Between embryo transfer and pregnancy test day, the Fun with Needles continues. I take a progesterone injection in the backside (intramuscularly) every night at 8pm. A little-known JOY OF INFERTILITY is the hassle of finding people to give you shots, particularly if you have a husband who travels like mine. That little “joy” wasn’t in the brochure, that’s for sure.
At home, I have four go-to people who help: my husband, my awesome neighbor, and two nurse friends. But because of a work event in Chicago, I suddenly found myself in a city of strangers overnight, where my lineup of shot-helpers was completely useless.
How hard can it be?
But all I needed was a nurse or someone willing to poke me (and who I trusted to shove a needle in my booty). Complicating this a bit was the fact I needed the shot as close to 8pm as possible. But just like Gary Busey in Point Break, I foolishly thought, How hard can it be??
(Actually, its really, really hard.)
I started my mission with the concierge at my overly swanky hotel.
“Hi there. My husband and I are doing in vitro, and I need hormone injections every night. I’ll be in Chicago for work, and I can’t give it to myself, because I have to take the shot in the behind. So basically I need a nurse who can give me my injection around 8pm. Do you have any ideas?”
The concierge directed me to Concentra Urgent Care. I called, and the receptionist said they couldn’t do it because of the liability of giving a shot to a non-patient. She recommended a primary care provider like Rush Medical Center and gave me a number to call them.
Except the number she gave me was for the hospital’s records management department, which has no humans, so I hung up, googled it, and called back. I gave the short version of my spiel to the operator, who quickly transferred me to Physician Referrals. (WTH?!)
I explained my dilemma to “James,” who seemed more concerned with following the script than using his brain, who asked for some information so he could recommend me to a local doctor.
“Whoa, hold on. I don’t need a doctor,” I said. “I only need a NURSE, just to give me a SHOT.”
James seemed perplexed. “Well, you’ll have to see a doctor or go to the ER, and to see a doctor you’ll need a referral.”
I was getting exasperated with James. “Well, buddy, I need my shot at 8pm, and I’m guessing all your clinics are closed, right?” James agreed, and I continued. “So I guess we’d better try the ER.”
James connected me to Janessa, who if voices are any indication, was a woman with more than a few pounds behind that big voice. I asked to talk to a nurse, but Janessa said nurses don’t talk to patients on the phone. So I explained my situation yet again. She impatiently said that I needed to call my doctor and get a referral for a Chicago doctor.
I admit it– I lost my friendly “please help the clueless girl” attitude at this point. I repeated that I didn’t need a doctor, and my insurance sure as he’ll wouldn’t pay for one measly injection.
“But it just don’t work like that! You can’t just walk in here and have someone give you a shot!” Janessa shouted.
My reply came through clenched teeth. “I do not need a doctor! I just need a nurse to give me a shot, because I can’t give it to myself!”
And to my horror and embarrassment, I started to cry.
Janessa paused a second. “I’ll transfer you to the charge nurse, one moment.”
My savior appears
Seconds later, a kind male voice came on the line. Between little gulps of air, I told Tony my problem.
“Look,” Tony said. “I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to do it, but this is the last thing you should be worrying about right now. Any good nurse would help someone out in a jam like this, and there are a lot of good nurses in Chicago. Come to the ER and I’ll take care of you.”
A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders when he said that. I explained that I needed it at 9pm, and he said that even though he’d be off duty by then, he’d talk to the evening charge nurse and let her know I was coming and what I needed. Tony even gave me driving directions.
I apologized for crying, and told him that the hormones were making me a little crazy. He laughed and said he knew exactly what I was going through.
At this point, there was a huge sigh of relief from me. It took me five tries, but I had finally gotten someone less concerned with procedures than helping out a person who needed them.
And then my savior was replaced by someone less nice
My work commitment was done at 8:30pm, so I hailed a cab to Rush as soon as I was done. The ER was packed, but I asked for the charge nurse and they directed me right to the nurse’s station. They were expecting me — and Tony had done as promised. But the nurse at the desk continued: I had to go back out to triage to sign in and fill out insurance paperwork, because they would need to file a claim. FOR LIABILITY REASONS.
The waterworks started again. I explained that the whole reason I had come was because it was stupid to drop $200 on an ER visit for something I could probably have a stranger do. But since Tony said he could help, I paid $10 for a cab and here I was at Rush.
They called the charge nurse over and I tried to explain it to her. She stood there, one hand on her hip, looking at me with unsympathetic eyes. She was unmoved.
“You have to think of this from our point of view,” she said. “We can’t be liable if something happens.”
“Fine then.” I turned to leave, but she stopped me.
“You can’t leave, what are you going to do? It’s important, and you need your injection,” she insisted.
“Yes I know it’s important! That’s why I’m here, because I can’t give it to myself!” I cried.
She thought for a second, then said she’d walk me through giving it to myself. “We’ll just find a room and I’ll be right there. You can do it.”
I thought for a moment, tears streaming down my face (because at this point I could NOT stop them, it was out of control). I relented. “Okay. Let’s do that.”
Let’s do this, dammit.
She led me down the hall and into a paramedic waiting room and closed the door. While I got my tools ready — syringe, alcohol pad, needle, vial of progesterone — she grabbed a sheet for me to cover up with. I drew up my dose while she watched, a sad look on her face, and handed me Kleenexes.
“Where do you usually take it?” she asked. “In the leg?”
I looked at her incredulously. “No, not in the leg. In the butt. That’s where they taught me to take it, so that’s how I’ve always done it.”
She shook her head. “If it’s just intramuscular, you can take it in the leg. If you need to give it to yourself, there’s no way you could take it in the behind, you can’t reach and get a good angle back there.”
You’re kidding. (/sarcasm)
Now I was really embarrassed. I vaguely remembered one mention — months ago — by a nurse, saying that intramusculars could be either in the butt or the thigh, but they’d never taught me how to do the thigh ones — just the booty shots. So it didn’t even occur to me that there was another option. She showed me how to pinch my quad muscle. I swabbed it off, pinched, took a deep breath, and POKED.
It bled like crazy, but I got my progesterone shot. All by myself. Mostly.
I hailed a cab back to the hotel (still crying). This driver, in contrast to the psycho who drove me to the hospital, was a nice older fella, a White Sox fan who drove carefully. He didn’t ask why I was crying — he just drove, silently. And I was incredibly grateful.
Everything aside, I’m mostly just embarrassed. For not realizing I could have given it to myself in the leg all along (come to find out, there is a good reason they recommend the butt — because your quads do a lot more work than your glutes, and these shots hurt like crazy the next day), for spending $20 just so someone could watch me give myself a shot, and for bawling in public excessively.
Oh well. At least I know I won’t have to deal with this again. Next time, I’ll be ready to poke myself from the get-go.