Thursday 26th August 2010
One year ago.
I sit there on the couch, as I hold an oddly-shaped needle threateningly in front of Suse’s belly. She pinches some skin between her fingers, while looking suitably threatened. I pause for a moment.
“You have used one of these things before haven’t you?” she asks. I hesitate. “Haven’t you?”
“Well, no, not really. Not exactly like this.”
“What sort of a doctor are you?”
“Hang on. We don’t use this sort of thing. I mean – this is exactly like a diabetic’s pen. But I’m used to bog standard needles and syringes, not fancy blue plastic pens with spikes on the end.”
“Okay then,” she says, even less reassured.
Trust is a big thing for Suse. It’s the first thing that comes up when there’s something new. I mean, I know it does for all of us, but Suse’s trustometer is super-sensitive. At the first sign of something unusual, her trust levels drop, scouring for signs of danger. And right now, I’m holding a sharp weapon in front of her guts.
“That’s good,” I say, shifting into doctor mode, “the way you’re holding your tummy. That’s perfect.”
“I’ve been growing a bit of padding just for this,” she jokes.
I pick up one of the alcohol swabs and tear it open. At least that’s the same. Everything else about this set up feels totally foreign. I’m in my own living room, about to inject my wife. Shelley gave us instructions on how to use the pen, but all the same, right now, it feels kind of flimsy.
Suse wants me to do the injection, but she was adamant that she was going to assemble it. So, as the alarm went off at 9pm, I watched as she silently got up, walked to the fridge, and came back with the chilly bag. She opened it up and began unpacking boxes like it was Christmas. She opened the Puregon cartridge and put it in the pen’s barrel. She took a new needle and screwed it on the end. She dialled it up to 300 units. And that was when she handed it to me.
“Can you pinch up your skin again?” I ask. She does this obediently, as I take the alcohol swab and wipe. And then I take the pen, and plunge it through her skin. I press on the plunger, but it won’t budge.
“Ow,” she says.
“It’s hard to…”
I press some more.
“Ow,” she repeats. I press even harder, the plunger slowly giving way, twisting as it goes, undialling. But it does it in a weird way, in a flimsy plastic way, in a ‘feels-like-it-might-break-off-in-your-wife’s-belly-because-you’re-not-doing-it-right’ kind of way.
“Owww!” she says.
I just keep pressing. It’s all I can do. Pushing all the way, threatening the plastic as I do, forcing the plunger down, until I hit zero.
“One, two, three, four, five,” I count, trying to sound calm.
“That really hurt,” she says, a hint of hysteria in her voice. “Was it meant to hurt that much?”
“I’m not sure.”
“You were wiggling it around in there.”
“Sorry. I wasn’t that easy to press down.”
“Did it work?”
“I…I don’t know,” I say out loud.
“What?” I meant to think that. Not say it. “What?”
I look at the side of the pen, to see that a third of the cartridge is empty.
“It must have worked.”
“This is really starting to hurt. Should it hurt that much?”
“I’ve just injected a couple of mils under your skin, hon. It’s not going to tickle.”
“But it really hurts. And it feels really cold.”
We both look at each other. “Weren’t we meant to leave it out of the fridge for a few minutes?”
“Yes.” Suse has that mistrusting look. “Does that mean it’s not going to work?”
“It’ll work. It’s fine. We’ll make it room temperature tomorrow. It just kind of felt like the pen was going to break. Like it wasn’t quite right.”
We both sit there, staring forward. I look at the detritus in front of us. There’s a chilly bag, an ice pack at its base. There’s nine cardboard boxes, in a variety of colours of the rainbow, each full of drugs. There’s alcohol swabs. There’s a swanky pen case, like it’s a Mont Blanc or something, not a flimsy piece of shit. There’s even a sharps bin. And then, there’s my pot, ready and waiting for my sample, in about ten days time.
“Which of them go back in the fridge?”
“You’re kidding me,” she says. “You don’t know?”
“Should we watch the Puregon DVD? Just in case?”
“I think that’s wise.”
Right now, I feel like we’re the Puregon people. The woman is smiling, but it’s a grimace of fear. She’s cropped from the shoulders down so we don’t see that in fact she’s holding a piece of cotton wool over her belly where her husband just stabbed her.
And I’m the Puregon guy. Just sitting here, by her side, feeling a bit weird and awkward.
And this is only Day One.