Who Moved My Fallopian Tube?
It was supposed to be the no-brainer procedure of the batch of standard infertility evaluation tests, the one diagnostic test that was more formality than functional. Hysterosalpingograms test whether fallopian tubes are open or blocked, and for women trying to get pregnant and not succeeding, the immediate results of this test can make a huge difference.
In my case, no one suspected I had any problems with my tubes, but my medical team decided it was worth it to know for sure and rule it out since a lot of the time, women have blocked tubes and don’t even know it. I had enough problems we already knew about that the last thing we needed was a separate condition going undetected.
I am careful not to turn this site into an infertility blog—my goal is to explore issues surrounding living with chronic illnesses in general, rather than focus on a specific condition or topic. The thing is, though, these two topics seem to overlap more and more these days.
Tubes aside, my reproductive challenges are two-fold: there is the question of can I get pregnant and the inevitable question of should I get pregnant. The “can” part is somewhat dubious—if I don’t have cilia in my reproductive system (and there is no way to test this) then things can’t move along my fallopian tubes to get where they need to be. Other than simply trying and never getting pregnant, a high-risk specialist told me one of the only other indications of whether or not I had cilia would be an ectopic pregnancy.
Equally complicated is the “should” question—some of the numerous concerns there include increased infections and hospitalizations and further decreases in oxygenation, all of which mean a significantly increased risk of seriously pre-term delivery (and that’s just the beginning).
In the middle of these two questions are assisted reproductive techniques like IVF, and here again the can versus should debate is ever-present: were I to elect this path, I could only have single-embryo implantation because the high risks I already face mean multiple births are simply not an option, and the same high-risk factors need to be weighed.
So as we’re processing all of this information and trying to make what seem like impossible decisions, this one test was supposed to be the easy part.
“So you don’t have a left tube, correct?” the doctor asked me during the test.
“Um, as far as I know I do. I’ve never heard that I don’t,” I said.
“Well, the right one looks good but the left one isn’t here,” she said. A pause.
“Don’t get too worried, most of the time this just means the muscle is spasming and the dye can’t get through,” she continued. “At this point, I don’t think more invasive tests are necessary, but we’ll revisit that issue if we need to.”
I nodded, slightly stunned. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t believe her—and intellectually, I knew she was the expert and had seen enough of these to know—as it was that I just hadn’t planned on hearing anything other than “Just like we expected, everything’s fine.”
But after all these years, why is it that I am still surprised when my body doesn’t act the way I expect it to? It never has.
And the more I thought about that, the less inclined to worry about my currently Missing in Action fallopian tube. Things looked grim and wrought with complications, but I’d faced grim and complicated situations many times and somehow, my body always managed to do what none of us expected it to: survive.
The one thing I can say with utmost confidence about my body is that it is unpredictable and anything can happen--which is exactly why I'm not giving up on it just yet.