Depends on how you count. It’s part 2 of yesterday’s (now fully written) saga, or part 5 of the story since I first thought it might be nice to stop peeing every time I sneeze. Also? That’s supposed to be like “heeey, macarena” but I can’t seem to make my title sing for you, so in case you were all, “WTF?” That’s what.
So after my IUD came up MIA, my doctor sent me down to to radiology to get an ultrasound so that we could play “where’s Waldo” with a small, hormone-soaked piece of plastic. Because evidently they’re prone to wandering and we have to find out if it “migrated” anywhere interesting that might require inserting a tool through my belly button to retrieve. While my doctor is by no means a newb, I was her first migration patient. Lucky me. Fortunately, she already knows to wear her learning pants when Maya comes for a visit. Still, I felt kind of bad since she’d fit me in early and what should have been easy-in-easy-out just got complicated.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of a pelvic ultrasound outside of pregnancy, then you don’t know that you need a full bladder to provide reflectivity so the ultrasound can make images (presumably the amniotic fluid does this job when you’re pregnant). I was instructed to chug 32 ounces of water and wait. For someone who came to this strange world of complicated pelvic health issues through having pee troubles, every ultrasound is an anxiety attack in the making. Especially this one, since I happen to have a cold.
But I am nothing if not a good girl, and I drank my water and started blogging about this absurd development on my phone, while trying to ignore the Zimmerman trial coverage on TV because I’m already pretty emotionally delicate and the whole thing is so beyond disturbing. Since I was a STAT patient (which is a lot like being a VIP, except without being much fun because you’re cutting past cancer patients with walkers) I didn’t have to wait long. Except that my bladder wasn’t full enough yet, so I had to drink 2 more glasses of water and wait until it felt full. Awesome. Back to phone blogging. Except I forgot to charge my phone overnight, and the low-battery alert popped up. I hit save and prepared to brace myself for trial coverage.
Then the word “published” popped up on my phone, and I realized that my half-written post, including the phrase “[add story of insertion]” and a bunch of half-completed sentences, had not just saved, it had posted. If you ever wondered about my writing process, there it was. I started panicking as I looked for a way to take down the post without deleting it, but I couldn’t figure out how on the stupid WordPress phone app. So I added a desperate plea to look away and come back later, and swept it back into the “things I can’t do anything about” pile each time it tried to escape.
So, bladder full to bursting, I returned to the exam room for the most thorough ultrasound I’ve ever had in my life, by the most silent, focused technician I’ve ever had in my life. It was So. Boring. If they had put it on the ceiling, I would even have read VCR instructions, just to have something to do. I suggested that they put important information that they can’t get patients to read otherwise on the ceiling. Usually the tech will chat and joke with me, but this one didn’t even hear me the first time I said it. The second time she responded that some places put TVs up. I hate ubiquitous TV’s – I’ll take blank ceiling and an opportunity to be in the moment or something. I did take advantage of her brief attention to ask if there was something wrong or if she was just really thorough.
“I’m thorough,” she said. “Ever since I found one that had perforated this poor woman’s bowel, when everyone else thought it was in her uterus even though she was in excruciating pain, I take this stuff deadly seriously. Those things will go anywhere.”
Finally, blessedly, she let me pee so she could do the transvaginal ultrasound, which is where you stick a very long gel-drenched wand in your vagina and she waves it around your uterus like a really intimate fairy godmother who ultimately grants you a single wish: to get that fucking thing out of me. It also lasted awhile, because she’s so thorough (see above). Finally I cleaned myself up and went back upstairs to await the results and the fate of my day.
After a few minutes, the nurse came out and took me into a private room, which scared the holy hell out of me because I figured it must be really bad if she needed to tell me in private. It turned out she just didn’t want to tell me in public, “doc wants you to go back down for a few more views, just to be sure,” because evidently there are people in the world who think this sort of thing is private instead of blog fodder. But still no one would tell me where the damn thing was, or if it was in there at all. I was sort of beginning to wonder if it’s five year mission is to seek out new areas of the body and boldly go where no IUD is ever supposed to go.
So back downstairs I go, which turns out to be a good thing because I totally forgot my travel mug in the waiting room because I was too busy trying not to forget my new umbrella. I went back immediately and fortunately it was another transvaginal (yeah, I know – “fortunately? really?” That just shows you how far down this rabbit hole we’ve gone) so there would mercifully be no more water drinking. Though my kidneys were still working on the last batch, so I probably wouldn’t have needed more anyway.
She handed me a gown, which looked like it had to be the largest one they had and I probably could have wrapped it around my body at least three times. It’s a good thing I left my shirt on, because once I pulled it around me the sleeves opened across my boobs, offering absolutely no coverage. Still, at least it negated the need for a lap sheet.
She ran out to get the doctor – which I foolishly assumed was mine – and I found myself greeting with great familiarity…a random radiologist! …and her resident. Her very. hot. young resident. So now there are three people (one of whom I’m trying not to stare at) crowded in a dark room to watch my fairy godmother at work. Fortunately, they were all singly focused on the monitor. The radiologist, after several rounds of “huh, I don’t see it”, starts giving instructions: “Forward. Back. No, a little lateral…almost there…too far!” like some crazy anatomical version of Hot/Warm/Cold. I started giggling. I couldn’t help it. It just kept getting more absurd, just when I thought it couldn’t possibly.
And then she starts saying, “oh there’s a part of it! Do a sweep. Oh, there’s another part,” and I’m imagining that my uterus took this little piece of plastic and broke it into bits in protest, and I’m thinking, “of course it did. Only me.” I asked if I had indeed crumbled plastic with my bare uterus, and she responded that it was in one piece, was still in my uterus, but hiding behind a fibroid.
Let’s go over that again: Hiding. Behind a fibroid. Why is my uterus acting like a kindergartner? Hide and Seek, Hot/Warm/Cold, Keep-Away…is my uterus a playground bully?
I was released back upstairs and returned to the Sick-Vagina-Cave waiting room. I had enough battery left to text Jim that I wouldn’t be needing a scope and he could relax, and I resorted to reading magazines. I read three before the receptionist came over to ask me if I’d been seen yet. I hadn’t. Another patient in the Cave asked me how long I’d been there and I explained that I’d been there since 8 and had to have surprise ultrasounds, but that I had been fit in right before her vacation and didn’t mind waiting as long as it took. She commended my patience, which I felt really uncomfortable about accepting because we were in an oncologist’s office and the patience of waiting your turn to get a little plastic T removed is nothing compared to the patience required to go through cancer treatment where you’re getting little zombie pieces of your own flesh turned against you removed, and then need to continue monitoring it forever. So yeah, I can totally waste a day in a waiting room without needing special recognition.
She asked me if I wanted to know what time it was; I decided I didn’t. I knew it had been 11:30 when I texted Jim after radiology, and that the tea cart came around with cookies not long after and I was starting to feel hunger pangs again. But once you know the time, you start needing to keep knowing the time, and then it starts creeping by just to make sure you don’t miss knowing it. Instead I found a fourth magazine. It was the last, unless I wanted to get into titles about parenting or wine, or the latest in cancer treatment. Fortunately it had a bit more substance than the fashion and fitness mags I’d already flipped through, but I still cursed my chargerlessness.
The Cave cleared out. It re-filled and cleared again. I was reminded, as I struggled to ignore it, of just how bad daytime television is (MORE ubiquitous televisions! Did I mention that I hate those things with the fury of a thousand suns?). Finally, the nurse came out to tell me I was next. When I went into the room, it was sometime after 3 and I was really glad I hadn’t let that other patient tell me the time. The doctor came in and asked if I’d gotten her message. I hadn’t, because my phone was dead. Someone had told her I left, and she had called me an hour or so ago to find out where I was. Fuck. This. Day. Really.
She explained that she’d do her best to fish it out, but that if she couldn’t get it we’d have to do surgery. I don’t want more surgery; anesthesia is not my friend. Fortunately (?) I have what she considers to be a disturbingly high tolerance for pain when it comes to poking around in my uterus, and she said that if it were anyone but me she wouldn’t even try. I explained that once you’ve had the skin of your vagina burned off with acid and been stuck in transitional labor for hours, a bit of poking around with pliers isn’t so bad. I mean, it’s not what I’d choose for a vacation activity, but it’s nothing a bit of deep breathing can’t manage. I don’t know how I manage to be simultaneously hypersensitive to medications and almost completely insensitive to uterine mauling, but hey, what the heck?™
Which is not to say it was comfortable. I could actually feel her trying to push the fibroid aside to get behind it. She kept mumbling about feeling it but not being able to grab it. She pulled out the pliers to give me a break before having another go, but to her surprise, she’d come out holding the gory device and cried victory.
I did what I like to believe anyone in my position would have done after a day of poking and prodding and waiting and not getting a chance to eat anything but a small bag of cookies: I reached down between my legs and I flipped that motherfucker off. Mirena is an asshole.
And then my doctor did something that secured her place in my heart as my favorite doctor ever: she flipped that motherfucker off, too. She certainly had a right; she was supposed to be in a meeting all afternoon, but instead she wound up dealing with a big dose of “what the heck?”™ But it’s truly a rarity when you get to bond with your doctor over flipping off an inanimate object, and I treasure it.
Also? She let me keep it. I’d make it into a necklace, but it would keep rubbing levonorgestrel on my chest and I am done with that chemical (unless I ever need Plan B). So I ask you, dear readers: what should I do with my useless $800 piece of torture plastic?