Friday, April 17, 2009

HSG: Not so bad, akshully

So first of all, I'm not in pain. They told me to take 600mg ibuprofen before I came. Clearly what they meant is 660mg naproxen sodium (that's my fertile-to-endometriosis-patient translator working there), and apparently it's working.

At one point during the procedure - when the doctor was threading the tube through the cervix, I think - I was in pain. But just for a minute. Instead of the procedure itself, the part that has fixed my attention is that I had a male doctor. It didn't occur to me to ask the testing lab (not my regular office) whether I could have a woman, as I always ask at the OB/GYN. And when he walked up to me, I was just sort of...surprised. Oh. A man. They really have men who do these things? It bewilders me.

But one of the great blessings I've received through this blogging thing - thank you, blogosphere! - is that I no longer see the smorgasboard of IF testing as a regime designed by the medical community to strip me of my dignity and punish me for my defective womb, without any resulting diagnostic or treatment benefit. In fact, having read what others have gone through, my determination is increasingly just that I will be brave. It was hard, with a very, very friendly Jewish doctor (that part was reassuring, actually), who happens to be a toucher - I mean, the kind where if they talk, they touch your arm. OB/GYNs should not do this! And when (in his preliminary explanation) he said that I might have to turn my pelvis 45 degrees during the procedure at some point, and I asked him whether he meant vertically or horizontally, he grabbed me by the hips and demonstrated. Um. OK. So anyway. But he clearly was very experienced at this, and that reassured me, and I told myself I would say nothing and I would be good. When he said there was a medical student at the center and could this person observe, I said, yes, if the student was female and wouldn't be involved in the procedure. (This is what I always say. It seems perfectly reasonable to me.) Apparently it was a he, so that was a no, and the doctor was actually surprised I would consider it at all. See, for someone clearly transplanted from the nineteenth century, I am open-minded.

So I was lying there, with a largish paper towel still modestly covering my soon-to-be exposed, prodded, and photographed ladybits, all by myself for just a few minutes before the procedure, and I was thinking. First, I offered up any unpleasantness, making sure to point out to God that I wasn't suggesting any openness to it hurting more than necessary just for the benefit of some soul in need of prayers. I like to be clear about these things. Then, I thought about Mary, and how she would be patient and good; and I realized that she would never, ever have allowed some strange man to look at her nether regions, not even if she were dying. But she was ever-virgin. Scratch that. I moved on to St. Anne, to whom I've prayed regarding infertility before, and who ought to understand, but of course, she was of a fairly modest tradition, too (and they didn't exactly have pelvic exams in Galilee. Er, that I know of). Then it occurred to me that the only person who would have seen St. Anne's ladybits was actually a Jewish fellow, which I considered an appropriate source of inspiration. Then the doctor came in.

He was kind enough to explain the pictures to me afterward. Apparently the left fallopian tube is A-OK (this is what I was hoping for). He's going to have to look at the pictures of the right one more closely - maybe it's OK, maybe not. (Another benefit of my many years dragging my feet on IF treatment is that I am totally prepared for this. I know it's badly scarred; it looks weird on every ultrasound - and I have mentally written it off.) However, there was a shadow toward the bottom of my uterus that he said needed looking at too - maybe a polyp, or a fibroid, or maybe nothing. Depending on what the high-resolution pictures show, he may recommend a further kind of -ogram (don't remember which, but I'd kind of prefer not to do more expensive diagnostic testing. Just bloodwork from here on out, OK?).

I have no special interest in polyps or fibroids, as it happens, and as I am fairly young, and already have probably two other unrelated reproductive health problems (in addition to the IF), I would just as soon pass. I thought that the avoiding-the-doctor-because-every-test-invariably-shows-another-potentially-serious-illness was something you didn't start till you were 50-ish. I'm ready to start now.

dramatization of examinations of misfit's reproductive system

Anyway, if you have spare prayers for the intention that that uterine shadow (Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of - oh! Sorry, carry on) was just a function of my tipped womb (whatever they call it when it's leaning the wrong way), or a thumbprint on the screen, they would sure be appreciated. I'll entirely cede any health in the right ovary and tube, 'kay? It sounds like a fair trade to me.


  1. Hi, I'll certainly be praying for the shadow situation. I had a similar experience with my HSG- but they ended up saying the right one was just fussy but the dye had opened it up. Hope that they only need more of your blood from here on out!!

  2. You crack me up! Everytime I offer things up it seems to be the worse pain I have ever experienced. It's like GET HER NOW, SHE SAID YES!!!! :)

    Dying laughing at the doctor forcing your hips to a 45 degree angle! Love it, hilarious!

    I guess I have always asked for a male doctor. I think in my brain that they are able to be less emotionally detached, and can look at things for what they are. So male docs bring it on. ;)

  3. A tipped uterus is called a retroverted uterus. I can understand not wanting to do more testing, but you did great on this one and an HSG is much harder than the other tests they do to look for fibroids. A simple ultrasound is usually sufficient these days to diagnose a fibroid. My clinic likes to do 3D ultrasounds too. They are expensive, but then you've had the full view of your uterus. As one who ignored her fibroids for years and paid for it, I recommend dealing with it now! Maybe it's nothing, but if it is a fibroid, they are much easier to deal with when they are small. Hang in there! You can get through this!

  4. 'A toucher" that is hilarious!

    I also get really crampy during an HSG.

    I hate having an observer but I never tell them no bc I feel rude.

  5. HSG is the worst it gets, seriously. And if you have a polyp, it's a cinch to remove and studies seem to indicate that they do inhibit implantation. So, my vote, should you care to hear it: Chill for a while, steel yourself, gird your loins, and go shine some light on that shadow. It will seriously not hurt more than the HSG. Mine was basically painless, and none of the other testing I did (lap, hysteroscopy, polypectomy) was any worse. As I recall, at least.

    Or don't :)... For me, it was important to know I'd done everything I could within my comfort limits to understand and deal with whatever my problem actually was/is. Your needs may be different. Or your comfort.