Flashback Friday: Hysterosalpingawhat?


Flashback Friday is a weekly series that takes you back to earlier moments in our story as a married couple dealing with infertility. We’ll give you glances of what we’ve been through, what steps we’ve taken to get us here, and what we’ve learned along the way.

The journey of infertility is filled with conflicting emotions. First, I felt relieved that all my blood work came back normal. Yet, I was almost hoping it was a hormonal issue. If some level was off, it most likely could be treated with meds, either pills or even shots. So, after our first appointment I was happy, but almost disappointed, and of course worried.

I’m a worrier, I’ll admit it. I especially worry about the unknown. Will I make it through the budget cuts at work? Will I lose another family member to health complications? Will we have children? This worry extends even to simple medical procedures. I hate not knowing what is going to happen, which is ironic because I love surprises. But I didn’t want a medical surprise. So I was very curious when the nurse practitioner said that I would need to have a hysterosalpingogram (also known as an HSG test). I had never heard of this procedure and honestly I still have trouble pronouncing it.  I think it’s pronounced his-tro-sal-PING-o-gram. I had to look it up to check the spelling when writing this post!

The nurse said that the procedure is needed to check if there is any blockage in my fallopian tubes. This test would indicate if I had a clear pathway to my ovaries. The procedure basically would include having a catheter inserted into my uterus. They would inject a dye into the catheter and the radiologist would watch the flow on a real time X-Ray machine. The dye was supposed to easily travel from my uterus up to my ovaries. Obviously if the dye had trouble at any spot it would suggest possible blockage.

The test would be done at our local medical center. I had an early afternoon appointment, but I had to go to the fertility center in the morning for a blood test to make sure I wasn’t pregnant before being exposed to radiation (which I thought was ironic because why did they think I was having the test done in the first place?). So I went for my blood test at 7:30 am, went to work from 8:00 – 12:00 (sadly missed a potluck day at work) and left for the medical center.

I arrived at Memorial Medical Center and checked in. Dan met me in the radiology wing. As soon as we arrived in the waiting room, we were informed we needed to call the fertility center ASAP. They needed to get in touch with us about the blood test from earlier that morning but couldn’t reach either of our cell phones. I think this was because we were in the middle of a gigantic concrete building.

I remember franticly running around some corridors in the radiology wing trying to find a strong enough signal in order to call the fertility center back. I don’t remember how long it took, but I do remember thinking “Could it be? Could I be pregnant?!”

Finally, Dan and I had to make our way back to the lobby of Memorial, and were able to get a direct line into the SIU Fertility Center across the street. As it turns out, they only wanted to know if I had eaten anything before my blood test that morning. Apparently one of the hormone levels had come back lower than expected, and they wanted to seek clarification on the issue before things proceeded in the radiology department.

So, no. I wasn’t pregnant. Again.

We made our way back to the waiting room, where finally my name was called. I went in and followed the nurses directions. I went to an exam room and met a very nice nurse. I remember being very nervous. The room seemed so big with a little table to lie on and large x-ray machines looming around the room. Well, to spare the graphic details, it was not a pleasant procedure. The doctor couldn’t get the catheter in the first time so I had to endure some extra pain.

There was a tv screen I could watch the dye go through me. I couldn’t really tell what everything was, but noticed the doctor wasn’t seeing what he wanted. In fact, he almost gave up because there was no flow outside my uterus at all, all the dye was pooling in there. The nurse encouraged him to give it time and keep trying. Finally, some of the dye moved through one of the tubes. Succes! The procedure was finished, but the worst part was still to come.

The radiologist gave me his diagnosis with me still lying on the table, the doctor told me he didn’t see adequate flow. He couldn’t confirm I had blockage, because this test is only an indicated the possibility of a problem. But, he recommended looking into the matter further because according to this test, blockage of my tubes was likely.

Although this isn’t necessarily what the radiologist was saying, what I heard during the his evaluation was I had blockage and I wouldn’t be able to have kids. This was shocking to me. I was nervous about the procedure and hadn’t even considered the possibility the test would show an abnormality. I was not comforted by radiologist’s bedside manner. I remember tearing up and crying because I thought he was telling me we wouldn’t be able to conceive.

This was a hard moment in our journey. I was alone, in a big room lying on a table in a hospital gown hearing I wouldn’t be able to biologically have kids. I felt vulnerable and raw. The nurse comforted me the best she could. She told me that he was making it sound worse than it was. She said I should trust his diagnosis, but reminded me that the dye eventually did make it to the ovaries. Also, she reminded me that sometimes having this procedure removes the blockage and that in certain circumstances the blockage could be surgically removed if need be.

This sweet nurse did give me hope. If this was our problem, there were several options to remedy the situation. So, in the end I again felt disappointed, mixed with a hint of relief, and of course worry.

After meeting with our fertility specialist for the first time, we reviewed the results of my HSG test. Dr. Loret de Mola told us further testing would need to be done to confirm if I had any blockage. So, one medical procedure was complete but we had many more ahead.