Thursday evening I’m standing in line at Whole Foods with my friend Kate when my phone rings.

“Hi Lydia, it’s Dr. Gynecologist. I have your lab results. Is now a good time?”
Not particularly, I’m in line to pay for dinner and I have six people coming to my house in 3 minutes.
“Sure.”

Sometimes I’m a certifiable idiot.

“So one of the numbers is too high and something else is too low and blah blah blah post-menopausal blah blah blah…”
Kate, looking at me, turns around and grabs the first bottle of wine that she sees and adds it to the stack of lettuce and quinoa salad.
“…blah blah we can speak to the fertility people at the hospital but something else on your results makes me think egg harvesting won’t work and, remind me of your timeline for wanting children?”
I hand me credit card to the cashier. “Not for at least another year, I still haven’t hit my one-year anniversary from finishing chemo.”
“Oh, right. Well you might want to think about egg donors.”

I notice that the check-out person has just handed me a bag of groceries so full that I can’t even carry it with one hand. I tuck my phone under my ear, grab another bag, and redistribute. Kate finishes paying for the flourless chocolate cake and her own bottle of wine (have I mentioned that my friends are AMAZING?) and we start walking out.

“Where are my AMH levels?”
“Really low.”
“Could any of this still be related to the fact that I’m continuing to clear chemo and the Lupron out of my system?”
“Possibly, but AMH measures your ovarian reserves, it’s not a hormone test, so it’s unlikely that that result has been affected by chemo. That little period you had was probably just a blip.”

Oh, yeah, I spent a couple weeks ago really excited that I sort of got a period. I spotted for five days in a row! My oncologist and acupuncturist were very excited for me, both assuring me that it takes a lot of energy to build up a full lining, so this meant that I probably actually cycled. I had also stopped getting hot flashes. I felt practically normal!

“Well, um, thanks I guess. I’ll talk to my husband and get back to you. Oh, could you please email me these lab results?”
“I’ll put them in the mail.”

That’s it. No, “I’m sorry to have to tell you this,” no “maybe we should get an ultrasound,” no, “maybe we should wait another few months to take another test.” What is it with these people?

Kate, who knows more than any of us should about this crap, looked at me.
“I think she just told me that I’m post-menopausal.”
“What are your actual numbers?”
“I have no idea.”

I blurred. This happened to me when I was initially diagnosed with cancer. My brain stopped functioning and everything, sight sound everything, got blurry. We walked home, chatting about this. I found another friend in the lobby. We got upstairs and started setting up dinner. Kate handed me a glass of wine and nodded when I started gulping. My husband got home, took me into the bedroom, and held me while I wept. More friends showed. I pulled myself together and went out to our living room, said hello, gave hugs, poured more wine, and sat down. Then kind of exploded.

“You guys are all really close friends so you might as well know that my new gynecologist called me this evening to inform me that after one blood test I’m probably infertile and should find an egg donor.”
“One blood test?”
“Did she recommend an ultrasound?”
“Oh sweetie.”
“Have you spoken to your oncologist?”
One of my closest friends, who is now five months pregnant after a year of trying, got that look on her face that she gets when she starts feeling guilty. I grabbed her hand. “Stop it. Whatever is going through your head right now STOP it. I’m thrilled for you. This is my problem and doesn’t make me any less happy for you or mad at you or anything so knock it off.” She grimaced.

I poured another glass of wine.

At some point in the evening, Michael and I turn to each other, take a deep breath, and agree that when we get the results, we’re taking them to the one empathetic fertility/reproductive person that we’ve met in this entire process to figure out next steps.

 

Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

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