My HSG, A Pas de Deux in Three Parts

If there was ever a need for a sign that infertility has really warped my sense of humor (which was pretty warped to begin with), it’s that when I was on the table for my HSG and Dr. Uterus was getting ready to get started, all I could think was that we were about to perform a medical pas de deux. I mentioned this to Dr. Uterus and said that the only difference is that I wasn’t wearing a tutu and he wasn’t wearing tights. Much to my horror, he said, “how do you know I’m not?” I warned him not to make me laugh while he was putting delicate things in delicate places.

Having an HSG really is a delicate dance. I had to lie on a very flat, very uncomfortable table with no stirrups, but I still had to lay like I was in the stirrups. Dr. Uterus explained that he was going to insert the speculum and then the balloon catheter, while demonstrating the balloon. I really hate the speculum, and I think I’ve had more than my fair share of cold metal encounters with it. But, such is your lot in life with infertility. In went the speculum, and then the catheter (all of which is pretty much like a typical IUI). It got very uncomfortable with the balloon inflation, but that was just the beginning of the fun.

Once the balloon was inserted, he then pulled the speculum out half way and the radiology technician pulled me up the table while Dr. Uterus was still holding the catheter down below. They got me positioned and I saw the initial picture of the dye making its way through my uterus and the tubes. At this point, it was getting really uncomfortable with major cramping. The last HSG I had was also very uncomfortable because the tubes were completely blocked. This time, it wasn’t as painful, but it was still unpleasant.

When he got all of the pictures that he wanted, he removed the nasty balloon catheter and the speculum. I was able to lie like a normal person again waiting for the cramping to go down. Dr. Uterus and I chatted for a while and eventually I was able to go to the bathroom. Much spotting ensued and I was finally on my way, a full hour after I was supposed to be finished.

The good news: the tubes are open and ready for business. Incoming!

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My HSG

As you may have guessed from the title, I went in for my HSG today. Dr. Uterus always does these at the hospital to which his office is attached because his office doesn’t have the facilities to do x-rays. The hospital, which is religious, requires you to check in even if you are having a simple procedure, like an HSG. This is why I had to show up a half an hour before my procedure (not that that in any way guaranteed that it started on time).

The last time I had my HSG here, you still had to check in, but you checked in at the older part of the hospital. It reminded me a lot of when you would go to the bank to open a new checking account. You put your name on the list and waited (and waited and waited) for your name to be called. Once it was called, you went up to a large counter that was partitioned off into small cubicles. You met the person who called your name and they discussed the intimate details of your insurance, the procedure you were having and other sordid details such as your religious affiliation (just in case you croak in the middle of your HSG and the have to perform the final rites?). In addition to the decor being seriously outdated, the cubicles were separated from each other by a flimsy little cardboard partition which let the person in the next one know your business and you know theirs. In the age of HIPAA, it’s not surprising that this has gone the way of the dinosaurs.

Probably recognizing that there was a much better way of doing this, the hospital now has you check in at the snazzy new reception desk, which is tastefully appointed in granite countertops and terrazzo tile. It also happens to be right across the way from the lactation center. Thanks for that Insensitive Hospital Administrators (not to mention the maternity tour schedule right there where you check in. Double argh!). Anywho, the greatest improvement is that they now have little individual offices where you check-in. You still put your name down on the little sheet and wait for them call your name. In the category of bad planning, the reception area opens up into a huge atrium that is covered in stone and of course echoes everywhere. So, when my name was called – and thoroughly butchered – everyone got to hear it.

The person doing the calling was a perky woman in her mid-30s. She directed me to walk down a hall and meet her at the third door. I went in and she came in through another door (it reminded me a lot of the booths you see in the red light district in Amsterdam where the glass door in front showed the ‘goods’ and the door in the back allowed the ‘goods’ to leave). She took my ID and insurance card while verifying that certain information is still valid.

Then she asks the $10,000 question: what is my religious affiliation? I’m sure it stated no preference or something to that effect, which is probably what I had said in the past when there was just that little cardboard between you and someone else. But, the privacy and security of that little room made throw caution to the wind and rather than tow the party line of “no preference”, I confessed the truth: “I’m an atheist”, I said. At the mention of that one little word, she snapped her head up, then tilted it to the side while she asked in a very serious tone of voice with a hint of derision and accusation, “Why?” It was as if I told her I was going to move to the third world and give up all of my worldly possessions to live as one with the land.

Why indeed, my dear. Why do you believe in a deity that allows so many couples to be childless while ignorant 16-year olds give birth everyday? Why do believe in a God that allows child and animal abuse and that people kill in the name of? Why not instead put my faith in myself and hold myself accountable for my faults rather than chalk it all up to the divine? Unfortunately, she didn’t seem to be able to appreciate this depth of reasoning, so I just said, “I’ve always been that way.”

Who knows, maybe I was the first person who ever confessed to actually be an atheist. Maybe she was wowed by my manners and the fact that I wasn’t carrying around a hatchet, hell bent on destruction. Maybe she was just puzzled that I chose to go to a religious hospital. I do know that it amused me greatly and made me smile as I walked the long hallway to radiology for my date with Dr. Uterus and some dye.