enter the blunderdome: HSG edition

well, i took jared to the airport on thursday morning so that he could fly off to massachusetts & present his research on historical responses to flooding in the connecticut river valley at a conference called “riverscaping”. his flight left at 7:30am, which means he had to be at the airport at 6:30am, which means we had to leave lawrence at 5:30am, which means we had to get up at 5am. jared is pretty brilliant in a lot of ways, but he has definitely has a blind spot when it comes to timing travel arrangements in a way that enables people to sleep. i was so desperate to get back home & go to bed that i was actually pushing the car up to 90 miles an hour on occasion. i’m not proud of that. it’s bad for the car & pretty dangerous for me as a driver. but i made the entire drive from the kansas city airport to lawrence in seriously about 35 minutes. that’s gotta be a record.

on friday i went in for the HSG. what a fucking experience. i was completely panicked about this test, which is an indication that i thought i had a pretty good handle on what to expect. i knew that it was all basically set up like a pelvic exam, except that the doctor would push a catheter through my cervix & use it to inject contrast dye into my reproductive system & watch the whole thing on some kind of monitor to make sure the dye was able to push through my fallopian tubes, ensuring that they are open & ready for the business of baby-making. that all sounded pretty horrible, but i had decided that i was willing to do whatever it takes, within financial reason, to get this baby thing on the road.

first i had to register at radiology. the person checking me in asked how to pronounce my last name & i explained (rhymes with my first name–see-air-uh zee-air-uh). she said, “i’ve seen that name on paperwork floating around the hospital & always wondered how it’s pronounced.”

um…what? i am literally the only person in the world with this last name. it’s not like i’m unaware that my name is going to be on various forms & papers if i go into the hospital every two weeks to have some random test done, but is it really necessary for some random registration woman to basically tell me that my personal medical info is just floating around for various hospital administrators to peruse? it reminded me of the time i went to vote, & i checked in with the registration ladies, who were like, “CIARA XYERRA! we saw that name on the list & we just couldn’t wait to meet the person with the unusual name!” uh, that’s great but maybe zip it because all this voting shit is supposed to be anonymous. i know i did it to myself by giving myself such a stupid, conspicuous name, but i really wish people would chill the fuck out about it.

anyway, after i registered, i was passed off to a nurse who walked me through the procedure, discharge instructions, consent paperwork, etc. she must have been a kindergarten teacher in a former life because she actually read every piece of paperwork out loud to me, pointing at the words like she wanted me to sound them out with her, & stopping to extrapolate on some of the more difficult concepts, like the meaning of the word “speculum”. (hint: i have one tattooed on my left arm, i think i understand the definition.) she told me the name of the doctor doing the procedure & then whispered, “you’ll really like him. he’s one of our cutest doctors!”

um…great? seriously, in what world do i give two fucks about the relative foxiness of the person that is about to jam a catheter through my cervix? is being pantsless in front of him supposed to be easier if he’s attractive? because i really don’t have a lot of feelings about being pantsless in front of people providing me with medical care, particularly gynecologic care, full stop. it’s not a big deal. & at the risk of sounding overly precious, a person is going to have to be dumbfoundingly jaw-droppingly attractive for me to notice, considering that i am dating jared, who is pretty much the cutest dude to ever walk the planet. maybe i’m just a one-dog woman, but i really don’t take note of the relative physical merits of other men. sorry, dudes.

the nurse took my vitals & sent me off to put on a hospital gown & robe. i thought about running for it–just fleeing back to my car & not getting the procedure done. but i was already checked in & i was worried that the hospital would bill my insurance anyway since i had already signed all the forms, so i followed through.

i don’t know what i was expecting. i guess i thought the whole procedure would be more like a pap smear, atmosphere-wise. paps are just done in offices, & you lay on an examining tables with stirrups & it’s all pretty chill. it’s the same room where they weigh you & take your blood pressure & stuff. it’s medical, because it’s a doctor’s office, but it’s not all hospital-y, if you know what i mean. (maybe i have just been to too many doctor offices–they don’t bother me.)

instead i was ushered into a really scary room with huge machines everywhere & half a dozen people wearing radiation vests. i laid down on a table that was free of stirrups. i just had to prop my feet up on a ledge & do my best to hold my legs steady. nurses were swarming all over me with warm blankets & cold compresses, trying to distract me from the procedure with questions about where i’m from, what i do, how i like living in kansas, whether or not i already have kids. the HSG itself hurt a bit, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as i expected it to be. it definitely wasn’t something i ever want to do again, but after hearing so many women describe it as “the most horrible thing that’s ever happened to me,” i was prepared for much worse. i had to tip my pelvis from side to side, which was really weird, & then i got a fresh blanket from the warmer & the doctor showed me the photos he’d taken. everything looked absolutely perfect. the nurses took my blood pressure again to make sure i wasn’t about to have a vaso vagal episode, & then i was free to put my pants back on & leave.

jared had told me to remember that i have his love & support, but all i could think during the procedure was that he wasn’t there, or even in the state, & i was being subjected to this huge scary machine & all these nosy hospital personnel on my own. not that he could have done anything about it…i just wanted him to be there. i went home & spent the rest of the day cuddled up with charlotte in bed, reading harry potter & the goblet of fire for the 50th time.

a caveat: of course i feel weird about posting my personal medical info all over the internet, but fertility problems are really common & it seems like people are reluctant to speak about them openly. i understand, because people really do say the stupidest things. just the other day, a friend of mine recommended that i check out taking charge of your fertility & start charting my cycle to make sure i’m timing sex at the right time for getting pregnant. *sigh* i guess people who haven’t struggled to get pregnant don’t get this, but trust me–the first thing a person does when she realizes that she’s not getting pregnant quickly is start charting to make sure she’s timing things properly. the overwhelming majority of women start charting before they ever start making doctor appointments & filling prescriptions for fertility drugs & subjecting themselves to catheters in the cervix. i’ve been charting for twelve years. that’s how i knew i had a progesterone issue. basically, i just hope that sharing my experiences with this crap can serve as an apocryphal, anecdote-based resource for other ladies that are dealing with similar problems.

& i beseech my readers who are not trying to conceive to PLEASE be mindful of what you say to those of us that are. think of infertility as any other medical situation. would you presume to tell someone with cystic fibrosis to look into percussion therapy (one of the most basic cystic fibrosis treatments)? would you suggest that a friend with a sprained ankle try the radical new therapy of over-the-counter anti-inflammatories? probably not, because you recognize that such suggestions would be presumptuous & condescending. so PLEASE don’t tell a woman with fertility issues to relax, or look into charting, or take a cruise, or get her hormone levels checked out. we either already know that shit, or know that your suggestions are useless. i know people just want to say something encouraging, but basic sympathy goes so much futher than elementary fertility 101 advice.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

2 thoughts on “enter the blunderdome: HSG edition

  1. Fucking Amen, sister. (I gather from your writing that you’re not into the “sister” terminology, so I hesitate to use it, but I had to say something and that was the first thing that popped out of my mouth after reading this blog entry. Either way, you are the awesomest bro ever for talking about this. Which happens to be exactly how I personally feel on the subject! And you’re so damn funny about it and I’m laughing so hard, that I actually forget to be mad for a while at the people who say “have you tried seeing a doctor?” No shit, someone actually said that to me recently….

    1. arbre! i really miss you! i have been wondering if anything is new with you on the baby-making front! i’m glad you’re still reading my blog. don’t be a stranger!

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