Every month, I have the humiliation of doing a pregnancy test before I can be prescribed my Revlimid. The humiliation is on two counts. The first and hardest is because we all know that I, in all probability will not be able to have the babies the natural way, if any way at all. I am all too aware of this. The second count as also on a personal level, and that is as time goes on with my treatment with it’s stupid side effects and expanding jelly belly, the physical act required to get pregnant falls further and further away from my grasp.
Every 28 days, when I attempt to pee into a cup, I am reminded of these things. No matter how many smiles I am greeted by when the form is signed to confirm that I am not pregnant, I cannot help but feel hard done by. I was so much prettier in 2011 and I’m pretty sure I would make an awesome mother. Just ask the dog.
Given the emotions it stirs inside me? I have to mentally prepare myself for the question I get once a month, because apparently the negative urine sample is not enough. ‘Is there any chance you can be pregnant?‘ No there bloody is not. I am a essentially a barren leper who cannot tie up her shoelaces. The one time there was a remote chance of a ‘no’, Mamma Jones was with me, so I lost the satisfaction of the truth and still said ‘no’ to save us all the embarrassment.
The thing with a myeloma clinic, granted I have only experienced the one, but I am sure it is an issue that all childbearing age myeloma sufferers on Revlimid or Thalidomide experience in all the clinics across the land, is that due to the age of your average sufferer, the act of doing the pregnancy test is never seamless.
The test itself can often be overlooked until after the appointment, and even if it is not overlooked, I still have to get the jar, do my business and chase down a Medical Trained Person in front of other patients to give my sample to. To me, it just highlights my pain. And the question I ask you is this, who really wants to see my pee? Probably not the five or six people waiting impatiently for their appointment.
To cope with, or dare I say, to avoid the harder thoughts associated with doing the pregnancy test, I have decided to make something of an entertainment from it. The entertainment generally requires me being proactive, when it comes to serving up my pee. Even if I am in private with a Medically Trained Person, I will make a joke out of having to do it. Humour as a defence mechanism? No way. Not me.
Two months ago, I had to interrupt a Medically Trained Person talking to another patient to ask for the pregnancy test, and for some unknown reason, the look on the fellow patient’s face was a picture. I wanted to shout at him, that yes, young females can get myeloma and yes, we also have a less than 5% chance of getting pregnant and yes, I am painfully reminded of this every month. I did not shout at him however, I just took great pleasure in seeing the embarrassment on the Medically Trained Person’s face. She does not know yet that I do not embarrass easily. I did not get any humour from this month’s test, so I am using this to remiss about the good times.
Completing the sample is a challenge in itself. Like the Crystal Maze or darts. I am not one who can pee on command, so I have to make sure I drink a sufficient amount of fluids well before my arrival at the hospital (for your information, I discovered recently that being well hydrated helps people to enter my veins also), and then, I have to hold in the liquids until the appropriate time. I have started to blame this act for my weight, something that is also captured every 28 days (the nursing assistant felt the need 15 minutes ago to point at my weight last month after I was weighed today so I was aware of the further gain). You may not be aware of this, but the menopause can weaken one’s bladder, so there was one occasional three months ago where I had to find somebody quick snappish to release the pressure.
And now for the biggest challenge, something that has become a game, successfully and neatly, peeing into the jar. I have never been able to do this. Not myeloma never, but in life never. I got close to it last month, but all I way say about this month’s attempt is thank goodness they have bucket loads of antibacterial hand wash.
This week is special, because not only do I get to confront my fertility demons today, on a Thursday, I also had to do it on Tuesday morning prior to a MRI scan. Well, I did not have to do a sample, I was just asked the question.
I do understand that it is a legal requirement, but sometimes, I would like people to realise that it is not just a tick box exercise to me. And, let’s face up, there are so many other things to wind myself up over on clinic day. So much.
On a lighter note, here is my pee. I can confirm that I am not pregnant.