Tuesday 27th April 2010
Gestation: 30 weeks, 4 days
One year ago.
Time passes as quickly as it does when your soul mate is in surgery.
Like cement through an hourglass.
Still, I keep myself busy. I prepare dinner, knowing full well that after the operation Suse will want nothing to eat. I preheat the oven and half-cook her comfort food of choice – potato gems. I hang out the washing, which Suse put on in a nervous state early in the day.
We’re like the yin and yang of anxiety.
I text her parents and mine, to let them know that it’ll be another hour until we have an answer. I sort through a bill pile that has remained neglected for months. Nothing like bank statements to distract.
Time suddenly feels like it is going backwards.
The phone rings. “Hello, is that Mark?”
“Susan is out of theatre. She’s fine, but she’s in a bit of pain. She’s asking for you.”
I pick up my keys and walk out the door.
* * * * *
Suse moves gingerly in the bed. Her voice is soft, she looks swollen. Anaesthetics aren’t kind to her. I take her hand softly, noting the bandaid where the drip was.
All around there is noise. There are four others in the recovery bay. Three different nurses have already been in. The curtains part for a fourth, before we realise that it is Dr. Fleischer. She holds a series of photos; Polaroids from her recent holiday into Suse’s abdomen.
“So we had a look inside, and we see that your ovaries look good and your uterus looks good from the outside.” She points to Polaroid one and two. “Both of the tubes look good too. There is no dilated tube on the left…”
“…Oh, that’s good,” says Suse squeezing my hand.
“…Mmmm,” she continues. “They both looked a little bit tortuous, but on the whole, they looked okay. I looked inside the uterus itself, and the lining looked good and healthy.” She takes a pause. “And then we did the dye test,” she says, shuffling photos, “and with this, we saw that your left tube had no blockage…”
“…Oh, that’s good,” Suse repeats.
“…But the right one… was blocked.” We both frown. “I tried a couple of different manoeuvres, and increased the pressure quite high, but still I couldn’t get the dye through. In fact, it started to dilate the uterus up, so I couldn’t really push any further.”
We both remain silent for a moment. Suse is the first to recover.
“So what does that mean?”
“Well, whatever process caused the ectopic on the left, is probably causing the blockage on the right. Maybe there was a bit of an infection there at some point, or something else.”
She stops for a moment, and no one says anything. The slugs bury themselves, one in each shoulder, first rounds from the ammunition. I stand there, like you see on the screen, as yet disbelieving that I’ve been hit. This is the moment, that very moment – just before I realise.
Just before I fall to the ground still.
This time, I snap out of it first. “So what does this mean?”
“That you might need to consider IVF.” Two more bullets hit. Suse’s hand slips out of mine.
“And when do you think we should think about that?”
I hear my voice.
I guess I just spoke.
“Maybe give it another three months. But there’s a lot to think about. You’ll get a call from the girls in the next few days, to have a follow up appointment. You’ve got to have your chicken pox vaccine anyway…”
“…Which will delay everything for three months…”
“…So yes, maybe after that… How old are you, again?”
“Thirty-five,” Suse says. “Thirty-five-and-a-half.” She looks straight through the curtain at the end.
“Yeah, so you don’t want to leave it too long. I think three months after that is probably about right.” Two more bullets. Without any cotton wool. “But you’ll have your appointment with me to talk about all of this in the next few weeks.”
She turns and leaves the tavern.
Dead bodies strewn all around.
This woman is a straight shooter.
* * * * *
We arrive home, dazed and confused. We sit, trying to talk. Neither of us knows what to say. Neither of us is coherent. Finally, Suse turns to me, and her faces scrunches up.
“I’m so sorry that I’m broken,” she says.
Potato gems sit on the plate, going cold.
* * * * *
I get ready for bed. Suse decides to stay up, unable or unwilling to lie awake and think just yet. We vow a united fight, but already we’ve slipped into our own patterns of coping. Marriage is a funny thing. To be emotionally reliant on another after years of self management. But when crises occur, we revert back to old strategies. I feel myself retreating into my cave, my emotions bedded down, padded in thoughts and busyness while Suse does the opposite, her own emotions winding up, a tornado of self-flagellation in the offing.
I see it happening, watching like an observer from the sidelines.
I lie down, tossing and turning. The doona is too hot, too cold, anything but right. After twenty minutes, my mouth feeling dry, I head to the kitchen for some water.
As I do, Suse is standing.
I walk past her, and am instantly hit by the smell of smoke.
“Susan,” I say softly.
“I’ve only been… It’s just been for the last few days. With everything…”
I walk back down the hallway. “Please don’t hate me,” she says.
I close the door.
* * * * *