The phone just rang. “Unknown number” is never a good thing. My heart sank when it began, “Hi this is <insert random peppy nurse name here> and I’m calling from your rheumatologist’s office.”
As regular followers of this blog (or my life) already know, we’ve been sidelined from trying to get pregnant since early March due to suspicious-looking ANA results. My RE is requiring a clean bill of health from a rheumatologist before he will cycle with me again. I finally saw the rheumatologist a couple weeks ago, and she felt that my results were nothing to be concerned about but wanted additional testing to be sure. So, I had another million liters of blood drawn last week, spent a full hour in an MRI tunnel yesterday, and my followup was scheduled for today. I went to sleep last night confident that in 24 hours time I’d have my answers.
But, that was too easy, wasn’t it? I should have learned long ago that nothing is ever as simple as it seems (getting pregnant certainly isn’t). The call I just received informed me that my doctor is out sick today. No appointment and, since she never signed off on them, no ability to release any results to me the blood donor and tunnel sitter. Yet more waiting.
The hardest lesson for me to learn in these past 3.5 years has been that no matter how good I’m feeling, no matter how great life is going, and no matter the timetable I see set out in front of me, I’m always living on the edge of total unexpected breakdown.
The lesson started dawning on me in the months following my first miscarriage, our 2011 ectopic. Nearly 3 months after the double injection of methorexate that terminated the pregnancy, I returned to my RE for a very simple office procedure. After 3 months of waiting to try and become pregnant again due to the chemotherapy drug that ended my pregnancy, I had a few tiny little diagnostic hurdles left to jump over. Some blood work here, an office hysteroscopy there, and an HSG for good measure. The last two procedures had to be done in the early part of my cycle, but after my period had stopped. In all my menstruating years I’d never have bleeding last longer than 6 days, so I scheduled the hysteroscopy for day 7 and HSG for day 8. On the morning of day 7 I woke with a surprising amount of blood on my pad. I had already requested the morning off work so drove myself into the doctor. I shyly admitted I was still bleeding a little, and the NP said, “We’ll let’s just take a look.” Sure enough, procedure cancelled. I spent the next hour crying uncontrollably in the medical complex parking lot.
Why did that event, the simple rescheduling of a procedure for a few days later, lead to quite possibly my biggest IF breakdown in all these many years? At the time I said it was because I was just so frustrated that my body couldn’t get it together and be predictable for just one damn cycle. And, of course, that’s probably a large part of it. But, the other part I wasn’t acknowledging was that it took a full 3 months for me to grieve that loss, for me to fully drown myself in the misery of it, for me to realize that I had just barely been holding it together. One spark started the forest fire that engulfed my being for the next several weeks.
Today is another one of those days. I’ve been crying alone in my office since I hung up the phone. I can’t find any way to stop the tears, to quiet the sniffles, to mend my heart. Why is my doctor sick, on this longed-for day, after so many months (and years) of tortuous waiting? What if my followup had been scheduled for tomorrow? What if I had gone to a different doctor? What if she’d simply signed a release so that I could view my own records? So much heartache could have been avoided. Sure, this appointment will be rescheduled (next Monday it seems), but the damage is done. The flood gates have been opened and I’ll be spending the next several days clawing back to the surface. This is what happens when you live your life on the edge of your next greatest triumph or, more often, next greatest letdown. Each time I don’t cry over a negative pregnancy test, each time I calmly and bravely explain my reproductive history to a new specialist, each time I smile as I hold a friend’s new baby, I generate pain that I hold deep in my core. Until days like today when a 30 second phone call leads to sudden, explosive agony. I don’t know how many more days like this I can endure.