We were welcomed at the front desk and invited to sit on shabby-but-comfortable couches- the best seats in the house. As we waited, we chatted with other couples who were there for the same reasons- and in the same predicament as us. We got to know a really nice couple- Cat and Ash- about our age, from California. Though they were both clearly of Indian descent, and had family in the country, they could not even get their medical visas. As we sat there sharing our stories, myself busily, bubbly, chatting away, Dan tapped my leg in his "stop over-sharing" or "you're being too intrusive" indicative way. I looked at him, rolling my eyes and said "Whaaat?" (I didn't think I had said anything wrong.)
But when I looked at him, he had an odd look in his eyes. I raised my eyebrow to him, expecting him to elaborate on the scolding, but he just quietly remarked "I need to find a rest room." Then he began making funny faces, and slouching a little. I didn't get the joke, and waited a second for him to explain. "Dan?" He said nothing, only flicked his hand and rolled his head. And I knew something was wrong. "Dan!! DAN!!" "Help!"
Of the thoughts that rushed through my mind, obviously panic was at the forefront. I didn't know what was happening, but it was happening to the man I love, in front of my eyes, and I couldn't make it stop. The second thought was that of all the places this COULD happen, I was relieved it was happening in a medical clinic. My silver-lining defense mechanism, which pops into play in any stressful or heart-rending situation, assured me Dan would be OK, and he would pull through.
Ash had been facing Dan initially and saw him slip into the seizure just moments before I turned my head to notice. As my brain rushed to piece together what I was witnessing, Ash called for help. Women rushed into Dan, when, surrounded by everyone, and seeing me propping up his shoulders with a panicked look on my face, Dan snapped to.
He startled, gave a quick, full-body shake and looked at us all. "Wha! What! What? What?"
"You were having a seizure!" I said to him, then I looked around at the women helping and at Cat and Ash. "He's NEVER done this before. He's the healthy one!"
"Geez, I'm sorry," Dan apologized, sheepishly. And he kept apologizing- even hours later, though I kept telling him to stop, that I was just so glad he was OK. ("Unless," I added, "you did this on purpose. In which case, you can apologize till you are blue in the face and then sleep on the couch!")
Dan's whole seizure lasted only 5-7 seconds. One woman came and took his blood pressure- one of the numbers I heard was 160- very high! And later, Dan felt like his whole body was aching. Another asked him if he had had coffee that morning, which he had, and then offered to bring him more. A quick Google search reveals that too much caffeine can cause seizures, so maybe a combination of lack of sleep, lots of coffee and sheer physical and emotional exhaustion were the causative factors. Caffeine can also cause spikes in blood pressure, so why the lady who asked Dan if he had had coffee that morning, then offered to bring him some fresh coffee, made this offer, we are not sure. But assuming it could help things, Dan accepted and drank a small cup, as he sat back, recomposing himself, his skin as pale as mine, and covered in a sheen of cold sweat.
Minutes later, we were both called in to at last meet in person, the famous Dr. Patel. Dan just put his head down and rested. Dr. Patel asked if we wanted to come back tomorrow, but despite a worried glance at Dan, I told her we would stay to meet with her and then go home to rest. Dr. Patel had some of the girls escort Dan to an office with a bed where he rested, and we were separated for the first time on our trip.
I was asked to void my bladder and then brought back into Dr. Patel's office where Cat and Ash sat opposite the doctor. Cat smiled at me and kindly offered some hand sanitizer, seeing I had come from the bathroom. Ash assured me that Dan was being well taken care of when he saw the lingering worry in my eyes.
The three of us sat cordially at Dr. Patel's desk, until a women instructed me to step behind a curtain and lie down on an examination table for an ultrasound. On the other side of the curtain, in the same room, Ash and Cat met with Dr. Patel.
It was a bit surreal. Apparently there is no such thing as HIPAA here in India. As I lay with my knees propped up in the customary OB/GYN examination position, separated only by curtain from our new friends, they were similarly intimately exposed. I was privy to their ultrasound information, what troubles they were having conceiving, and what Dr. Patel's plan for them was. I hoped they didn't mind me knowing such intimate details, but we all sort of rolled with it.
After a quick ultrasound, Dr. Patel told me happy news- that I had a total of 13 eggs in my ovaries, even before any treatments. She said that Dan and I could get our blood tests today and I could come back in a couple hours for my first shot! So that was excellent news. Except...
Except that we don't know if we can even do surrogacy.
Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yeah.
In the one month that I postponed coming to India to start all of this (I wanted things to be more stable at my new job), the Indian government banned surrogacy for foreigners. I shit you not. Talk about epic bad timing! I had emailed Dr. Patel to ask for clarification, and told her that we may just re-route our entire plans and go to Mexico where, for substantially more money, they could at least complete the procedure. But she assured me that because we had our medical visas, we could come over and not have any problems.
Well, apparently, she got additional clarification after that because when I emailed her to ask how she would like us to pay for everything, she told me- two days before we were meant to fly out- that she couldn't promise us anything.
Just a day or two before hearing this, I had just been forced to change my airline ticket because my original ticket had my married name on it, and I had only just realized that my maiden name was on my passport. No amount of begging, pleading or crying could get me the ability to change my name on my ticket, and in the end, I had been forced to buy a new ticket at twice the price- to the tune of an extra $1000. But at least I'd be on the same flights as Dan.
And now, a day or two later, after that nasty surprise, and after we have stayed the plan with India, and rejected ideas of Mexico. After we have worked non-stop for months to save money and vacation time to manage a full 3 weeks off work for each of us. After we have our non-refundable tickets and hotel accomodations- NOW, she tells me she can't promise me anything.
If you've ever seen The Lego Movie, you will know how I felt. I was Princess Unikitty, the normally bubbly, smiling, bouncy, eternally-happy unicorn-kitty-hybrid, watching her world go down in flames.
"My home..." Princess Unikitty whimpered, watching her world of rainbows and happiness disappear in flames below the ocean. "What is this feeling that is like the OPPOSITE of happiness??" ::Rapid deep breaths:: "Must. Stay. Positive! Umm... Bubblegums! ... Butterflies!! ... Cotton Candy..?" She winced as a great landmark cracked in two and sank beneath the sea.
Dan and I wrestled for days about what to do, and I cried, and our families' hearts ached all around. I got confirmation that Dr. Patel would at least harvest my eggs and freeze my embryos, and that gave us some small measure of hope. We would go there and at least do our part of the process- the part that required us to be physically in India, and we would continue to hope and pray that the winds of global political policy would shift and blow in our favor.
Meanwhile, back at the clinic...