This is an update to this post. **WARNING** There may be some triggers here to do with medical treatment and apparatus.
As part of our IVF journey, the first port of call is a meeting with a staff nurse who will discuss the whole process, what to do when and have us sign a load of consent forms ready for the cycle to start. Now from previous experience, I was quite nervous about this, because a nurse in the past hadn’t been at all understanding of my anxiety or knew how to deal with it, so naturally I was feeling extremely apprehensive but would go with it anyway.
We met the nurse, walked into the room and before we began I laid my cards on the table: “Just to let you know, I have anxiety, so I find some things quite difficult”. I expected an “OK” as we’d had before, but that wasn’t what I got at all. “OK that’s fine, is there anything I can do that will make this easier?” she asked. I’d never had this kind of response before. I explained that I would be twitching, quite uncomfortable, but to just ignore me and do what she’s got to do, and I’ll be fine. That’s exactly what she did.
She talked through everything, asking if certain information would be too sensitive, if I’d find something too difficult to hear and said “I don’t want to make your anxiety worse” at points throughout. She was amazing, the best medical professional I’ve dealt with. Then she asked me what I already knew, “Have they mentioned we’ll need a blood test at some point”, to which we told her they had. I explained that I was extremely anxious about it and that we would be booking in at a separate time so I can just do it and get it over with, without waiting etc. and she nodded.
To my horror, she then asked “do you want me to just do it now and get it done?”. I instantly went hot. No I did not! I hadn’t prepared, I hadn’t planned for this at all! I told her I’d prefer to come back and she understood. When it came to discussing hormone injections, I left the room and sat in the waiting room, and it was here I began to think. Perhaps now was a good time to do it, I had the most understanding nurse, who was so friendly and knew exactly how to talk to and deal with me, she was incredible. I decided that today was the day. I was going to have a blood test done now.
My legs turned to jelly and my hands were shaking, but I knew I was going to do this. It was me against Anxiety – full blown panic and anxiety – but I wasn’t going to back down without a fight. I paced the waiting room to get the energy out of my legs, looking through the doors at my girlfriend and the nurse coming out. What felt like an hour passed (realistically about 10 minutes) and my girlfriend emerged.
“I want to do the blood test now. Ask her if I can do it now”
We looked to the nurse, and I asked “Can I do it now?”. She smiled and nodded.
With that, we went straight into a room, I sat in the chair which she quickly reclined and passed me a pillow (I’m not sure why, but I just squeezed it and it helped so…). I passed her my arm, closed my eyes and I breathed. Once I was in, I felt full panic kicking in, my legs were shaking and my heart was pounding – but I wasn’t going down without a fight. With my eyes closed, making controlling panic my priority. I focused on my breathing, keeping it slow and regular, let my legs shake, and lay as still as I could. I felt her doing what she was doing but didn’t look. Breathe….breathe…breathe…legs shaking, hands trembling. Suddenly I felt the needle, and then nothing. I couldn’t feel her taking it, or anything. Last time I had one, the pain was really bad and my whole arm was bruised – so this nurse was a magician (or just professional). “Nearly done” she said, and with that, she wiped it, stuck a plaster on and voila – “All done, you did brilliant”.
As I let myself come round, she asked how I felt. “Embarrassed, it makes you feel stupid”, to which she replied “I know exactly how you feel, I had anxiety and once had a break down at a salad bar in Morrisons, so I know exactly what you’re going through”. Then it clicked, it all made sense, that’s why she was so understanding.
I stood up and left the room, got to my car where I just sat and brought myself back down and waited for my heart to slow. I couldn’t believe I’d done it.
So as I sit here writing this, I feel proud. Proud because I’ve done something I was dreading, but also proud because in my absolute worst situation for panic and anxiety, I stood there prepared to fight and fight I did. To some people a blood test is the norm, but for me this is absolutely the biggest accomplishment I’ve achieved since being diagnosed 6 years ago. I’m so grateful to that amazing nurse who helped me today, more than I think she realises.
So folks, believe in yourself. Believe in your abilities. I didn’t for a second think I would have got through today, I wouldn’t have thought I could even attempt it, let alone fight my way through it but I did. You’re so much stronger than you think.