Thursday, December 8, 2011

new (old) patient

Earlier this week, I filled out new patient paperwork for my gynecology appointment on Friday. (It's an annual visit, since my RE doesn't do pap smears.) Looking over my medical history brought up a ton of emotions for me. This will be my fifth gynecologist in two years, not to mention the three different REs and the breast surgeon. I already have a one-inch binder full of medical records, and I'm still missing information from three different doctors.

Sometimes it's hard to believe that before all of this, I was a normal, healthy girl in her 20s who was simply trying to build her family. Now there are so many mental and physical scars, I don't even know where to begin on these stupid medical history forms. Instead, I fill out what I can fit on the lines they provide and attach a separate sheet of paper with my reproductive timeline. I bring the binder, too, like I'm presenting them with a show-and-tell project.

The questions they ask stir the pot even further. Like when they want to know if I prefer a male or female doctor. Does it matter? It used to. But when every RE, gynecologist, and medical assistant in the Central Florida area has seen your vagina, what's the point? Who cares if the person is male or female? It's all the same.

Have you ever been pregnant? No, but I am grateful for you reminding me of that failure. If I feel this way, I can't imagine how people who've had miscarriages and stillbirths write every little detail of those experiences.

And when they ask about prior surgeries, I remember the pain. Not just the pain from the being cut open, but the daily pain. The horrible, stabbing, throbbing of my ovary. The way I hoped daily that someone would just rip it out of me. The way I could barely stand at times. How I felt like I was breaking.

Sometimes I honestly wish I didn't remember it. One of my good friends and I spoke the other day about forgetting. We decided that maybe ignorance really is bliss. To not know what this feels like is to not know that ache. Wouldn't it be wonderful? To rewind time. To be a normal woman, one who has that special moment with her husband, who creates the miracle of life, and who doesn't know or feel anything different than that joy. To never understand that emptiness we all feel at this very moment. Wouldn't that be bliss?

Yet, I'm not sure I can imagine my life without this pain anymore. I can't turn back time, of course, but I don't know how to even begin picturing my life any differently. What's the point of wondering what it's like to be normal? To not have experienced all of this? To claim ignorance doesn't change the outcome. Like people who run away from home to start a new life: you will always carry your past with you. And I may as well own it.

So, for better or for worse, this is who I am. I am a painful, broken image of the woman I once barely was. Diagnosed with infertility just two months shy of my 24th birthday and nine months after my marriage, my womanhood was given to me and then quickly taken away. Just like that. I'll be a mother someday, the way I now believe I was meant to be a mother - through adoption.

But I will be always be scarred.


Kelly said...

Yep. Love these. Love to recite all of the gory details about surgeries, D&Es, babies that we thought were going to make it, etc. Towards the end, I got a twisted sense of amusement to watch facial expressions and gauge if they were able to remain stoic. Shows just how fucked up I am I guess.

I hate that you have to experience this. It's just an awful, awful feeling.

The Less Than Domestic Goddess said...

Wow. I identify with your pain, your emptiness, and your scars. I feel like I could have written this post. Just the other day, I found an old private blog I had started back in 2009. We had just begun the journey of TTC, and the old "me" was so excited. It was all new. The current "me" cried, because it has been two years, two surgeries, and a lot of pain, and there still isn't much to show for it.

Thank you for sharing this post. xo

Doogie said...

Everything feels like a minefield. You go to give blood, doing a good thing, blah, blah, community spirit, saving a life, blah, blah.
Have you ever been pregnant?

Does a chemical pregnancy count? How about the miscarriage at 10 weeks? What level of detail do they need to determine my fitness for donating blood?

I so wish I could unlearn what I learned going through infertility and unfeel all the things I felt.

Glass Case of Emotion said...

My appointments and issues over the last few months really stirred the pot for me as well. I feel confident about the direction of adoption, but crappy about the scars. I see them as two different things at this point. I feel like Ob's will always bring back those scars. (And just like you now I need to go for pain even though I moved to adoption!)

~Rae~ said...

Completely can identify with your post. I really miss the 'pre-IF' me. I'd like to go back to her. She was a nice lady with so much hope.

Secret Sloper said...

Yeah. Can I admit that even as I was giving birth to Smudgie, it still hurt when the staff doctor asked if this was my first pregnancy and I had to say it was my third. I don't want to erase those other pregnancies and those hard months. But I wish they didn't hurt so much to think about.

Rebecca said...

Mine aren't as much as yours, but I can begin to sympathize. I wish I could just go back to writing "tonsilectomy at age 5" and move on with my life.

Mr. Thompson and Me said...

I'm with you! I just had my annual physical and went through the same paperwork. I sat there in the waiting room staring at my paperwork for the first 5 minutes wondering where to start.

You're phrase says it best, " broken image of the woman I once barely was". It fits.

S.I.F. said...

I've felt all of this so many times it's not even funny. Although, I'm going to have to steal your binder idea. Right now I just haul everything around in a manilla envelope. Sometimes I wonder if they start thinking "oh great" the minute I walk in the door. Like I'm the only one in the world with this complicated history and heartbreak. So if nothing else, thanks for reminding me that I'm not, and that more likely than not - they're used to it.

KRISTI said...

Hugs, Katie. I can NOW honestly say that I am THANKFUL for my infertility! If it weren't for it, I wouldn't have these 2 beautiful daughters!

You will get through this. I know how strong you are!

Jen said...

My fav is that even when I go to the SPA for a massage or facial or whatever thing that is supposed to be indulgent and relaxing, I have to fill out a form that asks if I am pregnant.

No. I am not pregnant.

dspence said...

Realized I never did comment when I read this last week. I want you to know that your writing touched me. Thank you for sharing.

Kelly Mac said...

“So, for better or for worse, this is who I am. I am a painful, broken image of the woman I once barely was”

And its because of this whole wretched, numbing experience that you are the most powerful, loving, protective, and intuitive mother that you could have never been had your path been easier. You will provide your child with the gift of wisdom and tolerance. The tolerance to accept the pain whether physical or ‘well meaning friends” and the wisdom to prepare her for life to come. At the risk of sounding dramatic, but Katie you have been through Hell and through the grace of luck or your own sheer stubbornness, you have prevailed. Your daughter will know just how hard it was to find her. There is never a doubt in her mind that her mother’s desperate journey was to find her. You may be painful and broken, but you are stronger, wiser, and even more determined. Your child will learn that from you and what a gift that will be.

Anonymous said...

thank you. this is my first time reading your blog and it really rang true and made me feel a little less lonely.

Anonymous said...

kelley mac - yer makin' me cry:) you are right on.