I’ve debated writing this post for a year. I couldn’t give all the nitty-gritty details about my reproductive adventure in a previous post, for fear of making it too long (and losing my sister Kimmie’s interest). However, I feel this story is too ridiculous not to share, and was a part of my cancer treatment afterall, so here it goes.
Let me begin by saying again, Dad, you may not want to read this post. I write about all things vagina…and stirrups. I don’t actually show any pictures of my woo hoo, so proceed at your own risk. Just don’t call me later today and complain – you’ve been warned.
Basically, after my lumpectomy and before I started chemotherapy, I opted to have an egg retrieval performed. Freezing my “oocytes” means that cancer has less control of my life, that I will still have the option of having kids even if I have less eggs now than before the nasty “C”-word diagnosis. I had to wait until my “cycle” started, and then ran into the hospital very early on Day 2 to get an ultrasound to make sure my ovaries, uterus, and whatever else the doctors wanted to check out looked normal. When the big day arrived, Kim drove me into Brigham and Women’s Hospital and naively accompanied me INTO the ultrasound room when my name was called…by a man. Mind you, I am all about male doctors. I think it’s fun to try to make them blush. I didn’t think twice about this male ultrasound technician until he informed me that my ultrasound was an intravaginal ultrasound. Whoa, you said what? Intra? As in, inside? Didn’t I just start my “cycle”? You have got to be joking. I started wondering if any of the material I read about this egg retrieval process warned me about the “INSIDE” ultrasound, and concluded pretty quickly that it absolutely did not.
The ultrasound technician danced about the room, grabbing lube and a purple, phallic instrument that he may have bought from an Adam and Eve website. Kim sat by the laundry hamper, in a corner untouched by the low-lighting of this especially seductive exam room. “You have to take out your tampon if you have one iiiin!” the ultrasound technician sang. I looked at Kim, both of us wide-eyed and grinning, and hissed “do you have a tampon? I only have the one I….have!” Kim shook her head no and I started to sweat. “Don’t worry,” said the singing vagina technician, “I have a tampon for yooooou!” I looked at Kim, and Kim and I both knew that this was a once-in-a-lifetime occurence, that the sole man in the room was the provider of all things feminine. Kim shouted “This is amazing! You’re the guy and you are more prepared for our periods than we are!” “That’s my job!” he hummed, and scooted out the back door of the room while I “got ready.”
I don’t really want to go into more detail about this. You get the gist. My baseline exam showed the doctors that everything looked fine. Then I started injecting myself daily with whatever hormone they told me to use (Gonal-F) and took Letrazole orally daily, to block my cancer cell hormone receptors, and I either went in the morning for bloodwork or an ultrasound or both. This went on for nearly two weeks until I had a sufficient number of follicles ripe and ready to be harvested.
When it came time for the actual retrieval, my sister Caylan dropped me off at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to go it alone. I figured it was minor surgery, and Caylan planned to head back to get me as soon as I texted her that I was awake. The nurse got me hooked up to an IV, and everything was fine until they walked me into the “retrieval” room and had me climb up on the surgical table. There were about four people in the room at this time, maybe two nurses, the repro doctor, and an anesthesiologist. I had on a “johnny” (mom’s favorite medical term) and NOTHING else, given the nature of the procedure. I looked up from my compromising position and saw two stirrups, one on either side of my head. I laughed out loud and said “That’s funny! It looks like you want my feet in those!” The nurse said, well yes, that’s the plan, at which time she pulled the stirrups forward, secured my feet in them, and they whizzed back, retracting to their original position…over my head. Thank goodness for anesthesia, because by the time I started to panic about the four people in the room watching me perform naked yoga, the doctor sent me off into a state of slumber.
The egg retrieval was a great success. I have fourteen little oocytes cryogenically frozen until I am ready to make some babies (if I need them – as of now, I should be able to do my babymaking naturally!). I have to pay “rent” for them, about $1k annually, but they are worth it. They definitely give me peace of mind, and not to mention, a story to tell.