I wanted to write something poignant, witty, perhaps even a bit deep.
Instead, I’ll just settle for…something.
I finally heard back from Dr. K last Tuesday (a mere three weeks after we were scheduled to speak, but who’s counting). The conversation started off by making it clear to me that my doctors are not really on board and only going along with this if I remain “adamant” about it.
In fact he would not even tell me The Plan he and Dr. R (what I’ll call my rheumatologist from now on) had concocted until I verbally confirmed that I was indeed absolutely sure this is what I want.
So I said, “Yes?”
And I said it just like that with the question mark at the end and everything because I’m not sure-sure. I’m really not. Hearing ominous words of warning from a small army of physicians has not made me any more sure – which I guess is their point – but I said yes anyway because all I really want, at this point, is to be able to make the choice for myself. To take back whatever small kernel of normalcy that can still be salvaged from all of this. To make a decision between me and my husband about what is best for our future without three men my father’s age, relative strangers, hovering about.
Of course, that ship has probably long sailed (it is, after all, for their opinions that I see them) but I just want to at least be able to pretend that having a baby involves actual love and feelings and such, and not just endless instances of me being poked with needles and perfecting the art of the clean-catch urine specimen. I want to be able to imagine for a moment what it’s like to discuss this with just the man I’m trying to build a family with and figure out for the two of us if this makes sense for us. And yes, it will largely be an illusion of control, but I’ll take what I can get.
So I said yes because I had to, to take that next step.
True to form, the next step is not so easy to take. The plan itself sounds simple enough, some labwork followed by a transition period of six to eight weeks where I will have labs drawn every two weeks. After that, there will be some discussion of how long I’ll be exclusively on the new medication before, I suppose, everyone will huddle up again and decide whether or not we get to pass Go. Sure, it doesn’t sound so bad, but I am not some noob at this, I know how these things go (for me anyway) and I see all the hidden minefields embedded in this plan.
For starters, getting the initial bloodwork done felt abnormally hard due to the holiday weekend. This was exactly why I had really been hoping to speak to the doctor in early December, but such is life right? I had taken Thursday off (ahead of our annual trip to the in-laws) so I figured that would be a perfect opportunity to pick up the lab slip from the doctor’s office and get drawn at the hospital lab. This is my fault, but I wasn’t overly concerned about getting there early since Christmas was still three days away and it didn’t occur to me that there would be any issue with holiday hours yet.
I knew I was doomed when the receptionist told me the phlebotomist was just on the phone confirming some of the requirements for one of the tests and would be with me shortly. Then the phlebotomist came out and told me that the lab they outsource some of my tests to was operating on holiday hours already and so the cut-off for those tests was at noon. I could either get drawn now and come back Tuesday or just get everything drawn at once. I don’t like subjecting myself to more needle pokes than absolutely necessary so I opted for the second choice. Particularly since the tests that really mattered were the ones that couldn’t be done.
But I had already sort of gotten my hopes up that I might still be able to have a new prescription in my hot little hand before NYE so I went back to the doctor’s office and asked if I could have a slip for a third-party lab, thinking that maybe they would somehow be able to do this test. Wishful thinking, I know. I did a quick search on my phone and found they had a collection center on my way home so I headed over. Another hour later, after parking, walking to the filthiest looking lab collection office I have ever seen, the receptionist/phlebotomist (I have never seen this combo before) having no idea what the tests were that the doctor had ordered, calling everyone he could think of, including Dr. K (who sounded none too pleased) trying to figure out what test he was supposed to be collecting for, I eventually walked back out of the office after finally learning their cutoff was also noon due to Christmas holiday hours.
I was honestly pretty relieved since I had wanted to leave after watching the phlebotoreceptionist cough into his hands repeatedly, but I didn’t have the guts.
Anyway, I went back yesterday to the hospital lab, still with the faint hope results could come back by Friday in time for my imaginary NYE deadline. The phlebotomist quickly crushed that dream when she informed me it wouldn’t be back for 7-10 days. She also used a larger-than-necessary needle which irritated my vein but shit happens I guess.
So, three lab visits, five days and six vials of blood later, Step 0.5? Check.
Why do I not consider it Step 1? Because Step 1 requires my bloodwork to come back within the “normal” range for something (specifically some enzyme that is a good predictor of whether or not my body will have a catastrophic meltdown when it comes in contact with an ingredient in the new medication) and I don’t really take that for granted anymore. I have no reason to believe that I won’t fall inside the normal range, but the problem is I also don’t have any reason to believe I will.
I’m trying really, really hard not to get my hopes up about this until I get these results back. Which has been really good for me emotionally but also feels sad in its own way. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how no matter what I will never know what it’s like to experience a “normal” pregnancy. One that isn’t wrought with fear and anxiety and the burden of knowing every little thing that can go wrong. When I was younger the thing that scared me most about having a baby was the actual birth itself. Today that is the least of my worries. Whether I get sliced open or have to push a melon out of my hoo-ha, I really don’t care. As long as they pull a healthy, fully baked baby out of me I will be fine with however that happens.