Tuesday, July 26, 2011

At the Endo's Office

I made my first visit to my new doctor yesterday. She's a reproductive endocrinologist. Probably 99% of the women who visit are there about... well, reproduction... I liked my doctor immediately because she recognized that, and rather than pretend like my last endo that she had seen "tons" of patients like me, she admitted she had only had a few. That's a good sign, because statistically speaking, there aren't too many of us out there.

They did a blood test and checked my hormone levels. Things looked a tad bit lower than optimal, so she's changing my Estradiol dosage and timing slightly. I'll take two smaller doses per day rather than one bigger one each evening so that my body can better process it. I'm a little bit nervous about having higher levels of estrogen in my system. My current job doesn't allow me to be irrational or overly emotional, and I guess I'm concerned that this is going to throw me off kilter awhile. I guess we'll see.

Because I arrived at the office so early, I got about 45 minutes to sit in the waiting room and people-watch. I lived in New York City for eight years, and on my daily commute via subway I enjoyed studying each person in the subway car and inventing little fictions about them. Now living in a smaller town without public transport, I have less opportunity to do that, so the waiting room gave me the opportunity.

I watched the heavy-set, nervous couple next to me and imagined the conversations they had about their difficulty conceiving. He did not look happy to be there, and I wondered if he was missing an important day at work, or perhaps insisted that their troubles conceiving were her fault and not his. At least half a dozen different women in their 30s came in alone at different times. Most seemed to be wearing floral skirts, as if the skirt was simpler to remove and put back on again before and after getting up in the stirrups. I'm guessing most were there for fertility treatments of some sort. Another, very sweet-looking couple appeared. The woman's face was pained and concerned. It was only her husband/boyfriend who was called to the back offices, maybe to provide a "sample" of some sort. Finally, a few young women came in and left quickly, their upper arms bandaged, looking relieved as if they'd accomplished something. Norplant recipients I guessed.

It struck me as significant that everyone had come to this same place for such very different reasons. I wished that it were like a marketplace, and people could trade what they didn't want for what they truly desired. It must have been tough for the hopeful couples or the women having trouble getting pregnant watch as others came in for the sole purpose of preventing a pregnancy.

I wondered briefly, as I sometimes do but less and less, about how my own life would have been different had I been a "typical" woman. Fertility could still have been an issue, like for many women. But perhaps I would have found myself making an entirely different set of decisions about my life had certain doors not been closed years ago.

Maybe I would have stayed near my small town and taken that full-ride scholarship that I'd been offered from the state university. Studied something more "reliable" like accounting. Maybe I would have had a boyfriend early on and married young. Had a few children at 25. And never moved anywhere else, or even left the country. Maybe I wouldn't have had half the experiences I've had, or met a quarter of the people... No riding the last waves of the dot-com era in New York. No stumbling out of the Limelight at 4:30 am. No treks through the Thai jungle or late night drinks with AP journalists under the stars in remote Ratanakiri. No list of friends all around the globe I want to visit. No time to study and read and write whatever and wherever it was I wanted.

That's not to say that a different sort of life would not have been fantastic... I once had a small crush on a guy who goes to my gym. Until I found out he was married. To his high school sweetheart. They have three gorgeous little boys. (If given the choice, I would always choose sons over daughters too.) When I learned he was clearly and unambiguously taken, I think I fell in love with his family instead, and I sometimes fantasize about what it would have been like to be him or his wife. To have been born and grow up here, live an "all-American" life, fall in love, marry, and do everything the "traditional" way. There is an odd sort of comfort to the idea, even for me. And a sweetness, which, though it might be illusory, is something I like to think about. I wonder if either of them would look at my life and wonder in the same way.

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