"So, did you like Costa Rica? Would you recommend it to your friends?"
"Yes", I said through clenched teeth. I tried to think of a happier time spent in Costa Rica, with monkeys roaming the streets, frescas and plush greenery.
ClickClick. Crinkled brow. Click.Click.
"What did you like most? Was the food good?"
I think there are two times when it is physically impossible for me to have a coherent conversation: when the dentist is working on my teeth, and when I'm reluctantly visiting my OB/GYN. Especially if there are cameras charting my insides, painfully held in place by a semi-distracted technician. I was thinking she should know better than to attempt small talk and sully my memories of Costa Rica in the process.
"Everything was wonderful. Too much rain in October. Food is ok."
"Hmm. Did you have your left ovary removed?"
"Not that I know of."
"I can't find it."
I'm pretty sure I hadn't misplaced an ovary. The very painful left ovary was pretty much the reason I was in this mess. Having her question my ovary count mid-exam did not inspire confidence.
Almost an hour of annoying double clicking, uninspired small talk and painful prodding later, she cheerfully let me know that I could 'empty my bladder if I liked'. Although it probably wasn't her fault, I had long decided that I did not like this woman.
I finally sat in a regular exam room, fully dressed and awaiting the doctor's opinion. He would probably take his sweet time and let me fester in my thoughts: how I hated August; how I had been planning my meals for the last two weeks around replenishing the pints of blood I had hemorrhaged, again; how I was behind in my Project class and how my projects at work were neglected. The more I sat there waiting, the more I was determined not to think about why I was sitting in a room covered with diagrams of the female reproductive system and various stage fetuses in the womb.
"Hi! I'm Dr. B. I've taken a look at the pictures they took today and would like to discuss them with you." He wasn't looking at me. At all. "We've been able to locate the cause of some of your cramping. Obviously, we'll discuss it in a little more detail."
He placed a blurry black and white image in front of me, marked with computer lines--the result of almost two hours of double-clicking.
"What you see here are some obvious fibroids. This one here is the largest, about the size of a grapefruit. No one had ever mentioned this one to you? No? Hmmm. Well, this one here is about average size, imagine an orange. This grape-like cluster here is a more recent development. It will grow with time and get much bigger. There is one in the corner--right there. That's about the size of a tangerine, right next to the lime sized one..."
"Key lime or regular?", I interrupted.
"I'm asking if that last one is the size of a key lime or a regular lime."
He stopped and looked at me for the first time since he had walked in the room.
"If you had seen your doctor regularly, he--or she--would have noticed the larger ones. We can discuss treatment options, see what would work best in light of the endometriosis and your cysts."
"I have endometriosis?" I knew it was a stupid question as soon as I had blurted it. Of course I did. What else could have explained the excruciating pain that I suffered for years? And the GI problems that had a rotating series of diagnoses for years .
"I do get regular exams. I just have incompetent doctors who refused to examine me and put me on birth control when I asked for it. Which is how I ended up spending my honeymoon in surgery for a ruptured cyst that bled into my abdominal cavity for a whole day. I get examined at least once a year."
I was exhausted. I didn't really care what he said anymore, even though I could hear him droning on. "...and obviously, pregnancy isn't impossible. Have you been trying to conceive?"
"No. I'm happy with the fruit bowl I have going there." The truth was, we hadn't been trying to get pregnant, because we were too poor to think of adding another person to our family. But more than that, I sat there thinking I had cursed myself when M and I had dated. I had told him I didn't know if I wanted children, and if he wanted kids, he should probably move on to someone else. He stayed.
The doctor handed me a box of Kleenex and sat in silence for a bit. "As I mentioned, pregnancy is not impossible. You would need monitoring and treatment. Obviously, there are miracles in my line of work as well. There are women with severe cases of endo that conceive very quickly and have fairly uncomplicated pregnancies. This is not a final diagnosis. And many people choose to adopt."
I don't remember anything else that he said. He talked for a long time before he sent me home; I don't remember getting home. I just found myself inside our home, contemplating the dust bunnies and citrus sized lumps in my uterus. M called at some point and asked how my appointment went. For a moment, I regretted insisting that I go through the day on my own. I wanted him beside me, but was too stubborn to say anything. I tried to make light of what had happened; I emphasized the fruitiness. I lied to him for another few minutes about how fine everything was and went back to observing the dust bunnies.
And that is how I am where I am. Every year, I curse August, because for the past seven years, that is when all my problems rear their head. Every August I am alone--and lonely. If I loved my friends' children before, I cling to them even more now, knowing that I will be their"Aunty", and not just Mommy's friend. I rejoice in the arrival of babies around me. I clench my teeth and lie to my family when they ask me when I will have children--they don't know my secret and I have no intention of sharing it with them. Life moves on and brings new projects, distractions and miracles with it. And each time, I try to drown a little bit more.