The E Word

September 19, 2018

We’ve all had that doctor, dentist, eye doctor, or whatever medical service you’re seeking that blows up your phone a day or two before your appointment with calls or texts to confirm your appointment. I even called to make a dentist appointment a few days ago and he didn’t have an open appointment so I’m now on a cancellation list, but I continue to get the text that I’m behind on my 6-month cleaning and I need to make an appointment. Like, dude, I tried to make the appointment and you’re too busy to see me so quit with the texts that my teeth slowly rotting away is my fault! (Note to self: Start flossing now, and maybe by the time there’s an appointment, you won’t get scolded for not flossing for, what, like the 30th year in row?)

The morning of my appointment with my newest RR-recommended gynecologist, (ummm, we’ll call her, uh, Dr. GG, short for Dr. Geriatric Gyno? Sure, that works…) I realized I had never received a text or call to confirm the appointment. Just making the appointment had been this whole thing. See, it was a lot like that episode of Sex and the City where Mr. Big is dating some model and he can never get in touch with her, but *he* always answers when *she* calls. I think the line is “She can reach me, but I can’t get her!” or something like that. When I called to make the appointment with Dr. GG, it immediately went to voicemail with the normal, “If this is an emergency, hang up and dial 9-1-1.”  blah, blah blah…until it finally gets to whatever number you have to press to just leave a friggin’ message. I leave a message that I would like to make an appointment and get a callback 5 minutes later.  I make the appointment, the women on the other end tells me to bring any past medical records (BOOB MAPS, y’all!!!), my insurance card, and to arrive 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork.

So, it dawns on me in the shower that the office hadn’t called to confirm. I get out of the shower and call the office only to be sent straight to voicemail again where I leave a message making sure I was all set for my appointment that day.  5 minutes later…no callback. 15 minutes later…no callback. It’s right at the mark where I need to leave to make the appointment because of L.A. traffic…no callback. I decide that I’m sure everything is cool, the universe wouldn’t follow-up my visit with RR like that, and I head that way.  You can guess where this is going, right? Maybe I need to get into crystals or cleanse my aura or something because there’s seriously a crystal store a street over from us, but charging them during full moons and all that jazz just seems like something I wouldn’t really keep up with and all. Plus, I gotta floss, yo!

I walk into Dr. GG’s office, sign my name on the check-in list, and sit down in a chair all while the partition to the front desk is closed, but there are obviously people back there. Another couple walks in and sits down, then another, and another. It didn’t even occur to me to bring Scott to this appointment. Have I already messed up here too? I didn’t even wear lotion this time! I’m looking around at the grossness that was the chairs in this waiting room (so much so, I think I even threw an Instagram story up about the stains on these chairs …yea, thrilling content on my Instastories there, folks! You must follow me immediately!) and then I hear my name called to come up to the front desk.

I can immediately tell that they don’t have me on the schedule for my appointment. *I didn’t get this appointment day or time incorrect.* I immediately put it in both my shared calendar with Scott and work calendar right after I made it. I mean, this was my new geriatric gynecologist that RR recommended and I wasn’t going to miss this appointment. The front desk lady tells me to have a seat and she’ll be back in a minute. She closes the partition again, I sit down, and then the whole office gets to hear the front desk/nurses in the back talking about how they’ve never heard of me. Awe-soooome. Also, a thin plastic partition is basically the Cone of Silence (oh man, this is an old one from my Nick-at-Nite as a child days before it was all Friends, all the time! Google: Get Smart. Cone of Silence. Perhaps my references shed a lot of light on the state of my ovaries & eggs, huh?) Front desk lady slides the partition open again and sticks her head out to ask me why I was here to see Dr. GG. My thoughts on this development: Uhhh…do I yell out from across the room that I have old ovaries and rotting eggs and I’m here to find out what to do about them? Wait…aren’t there HIPAA Laws that make asking me that in front of all these couples pretty much illegal? Ugh. Can I just melt into one of these stains on this chair?

I get up and walk back up to the desk to explain why I’m here to meet with Dr. GG AT MY SCHEDULED APPOINTMENT TIME. Nope, it ain’t gonna happen today. They have no record of my voicemail, appointment, or general existence. I am a geriatric ghost to them. The front desk lady says they have an appointment open around the same time the next day and I can go ahead and fill out the insurance forms since I’m here to save time tomorrow. Oh, goody! I take the forms and sit back down then immediately try to fight back the tears forming in my eyeballs. And then, I got sushi.

September 20, 2018

Round Two! Here we go! I return to Dr. GG’s office the next day and breeze right on in because I didn’t have to fill out all those pesky forms.

The nurse takes me back to Dr. GG’s office vs. an exam room because I had definitely let them know the day before that a Pap smear was not needed. I didn’t want to talk about my aging eggs again so soon while I was in a position where a gyno could practically touch them. We enter the office and there’s Dr. GG…aaaaaand, a twenty-something pre-med student intern who’s shadowing Dr. GG.   yay.   Talking about my decaying late-30s body in front of a woman with most of her procreational future in front of her is just what I wanted to do.

Dr. GG asks me what I’d like to talk about and I tell her a bit about my Reproductive Reaper exam. (I left out that whole part about RR being a soul-sucking demon from gynecological and adoptive parent hell.) Dr. GG basically says it was good that RR gave me a reality check and it’s unfortunate my previous dude gyno didn’t. My brain: Oh God. I don’t think I can do this again. I can’t handle another woman telling me I’m too old to have a baby. I am related to or friends with or know at least FOUR women who are either 40 or 40+ and are currently pregnant or just had a baby. If this woman says *38-AND-A-HALF* to me, I’m getting up and walking out straight to the first male OBGYN I see on the street.

Dr. GG didn’t do any of that and, while definitely direct, she had a much gentler touch than RR. However, our conversation was a whirlwind of numbers, age factors, charts, cycle points, sperm samples, and tests with certain timelines that needed to be done on me (see pic at the top of this post).  I tried to follow along, but it was a lot of information to take in alone. Maybe that’s why there were so many couples in the waiting room because you needed two people to absorb all this info and make sense of it at home together. She said she didn’t like to do “fertility work-ups” around the holidays because people are busy, traveling, and since all the tests are determined by my cycle that it might be best to wait to test until January (2019).  So. much. info. to. process.  But, Dr. GG saying we could get all this going after the holidays made me relax a bit. See, I wasn’t too old to have a baby! We can wait until after Christmas! Santa Claus *IS* real!

Here’s my adorable nephew with a visual of how my brain felt during and after this conversation.

 

After the mind-spinning conversation, Dr. GG wanted to do an ultrasound to get a feel for how my uterus, ovaries, eggs…all that fun stuff looked. If you’ve never had the pleasure of getting up close and personal with your uterus & ovaries, this ultrasound is done by inserting a probe into a woman’s vagina. It’s not crazy uncomfortable, but I also wouldn’t sign up to do it for fun on my weekends. Also, no hospital gown…we’re back to the paper thin sheet to cover my private parts. Soooo, Dr. GG is probin’ around in there and, as she shifts towards my right ovary, a giant black blob appears on the screen. I am used to little black boob blobs. I came prepared with my boob maps. But this, this is uncharted territory for me. I don’t have maps or a compass or even navigation by the North Star for this one.

Note: I am not a doctor and you’re getting the rest of this story through my not-a-doctor lens, but I’m hitting the main points.

Cut to my brain: Uhhhh. Is that a tumor? It’s not a tumor! (Google: It’s not a tumor. Kindergarten Cop.) Surely, she’s not about to tell me I have a tumor.

Dr. GG: “Hmmmm. Here by your right ovary…do you see this mass right here?” (pointing at the ominous black blob floating around in my lower abdomen).

Cut to my brain: MASS?! Umm, yes. I see that giant black growth. Wtf (sorry, Mom) is it?!

Me (out loud this time): “Yes, what is that?”

Dr. GG: “Well, it could be a cyst or an endometrioma.”

My brain: Wait…what?! Endometrioma? Like, I have Endometriosis? I know people with Endometriosis and, like, I follow celebs with Endometriosis on Instagram and they all talk about all the pain associated with it. I’m not in extreme pain. Didn’t Lena Dunham have a hysterectomy because of Endometriosis?! I do not like Girls. I don’t even know why I hate-watched that show.

Me (out loud again): “An endometrioma? Meaning I have Endometriosis?”

Dr. GG: “Potentially. Have you ever experienced painful menstrual cycles or intercourse? Any extreme cramping during your menses?”

My brain: Ok, Jessica…she didn’t say tumor. Also, menses?! That’s an actual medical term? She said the E-word. But, doesn’t Endometriosis make it hard to have a baby? Do I need surgery? God, I wish I brought Scott with me.

Me: “Not really. I had a painful period in June, but that’s really the first time I can remember a super, painful period and I was traveling/eating badly so I just chalked it up to that.”

Dr. GG: I think we should get you scheduled for a fertility work-up sooner rather than later.  I’m going to go put together the paperwork you’ll need for the labs and fertility clinic. We’ll also get you in to confirm the Endometriosis and see if you need surgery. The surgery would involve going in and scra-…removing the endometrioma.

My brain: Waaait…SHE WAS GOING TO SAY “SCRAPE” AND CORRECTED HERSELF TO “REMOVE”!!!!!! Tick…tick…tick…BOOOOOOOOOOM.  *head explodes* Wait…I thought we didn’t have to worry about this until January. Large black blob of awfulness moved this up, didn’t it? It’s Endometriosis. Why isn’t she just telling me that?!?!…!!!!!!!!!!!

I got dressed and made my way out to the front desk. I was presented with a mountain of forms and given verbal directions of “You’ll go do this test at this lab on day 3 of your cycle. On day 7-10 of your cycle, you’re going to go to this lab and get dye shot into your Fallopian tubes. Day 382947 of your cycle, you’re going to do the hokey pokey naked in the middle of Hollywood Blvd. as a sacrifice to the fertility gods. We wrote everything out on the forms so you’ll know when you need to do what.”

Nothing was processing in my brain at this point. I just kept saying “ok” over and over while looking intensely at these forms so it looked like I knew what was being said to me. The forms were just fuzzy papers I was holding in my hand. I looked down at them and they might as well have been in another language. I walked out of Dr. GG’s office, got in my car, and then had to go to work. No sushi.

This was all on a Thursday and I was going on vacation starting that Saturday so I had to go to work to get everything in order before I left for 1.5 weeks. I was also in the running for a potential temporary 6-month promotion at work where I would be the manager of my team. The urge to pull my name from the running was immediate. There was just no way I could do all this fertility stuff and take on my first-ever real management position with the title and all. I didn’t pull my name from the running. I decided I would tackle it and do my best to do an awesome job if I got it, but I found out the next day that I didn’t get the temporary position. While the very slight disappointment set in a few days later, at the moment I was told I didn’t get the job, I cried from relief. (It was over the phone so no tears were seen or heard.)

Leaving Dr. GG’s office, I knew I more than likely wouldn’t be able to go to all the labs and clinics she wanted me to go to because of my company’s insurance. Were those labs and clinics “in-network” or were there specific ones I needed to go to instead? We’ll talk about NBCUniversal’s fertility coverage in my next post, but I’m off to floss my teeth now.

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