I didn't get a chance to write about this last week because of the book tour, but I chose the right waiting room chair at the new hematologist's office. Right after I sat down, I realized why all the chairs were empty on that side of the room and why everyone stared at me when I took my seat. There was an elderly couple beside me and while it wasn't clear who was the patient and who was simply accompanying the other to their appointment, the woman was loudly running through a monologue that stopped and started without warning.
"I look better now. I better look now. I now look better. I taller look now. I am taller. I look taller and I am taller and I look better and I am awful. I told him. I told him I was looking better. I look better all the time. Why did he say that to me? Why did he say that I look better? Why did he taller me? Why didn't he taller me? I was looking tall at you."
I used to volunteer at a hospital in the oncology unit and we had a woman who was losing the ability to remember words. Each time she lost a word, she replaced it with the word "depends." So in the beginning, she would say things like, "pass me that depends, Melissa." And by the end, her sentences were mostly comprised of the word "depends." This woman in the waiting room reminded me of the depends woman and it felt like a little return to that woman in the hospital. I spent the whole morning searching for small returns in some pre-appointment mental foot dragging.
Before the appointment, I had gone to the library across the street from the hematologist's office. It has this very distinct smell that I associate with a high school boyfriend (and this is coming from the woman who sat there sniffing her arms during her birthday to enjoy the memories of the bug spray). I sat in the library and considered writing him an email to ask if there was any possible way he could time travel from California to Maryland in the next half hour to accompany me on this appointment because I just wanted something familiar nearby. I mean, yes, I wanted Josh at the appointment. But what I also wanted in that moment was someone from long ago nearby. I wanted someone that was only associated with pre-baby-making. That high school boyfriend is definitely in the category of "babies were the last thing on my mind."
In addition to taking comfort in anything that reminded me of anything that was from the pre-baby-making era, I was also looking for signs. Signs that we were on the right path. Or doing the right thing. Or making a good choice. There was a Kandinsky poster in the examination room and I took that as a good sign. I was a big Kandinsky fan back in high school and college. Less appreciative (but still enjoy) his work now. It felt like a small return to college. Which was mostly pre-baby. Babies seeped into conscious thought during my junior year. But you take what you can get. And poor Kandinsky spans both the pre-baby-thought and baby-thought years.
This is what I learned as we talked about blood: In addition to the MTHFR mutation, I have another problem--the PAI-1 4G/4G gene--which the other hematologist never told me. Both hematologists agree that I should go on Lovenox once I'm pregnant. My OB was wrong when he told me that Lovenox could be used beforehand to attain pregnancy if the clotting factor was the reason I wasn't getting pregnant. Or--more accurately--they do give Lovenox as a last resort treatment sometimes for women before they receive a positive beta, but in my particular case, he doesn't recommend it. He recommends that I return to the RE. At this point, he can't really do anything to get my pregnant; only keep me pregnant.
He left the room and I wanted to have a good cry. I wanted to go backwards in time and when my new OB mentioned trying at home, hold my hand up and say, "let's not give any false hope, okay?" I just felt sad that it's like this. I'll do the injections and I'll go back to the RE and everything will be fine. But I'm sad that it's like this and not like something else.
But I really did like the new hematologist and he was very kind and included me in the discussion rather than talking at me and praised my medical knowledge and investment in understanding my own treatments and problems. He drew more blood to rerun some tests and I'll return to him in a few weeks to discuss that.
When I passed through the waiting room at the end of the appointment, the woman was standing in the center of the room with the man at her arm. And she was yelling the most profound thing I've heard all week: "you've got to help them to help." And that's just it. It isn't helpful when you say the words that the person wants to hear. It's help when you help me. And sometimes I don't need kindness. Sometimes, even if I am prone to mentally time travel, I just need my doctor to help me remain in reality.