Sunday, October 12, 2008


In my lifetime, I have been to doctors and hospitals several times. Actually I think I’ve been given more than a fair share of doctors and hospitals. But it’s not that I fall sick easily, I have a generally healthy body. I never missed days of school or work because of common illnesses. No common colds or chills or fevers or flu for me. Nah – I go for the big ones. I go bust my knee, and I do it again and again and again. Or I turn out to be infertile and I have to see one RE after another, again, and again, and again!

So the bottom line is, I’ve had a number of doctor visits, a number of surgeries, and a number of IVFs. But the patients at these clinics “appear” healthy.

At my orthopedic surgeon’s clinic, the other patients actually appear inspirational! Many have injured themselves playing some sport or doing some brave outdoor activity. Yes, there are the others that may have been in accidents, or the elderly that need help, but mostly orthopedic cases seem to be strapping healthy young cases.

At my RE’s office – again, patients that outwardly “appear” healthy. Yes, we’re all broken apart inside, and are sad, depressed, flustered, and yet hopeful, but on the outside we look “normal”.

The other day I had to go to our hospital’s radiology department for my mammogram. While I waited to be called in, just looking at the other patients there brought so many things into perspective for me. So many of the patients were visibly sick. There were tubes and pipes going into parts of their bodies, they were wheel chair bound, or they were wearing hats and scarves to cover their heads. My heart was in my mouth with pain and agony for each one of them.

Despite the pain that infertility has taken me through, physically my body is functional. It’s not being eaten up by a life threatening disease. My heart may be broken, but my body is not. It may not cooperate with me on a hormonal level, but it is still in my control on many other levels. I complain so much, while I actually have so much to be thankful for.

DH was in the car outside (he had driven with me because we had to head out somewhere together after my appointment). I was so shaken up that I called him and asked him to come sit with me while I waited.

We looked around and saw many elderly patients, accompanied by their adult children. DH came away with the thought that our parents are aging, and they live far away. Heaven forbid, what if they need us like this?

I feel selfish for coming away with the thoughts that I did come away with. I too saw the elderly people accompanied by their children. It struck me that tomorrow, that elderly person may be me. Who’s going to accompany me?

The few minutes in the waiting room of the lab brought things into perspective for me. I need to count my blessings more than I do. But at the same time, a possible glimpse into my future, and the possibility that it may be a very lonely future is scary.


nancy said...

But I don't think being broken inside is any better than being visible "sick". Sometimes it's even harder.

Nichole said...

I kind of agree with Nancy. Although IF may not directly kill us...I know that I am much more at risk for breast and ovarian cancer than most women my age. I also am predisposed to heart disease due to my insulin resistance.

I think sometimes people would be more sympathetic and understanding if I showed signs of "visibly" being sick though.

However, I totally agree that we need to be thankful for what we have and eventhough our hearts are broken, we are mad and frustrated, there is always someone out there that is worse off!

Nikki said...

I agree, Nichole and Nancy. I suffer from empty womb, and empty silent house day after day, and I know how it kills me, minute by minute, while on the outside I may appear normal.

But sitting there the other day, the ailing faces broke my heart for them. I have always agreed with the research that says dealing with IF causes the same stress as does dealing with cancer. So don't get me wrong, I'm not trivializing our pain.

What I felt that day was this - at this moment, IF is not making my hair fall out, it is not making me incapable of walking on my own, and it is not making me require tubes drilled into my neck to breathe. Yes, I am painfully aware that all the medicines we've been on, could take us down that road too. But today, I want to thank my stars for what I have.

Shelby said...

Upon leaving the hospital after confirmation of our miscarriage, Mr. S. and I were waiting for the elevator, holding back tears. As I stood there, I noticed a woman approach who was visibly dying. Her bald head was covered in a scarf and her body was skeletal. I'm guessing it was cancer. For a moment, in my grief, it did remind me that I still have life and health. While my heart is broken, I am still here, breathing. Like you said, this is not to minimize our pain, because while it is not visible, it is real and horrible, but we must hang on to anything we have that is positive. Right now, in this fight, just being alive is it.

Jackie. said...

Don't be too hard on yourself; all of this is a part of a process. To everything there is a season.

As for the rest of these smart women, I agree. Sure one can feel lucky to have a struggle with IF rather than one with life, but that does not reduce its pain. My second cousin Timmy died of cancer last month, and he was at peace with his life and the love he experienced in it because he knew it was ending. IF is different. It only ends when you say it's going to end. To me, the two situations are only comparable because they deal with human pain, one not being worse than another.


I Believe in Miracles said...

Devils advocate moment:
Is it better to look sick on the outside, but be well on the inside or is it better to look well on the outside, but be sick on the inside?

I don't know.