HSG, Take 2

Thank goodness for second chances.  My repeat HSG happened today, and I am glad to report, went much better than the first.

I arrived at the hospital, got registered, and reported straight to radiology.  No mix-ups in departments today.  I checked in and sat down resolutely with my book.  I refused to even look at the People magazines on the table.  Normally, I love People, but there’s always a feature on which celebrity just had a baby, got pregnant, or “stylish maternity clothes”.  After Friday’s disaster, reading those sorts of articles didn’t have any appeal.  I didn’t need those to get me worked up or more nervous.

The technologist called me back.  Before I stepped into the small, attached bathroom to undress, I called Arthur.  I knew he could make it over on his lunch break, and that I really wanted his hand to hold this time.  I undressed, got my gown, sat down on the table and arranged my sheet.  The technologist escorted Arthur in and Dr. B arrived.

There’s no denying that an HSG isn’t a hugely comfortable procedure.  It’s like a pap smear on steroids that goes on for several minutes.  Today, I’d say the discomfort only got as high as a 5-6 out of 10 for just a moment, and that the majority of the time it was more like a 2-3.  The catheter went in better, and because I’d already seen what it looked like, it didn’t have quite the freak-out factor it did before.  My emotional state was less of a factor because I had Arthur right there, and also because I knew the worst news I could get was confirmation that the right tube was indeed blocked.

Once everything was in place, the radiologist came in and the test started.  Arthur got to hold my hand when Dr. B started the dye going, and it mostly felt like bad menstrual cramps.  That was when the radiologist and Dr. B both looked at the screen, slightly surprised.  Apparently my uterus is severely tilted to the left.  This won’t have a bearing on conceiving, but it does explain some of the problems on Friday with getting the catheter positioned and why no one could get dye to spill through the right tube.  It’s also something that’s handy to know for fertility procedures that involve placing a uterine catheter such as IUI.

This time, I saw the radiologist start nodding.  “There it is,” he said, “the dye is spilling from both the right and the left fallopian tubes.”  I exhaled a big breath I wasn’t even aware I was holding.  While it’s a long way from a positive pregnancy test, it’s definitely a relief to get back a good test result.

I think the biggest mistake I made prior to Friday was refusing to acknowledge the myriad emotions surrounding infertility and my life.  I tried to play off the test like it was no big deal.  That may be the case for some women, but for me, an HSG represented an enormous, scary unknown.  I’ve had a large number of tests in the past several months.  The initial set of tests that led to the diagnosis of PCOS.  The transvaginal ultrasounds that revealed no ovulation on Clomid or Femara.  And that’s not to mention blood work or the negative OPKs or pregnancy tests.  All of these test results have changed my life, and not in a good way.

So even though the HSG was essentially a formality to move towards more dramatic treatment options, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that this might trigger some very strong emotions.  Coupled with the invasiveness of the test, the physical discomfort, and the anxiety, I definitely didn’t do myself any favors by trying to convince myself it was no big deal.

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