• Kiren K Dhesi

My eggs are just chilling in a freezer :)

Monday morning arrived and it was time to get myself across London to Hackney for a 9 am

appointment. With it being rush hour we had to leave super early. I was still in pain but it was just something I had to put aside.

So I’m a Waze girl, put the address in and off you go. But not my dad he likes to either work it out himself (ex mini cab driver) or he wants to put it into his car Sat Nav. My dad is an amazing person, but to say he is stubborn Is an understatement. So Of course we dnt follow Waze we go dads route. So whilst on our way, I can see we are driving into chockablock traffic but will dad listen, nope of course not. Instead when we are stuck on a road, with no turn offs in full force traffic. Running very late, he then turns to me and says, ‘so what does your Waze say we should do’

Oh my god I could have screamed. ‘Dad it helps you avoid traffic, it can’t make you fly over it, seriously dad you are soo annoying’, if I miss my appointment it will be all your fault’ poor man didn’t know where to look.

Anyway finally we arrived a little late, but it was ok. He dropped me and I went in. I went up to the fertility ward, checked in and was given lots of forms. I sat down to fill them out. I looked around and the room was full of couples. I was the only one alone actually. It was strange. It wasn’t upsetting or anything like that, just weird because people stare. A women alone in a fertility ward.

I was called in quite quickly which I was glad about because at 3.30 pm I had an appointment back in North London, with a chemo nurse. I was going to get a low down on what fun things awaited me, when chemo begun.

I walked into this room, and there was this doctor and a student who was learning. The doctor seemed nice enough. I sat down and she asked me lots of questions. I mean it makes you wonder do they even look at your notes, at your file. I mean I was getting a bit tired of saying I have cancer over and over to people who should know. Anyway I explained the situation and the urgency. She then asked me what hospital sent me, my address, my gps address. By this time I was getting frustrated but what could I do.

Then she says

‘I’m afraid your GP’s don’t come under our funding restrictions. We wnt be able to give you fertility treatment. It maybe that your borough doesn’t do fertility funding for cancer patients.’ She was quite cold about it, the way she was speaking so matter of fact.

I didn’t cry, I literally broke down. So much was going on in my life and this tiny glimmer of hope which I got excited about was going to be taken away from me too. I couldn’t cope, In that moment I just couldn’t cope. I sat there and cried. I explained to the doctor, you don’t understand, why would my doctor send me to you, if there was no funding nothing makes sense. Please can you find out what’s happening, I don’t understand. Some of it must have been me just rambling. I don’t even have the words to explain how crushed I felt at the moment. The doctor saw the mess I was in, she reassured me. And then came to the decision that it must be some sort of mistake and she told me not to worry she would sort it. I calmed down and she went on to do lots of tests of my womb. They were horrible invasive, but something that needed to be done. I was then given an appointment for Wednesday to get the procedure started.

I was also told to go get some bloods done. I remember going down and the queue being soooo long, they were short staffed. I waited about an hour and a half, I was stressing. I had a chemo nurse to see. So I approached the bloods nurse on duty, slightly nervous she was quite a stern women and jumping the queue isn’t really my style. But I explained the situation to her anyway. I told her I could show her the letter etc, she immediately said ‘no sweetheart I don’t need to see anything, give me 5 minutes and we’ll get that blood test done for you’ she wasn’t so stern after all. She was soo kind to me.

Bloods done, and then it was straight to Finchley memorial for my next appointment. Here I met my nurse Sarah. She was nice very bouncy. She explained what was going to happen during chemotherapy. There was lots of information, the part that stuck out was that she said, I’d have to have a Picc line put in. This would stay inserted for 6 months throughout chemo. My medication would be administered through it and my bloods would be taken from it. She went on to tell me that, although chemo is every 3 weeks, I would come in every week to have my Picc line cleaned and flushed. Now what’s a Picc line I hear you ask well I thought the same. A Picc line is (peripherally inserted central catheter line) used to give someone chemotherapy treatment or other medicines.

It is a long, thin, hollow, flexible tube called a catheter. It’s put into one of the large veins of the arm, above the bend of the elbow. It’s then threaded into the vein until the tip is in a large vein just above the heart. The line is sealed with a special cap and clamp to keep the line closed when it is not being used. Its divided into 2 so you can have different treatments at the same time. It sounded very interesting but quite daunting. She was very clear that this Picc line was not allowed to get wet, get dirty, anything. I had to be super careful. As the line went straight to my heart. Anything in that tube could be very dangerous. Appointment over, Picc line insertion booked it was finally time to go home after a really long day.

The next morning I get up, put the TV on, have the smoothie my dad made me ( I got one everyday, it was his mission to make me everything I needed to get me better as quick as possible). And then the phone rings, I answer and its the fertility hospital receptionist he tells me that my Wednesday appointment had been cancelled. I asked him why what was going on and he had no idea. He said he’d find out and let me know.

I didn’t know what to do, I was completely lost. The appointment was cancelled that’s the only information I had. I knew I needed this done this week otherwise I couldn’t get fertility treatment. That feeling of being lost like when I was in the hospital came back but worse. Dad was in the garden no one else was home, my brother was at work and I remember screaming at the top of my voice. Just screaming it was like I had lost a complete handle of everything. I really didn’t know what to do. I messaged Aman, she started looking at private fertility immediately. It was all such a mess. I had to somehow pull myself together, I was going to achieve nothing by being a mess all day. When you get diagnosed you are given a nurse with whom you can discuss anything mine was Caroline. I had a number on which to contact her. I called but it was a number where you leave a message and they get back to you the next day. I just remember leaving Caroline numerous distraught messages. Begging for her to call me back. I was hoping that she would hear how desperate I was and call me the same day. There must have been about 15 messages at least. All I could think was I don’t have time, I just don’t have time. So I decided if no one could help me, I’d help myself.

I called the Hackney fertility unit and spoke to an extremely rude receptionist, it sounded like the one who had originally called me. He was obnoxious if I’m honest, he increased my blood pressure 10 fold and I was already a mess. So putting his attitude aside, I asked to speak to someone who could explain to me why my appointment had been cancelled. He put me on the phone to another receptionist. The difference between the two of them was night and day. I explained what had happened and why this is soo urgent for me, she went and found out all the information I needed. Basically my GP’s address didn’t come under them so they couldn’t give me the treatment. She went on to say that all my tests were clear and if it wasn’t for the funding they could of started the treatment. I thanked her and put the phone down.

I then started researching on the internet, trying to figure out which areas are linked to which fertility clinics. What choice did I have no one was telling me. After some time I figured it was Guys in London. So I called them. I spoke to the receptionist there explained the situation. By now it’s 2 o’clock and I’m bloody scared that time is slipping away from me. He was a gem. He told me, he didn’t know what he could do as they didn’t even have my file but he would speak to a doctor when he could and would get back to me. True to his word 15 mins later he called me back. He said if I could get Hackney to send my files over they would try get me in, in the next few days. So cutting a long story short, between talking to these two beautifully amazing receptionists, scanning machines and god knows what else. Within a few hours Guys had my files. The thing with hospitals and doctors surgeries is, stupidly they aren’t all on the same system. So there’s no such thing as accessing files. I often think about those receptionists such helpful wonderful people who have no idea what a difference they made to my life. Something I’ll never forget. By 5 o’clock I was booked in for an appointment at Guys the next day. I was back on track, although I had lost two days because, I’d have to be tested again. But at least we were getting somewhere now.

The next day we headed to Guys hospital. I checked in. It was clean comfy and quite a quiet calm environment. I was called in quickly and I sat down opposite an older lady doctor. She started talking and I strangely felt like I was finally in safe hands. I wasn’t wrong she told me she’d looked at all my files, she’d also got all my test results from Hackney and although they should really do all the tests again. Having looked at the urgency of the case she wasn’t going to do that. All the test results were good and I was going to be able to start my treatment immediately. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief, now I wasn’t behind at all. I was totally back on track. I could literally have hugged her. I didn’t but I could have. She went on to tell me that the nurse will get the injections ready for me to take home.

I was now confused, ‘what do you mean take home’ I said.

‘You will need to make the injections and administer yourself with them, but don’t worry the nurse will talk you through everything.’

Oh wow I had never even seen a diabetes injection, now I was going to be injecting myself. I was learning new things everyday. The things this disease was going to make me come face to face with. Anyway I met the nurse, she was going to look after me for the next 3 weeks. I feel bad because annoyingly I don’t remember everyones names and I always look back and wish I did especially of the people who were soo good to me. My nurse was another amazingly lovely human, who was also absolutely stunning. She went through how I had to make my injections and then how to inject them.

It was also explained to me that I was doing a very quick version of fertility so my body would be doing crazy things due to the amount of hormones being pumped into it. So to be aware of that. I had to come into the hospital every two days, to have my womb checked. The hormones where going to help me produce as many eggs as possible. That was the aim of this whole process and then when my womb was ready I would be put under general anaesthetic and the eggs would be removed quality checked and the good ones frozen.

I was given injections for 2 days and the rest would be delivered to me on Friday. And that was that off I went home. That evening it was time for my first injection I got it out and braced myself. I pinched the fat on my stomach, it wasn’t difficult there was plenty of it :) and I injected. It was fine accept, there was a lot of solution and while preparing it I had managed to create an air bubble in it. I actually felt the pressure and weirdness of the air bubble go into my stomach.

Friday I was tested and then back home, I waited the whole day but no injections arrived. By 5 o’clock I was panicking. I couldn’t break the cycle of injections that I had already started. My panic started again. So I called my nurse, but she had gone home. It was Friday evening after all. Then I called the emergency number I was given, but it was a message number once again. Panic mode was in full force now. I had my mobile, my house phone and my dads mobile I was calling all the numbers I could possibly think of in order to get through to the fertility unit or the pharmacy. I needed to get a hold of someone.

By gods grace about 2 hours later I had a call back, it was my nurse. She had forgotten her mobile in the hospital, when she came to collect it she saw the voice message flashing. When she listened to it, it was me. I explained that no injections had been delivered. She said not to worry, she would not leave the hospital until she had arranged injections for me. I asked her if to make it easier I could just buy them from a 24 hr pharmacy, but sadly those injections were specialist and you couldn’t get them at pharmacies like that only hospital ones. Then about 45 minutes later, she told me that she had got me the injections, put them in an Uber and they would be with me within the hour.

So yes this whole fertility mall-arc had definitely been the most stressful thing so far in my journey and certain peoples attitude, lack of compassion and incompetence didn’t help. But when you have the angels who work for the NHS take care of you, do things for you that they don’t have too, treat you like you are their family like my nurse like the receptionists. Then you forget the awful times and all you have is love for these beautiful people.

After numerous vaginal ultrasounds where they monitor your ovaries I was ready for my eggs to be collected. So 34 to 38 hours before my eggs where collected, I was given a final hormone injection that injection helps your eggs to mature. With all these hormones running around in my body, moods would be understandably all over the place. The thing is I thought my moods where kinda ok, although as I spent all the time with my dad, he’d probably tell you different lol (I shouted at him a little bit :s)

The morning of the egg retrieval I arrived at Guys, I was taken to the ward where my operation would take place. I call it an operation because they put you under general anaesthetic. Whether that’s right or wrong I don’t know. There was just such a different energy in Guys hospital, it’s nothing like the train station vibe at the Royal Free. I was given my own room. The nurses came in to see me multiple times, it was a lot calmer. Well it was a lot calmer until the doctors who where going to retrieve the eggs came in. Being male it was just awkward, I know they do this day in day out, but Not me. All I was thinking was the quicker they put me to sleep the better.

15 minutes later, I was taken to theatre, how the awkwardness continued. I lay down with my legs in this contraption thing. It was like I was having a baby. Finally the aesthetician gave me the drugs. And it couldn’t have been sooner.

When I came round all was done, and I was back in my room. I was allowed to leave pretty quickly. The doctor came in asked how I was doing and told me that he was really really pleased, that they had managed to receive 20 eggs. They just needed to check the quality and then they would let me know how many of the eggs where good enough to freeze. It all came down to the quality of the eggs not the quantity. As I was walking out, my nurse was walking in to start her shift. She stopped gave me a hug asked me how I was doing and how many eggs they had received. I told her and she was really happy, she said although we wnt know until the eggs are checked. 20 was a really fab number and the most she had seen in her time on the fertility ward. She went on to tell me, that she would go straight away and find out how many were good and call me. She was genuinely such a caring nurse.

Dad then drove up and picked me up. I wasn’t in pain in the but I had this weird horrible gurgling thing going on in my stomach. It was like there was a washing machine running in there and when the car went over a bump in the road it was almost like I could feel my insides had been emptied. I’ve never felt anything like it. The strangest most uncomfortable feeling ever.

I love my dad, but oh my god he has this thing where when he doesn’t know what to do to make you feel better he talks and he does not stop. (and yes even more than me). That was one journey in which I didn’t want to talk or listen to anyone but he talked me through every road, every building, every nook we passed and I didn’t have the heart to tell him to stop. As I arrived home my telephone rang, it was my nurse she told me that 16 of the 20 eggs where good and being frozen. You could hear the excitement it her voice.

She said ‘ Do you know, you are the only person I’ve seen who’s been able to preserve soo many eggs, the doctor said the same, we are really impressed with the results’. With everything going on in my life, this was the most amazing news. I was sooo happy I can’t explain. It was like god had given me a sign a new sense of strength.

The next day, I told my dad to take me to the Gurudwara (Sikh temple). So I could thank god. I hadn’t been to the Gurudwara since diagnosis. I know lots of people either find god, or distance themselves from god when they go through something huge in their lives. It wasn’t like that for me at all. I had questioned god a lot growing up, with soo many twists and turns in my life. I questioned whether he existed a lot. But not when I got sick, I didn’t even think why me. I just thought it is what it is and got on with it. I think deep down in my heart it felt like I was paying for all the hurt I had caused with my previous failings and I kinda excepted that as ok, because even I needed to pay the price of what I had done and be set free of the burdened hurting people I had been carrying for years. That’s how I thought of this illness a punishment which I would get through like any other punishment.

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