake his claim, I was gonna move in. And all he continued to say was, "well, OK, you have it....yeah, go on, you have it.....pause..... even though I really would like it."

At that, I should have said, fine, I'm having it. Moved in, that would have been the end of it. But you know, I have to work closely with these people, and I wanted to play nice, be decent and fair. I am trying to put the kibosh on a certain me-me-me tendency, which I know could result from the infertility saga. And karmically speaking, I somehow just didn't feel too good about trampling over this guy to get it.

And his body language was....well, let's just say it would be the Seventh Level of Passive Aggressive Hell from him for the rest of my working days.

In retrospect, we probably should have flipped a coin, giving us both an even chance. But I really didn't want to do that. I couldn't face the possibility of further proof that fate hates me right now.

So we finally asked the Big Boss to decide. Turns out the "only equitable way for him to decide was in terms of who was most senior". That would not be me, then.

D'you know, I went in the bathroom and cried afterwards. Because it's not just the desk. It's so not just the desk.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Hospital go appointment bus needle surreal

Today was my three month follow-up appointment at the hospital with Dr Endocrine. I was looking forward to seeing him again- I had all my best gags lined up and waiting. Since, after all, it is my duty to entertain medical professionals during these little consultations.

But for some reason, as soon as I left the office to begin the first leg of my three bus jaunt across town, the afternoon took on a really peculiar slant. Everything seemed kind of...surreal. And so it persisted for the rest of the trip.

In psychological terms, I have a slightly higher tendency than most to exhibit mild "dissociative" behaviour . This basically means my brain is prone to taking little vacations from my body, going off on field trips on its own, even though I carry on whatever it is I am doing. It's actually quite common for eveyone to do this sometimes. For example, when driving. You go onto autopilot on long boring trips, and sort of "wake up" without quite remembering taking that exit, even though you are still going the correct route. Dissociation usually happens to me whenever I am tired, distracted, or under stress.

The first part of my trip to the hospital was pure dissociation. For some reason I decided to leave work ridiculously early, which meant by the time I got to journey leg two, there was an hour to kill. I'm pretty sure that I wandered around a department store for awhile, and then the next thing I knew I was sitting on the top floor of a double decker bus. A woman with the hairiest mole I have ever seen was in the seat in front of me, and behind me a teenager of indeterminate sex was rocking back and forth and crooning,

"Chickeeeennn. Lovely yummy chicken. Gotta get me some fried chiccccckeeeen."

It was a little disturbing.

I was still early when I got to the hospital. My odd mood persisted. I sat in the main concourse for 45 minutes, thinking to myself it really was just like an airport departure lounge. There was a crummy cafe and a shop selling nuts, of all things. A florist with a bunch of wilted daisies. A hair salon. And a constant stream of people, mainly the most pregnant women in the universe. I have never seen so many ginormous bellies in all my life. One woman was so big I wouldn't have been remotely surprised if her waters had burst right there at gate number 3.

I sat and sat and sat. People came and went. A small child did an impromptu Highland fling in the centre of the waiting area, then when the crowd applauded, had a screaming tantrum. Her pregnant mother fed her a KitKat.

Finally, I decided to go wait in the Endocrine clinic area, a smart move since they had magazines. Mostly with pictures of pregnant celebrities.

The nurse called me to get weighed. I clambered on the scales and watched the digital numbers bouncing.

"OK," she said. "You're Fat Ass Five. You were Fat Ass Nine before, so you've dropped a bit."

I gawped at her. No way am I Fat Ass Five. NO WAY was I ever Fat Ass Nine. I mean, if I was Fat Ass Five, how could I fit into my jeans. I might be Fat Ass Two, but Five? NINE? No, no, no. These must be the scales from Surreal Hospital.

When I at last saw the doctor, it was not my beloved Dr Endocrine. It was Dr Other, who clearly had spent all of 11.2 seconds scrutinising my file.

"So, ah, what did you and Dr Endocrine talk about last time? I see you from your history that you had no symptoms of underactive thyroid, and this was only discovered when you, ah. Ah. Ah....the um."

"Pregnancy thing. Lack thereof." I added helpfully.

He blushed. Dr Other blushed! Then he decided to take revenge by unwrapping a needle.

"I hope you are as good as Dr Best Friend with the needles," I squeaked, my right hand already clenching the chair in a vice like grip. " 'cause she's the best!"

"We only have the big needles here, I am afraid, " he said, cinching the tourniquet thing tighter around my arm.


I woke up on the bus home. We had stalled outside the same department store, on the street with a window display of cribs and buggies. Everything you need for your NEW BABY*, it said.

I leaned against the glass, rubbing my eyes. Was I dreaming, or was I really seeing that fine print at the bottom of the shop poster, reading,

"*Actual baby not included.

P.S. And if your name is B. Mare, you might as well just forget about it."

Sunday, August 22, 2004

The Promise Gap

It's the silly season in Edinburgh. It's Fringe time.

For those of you not familiar with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, it's the biggest arts festival in the world. A panoply of theatre, music, dance, comedy, and fire-eating juggling street performers. There are shows where people perform naked, doing unbelievable things with certain body parts. There are plays that last 11 hours. There are parades and concerts and fireworks every night.

The population of the city doubles as people arrive from all over the world to partake in the extravaganza of entertainment. This is all great fun, of course, and the atmosphere in town is lively. Plus, it's a real boon to the tourist industry. For locals though, I think it becomes slightly tedious at times. It's impossible to go about daily business without being bombarded with Fringe stuff, including people performing (read: obstructing) your way as you try get on with earning your daily crust. But it's only for a few weeeks.

Tickets are expensive, and if you want to see popular shows, you have to be decisive about it, and book early. The difficulty with this is that often times, you have no idea of whether the show in question is actually any good. It's really the ultimate potluck. Over the years I have seen some wonderful shows. I've also seen some that are utter crap. You pays your money, you takes your chances.

A few days ago, E. and I braved the crowds in town to see a show that we had picked at random from the lengthy brochure of events on offer. The description of the performer made it sound as if this was going to be the most moving, earth-shattering, stunning, evocative, soul-shaking experience of our life. OK, we're not totally stupid, we know that a little hype is in order. But this made it sound as if this particular singer was a sensation that we simply Could! not! Miss!.

Maybe it was because we were both tired and cranky after a hard week at work and other assorted disappointments, but we were less than impressed. Whilst the crowd was undeniably enthusiastic, we thought it...sucked, basically. Hackneyed lyrics, and a phoned-in performance.

Afterwards, I complained to E. that the show hadn't lived up to the expectation I had developed from the description in the brochure. Far from it.

"Ah," he said, taking my hand in his, warm palm to palm. "It's the promise gap."

"Which is?" I asked

The promise gap, he explained is a concept commonly used in business to illustrate the extent to which the reputation of a product or brand lives up to the level of customer expectation.

Take Mercedes, for example. On the whole, Mercedes Benz is noted for quality, class, reliability- great cars. But recently, according to E., customers have been disappointed with what they get for their money. The end product is not living up to the expectation. The promise of something great, on which the consumer relies, is not met. On the other hand, another lesser known, less reputable brands may outpeform expectations by a mile, delivering a fantastic result.

That's the promise gap. The gap between expectation and reality.

Like all things in my life at the moment, I relate this to infertility. I don't think I am alone in that part of this experience has been feeling utterly betrayed by my body. The idea, held for so many years, that all I had to do in order to have children was one simple, natural act. The idea that pregnancy would so easily be achieved that I must go to great lengths to avoid it until I was ready.

Cautionary tales abounded in my youth- that girl in college, who was on the Pill, and still got pregnant! The couple that hadn't even had proper sex- the sperm swam from her underwear, from her thigh, from thin air! Getting knocked up was so easy apparently a guy would have to LOOK at me with come-hither eyes and I would be buying maternity clothes.

Even knowing the reality- that it can be harder for a woman in her thirties to get pregnant, that fertilty declines as we get older- it's still hard to shake off the expectation that it can, or should, happen so easily. A colleague, just back from maternity leave is pregnant again. Oops, she said. Another friend, pregnant the first month they started trying.

I read an article in the paper today of a well-known athlete, who after competing in this Olympics is thinking of taking time off to start a family. I wonder if she thinks, like I once did, that it would simply be a matter saying, OK, we're ready now? Are they prepared for the reality that it may take months and months? That they may need help? That it may never happen at all?

I'm having to close the promise gap for myself. My expectations of conceiving naturally are now officially lowered- I no longer believe it will be that simple. And I'm now pretty much OK with that, much more so than I would have been even six months ago. But I worry a whole new promise gap may be opening- the expectation that the medical profession can help us. That it won't take another year to just to start treatment. That what is wrong can be explained.

Maybe the trick is to have no expectations at all. That way, I won't be disappointed. But it's so hard to approach the future, as if it is a blank page, no map to follow, no beliefs about what is to come and how to feel about that. Not knowing if the show will be as wonderful as the poster says- or something else altogether.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

What we did on our summer vacation

Irony n.

Discrepancy between the expected and the actual state of affairs, a contradictory or ill-timed outcome of events, as if in mockery of the fitness of things.

- The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary

The month we started "formally" trying, the cycle where we made a conscious choice that it was time to start the process of conception, of our journey towards parenthood....we were on vacation.

We had talked about it before then, of course. But there were reasons why we needed to wait- all of them in retrospect the kind of silly but utterly pragmatic things that keep people from leaping headlong into starting a family. There was my professional life, which until last year was very unstable. There was the whole two cities, two flats, two jobs issue to contend with- not that we have resolved that one.

But mostly, we weren't "at a place" in our relationship where we were ready. I was in one place, E. was in another. I tried to talk him into starting sooner. I begged, I cajoled, I threw hissy fits, I hid the condoms, I muttered darkly under my breath about my waning youth. But in my heart of hearts, I knew if he didn't really want to, we weren't ready.

E. placed more stock in the pragmatic things- mainly wanting to see me safely into a job which I could then give up to go on maternity leave- (yeah, didn't make much sense to me either). And that job had certain timescales attached to it.

But at last, we arrived together with a mutually agreeable plan- namely, have lots of sex and make a baby. Happily, we were going on holiday at the same time. I remember looking out of the plane window, giddy with joy. Two weeks of sun, relaxation and the beginning of motherhood. Yay! Double Yay!

We went to Spain, and rented this for a week. It's now a guesthouse, but at the time you could rent the whole place for a family, or if you wanted privacy, for two. It was expensive, and it was a special treat.

The house was at the end of a winding dirt road, the navigation of which was a little hairy, but once you reached it, you didn't want to leave anyway. It was beautiful. From the balcony in the front of the house, the vista before us was of a long valley, bathed in light. Completely peaceful and serene, the only sound was the distant jangling of bells from the goats as they were herded along the river in the evening.

In the morning, we would sleep late, then wander down to the old kitchen with the long scrubbed wooden table. E. would make big cups of cafe au lait while I fed the house cats. We would sit on the terrace under the grape covered arches, reading our books, until it was time to go for a swim in the mountain fed pool. Afterwards, I would perch on the edge of the water, dangle my feet over the side, eating ripe figs from the overhanging tree.

In the evenings, if we could be bothered leaving the house, we would drive up into the High Alpujarras to a really good restaurant run by a vegetarian Frenchman, which we discovered on another trip several years ago. But mostly we would linger right where we were, with the late afternoon sun shimmering across the hot flagstones. Drinking cool bottles of beer as the sun went down. When it got dark, we would turn on the tiny lights found in a solar-powered house like this one. We played cards, Scrabble, chess, read some more, listened to Dave Brubeck.

I have never been so relaxed in the last ten years as I was on that trip. It was perfect, it was bliss, it was a golden moment out of time, where we were able to give in to the simple pleasures of the sun, the valley, the sound of the river and the bells. By the end of the week the owners had to pour us into the car, we were so floppy.

And in terms of my cycle, it was perfect timing for conceiving a baby. We weren't hung up on the whole "will I get pregnant?" thing yet. It was the first try, and we were both at ease with the notion it could take "a little while". I wasn't yet charting, I wasn't yet monitoring every bodily secretion for signs of fertility. I was relaxed.

So I find it ironic when people say "Go on vacation! Just relax and go on holiday- you'll get pregnant right away!".

Ironic that relaxing on a trip in the sun is supposed to help. Because we did just that. If I couldn't get pregnant in that glorious house in Spain, I fail to see how a subsequent vacation is somehow going to be the magic cure. I didn't expect to get pregnant on the first try, but if I was going to conceive easily, I have always thought every month since- it should have been then. It wasn't.

We're not going back to Spain this year, since the house went up for sale over the winter, and even though it still seems to be open for guests, we weren't sure it was a good idea to try to repeat the experience. And while I will always cherish the memories of that week, I don't could will ever quite as relaxed and carefree as I was then.

Remembering, I am glad we didn't even really consider going back to that beautiful and special place. Because now it seems like innocence lost.

The Good Desk

A couple months ago, I wrote about how my boss was being transferred, leaving me with more work but also with one less reason to contemplate throwing myself off the Forth Road Bridge.

Among the many fringe benefits of her leaving was the possibility of getting "The Good Desk". This being the best seat in the entire office space. An end desk with the privacy of a filing cupboard/wall at your back instead of the chattering admin staff. A desk next to the window with a view of the...parking lot. Well, OK, you can't have everything. Compared to my present desk situation, which is a veal crate in the middle of corridor, it's positively palatial.

It's been two months now since Wheeze went, and still the desk is vacant. Why should this be so is, I think, partly due to the inability of the three contenders (myself included) to be pushy enough to try to claim it for their own. This is such a weird British thing- the need to appear polite while meanwhile behind the scenes all sorts of Machiavellian machinations are taking place.

Anyway, so I was sitting in my dark hole the other day, looking longingly over at the dappled wood, the sunlight plains of the Good Desk, and I thought to myself,

"Maybe if I tell them I am infertile, they will give me the desk."

Immediately thereafter, my brain recoiled in horror and repulsion. Ugh! Ugh! Abhorrent notion in every way! How could brain think such a thing!

Then I promptly switched into therapy mode, where I try to work through my impulses in a calm and reasonable fashion, despite the intense feeling of mental uncleanliness. I came to the following conclusions:

1. We live in a compensation culture. Something bad happens, somebody is meant to pay. Or something good is meant to come out of it. Or if you suffer bravely and valiantly, one day, you will get your reward. Or be given a "quick fix". Having a bad day/week/year? Have a cookie. Have three cookies. Have the afternoon off. Have the good desk. My brain was simply repeating a pattern that I see going on around me day after day.

2. It's decidedly weird to be spending the better part of my waking hours experiencing something so intense and heartrending alongside colleagues who haven't got the foggiest idea of what I am going through.

I mean, I spend on average 8 or 9 hours a day in an office space with these people. Not a single one knows how difficult it is for me to get out of bed some mornings. None of them knows how many times I have sat in front of my computer pretending to work but really staring into space, wondering in anguish when it will be my turn to send round the digital photos of the new baby, to talk about car seats and paddling pools.

Nobody knows that yesterday I walked back from the cafe with my lunch, thinking I am so sad. I am so sad. I look like everybody else- I turn up for work on time, I smile, I make conversation. But I am dying inside with this sadness, and month by month it gets worse.

I am entirely aware that in the big scheme of the universe, my plight is not uniquely or even particularly deserving of sympathy. But part of me nonetheless wants them to know, for them to acknowledge, however superficially, that this is happening and I am struggling. Much as I fear the asshat advice and cutting comments, sometimes I just find it so wearing to pretend I am not pissed off, unhappy and sad about not getting pregnant. Who knows, maybe I would find out they have secret griefs of their own, and we can all stop pretending so hard that everything is OK all the time.

I know I won't tell. Because as much as I sometimes want people to know, I more often than not do not want all the side effects of disclosure. So all my feelings just continue to bubble under, producing brain farts like the one I mentioned earlier.

3. It's a really good desk.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Quite contrary

The good news is that the tomato plants are finally pregnant. The bad news is that I am not.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Prescription Misdescription

I was half-heartedly toying with the idea of buying a HPT this weekend. Partly because all my Mind Control action has convinced me, the Arch Sceptic, that I could possibly be pregnant. Plus, we were going grocery shopping, which means E. would be paying for it. And I kind of liked the idea of the box going through the electric scanner while the check-out person remains completely po-faced, even though she is thinking:

Pregnancy test. They are buying an HPT! Maybe she's pregnant! She certainly has the child-bearing hips for it. That reminds me of the time when I missed my period and...oooh, look, donuts.

But before I could slink off to the aisles to study those tempting little boxes, I figured that I better get my thyroxine prescription filled at the pharmacy counter in the store. Especially since the choice of test was apt to be a complicated decision for a novice like me, and could potentially take up a lot of the designated shopping time.

As an aside, I should point out that the designated shopping time is usually eight or nine hours, on average. E. loves grocery shopping. He's never happier than when he is strolling the aisles, studying the comparative merits of Big Dawg Extra Spicee Chili Mix as opposed to Wild West Ranchero Chili Powder. He adores pausing at the deli counter to peruse the cheese and meats. He delights in fondling every single melon, whilst complaining endlessly about the fresh fruit & veg selection in Scotland.

I, on the other hand, if given the option would rather stick needles in my eyes than go to to the supermarket. I don't know why, maybe it raises some childhood trauma, like being lassoed to the seat of the shopping trolley with my mother's handbag strap. But more likely I just find it grindingly dull.

I made my way over to the pharmacy counter, slip in hand. This is only the second time I have had the prescription filled, and I find it all a little confusing. This time even more so than last.

"Hi!" I chirped to the lady behind the counter. "I need this filled, please, and I need a Form B9872 MED-EX5 in order to send off for my S-CHARGE U20490, please. That's because my SCRIPREP 209-X hasn't returned from the Health Board yet, even though it has been a month since I sent it.

Translation- here's the prescription, please fill it, and give me the thing I need to get the £6.90 refunded later.

The lady at the counter studied the form and shook her head. Then she wandered off to speak to the pharmacist for two or three hours.

He came back holding the bit of paper.

"This is the wrong form. This isn't a prescription."

"Oh," I said, "I was just at the doctor last week and that is all she gave me."

"No, no," he said, "You need the NHSDR-7X5 part of the form. Do you have that?"

Did I? I wondered. What is NHSDR-7X5 and where is it, if have? In desk? At home in cupboard? Where the fucking fuck?

"Ermmmm," I said. "I dunno. I thought that was all I needed. It kinda looks like a prescription to me."

Cue long-winded explanation as if I was five years old. Complete with cross-referencing of other, real prescriptions handed in by people who clearly knew how this prescription-filling lark was done.

"I do this every day," he said, a touch pompously. "I know what I am talking about."

In retrospect, I don't know why I felt like such a doofus. Maybe it was his stern Headmasterly tone, as if I was trying to score illicit thyroxine with an incomplete prescription. Or maybe it was just the realisation that I can't seem to figure out how to do something so basic as get a scrip filled. But seeing how I will be taking this medication for the rest of my life, I guess I will have time to figure it out.

I didn't really feel like looking at the HPTs after that, which were directly across the aisle from the beady-eyed stare of the lady behind the counter, who had witnessed this whole amusing exchange with a smirk on her face.

Maybe I'll buy one later today, if there is still a need. If there's time, after tracking down the mysterious NHSDR-7X5.

Saturday, August 14, 2004


For once, a post title not related to infertility, but to the way I feel, sitting at the computer, looking at the radar. Watching the chaotic swirl of the eye of the hurricane, passing over the heads of my mother and father. Knowing there is absolutely nothing I can do, except yearn for their safety.

Hang on, Florida. Hang on.


They are OK, and were given the go-ahead to return home. The worst of it missed them by a hair. We are very relieved, and very grateful that it has turned out all right, but I think they are unnnerved and saddened by terrible devastation which has occurred elsewhere. Thank you for all your kind messages. I had a very sleepless night-it was odd to be so taken up with fretting about something other than my fertility woes!

Friday, August 13, 2004

Infertility, the Soundtrack

I'm one of those people who firmly believes that life needs a good soundtrack. How can we underestimate the importance of music to set the stage, to convey the mood, to conjoin all our senses?

I love it when people talk about the song that was on the radio that day when they first set eyes on their husband to be, or that summer they drove across the country with the top down. The album you bought and played to death when you broke up with your first love. The tune you dance around the kitchen to with your best friend, the wooden spoon as your microphone. The song you listened to over and over, with the headphones on, lying on the living room floor in the dark, wondering what will become of you.

I love the way those certain songs, with a few chords, can evoke the most intense memories. Stop you in your tracks, seize your heart, take you back. Take you forward.

Anyway, maybe I've spent too much time on iTunes, but I started thinking it was time for my adventures in infertility to have a soundtrack. So here is mine. The links will take you to more information about the various artists, since some of them are a little obscure.

These are not "infertility-themed" songs as such (is there such a thing?). But I have found myself playing these particular tracks a lot over the last year to lift me up or soothe the soul. I hope that in the future, when I have made peace with whatever outcome is to be ours, I will listen again.

And if the music reminds me of a point in my life when I stood, trembling on the brink of choices so enormous that I could barely breathe, I will know that through it all, I was not alone.

1. "Super 8"- Mila Drumke
2. "I Got a Plan"- My Friend the Chocolate Cake
3. "Come What May"- from the film Moulin Rouge
4. "Please Forgive Me"- David Gray
5. "Don't Dream it's Over"- Crowded House
6. "Happiness"- Grant Lee Buffalo (from my all-time favourite album "Mighty Joe Moon")
7. "Classic Northern Diversion"- Jackie Leven
8. "Comfortably Numb"- Scissors Sisters
9. "Seven Nation Army"- White Stripes
10. "Chocolate"- Snow Patrol
11. "Grace"- Jeff Buckley
12. "Strange & Beautiful"- Aqualung
13. "God Give me Strength"- Elvis Costello
14. "Let's Go out Tonight"- Craig Armstrong
15. "Humble Me"- Norah Jones
16. "Diamond in the Rough"- Shawn Colvin
17. "Full of Grace"-Sarah McLachlan


A couple of people have mentioned in the comments that they would like to use this idea in their own blogs. That made me realise, I should have said from the outset that I do hope people will compile and share their own soundtracks. It'll be like one big blog-o-Mix Tape! Yay!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

A letter from Twoweekwait

Dear Auntie,

Hi! How's it going?

I'll bet you are wondering why I am writing to you, since we usually catch up on all the news during your monthly visit. Well, it's really just that lately, I've been feeling too pissed off to talk much when we meet. And I feel that generally, I have been quite remiss in not even sending you so much as a postcard during this whole extended journey I am on with TTC Adventures Ltd.

And there is something I wanted to ask you- but we'll come to that.

At the moment, as I think you know, I am in Twoweekwait. I've been here lots of times, so I pretty much know my way around. I think I have visited all the local attractions, and frankly, I'm bored. It's not my top choice of destination.

I've been noticing some really odd changes to the landscape. The first time I came here, it seemed much lusher and greener. But now the ground looks all dry and cracked. All the trees have this peculiar gray tinge, and and even though we have had a few big thunderstorms, it never rains. I guess it must be some kind of drought. The tour guides say that happens sometimes.

It's a little worrying though, because the shops don't seem to get any fresh provisions in. I gather some of the supply roads have shut down recently, and there is a rail strike, so no freight can get through. I'm now running low on rations. I've just about used up all my patience, and hope is just about gone too. The shops do have some hope in stock, although I am guessing it's too expensive, since they keep saying I can have it, but there's a high price to pay. Fortunately, I can borrow some courage from one of other tourists, so that should see me through for the short term.

While I'm here, I've put in yet another application for a visa to Pregnancy. I am waiting to hear back from the Home Office. I guess you realise if it's granted, then we won't be seeing each for awhile? But from what they were saying, there is a good chance they'll turn me down again. In which case I'll be deported right back to where I came from. Do not pass go, do not collect baby. Fucking bureaucrats. Oops, sorry Auntie, language, heh heh heh.

Actually, while we are on the subject of requests, that brings me to the thing I wanted to ask you. The Home Office say they might be more inclined to give me a visa if there's nothing in my background check to cause concern. But I think we both know that your input could play a big part in their decision-making process. So I was wondering if you could maybe see your way to giving them the nod, and we can postpone our meeting for a few months? Like, say, nine months?

Now, please don't get insulted. It's just that I so want to move on, to visit Pregnancy. And I know there are so many girls who are actually desperate to see you. Remember when I was one of them? Your visits were such cause for celebration! Maybe you could go spend some time with someone who really wanted you around. Think how nice that would be for both of you!

Well, you can think about it. I probably won't hear back from the Home Office for another week anyway, so that will give you a little time to have that word with them.

I know the mail is a little irregular sometimes, but if we're resourceful, we can work around that. How about we'll just say that if you don't turn up at our usual meeting spot at the designated time, I'll take it that the answer is probably yes. I'll try not to think about it too much until then, since I don't want to use up that cache of hope.

OK, so gotta sign off- the tour guide is waving me over to join a group chat.

Bye for now!


Mare xxx ooo

Monday, August 09, 2004

Change of Pace

The latest developments are this: short of my getting pregnant naturally, there probably won't be any more developments until we have our first consultation at the Ass Con Centre in October. We are preparing to enter hyperspace, the cryosleep chambers are waiting, and we are ready to enter suspended animation as far as any further medical treatment goes, for the next couple months.

We had thought that it would make sense, given E.'s poor morphology result, to have him do another test before we went to "Ass Con 1". We were advised by my lovely GP that this might help give a fuller picture of what we might be dealing with here- at least on his side of things. So E. went back to see his doctor with a view to getting a referral to a private hospital over in the Other City.

There were a couple reasons for going private for the second test. Firstly, it's generally much quicker to get seen on private (i.e. paying) basis. Secondly, given the last experience we don't exactly have shedloads of confidence in that particular NHS hospital lab. And we thought we might be able to get a proper consultation, with a proper report, not just some numbers printed out with nothing to indicate what any of it meant.

E.'s doctor shall henceforth be know as "Doctor Just Do It" since his response to E.'s initial queries about infertility was this:

"Oh, you can always just do IVF."

As a result of that one little comment, it has taken me some time to disabuse E. of the notion that IVF is something you sign up for casually, like a trial gym membership.

Anyway, Dr Just Do It's take on the whole "private test" was not to bother.

"He said it might come back worse and then what we would do?," E. explained as we drove over to the park for an evening run.

"That is the whole point. If it's worse, it might be helpful to know that NOW," I replied, wiping the froth from my mouth.

E. went on to say that Dr Just Do It said we'd have to do another test at the Ass Con Centre regardless. And anyway, Dr JDI didn't really rate the private hospital too much. He said the consultants there were all NHS, and they rushed you through a morning appointment so they could get to their proper jobs.

"He says that if we want the best treatment, there is a place down in X, across the border."

"And how does he know all this, exactly?"

"From personal experience, apparently," E. said, swerving to avoid the teenage mother walking out in front of the car with a baby carriage.

"I doubt that anyone who has been through this would say something like "you can just do IVF," I muttered darkly.

Eventually, we decided to wait. It's maybe not ideal, but we are trying to learn to live with uncertainty.

It's also opened the door for a lot more of those "what if?" discussions. What we will do if one or both of us can't physically deliver the goods. On one hand, those "what if" discussions seem like a pointless waste of energy- dwelling on potential avenues that we may never need to take. But on the other hand, it's good, because it helps E. understand a bit more of what is at stake here, what it might take to achieve that, and gets both of us considering how far we are willing to go. And maybe if we sit with that for the next couple months, letting it marinate, we won't be wracked with indecision when the time comes to make up our minds.

It's hard to know. Every day I wake up and feel differently. Or something will happen to change my focus. A year ago, if you told me that E. really wants his child to carry a genetic link to him (but not necessarily to me), I would have been very reluctant to even consider the options, i.e. egg donation. I might have just closed down that route, thinking among other things, that it's both of us or nothing.

But that night, we went running. We ran during that lovely hour when it's not close to being dark, but the day is finally over, and slipping towards night. We took a new route, me huffing and puffing behind E., trying to keep up. I looked ahead, and saw his strong graceful strides, his retreating back against the silver summer sky.

I thought, he is so beautiful when he runs.

And I suddenly realised that if it did come to that, I don't know how I would be able to let that end with him.

So beautiful.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Mind Control

When I was growing up, and during my rocky adolescence, my mother used to say to me,

"There's no such thing as a bad day".

She would go on to remind me that the concepts of "good" and "bad" applied to the events of any given day were really just cognitive constructs. By mentally applying a spectrum of good and bad to situations, we in turn create a perception of the world in that frame.

Yeah, I didn't believe it either.

However, I can now see what my mother was saying. I don't disagree that the world can be what we make of it. If I get out of bed thinking the day ahead will be horrible, then from that point on, everything- spilling the coffee, missing the bus, an aggravated telephone call from a colleague- is coloured by the notion, by a preconception that I am having a "bad day". If I was to turn it around, welcoming the day as a fresh challenge with exciting possibilities, then it would become so.

Glass half full, that kind of thing.

But then there are the days where you would require to have superhuman powers of mental fortitude to turn certain experiences into something positive. I can think of a couple of people who have recently had, what in anybody's book, would be a really bad day. No amount of simple cognitive restructuring is going to turn those events like those into something "good"- maybe, you eventually find a way to think of it differently-for example, acceptance instead of hair-tearing grief. But that takes time. It's not as simple as putting on a happy face and accentuating the positive.

However, it occurred to me the other day when reading this (Karen, you always give me food for thought) that I haven't really thought too much about how my thoughts may or may not be affecting my body.

Short of medical intervention (which is coming) we have tried just about everything in our quest to get pregnant. You know the litany. Charting. Green tea, baby carrots, grapefruit juice, cough syrup, progesterone cream and extra B6, vitamins for E's swimmers, cutting out sugar (dismal failure), cutting down on booze and caffeine (flunked that one too). Eggwhites for those difficult days. And of course, sex, lots of. Lying with feet up afterwards. Standing on head afterwards.

The one thing I haven't tried is really thinking positively about my chances of getting pregnant. Of visualising the egg meeting the sperm, and the two setting up house in my uterus. Imagining the two pink lines. Willing myself pregnant, of mentally picturing a pregnant body, holding a baby.

Of course I have flirted with the notion, have had flitting thoughts of what it would be like, particularly when we first started trying. I imagined the joy E. and I would feel, the triumphant phone call to my mother. But I always stopped myself before getting too carried away. I think that's partly why I don't buy HPTs, ever. The idea that this would result in a positive is so not a reality I have mentally allowed to happen. I just don't go there.

There are reasons for that, of course. The disappointment of it not coming true, if I have convinced myself it is possible, would be crushing. And to be honest, it's already crushing enough.

I wonder now if my constant negativity has possibly harmed my chances. Whether, by approaching this with a pre-determined sense of doom, I have in effect created that reality for myself. Maybe there is a benefit of doing some mental gymnastics, to tell my body that I am a fertile goddess, goddamit. To not just joke about it, to really believe I can get pregnant, and not worry how hard it will be to re-adjust my perceptions if that proves to be false.

Could I try, at least for one cycle, and see what happens? Or is that too scary, too much of a leap at this point, too much effort when it may all be meaningless in the face of a medical reason for our failure to conceive, which is something we may find out in a couple months?

There's a program on TV here that E. and I really like. It's called Mind Control with a guy called Derren Brown. He's a "mentalist", an illusionist who relies on psychological manipulation as part of his tricks. What he does, or purports to do, is jaw-dropping.

For example, he has this trick where he goes to the dog-track. He picks a losing dog, and then convinces the girl at the booth that he has a winning ticket. He slaps his palm on the counter and announces, like a Jedi Master, "This is the winning ticket you were looking for!" And she pays out.

Or the one where he made an entire shopping mall of people gather in one place and simultaneously raise their hand, on cue, without knowing that they were doing it. He hypnotises people to stick big needles through their hands, without feeling pain. He "reads minds" by getting inside people's heads, and tapping into their perceptions of the world. He can tell when people are lying.

The point is that when E. and I watch this, we are reminded that the mind can indeed work in strange and mysterious ways, if we know how to give the right signals. We think we know what is happening, we see the path ahead, the plan. Our thinking is driven down the same straight lines, day in, day out. But what would happen if I suddenly left the path, and approached the future at a different angle.

The path I am on is so safe. It's so much easier to to stick with what is familiar. Maybe it's time to start thinking about things differently-because I am not so sure the route my brain is taking is the right one. Maybe I need to stop allowing my all preconceptions to influence my pre-conception.

I may not get pregnant as a result, but at least I will know, will understand, that for once, it wasn't because my mind wasn't joined up to my heart.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Negative population growth

A few weeks ago, E. and I went out to one of those big DIY superstores. We needed an obscure piece of cable or wire in order to further be-gadget our living room. Rather than drive around to every crappy wee hardware store in town, we thought we'd cut to the chase and supersize it.

The store was massive. And it was deserted.

Apart from the aisle where said obscure wirethingummy was located. Apart from the space directly in front of obscure wire. Where six or seven people stood, jostling to inspect every single one of the items on the shelf, and in so doing blocked our access to our intended purchase. So we loitered around in the paint department for a few minutes, waiting for the crowd to clear. Came back 10 minutes later to find a new set of six or seven people had now parked themselves in the same spot.

Given the propensity for somebody to be in my way everywhere I go, I sometimes find it hard to give credence to the almost daily reports of Scotland's population crisis. This country is obsessed with population statistics. It's up! It's down! It's worseningby the day. Or not.

Whether or not the population is in fact slowly ebbing away, there does seem to be a consensus that there is a problem with fertility. According to the Registrar General (the people you tell about births and deaths, respectively) in 2002, Scottish fertility reached a historic low. I don't think it has gotten much better since then.

The causes would appear to be complex. Everything from the biological (decline in semen quality) to social (women having careers and not babies). And the solution- well, having looked at the various pronatalist strategies in other countries such as Singapore and Sweden- the solution is apparently not straightfoward.

The government is currently focused on dealing with the problem by attracting immigrants. To that end there is talk of gaining some control over things like immigration policy, which at this time remains firmly under the iron grip of the Home Secretary. For those of you not versed in the finer points of the devolution settlement, that means that the UK Parliament can tell Scotland what to do about immigration, and we have to go along with it. Viva la pseduo-independence.

Now. Having more immigrants is all well and good, except the Scottish government is rather preoccupied with getting "the right sort of people." That basically means they want "more skilled people from other countries to resettle here" as part of the Fresh Talent initiative (whatever that is. No Stale Talent required, thanks).

What they don't really say out loud is that what they think Scotland wants is more skilled white people. As long as they are not English. Or possibly German. And even if the government don't say it, that is precisely what your average bigot in Auchertfacthermachauter (or Glasgow) thinks. I don't want to make a generalisation, and there have been some strides in the right direction, but I do notice a degree of unacceptable prejudice and bigotry in Britain as a whole. That, if nothing else, is going to hinder immigrants wanting to come here, or wanting to stay. And that's before they discover the rotten weather, appalling public transport, and weird tendency to deep fry everything (i.e pizza, or Snickers bars).

It seems to me that in addition to luring immigrants here, a solution to the Population! Crisis! might be to improve access to and availability fertility treatment in Scotland. Reduce waiting lists. Make treatment cheaper, or better yet, free in certain circumstances. Increase awareness as to fertility issues. I'm not even talking about reproductive incentives for all women in this country (like decent, open maternity wards). I'm talking about some real assistance for those of us who are desperately trying and are unable to manage it, for some reason.

But the government get all twitchy as soon as the word fertility is mentioned, not wanting to suggest that women should give up careers, not wanting to look as if we are a backward looking nation, forcing women back to being pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen for the good of Scotland. Plus if women do try to work and have familiies, nobody is clear how it is really meant to function in terms of the much ballyhooed work/life balance. At which point they start talking about immigration again.

All I know is we're having our own little population crisis right here at home. And meanwhile everywhere I go, someone stands in front of the thing I need to reach.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Ice breaker

I'm having one of those weeks where everything feels like a huge effort. Getting out of bed, getting dressed, going to work, making a cup of coffee, answering the telephone, stringing a sentence together. My body and spirit feel as if I am halfway through a polar trek across Antarctica without a dog team- just me, a big backpack full of freeze dried rations, and miles and miles of glacial sea.

I strongly suspect that one reason for this is that in addition to all the infertility crap, work is not exactly a barrel of laughs at the moment. It looks to get worse before it gets better. Depending on a number of decisions taken by others (over which I have absolutely no control), it may then get even worse. I find that thought so dispiriting I cannot even begin to contemplate it.

So I dragged my ass home today across the pack ice, trying to remember when the last time I really laughed (other than at the wry wit of my infertility sisters). Then I remembered something I read on the internet awhile back that, at the time, was one of the funniest things I had ever come across. I went searching for it again. And it's still, even in my present frostbitten state of mind, hilarious. Particularly if you like cats. Or don't like cats.

I imagine there are a few of us who could do with a chuckle, so I thought I would share it with you. Enjoy.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Prelude to a Kiss

I was reading about the recent spectacular testicular adventures over at Karen's site, and it got me thinking about the possibility of a varicocele here at the Barn. I'd heard of a varicocele, but didn't really know what one was, exactly- much less how to pronounce it. While E.'s count and motility results were excellent, the morphology was poor. And so after reading, I sprung into Google mode.

What I found in my various searches then led to me concur it was possible that this was something E. might have. As I mentioned awhile ago, E. suffered some trauma about a decade ago during a sporting event. A firm blow to the nuts by one of the opposing thugs, I mean, team members. He's loathe to discuss what went on in the aftermath, but I am given to understand it involved some pretty hideous "probes". Since he won't talk about it, I have had no choice but to subpoena his medical records, but I haven't yet gotten them.

According to Google School of Medicine, I was right in thinking that trauma of this type could, apparently, lead to a varicocele, and that could in turn potentially cause infertility. What if, what if, what if.

Then I read that one symptom is that when the man is standing up, the testicle in question has a feeling like "a bag of worms."

Scene: Summer. Evening. Barn living room. E. and I both in our jammies, watching telly.

Mare: Hon, could you stand up for a minute?

E: Why?

Mare: I'll tell you in a minute. On your feet, soldier.

E. obligingly stood. I shoved my hand down his pajama bottoms and had a rummage.

E: (in startled tones) What exactly are you doing?

Mare: Nope, no worms there.

Cue long explanation.

We're not going to rule out the possibility that there still might be something there, since quite often, according to Google, there are no symptoms. It could have happened independent of any trauma. I couldn't find anything resembling a bag of worms, so who knows....

E. and I were already planning on a further SA for him, and depending on those results, further consultation with specialists. I expect we'll ask some questions about varicoceles while we're at it. And if nothing else, I have discovered a new excuse for foreplay- huzzah!