Rat or Radio?
There I am standing next to door belonging to my vampire Psychiatry doctor. I call him a vampire because his office hours don’t start until 9pm. (Technically they start when he arrives, so it could be 9pm or 10:30pm.) He has weird hours and is flaky about arriving on time, but he really knows what he’s doing. The kind that actually cares what you’re dealing with and will work with you to find a solution without automatically reaching for the prescription pad. Talking to him you feel like a person and not just a patient. And for that reason, I and many others overlook the odd hours and lack of punctuality.
This is “fast track” night. The night the receptionist has off, so no new patients. Just those patients he is comfortable our treatment is working and basically only need prescription refills. Making the whole operation a first come first serve system. It’s important to arrive early, or you may end up driving home at 2 in the morning.
To the chagrin of the stranger walking towards the door, I’m first tonight. He appears to be in his mid 40’s and we start up a conversation. He’s a guitar player who’s looking to start another band. (Sorry Bub, Jingle Bells on the keyboard is all I know.) He’s also a hairdresser and originally from New York. Moved to the area several years ago to help take care of his father and lives with his brother for now until he can save enough to move back to New York.
I found this conversation interesting and amusing even though my ADD was screaming this was utterly pointless and would rather get back to playing the game on my phone. Then he said, “My Brother and his wife live in a huge 4 bedroom house and I don’t understand why they don’t have any kids.”
Before I had a chance to respond his phone rang. He rushes off to have a private phone conversation leaving me standing there with the revelation that his brother and wife’s childlessness is probably not by choice dangling off the tip of my tongue. I waited, hoping to continue the conversation upon his return when a disturbing thought struck me, forcing me to swallow my words.
Would his brother thank me or hate me for revealing this information? Am I a radio broadcasting the word of infertility to this guitar playing hairdresser? Or am I a rat revealing a secret this gentleman’s brother didn’t feel comfortable talking about to his own sibling? There is a small possibility his brother likes big houses and doesn’t want kids, but I’m finding that to be more the exception rather than the rule. I stood there like Holden Caulfield feeling dumb for not knowing what I should do or how I should act.
This gentlemen returned holding a new issue of Guitar Player magazine and was now more interested in it than talking, so I went back to playing on my phone. I wasn’t ready to start outing another persons infertility. Not without at least attempting to explain the sensitive nature of the topic and why this information would be kept even from those family members closest to them.
Infertility is so much more than simply being unable to have a child. There is a huge emotional and social baggage that we carry with us. To be told we aren’t capable of preforming a task that everyone on the outside simply takes for granted. We in the infertile community took it for granted ourselves up until that one doctor’s visit when we found out a miracle or science would be needed in order to reproduce.
I think I may look into having some cards printed for this blog. So next time I can hand one to someone who questions why their loved one isn’t having children. Thereby spreading the word about infertility, and hopefully, providing them with knowledge allowing them to approach the topic with the sensitivity it deserves.
I’m open to suggestions.