On today’s episode of Sharing My Infertility Story with Absolute Strangers: the bloodwork laboratory technician!
Meet your bloodwork laboratory technician who’s going to perform your fertility workup today. She’s got a bucket – yes, a bucket – full of empty vials, and every single one of them is going to be filled today. She’ll ask you to spell your name and identifying information, just to make sure you haven’t sent in a patsy to take your place. Then she’ll look pointedly at your right arm, tie the tournaquet, poke at the inside of your elbow and frown. This is where you say, “The left arm is usually better.” Without an argument, she accepts your offer of the alternative arm and agrees with your vein-viability assessment. The only unfortunate part is that the blood-drawing leather loveseat you’re in (I told you this hospital was secretly a spa) doesn’t have an arm table on the left side, so you’re stuck sitting in the chair sideways with your left arm stretched across your body.
I have had horrendous experiences giving blood both for blood donations and for simple blood tests. People either hit the vein or they don’t. If they’re not experienced enough, they don’t even think a vein is there. Twice I’ve had to have the pediatric butterfly needle used on me. I’ve had multiple pokes, I’ve had digs (which are the absolute worst), and I’ve had collapsed veins.
On today’s episode of SMISWAS, the tech hits the good vein the first time and despite drawing a bucket full of blood, your vein doesn’t collapse or give her a hard time. BUT just because there wasn’t any vein drama doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of awkwardness!
*Thup* The first vial is attached and starts filling with blood. “So will this be your first child?” What a way to start a conversation. “Yes.”
“How long have you been trying?” *Thup* Next vial.
“A year and a half.”
“Have you done IVF yet?” Woah, a little personal!
“My husband and I have been trying for two. I have hyperthyroidism.” *Thup* “I had my thyroid removed in December.”
I note the pink scar on her neck. “That must have been very difficult for you.” I had switched into counselor mode and had wanted to tell her I was sorry to hear that, but in some other meaningful way – because when you’re struggling with infertility the last thing you want someone to say is, “I’m sorry.”
*Thup* “Yeah, it was.” The conversation seemed to stop. So I thought I’d volunteer my story, since it seemed we were sharing…
“I have a unicornuate uterus.”
I never expect to hear this answer from a medical professional but unfortunately I hear it all the time: “What’s that?”
“Basically I have half a uterus.” *Thup*
“That’s fun!” She means that statement. It’s not sarcastic at all. “I mean, not fun for you, but fun.”
I wasn’t sure what she meant. “It showed up as a deflated balloon on the HSG.”
This is where the other technican jumps in – either to save her colleague from continuing down the insensitive, flippant path or just out of curiosity – “Are you draining your patient?” she said, laughing at the sound of yet another vial being tossed into the bucket.
“Yep, draining her. And as a matter of fact – ” she pulls out the needle and wraps up the wound – “I need you to sit here for a few minutes because I took so much blood from you.” I watched as she wrapped individual labels on each of the vials, presumably with my information and the test intended for the vial. She asked me how I was then dismissed me. I mustered up a “Thank you, have a nice day,” although part of me really wanted to wish her luck.
Part of me wanted to acknowledge the pain and disappointment that I know she’s experiencing; but then part of me was angry at her comments and wanted to punish her for not being more sensitive to a fellow grieving infertilite. I felt her comment “That’s fun!” came out of some place of anger, like anger that her thyroid was removed and mine wasn’t. But I’m not angry at her for having a (presumably) normal uterus; I feel sorry for her that she might feel anger or jealousy towards me even though we’re in the same boat.
So writing this post now I think I should have been a better person and wished her good luck. After all, when there’s that much negativity, depression, sorrow, hurt, and guilt already surrounding you from these endless trials, there is more of a need for hope and love than there is for spite.