Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The Hopeful Dad

Now that you have context, you have a pretty good idea what comes next, because a story isn't a story without a problem, or in my case two big problems. I decided to change doctors after the fiasco with the previous clinic and after providing my scrotal history to my new family doctor on December 12, 2016, she agreed there was cause for concern and referred me for a semen analysis and some blood tests through Alberta Health Services. I was nervous on so many levels:

1. What if I couldn't have kids? K had been so disappointed every time the test was negative. What if it was my fault?

2. The requisition form for the test said on it: "Ensure you provide the sample to the lab within one hour of collection, be sure to keep it at room temperature the entire time".

a) Where in the hell was I supposed to put said sample?
b) I live an hour away, am I supposed to do this in the parking lot of the hospital?
c) Albertan's exist in -30C weather, how in the hell do I keep this thing at room temperature?

My concerns listed above were addressed when I made the appointment. Of course when I first called and received the clinic's voicemail, I - like an idiot, had my office door wide open and my phone on speaker. Out of my door blasted "thank you for calling the semen analysis clinic" BAH! I don't know if anybody heard, but nobody said anything. I'm sure it would have been even more embarrassing for them to ask me about it.

So I eventually spoke with a coordinator at the clinic who advised me of my appointment details. I asked her: "Do I need to bring anything?"
She responded "Just your health care card and your requisition form."
"So everything that happens there?"
Her voice sounded like a combination of having heard this question before, and being slightly confused as if she was thinking "where else would it happen?" but she chuckled a little and said "Yes".

Now I had all new questions that I didn't want to ask:

1. What does the room look like?
2. Does it have a big comfy chair like a thousand other men have used?
3. Do they provide...material?
4. Is said material used? Is it current or from the 1970s?
5. Is there mood lighting?

This stayed on my mind for the next month until I showed up for the appointment on January 30, 2017. It turns out, the clinic had its own elevator which opened into a waiting room. At the front of the waiting room is an enclosed room for the reception (enclosed with a glass door and wall for privacy). I spoke with them and they said, "Oh, semen analysis is just around the corner at the window." It was literally a window, in a hall. The women and couples get a private reception, the men get a freakin window!

I know, I complain too much, but my concerns were validated when I saw the room.

The directions on the door said to put on gloves, use the sterile wipes to clean the chair, remove the gloves, wash your hands, do your business into the plastic cup, and repeat steps one and two. So I did my duty as a hopeful dad and proudly placed the cup at the window before leaving.

Two days later I got an email from my doctor telling me the analysis was non-diagnostic and that I'd have to do another one, but that I could wait for our appointment she set up for us at the fertility clinic.

On February 7, 2017, K and I attended the appointment our family doc made for us at the new private fertility clinic on Jasper Ave. They took her vitals and ushered us into a glass room where the doctor met us to take our medical history. K asked something about my semen analysis being non-diagnostic and the doctor said, "yes, lets talk about the semen analysis".

The next 20 minutes was a major blur as the doctor explained that my infertility could have been caused by any one of my historical issues, or possibly none of them. As a giant pit formed in my stomach she explained the results of analysis. Explained that 20 million sperm is the minimum they like to see in a fertile male, and how my sperm count was just 6. K asked the doctor, just like every person I've told this story to, "6 million?" which in itself is extremely low. The doctor responded "No, the number 6", and of those 6 only one was motile.

The doctor explained that I would be set up for additional testing; another sperm analysis, hormonal and chromosomal testing, complete with an ultrasound to "check the plumbing" following which I would be scheduled for an appointment with a urologist. The doctor explained that in the absence of "other causes" likely my condition meant that they would have to complete a sperm retrieval procedure which means that we would be committing ourselves to In Vitro Fertilization.

My dream of becoming a father seemed to be disappearing, slipping through my fingers like sand.

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