MIA

As I peed unceremoniously into a transparent plastic pot, I wondered how this process has been overlooked in the medical revolution. After thoroughly washing my hands, I tentatively clutched my warm gift as I surreptitiously walked back through the waiting room. I bee-lined towards the small window, and deposited my pot. I wondered if I should announce it to the lab technicians on the other side. I was relieved to see a hand sanitizer bottle on the wall nearby.

For the third time, I sat with my crumpled four digit number in my hand. Every minute or so, a new number flashed across the screen accompanied with a beep. My number seemed to have been skipped. After an hour of fidgeting, I approached the BMI station. The nurse glanced at my number and told me I’d be sitting in the wrong waiting area.

At last, I was summoned into room 42. The doctor did not look up from his screen. Before I’d even sat down, the doctor announced, “Well, I have some good news. The pregnancy test is negative. The bad news is that we cannot locate the IUD.”

My birth control had gone MIA. The coil had gone AWOL. The doctor the previous day read out my scan results from the radiologist. “Uterus normal size. Endometrium appears smooth. Right ovary measures 2.80 x 2.60 x 1.50cm, left ovary measures 3.40 x 3.30 x 1.90cm. Ovaries normal in size and appearance. No abnormal adnexal mass or fluid in the Pouch of Douglas is detected. No IUCD seen.”

I wondered what Douglas was doing up there before blurting out, “No sign of the IUD? Are you sure?” The doctor admitted that the scan was not available on the screen.

I had the pelvic ultrasound reviewed by the radiologist. I was not keen on having another since you have to turn up with a full bladder. As the technician squeezed the cold gel over my abdomen, I asked her how long it would take, mentally planning my escape route to the ladies. Instead of seeing a baby, the technician commented on my balloon of a bladder. I was proud. She also spotted the IUD.

The second doctor who reviewed my ultrasound results said it was likely the IUD had dropped out. But, given the fact I was not pregnant and had not had a period in two glorious years, the doc considered the slim possibility that it may still be there…somewhere. Apparently, this happens to one in a thousand women with the IUD. The next step is an X-ray to discover where the rascal has ended up, followed by a simple keyhole surgery to remove it. It can even find its way into the intestines.

As I am not insured through work out here in Singapore, I am paying for each visit and was concerned that surgery may break the piggy bank. I called my insurance brokers to see if they could reimburse the damage, especially as I had not added on the special ‘lady package’. However, if I was admitted for day surgery, I could then backdate all the investigatory bills. I argued that it may be a general health issue having a foreign body lurking somewhere off limits. A few days later in the post, I received a letter from them in rather bad taste. It asked me if I was thinking about starting a family of my own.

I went to see the gynaecologist at the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. After more basic health checks for my BMI and blood pressure, I saw yet another doctor. After establishing that I wasn’t married, I batted off the usual barrage of questions about my sexual activity. I listed the various birth controls I have used for the past ten years, and the elderly doctor began to look amused. I became quite indignant as he attempted to explain the monthly hormones that cause periods. He thought the IUD had fallen out undetected, but the reason for no menses was because I had ‘confused’ my system through being on the contraceptive pill, the Nexplanon implant in my arm and finally the miraculous Mirena coil. Through frustrated tears, I told him I did not understand why the technician said she saw it whilst conducting my ultrasound.

Finally, the gynaecologist started to hear me. He asked me to have a quick ultrasound. As I pulled down my under-crackers, he ducked round the curtain before I was ready. Feeling embarrassed, I laid back on the paper towel. The nurse hoisted up my top and slopped more cold gel on my belly. He asked me to sit up and showed me a white blob on the screen. It was not a baby, it was a blurry ghost. “Is that my IUD in my womb?” He smiled and said it looked as though it was, but I could not return the smile. I was angry that it had been missed and that I was throwing money away sitting here.

He asked if he could have a look. I had already been clamped open and subjected to this at the start, but “Why not?” I thought miserably. Peering through his thick lenses, he said he could just make out a short blue string, which arguably was the cause of all this kerfuffle. I began to cry. He kindly waived the consultation fee of my visit, but I cynically knew that he would get it back when I returned for my second ultrasound results.

So here I am. I will revisit the hospital for another ultrasound first thing tomorrow morning. Hopefully, they’ll locate it this time. It’s a bizarre position to be in – on the one hand, I obviously want to avoid surgery, but on the other, that’s the only way I’ll get my money back. Wish me luck.

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