I am as good at meeting deadlines with my blog as I am currently in my work. With that in mind, let me tell you about my Valentines Day. For those unromantic types out there, the date in question was 14 February.
In stark contrast to previous years in which I have been a single only marginally dreading the day when couples show off their lust disguised as love in a sea of red because of my own traditions, I wholeheartedly dreaded the 14 February 2014. I did not want it to happen. There was no tradition, but that was not getting me down. The 14 February was the day I had to see the Person Medically Trained in Women’s Bits. To you, this means that the 14 February was the day I got to sit down six months after my transplant to find out just what it did to my lady bits. My most emotive subject.
I know, and have known for a long time, what My Myeloma has done to my fairytale dream of living to be a granny with a house full of bric-a-brac with photos of my children and their families scattered about for all my guests to see. That is a sentence that I cannot say out loud. And thus, as the day drew closer to the appointment, my dread grew along with a fear of the words I know to be true, but did not want to be confirmed. You. Are. Infertile.
The scariest part of the appointment anxiety, as this is my most emotive subject, is that I did not know what my reaction to the news would be. I had already poorly attempted not to cry in front of the Person Medically Trained in Women’s Bits on two previous occasions, so for this appointment, I thought that mass hysteria was an inevitability. Also, the doctor is something of a cold fish, which does not assist in her delivery of bad news. So, I lined up a Maurice to attend my appointment with me, which eliminated some of my concerns in the lead up to Valentine’s Day. I also strategically arranged a counselling session on the Monday after the Friday before in order to help me deal with the aftermath.
I should be honest, the appointment was mostly arranged by the lovely haematology people because of the side effects I was experiencing as a result of my menopause and infertility, which in turn, are a result of the chemotherapy I had on 17 July. For those who are not preoccupied with my life, the side effects included horrible hot flushes, a lack of flow and other things connected to moisture. Mostly the hot flushes. Hot flushes are vile. They are also embarrassing, particularly if you are obese and trying not to adhere to a stereotype.
It took four months for the department to process my referral, despite me having already seen them twice. That is a lot of sweat. I had a month after I received the appointment date to dwell and image various scenarios in which the result was the same. A fortnight or so prior to my appointment, given the efficient administrative process, I phoned the department to ask whether they required me to have any blood tests to look at my hormone levels or whatever else they look at when they are looking at what I wanted them to look at. A nurse, I presume she was a nurse, called me back and vaguely said that if they were required, they would have been requested. I objected to this, but hey ho, I just wanted to make the most of the appointment and rip off the rather large plaster that constantly itched.
The appointment arrived and, unsurprisingly, it was no where near as bad as I had imagined. Maurice was there to hold my hand of course, which was invaluable. I described my symptoms and the Person Trained in Women’s Bits confirmed that I was going through the menopause. Some symptoms I had been suffering from that I had attributed to myeloma, were apparently, also menopausal, including a weaker bladder and aching joints in the morning. I thought these things were connected to age more generally, but no, in women, it is menopause. I am sure there must be other reasons.
For this so called menopause, I was prescribed HRT in the form of patches, which I wear everyday on my buttocks. Said patches slowly release oestrogen, which will then do a whole host of things to my body, including reintroduce a period. This news came five days after I cleared out my tampon drawer, so I was annoyed.
Then there was the hard stuff. I have less than a 5% chance of conceiving. I believe this is said to protect a Medically Trained Person’s reputation in the event of a miracle, but really it means, you are not producing any eggs. I heard her words and I did not cry. My strength during the appointment astounded me, and I suspect that that came from having somebody with me who did not mind me talking about my vaginal dryness. I even summoned the strength to ask a question Big Sister had armed me with. Can I carry a child?
The short answer is yes. I can carry somebody else’s bun in my oven. There is currently no damage to my womb. A slight flicker of hope.
The long answer is more complex. It goes something like this. Yes, I can theoretically carry a child, although I am not sure what consideration would need to be given to my lesions and whether they would veto any plans to knock me up. I would also have to lose about a third of my body weight in order to get any form of IVF; this is probably no bad thing in general and would help me in one of the points below. My womb is fine now and has not been damaged by my treatment, but if I require an allograft before I can do the above, the radiotherapy would most likely destroy any hope I have of breeding. On a more practical level, I am single and I am not getting any younger. I would have to find a man who accepts my standing and decides that he would like to spend the rest of my life with me and I have had no luck so far before the hurdle of myeloma. How would we pay for it? And then, the question that terrifies me the most, if the medicine is available to me, would it even be fair to bring a child into this world when Wikipedia tells me that the probability of me living to it’s tenth birthday is slim?
And thus my dreams hover over a flushing toilet.
For this, for all of this, I hate myeloma. I may have held myself together in that appointment, but I grieve for what I have lost, I cry for knowing at some point, I may have to make a moral judgement and for the possibility that I may never be afforded the opportunity to make that judgement.
The appointment itself was anticlimactic. Like I said at the start, I knew what was going to be said, whether I wanted to hear it or not, and I think I had managed to shed my tears in private.
It has been five weeks since my appointment and in that time, I have gone through a pack of my patches. I also got frustrated when I asked for a re-prescription from my General Practitioner and they insisted that I visit them to be thoroughly assessed because the person who specialises in all things womb, had been remiss, according to them, to have not fondled my breasts. Needless to say, I found this a ridiculous waste of time and a drain on valuable NHS resources. Of course, I failed to say this to the GP. In the six weeks, my hot flushes have lessened, my nausea has increased, 50% of the time I can sleep through the night without nature calling and yesterday, I was reacquainted with my flow. It was rather novel.
As for the other stuff, I try not to think about it at all, but living in the world, one sees babies, if they do not see them, they hear about them and on these occasions, all I can do is swallow.