Where It All Began: The Start Of My Battle With Infertility

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays so my friends were shocked when I decided to stay home instead of heading out to celebrate with them at the hottest club in town.  I was so excited to go but I just wasn’t feeling well and I couldn’t bring myself to get dressed up in my costume and head out for a night of drinking and dancing.


The last thing that I remember was pulling myself out of the bathtub and flopping onto the cold hard floor.  Something was wrong and I needed help.  I needed to get to the phone but I was in so much pain that I couldn’t drag my body to the living room where it was charging.  Everything went black.



The next thing I remember was my roommate’s voice screaming “hurry, she’s dying, please hurry!”  I remember being tossed around like a ragdoll as two of our guy friends pulled pants onto my lifeless body.  They’d come home from the bar to find me on the living room floor; naked and unresponsive.  They’d called 911 and wanted to get me dressed before the paramedics arrived.

I don’t remember the arrival of the medics of being transported into the ambulance.  I just recall being in such excruciating pain that I was vomiting uncontrollably and hearing one man calmly say to another, “a lot of pukers tonight, eh?”  I couldn’t understand why they weren’t helping me.  I thought I was going to die.

By the time I got to the hospital I was fading in and out of consciousness.  I was mostly out but I remember being yelled and interrogated about what drugs I’d done and told that if I didn’t tell them the truth I would die.  I hadn’t taken anything.

The next memory I have is being in bed dressed in a hospital gown and hooked to an IV and a few other machines.  I was on the second floor in a ward.  I’d been there before.  I was in intensive care.  

A doctor came into my room.  I knew who he’s was; it was my GP’s husband and he was gorgeous- probably the best looking doctor who’d ever lived!  He introduced himself in his charming South African accent, asked if I was feeling okay and then started with the 21 questions.

“Do you know where you are?”  “Do your remember what happened?”  “Do you know how you got here?”  Pretty standard stuff.  Then it started getting weird.  “Do you have acne?” “Do you find you’re losing your hair?” “Do you get a regular period?” “Do you find that you have hair where a woman typically wouldn’t?”

“I’m not a man!” I blurted out.  I was so embarrassed.  I thought, “this beautiful Doctor thinks I’m a dude!”  He snickered and assured me that he didn’t think I was a man.  He started explaining that he suspected that I have a disease called polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS and that the pain that I was experiencing was caused by a ruptured cyst on my ovary.  

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He told me that I would be taken for an ultrasound to check if that was the case.  I had no idea what to think.  I’d never heard of PCOS before and pretty much all I’d taken from our conversation was that he thought I had a disease.  I was scared.

I sat there alone for what felt like an eternity worrying that I had some strange disease.  After all, my periods were never normal so I thought he was probably right.  Finally, a woman in a white lab coat came to take me for the ultrasound.  I told her that I wasn’t pregnant.  I’d only ever heard of ultrasounds for pregnant women so I didn’t understand why I needed to have one.  She explained why an ultrasound was necessary so I hesitantly let her push my stretcher out of the room and down to the lab.

She asked me to cover with a sheet and lift my gown, put some jelly stuff on my stomach and starting moving a probe around.  Still skeptical I thought for sure she was checking for a baby.  She was quiet and I was nervous.  The room was silent aside from the humming sound her computer was making.  I couldn’t take it anymore so I asked, “see anything?”  She told me to wait until she was done so the room went back to deafening silence, great!  

Finally, she finished and handed me a towel to wipe the gel off my belly.  She tuned the computer screen so I could see it.  “There,” she said.  “Can you see those round things that look like a string of pearls?  Those are the cysts.”  She showed me images of both of my ovaries with the strings of cysts.  I couldn’t believe it.  I didn’t feel sick so I didn’t understand how I had this disease.  


After another eternity of racing thoughts and worrying about my imminent early demise, Dr. McDreamy came back to talk to me.  He told me that the ultrasound and my lab work confirmed that I indeed had PCOS.

I started asking questions.  I wanted to know why I had it and how to get rid of it.  He very patiently answered all of my questions and explained that there was no cure.  He explained that I’d always had it but because it had never caused me any problems before, I didn’t know about it.  I was assured that lots of women have PCOS and lead normal, healthy lives.  

He told me that some women who have PCOS have a hard time getting pregnant.  That was no worry for me.  I was nineteen years old, newly single after years of being controlled by an abusive boyfriend and not looking for a relationship.  I was happy being single and was definitely not thinking about having children anytime soon.  

I asked him if I would have to start taking medication or anything and he asked if I wanted to start taking birth control so I would get a regular monthly period.  Ummm… no thanks!  Why on earth would anyone want more periods!?

After declining his offer to prescribe more visits from “Aunt Flo,” he told me I could go home and to come back to the ER if I ever suspect another cyst is erupting.  

My diagnosis didn’t really mean much at the time and I went on living as if nothing had happened.  I didn’t think it was a big deal and honestly, at the time it wasn’t.  

It would be years before my battle with PCOS would truly begin.  Years before the appointments with specialists, countless tests, painful procedures, surgeries, hormones and expensive medications.  I had no idea that it would be one of the most difficult struggles I’d ever have to endure but every story needs a beginning and that was mine.  That was the start of my infertility journey; I just didn’t know it yet.

-Kristen S.

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  1. kathy downey says:

    wow,that was some journey to endure

  2. Kristen says:

    It was Kathy but it was totally worth it! 🙂

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