Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pin Cushion

This week fell apart first thing Monday morning.

One of the two naturopathic doctors I've been seeing had ordered a bunch of tests, some of which required fasting. I had to skip breakfast and go to the lab to have blood drawn. But with clients to attend to, I didn't get out of the house until close to ten. My stomach churned, partly due to hunger, partly dread. It's not the blood I mind, or the needle itself. It's the pain. I'm a wimp about the pain.

At the lab, there is a sign: "Take a number and find a seat. Wait until your number is called." I waited until everyone else waiting had gone, and then waited some more in the empty, aptly named, waiting room. I overheard the woman at the desk asked the other tech, "There's no one out there, right?"

Then came the second leg in my waiting marathon, and more eavesdropping: while the lab tried to decipher my doctor's orders. She called headquarters, held the line for customer service, held again, and gave up. She called my doctor. As it turned out, the test in question was one my doc had already given me. She nixed it, then added two others to the already long list, for good measure. I was beginning to feel like the guinea pig of an absent-minded professor. My doctor had talked up this test with great confidence, implying it could potentially reveal the secret to my infertility. She had my hopes up about it, but in the back of my mind, I wondered, Didn't we already do this one? Um, yes.

By the time I got into the little white room with the tech and her stickers and glass vials, my stomach was churning again. Two men arrived to do some construction thing, and they kept peeking in at me where I sat with my sleeve rolled up. I told the tech that I just couldn't take it if she had to dig around in my arm. "Please use your smallest needle," I begged, "and if you miss the vein... just -- just don't miss the vein."

She was very sweet and understanding. But she missed the vein. She dug around. She missed again. She dug around a third time. She missed. Again.

"That's it," I told her. "Stop."

"Maybe you're dehydrated," she ventured, "Have you been fasting? You can drink water, you know." It was eleven-thirty at this point. I didn't mention this, or the fact that I sat in the waiting room for an hour. And yes, come to think of it, I was thirsty the whole time. "Maybe you should come back another day," she said, on her way out to get the other, more experienced technician. But the other tech was busy with another long line of intake, and I was done.

I sat in the car, fuming, then crying, then thinking.

I don't know what's wrong with my digestion, or why I am not getting pregnant. Naturopath number one ordered blood tests and dietary restrictions and perscribed vitamins and herbs and tinctures. Naturopath number two added more supplements and powders and a suppository, and insisted that, as far as my digestive system was concerned, I would be fine. As for pregnancy, there's this guy who collects amazonian cures and swears he has something among all his jarred snakes and potions that never fails to get a person pregnant. I might want to check it out, he says, shrugging.

I also go to the acupuncturist, who sticks needles in me once a week, and hands me baggies of Chinese herb powders, labeled pre-O, ovulation, post-O, and period, which I'm supposed to take on an empty stomach morning and night.

I keep doing everything the so-called experts tell me to do, glossing over my continued ambivalence about getting pregnant in the first place, and my growing conviction that this problem with my digestion is getting worse and I very much want to know what the heck is going on in there.

So I made a decision: I will go back to the lab, I will do these tests. I'll hear what absent-minded doctor number one has to say about the results, but after that, I'm done with her. I will continue with the protocol doctor two has prescribed - after all, my symptoms did clear completely, if only for the few weeks before my honeymoon and the infamous traveler's diarrhea I picked up in Costa Rica. But in the meantime, I've made an appointment with a gastroenterologist.

On Tuesday morning I did not return to the lab because I went to my acupuncturist, and told her I didn't want to do acupuncture anymore. In the end, I compromised: she'll stop putting needles in my wrists (those are the only ones that really hurt), and I will only come to her once a cycle, around ovulation.

As for ambivalence about pregnancy, I've made a decision about that, as well, though it took a little longer to come to this one. And it will take a little longer to explain. Next entry, and soon. I promise.

By the way, thanks to everyone who commented and emailed (and called) about the digestion stuff. It means a lot to me to have your support. And for those of you suffering likewise (I'm surprised at how many of us there are!), if you want to share the gory details, I welcome it. Post comments, send emails. I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours.

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