Monday, November 24, 2008

Rocket man

I don't get many check-ups. Maybe since I am a doctor I think I don't need to have them, the "I know better" syndrome. Maybe I am scared of the unknown or of sharing my deepest secrets or most intimate body parts with a colleague. Maybe I think I know the limitations of medicine.

But with IVF, I cannot escape. Certain tests are dictated by our RE and others by my partner in crime, Mo. Deep down I want to be healthy, so the desire is also mine. And since Mo takes her shots and goes to her monitoring every day, I figure I can do my part too.

Which leads me to The Rocket.

My urologist wanted me to get my sperm DNA tested to be sure that a medication I'm taking is not affecting my swimmers. There is only one laboratory in the world that performs the test to detect damage in the DNA of sperm (aka sperm chromatin structure assay). And this lab is in - of all places - South Dakota.

To get my sample from New York to South Dakota, Fed Ex (for a cool $150) ships a sort-of-mushroom-shaped contraption that contains a white metal tank filled with dry ice. It is ridiculously bulky and even more ridiculously heavy - weighing probably 20 pounds. Mo and I took one look at it last cycle and christened it "The Rocket."

So when my urologist said I needed The Rocket again, I had it sent to my sister's apartment. Like I want my sister to know that I even have sperm! Sigh. But she has a doorman who will accept items like bulky steel rockets in the middle of the day. And Mo and I do not have a doorman (and with all we are spending on IVF, may never have a doorman).

When I heard The Rocket had arrived, I left work and headed to my sister's. I lugged The Rocket home and did my thing. The whole device is just...strange, with metal buckles, and pipettes, and whatnot. Adding to the effect is the fact that when you open The Rocket to put in the specimen, the dry ice inside emits a smokey fog. I felt like a mad scientist.

Next stop: Fed Ex. The curt woman behind the counter took one look at The Rocket, backed away, and said, "No way. I ain't taking that here. What is it?" I thought of being honest, but then decided that was probably a bad idea (plus, I couldn't bring myself to tell her the truth). So I told her a partial truth: that the tank contained dry ice. She stood her ground. "Sorry. I can't help you. We do not take dangerous materials at this Fed Ex." Now, I know dry ice is not dangerous, but I realized this was a dead end.

This exchange was repeated at three different Fed Ex centers. Picture me, schlepping this insane metal mushroom all over Midtown Manhattan, turned away at shipping location after shipping location.

I was starting to get annoyed. I was starting to feel a little sorry for myself. I considered shouting, "It's SPERM! OK? SPERM! Maybe with a DNA problem BUT SPERM!!!!" But I decided that would not be so effective. Finally, I went to Fed Ex's NYC headquarters where the clerk didn't even blink an eye. She acted like my rocket was the most normal thing to ship. In fact, she told me that there had been another guy there minutes before with a rocket like mine.

So just like that, when I was about to give up, The Rocket was launched. I picture it flying over South Dakota right about now.

I think it's gonna be a long long time
Till touch down brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I'm a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone

Mo starts stims Tuesday night. Wish us luck.



  1. bhahahahahhah! I think that on the form for the FedEx you should have written what we do every time we send something with dry ice: "non-hazardous, biological samples, for research purposes only, no commercial value"---EXCEPT THERE'S SPERM IN HERE PEOPLE! I love that the FedEx headquarters just took le rocket without hesitation! Good luck on your test.

  2. Thank you Elton! I love the Rocket - sorry you had to go through such an ordeal to launch it.

  3. isn't it funny how some of the most advanced tests are preformed in the middle of nowhere?

    hopefully this will be the last time that you have to deal with the rocket.


  4. btw, Mo, I read your comment on another site about your reaction to PIO. I had something very similiar, but it was nearly 2 weeks after my injections stopped! they think that it may be a delayed hypersensitivity reaction or something, but I had never heard of anyone else with any type of rx to PIO. did yours occur during injections?

  5. April,

    My hives occurred while taking the shots. the nerve damage seems to be cumulative, with the sides of my thighs (which is not where I do the shots) losing more sensation as time goes by.

    Sorry to hear that you had a delayed reaction!

  6. Thank you. It is immature and callous of me, surely, to laugh out loud at your inconvenience, but thank you for the laugh of the day. I can only imagine the reactions of your fellow New Yorkers while you lugged the rocket through the city, probably only 5% (and they all work at fedex) thought it was odd. The things we do to procreate.

  7. This was a laugh-out-loud-funny post! Thanks! (And I do hope the tests come out okay...)


  8. See, now all I wanna know is if we take the same medication and if my sperm's DNA is buggered.

  9. love the rocket story. Thanks for sharing that!
    Wishing Mo all the luck with the stims tonight!

  10. Xbox4NappyRash,

    If you want to email us the medication you're taking, we'd be happy to let you know if it falls within this class of drugs.

    Even if it does, that doesn't necessarily mean your sperm is buggered.

    Hang in there!
    Mo and Will

  11. No worries, I was just being flippant really.

    I do take a small dose of a very common and well known drug for a common condition, but all the doctors already have assured me it's absolutely nothing to be concerned about.

    But thanks!

  12. LOL. Some years ago when cycling in NYC I had DH's frozen, er, stuff shipped up there in a similar device. As I recall, we allowed the clinic to make arrangements for us. I had handled a similar, but local, clinic-to-clinic transfer myself before that and to save money was tempted to try the same again, but could picture what might happen if I started trying to traverse NYC via public transportation carting a rocket just a few years post 9/11, so I didn't.

    Er, good to know I'm not alone? Not entirely (no one should have to go through this stuff), but in some ways.

  13. Oh, my God. I'm crying laughing. Crying at your pain. I'm a horrible, horrible person. The Rocket has launched, indeed... Good luck, to both of you!

    If you'd like to laugh at another's pain, I have a friend who is so OCD he has to organize the porn in the "sample" room in order of title and severity before he can get down to business.

    Thinking of you both!

  14. your 'rocket' story! Sooo glad you finally found someone to 'launch' it for you!

    We came close to our own rocket launch, but our RE said the test wouldn't be needed in our case...? Good thing. I couldn't have dealth with all that blast off stress.

  15. Found your blog via April--love that Will is an active IF-blogger!

    Best of luck with this cycle; I'll be following and rooting for you both!

    (And I hope the rocket lands safely in South Dakota.)

  16. I found your blog through April's. Good luck as you start stims tonight Mo. Will, your post was hilarious!

    Here's hoping the rocket made a safe landing! :-)

  17. LOL funny indeed. Especially with the Elton medley running through my head. Thanks for stopping by by blog b/c I am SO happy to have found yours!

  18. If it helps any, my poor long suffering husband decided to do his first effort for science in the shower. And got water in the specimen jar.

    AND had to have a very awkward conversation where the lab called and asked about any possible "contaminants" that may have occured, and if he hadn't done it in the "standard" way :)

    I laughed like a drain, sympathetic wifey that I am


  19. When in doubt, go to the FedEx HQ. No questions asked there!! The crazy things we do for procreation. Love the rocket story.

  20. Fantastic post. Just love it. Living in midtown myself just a few years ago I can TOTALLY picture you luggin' that thing around. At least it wasn't 90 degrees with a million percent humidity.

    My hubby had to do a little testing himself...with the only center to do the testing in NY (we're in the nw now). But, alas, no rocket for him. He gave the swim team to some poor shmuck who had to ship it off for him.

    Good luck! ICLW

  21. Funny! Fortunately, the doc handled my hubby's rocket launch.

  22. THAT is one bizarre looking shipping container!

    I wish your rocket, and your family, the best of luck!


  23. Okay, that totally cracked me up. Good for you at finding the humor in this bizarre situation we all find ourselves in. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  24. Wishing you luck with your sperm tests and your upcoming cycle!


  25. Totally cracking up at this story. I had a somewhat similar experience a few years ago with a Fed Ex delivery woman (albiet sans the personal humiliation since I'm the girl):

    Since then, my mom has moved in with us. Another time R had to do that test, she saw him walking downstairs with the rocket and asked him what it was. An embarrassed silent stare ensued because he was too shocked to make up a lie...and she learned never to again ask questions about the strange containers that are sometimes delivered to our house!


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