Back around the time of my diagnosis, Arthur and I committed the ultimate act of naïve stupidity: we planned a vacation. At the time, while I’d recently gotten the PCOS diagnosis, we’d also been assured that oral medications had a good chance of working and I stupidly assumed that insurance would cover some ‘basic’ treatments. We were also in total denial in terms of the seriousness of the situation and the costs. Neither of us had really understood what all this meant. We figured a few cycles with either Clomid or Femara (which are relatively cheap) and I’d get pregnant.
Reading that now, I’m shaking my head and doing a face-palm. While I didn’t have any way of knowing that I’d flame out on the Clomid after a single cycle (it completely thinned out my uterine lining at the lowest dose) or that Femara at 2.5 mg and 5 mg would do nothing for me, I should have realized that this was a possibility. I mean, a good chance is exactly that: a good chance, not a guarantee. This is the side of denial that creates problems, because during this time, in the interests of “going about our lives” we booked non-refundable plane tickets and hotel in Las Vegas.
During January, after we’d recognized that we had a pretty serious problem and no insurance coverage, I freaked out for a while. Then I felt guilty. Really, really guilty. Finally, about a week before we were scheduled to leave, I looked at Arthur. “If this is the last vacation we’re going to have for a long time, then I’m going to enjoy it. It’s already paid for, let’s go and have fun.”
I had picked Las Vegas originally because I was thinking we’d make one last hurrah as adults. I’d either be newly pregnant, or the treatments would be working and pregnancy imminent (again, the naivete here astonishes me now), and it would be that last, big “just us” trip.
Picking Las Vegas turned out to be a good choice, despite the fact that I don’t dance, barely drink at all, and get nervous about gambling even $20. It’s the kind of place where you can choose whatever persona you want and no one questions it. There’s a reason the slogan “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” exists.
So we went this past weekend and had a great time. We walked up and down the strip, marveling at the hotels and the décor. It still amazes me that someone had the idea of designing an indoor canal and sending gondolas with singing gondoliers up and down it. Vegas is unabashedly, awesomely overdone, definitely a “more is more” kind of place. We saw a Cirque du Soleil show and marveled at the acrobats. We saw Penn and Teller, which was a great show. We got to meet Penn and Teller, who after their shows mingle with the audience in the lobby, pose for photos, and sign autographs, which was very cool.
We ate. One afternoon, instead of doing lunch, we ordered three desserts because we couldn’t make up our minds which one looked the best. I tried Serendipity 3’s famous frozen hot chocolate, which I’ve wanted to do since I was a teenager and read about it in People magazine, and it was good. We toured Ethel M’s chocolate factory and got the best hot chocolate ever. I also think I’m completely spoiled on any other chocolate, because Ethel M’s chocolates were amazing. I typically hate chocolate with citrus, but one taste of Ethel M’s lemon satin crème in dark chocolate, and I was reassessing that opinion because it tasted fantastic.
We toured the Hoover Dam and marveled at the engineering. I had always thought of the Hoover Dam as primarily a hydroelectric power source, but in reality, its primary function is to control the flow of the Colorado River to make sure there aren’t floods and that there’s enough water for irrigation in agriculture. The Hoover Dam pays for itself, the original government money to build it was repaid, and the sale of power from the dam pays for current employees, maintenance, and operating costs. We had the fun of standing in two different states in two different time zones, so one of my feet was an hour ahead of the other!
We did a tiny bit of gambling. At the Hoover Dam, there are two angel statues, and the legend says if a person rubs all 20 toes on the statues, it gives them good luck at the casinos. I rubbed all 20 toes (because I’m a geek that way) and it sort of worked: I actually won about $30 in the penny slot machines that day. Apparently, it only works the day you do it though, because the next day I lost about $20 out of my winnings. Arthur and I pretty well broke even on the wins/losses, but then, we didn’t do much gambling. Both of us are very risk-averse, but it’s Vegas so I had to give it a very small whirl. My experience more or less confirms everything I was taught in statistics and probability about casinos: the odds are not in my favor.
Except for one short conversation, we made the trip an infertility-free zone. Vegas isn’t known for its family friendly atmosphere, so I wasn’t running constantly into pregnant women and small babies that reminded me of my problems. It was nice to rediscover that I’m someone beyond my infertility. I mean, I lived 28 years without much thought about children except a vague “someday”, and infertility isn’t my sum total as a human being. Being in treatment, though, has forced my life to revolve around cycles, medications, and doctor’s appointments. It’s easy to forget that there’s life besides infertility, tests, and charting. That was the best thing about this trip – the reminder that there is life beyond the wasteland.