Finding myself spread eagled on an x-ray table on a Friday afternoon was not really my idea of fun, but needs must. You see, when struggling with infertility you have to open up your mind (and your legs) to all the testing that comes with it. So, on Friday I had a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), which is basically flushing fluid through your fallopian tubes to see if they’re blocked. From research and feedback of others having had this done, I quickly came to realise that everyone had a different experience in terms of pain, bedside manner, medicine, etc, so my expectations had to be curbed as I was hearing stories of breezing through with no discomfort to feeling contraction-like pain.
Getting the HSG arranged in the first place was pretty easy. I was due to have an investigative operation called a Laparoscopy along with the tube flush three months after our initial consultation in June, but soon that deadline passed and I hadn’t heard anything. A quick phone call later had me set straight with an 8-10 month wait, which would just not do. Fortunately, my consultant appears to be pretty proactive and within a few days I had a letter drop through my door with confirmation of a HSG referral and a telephone number to call when my period started. I also had a one off prescription for an antibiotic to take on the morning of the procedure, in case of any infection whilst my cervix was open, and a recommendation to take painkillers.
Five days later I found myself nervously driving up to the city to Southmead Hospital, where my husband met me to provide me with some much needed support. I actually felt really relaxed going in to the hospital, it’s a fairly new building and set out like an airport. You check in at a kiosk and proceed to a gate, just like going on holiday! Actually, is that some kind of cruel game they’re playing? Next time I go to the airport I’m going to be thinking about this experience!
Anyway, a friendly looking nurse called us through and unfortunately my husband had to sit and wait in a different room, but to know he was there settled my nerves. I got taken into a big wet room with a toilet, shower and a pile of gowns and was given a cup to wee in. A few minutes later the nurse came back and did a pregnancy test just to make sure. “Nope, not pregnant!” she announced. No fucking shit lady! She left to me change into the gown, which I was told must have the flap open at the back and a little while later a second door to the room opened, fortunately I had just about managed to wrap myself up. The fresh faced nurse stood before me smiled and spoke in a very soft Irish accent. She had a calm manner which set me at ease as she helped tie up my gown. Leading me through to a big room she told me to take a seat. I stood there pondering the best possible way to sit down to avoid cheek-on-chair, if you get me… so I opted for the awkward shifting of the gown and perching on the edge.
A few minutes later the door opened and a very together-looking lady walked in. “Hi, I’m Doctor, err… (sorry, can’t remember her name) …and I’m going to talk you through the procedure before we start.” She was very descriptive of what she was going to do, so at least I knew there would be no surprises! Once all explained she asked me to lay on the bed. It was a scary bed, because above it was this big circular thing and monitors and big red and green buttons, just like something I’ve watched on Grey’s Anatomy.
Now, for anyone who has had a cervical screening, the beginning was just like that. There’s a plastic tool called a Speculum that they insert into your vagina. Easy peasy, no problem. Feeling confident about my freshly spruced foof and no desire to pass wind, I allowed myself to relax whilst she had a good look. After a minute or two she popped her head up between my legs and told me that my cervix looked “raw”. Well, I wouldn’t be lying if I didn’t feel like that was true. It’s something I have felt over these past few months with the Clomid periods. I’ll do another post on that, but for now it’s not an issue. She then inserted a tube into my cervix with a little balloon attached to it, which she inflated to hold the tube in place. The nurse pulled down a big piece of equipment over my pelvis and pulled some monitors round, which showed my uterus and fallopian tubes… apparently! Just looked like a load of fuzz to me!
The doctor then attached a big syringe to the end of the tube that she had previously loaded with some sort of clear looking thick gel. This was it, the moment that could change everything… they were either blocked, or not. As the doctor announced she was about to start, the Irish beauty appeared at my head ready with oodles of small talk, I guess designed to take my mind off things, but it’s hard to talk about traffic when someone is hands deep in my vagina! Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but you know what I mean.
Twinge. Light cramp. Bigger cramp. Ouch, this hurts kind of cramp. Oh my fucking hell this is painful kind of cramp. Tears forming in my eyes kind of cramp. What to do? Count, just count Gemma… one. two. threee. ffffour. fiiiiiive. ssssssix. sssevvvven. eeurgheight. niiiiiine…”and we’re done!” The pain instantly left. Thank goodness and a relief to hear her say my tubes were both clear. Phew! So, for me it was painful but it was quick. The staff had an excellent bedside manner and I felt completely at ease and safe in their hands. Once dressed, I was handed a hot cup of coffee and was sent off to join Hubs in the waiting room. I felt a little giddy, but after 10 minutes I was perfectly fine and we were able to leave.
For me, well for us, it was a really positive experience all round. Sure, it’s not a particularly nice procedure, but the way it was all handled before, during and after was excellent in our books. It took me a good sofa session to feel brighter, but there’s nothing wrong with that eh?! I also had some light brown spotting which turned pink for a few days, but nothing a good old panty liner couldn’t handle. The following day I had a letter to say the Laparoscopy had been scheduled for the end of November, as I guess there was a cancellation or something (how bloody typical), so I could have actually had it all done in one go in the end. However, my consultant phoned to say she was happy with the results of the HSG and doesn’t see the need for me to have the surgery, so it’s been cancelled and we have a follow up appointment with her on the 22nd November to discuss the next steps. If we wish to continue with Clomid we may, as we’ve been told any assisted treatment we may have to have won’t start until the New Year, but I need to have a long think about whether I want to tackle another round of Clomid or have a hormonal free Christmas!
Hmmm, tough decision…or is it?