Monday 2nd August 2010
One year ago.
I pick up the phone and dial.
“Hello, Shelley speaking.”
“Hi Shelley, my name’s Mark,”
“And my ID number is 181769,” I say, my fingers slipping across my laminated card.
“Oh, yes, I remember you,” she says curiously.
“By my number?”
“You’re Susan’s husband, aren’t you?” she asks, ignoring the question.
“Yes, I’ve seen your paperwork recently. Dr Fleischer has set up a regime for you.”
“Yes, you’ll be on an antagonist regime.”
“That sounds like my wife.”
“When she’s hormonal,” I add laughing, “that sounds like Suse.”
“Oh, no, I’m talking about the medication she’ll be on. A hormone antagonist.”
“Oh, right,” I say stupidly.
“She’ll be starting with injections of FSH to stimulate her follicles, and then she’ll take the antagonist injections of Orgalutran.”
“Orgalutran? Wow. Sounds like a Transformer.”
“No, that’s the name of the antagonist injection,” she repeats plainly. “To halt her ovulation from progressing.”
“Oh, right,” I repeat.
“And then, a few days after that she’ll have the egg collection, and then a few days after that, the implantation.”
“How many days are we talking?”
“Hard to say. The FSH starts on day two, and goes for nine days. The Orgalutran goes for three to five days, the eggs are collected on about day thirteen, and we reimplant them on about day eighteen.
I scribble notes wildly, arrows across the page, trying to understand. “So, ostensibly, we could be conceiving…” I say, flicking through my calendar, “…On what date?”
“Depends on Susan’s period.”
“And when will that be?” I ask, before I realise what I’ve said. Shelley doesn’t even bother answering. “Sorry about that. I meant, when do we need to see you?”
“On the day the injections start.”
“Which will be when?”
“On day two of her period.
“And when will that be?” I ask again. “Just joking,” I say, trying to cover. This times, she lets out a little squawk.
“That one, I can’t help you with.”
“Right. Well, she’s like clockwork. She’s just had her period last week, so…” I stop myself. “I won’t even hazard a guess. Can I ring her while you’re on the phone?”
“Sure,” she says, sighing.
I pick up my mobile and speed dial.
“Hey, love,” she says.
“Hey, hon, I’m on the phone with Shelley, the IVF nurse.”
“You managed to get onto her?”
“How many times did you have to ring?”
“Like I said, she’s on the other line.”
“And we’re trying to figure out the cycles. Do you know when you’re period is due?”
“Ahh, I left my diary at home. I’d only be guessing.”
“Well, have a guess,” I say.
“No point guessing,” Shelley says in the other ear.
“No point guessing,” I repeat.
“Hang on, let me get to a calendar.”
“She’s pretty much like clockwork,” I say again, “she’s just getting to a calendar.”
I sit there, waiting for a pin to drop.
“Maybe the 25th August?”
“Maybe the 25th,” I relay.
“Well, we can start with that,” Shelley says.
“We can work start that,” I repeat.
“What if it doesn’t work with my deadlines?” Suse asks.
“Like I said, hon, Shelley’s on the other line. I’m going to finish this conversation and call you back.”
“Okay,” she says, hanging up.
“May I continue?” Shelley asks, like a teacher interrupted by a tempestuous student.
“Yes,” I say sheepishly.
“So, if day two is the 26th August,” she continues, “then we’d start the injections that day. And we’d see both of you at that time.”
“Can we see you any earlier?”
“Well, Wednesday isn’t that easy for us. But Monday 23rd might work?”
“Yes, you could, but you wouldn’t want to pick up the drugs until you know you’re not pregnant.”
“Well, you can,” she says, correcting herself, “but if you do, and you find out you’re pregnant, then you’ve just wasted $2000.”
My head spins, doing the maths. “The drugs are $2000? I don’t think I knew that bit.”
“Well, yes. But they’re subsidised. The Government pays for them. Unless you get them and find out you’re pregnant, in which case you foot the bill.”
“The drugs are $2000?” I repeat.
“For how many injections?
“About six or seven.”
“Jesus Christ,” I say.
“No, Orgalutran,” she says, finding her humour.
“Maybe I was a bit harsh on the Government. I didn’t know they paid that much for drugs.”
“Consequently,” she says moving on, “you want to know you’re not pregnant.
“Bloody oath you do.”
“So, I guess you could do a pregnancy test on the Monday morning?”
“To see that her period will come on Tuesday? What if she’s out by a couple of days?”
“I thought you said she was like clock work.”
“Well, she’s not a Swiss watch. I mean, what if she’s out this time? What if she’s not due till Thursday and we are actually pregnant? The tests aren’t as accurate that many days ahead,” I say.
“Oh, they’re pretty accurate,” she offers.
“They’re, like, 99%. And sorry, I’m not a betting man. I don’t even bother with the Melbourne Cup. So for two thousand bucks, I want 100%. I want a guarantee. I want blood,” I say, a little too dogmatically.
“Right,” she says. I can hear her tapping away at her keyboard, making a note: ‘Idiot husband, unaware of periods, swears a lot.’
I think for a moment.
“How about we come and see you on the Monday, get the work up, give you the forms, sign our lives away, and then, if she’s bleeding on the 26th, we’ll pick up the drugs?”
“That sounds a little complex.”
“We live in Richmond. The hospital is five minutes away. It’s on the way to Suse’s work.”
“Who’s going to give the injections?”
“I will. And if her period starts on the Tuesday, or the Wednesday, or even the Friday, I’ll give the first jab the very next day. On day two of her period.”
“Oh,” she says. “Okay then.” She pauses for another moment. “Right. Well, that works then. Well done. Good problem solving.”
Problem solving is easy when there’s $2000 on the line.
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