I had a bit of a lightbulb moment during Midnight Mass last week.
I was thinking of my first ever Christmas away from home. I was 23, had been in China since early February, and I wasn't well. I'd been ill since the beginning of December, and on Christmas Day all I could eat was half a bowl of Chinese egg and tomato soup.
After I'd been ill for about a week, the guy who was in charge of foreign affairs in the college and was nominally responsible for my colleague and me took me to see a doctor. I heard the word 'ganyan' mentioned and remembered it so I could look it up in the dictionary when I got home.
Over the next couple of weeks, I was carted around all the best hospitals in the town. At each one, 'ganyan' was mentioned early on in the consultation. I now knew that this meant 'hepatitis'. But never once did anyone give me a blood or urine test to confirm the diagnosis. Instead, they wheeled out their most expensive and high-tech machines to do increasingly complicated tests on me. I had electrodes stuck to my scalp as they did a scan of my brain; I was put through huge machines that looked inside me in all sorts of different ways; I was poked, prodded and jabbed with all sorts of weird and wonderful instruments.
I don't know if it was because they wanted to make money out of a supposedly rich foreigner (to them, all foreigners were rich, even those who had left home in their early twenties to do voluntary work and had not a penny in the bank back home) or because they wanted to show off that they had all this advanced technological equipment. Either way, it wasn't until a friend took me in hand in the week after Christmas and took me to her own doctor that anybody thought to take a bit of blood from me. Instantly, I had my diagnosis - and sure enough, it was 'ganyan'.
As I sat in church this Christmas Eve, thinking of that first Christmas away from home, I realised that we've done a similar thing with our infertility. DH's sperm are a bit rubbish, and so are my eggs. Instead of asking why they're a bit rubbish and whether there's anything that can be done about it, we've gone straight for the technological big guns. DH has only ever had one sperm test, and he's never had a physical exam to see if the low volume that he produces could be caused by a blockage.
Before we met, DH was a confirmed bachelor. He literally didn't know how to fry an egg, and he lived off the hospitality of friends, microwaved ready meals and a lot of takeaways and toast. Although his diet has been healthier since he met me, who knows how much damage all those years of eating crap did to his system?
We both eat too much refined sugar, and we're both a bit overweight. We don't smoke, and we don't drink much, but if you are what you eat, we're great big lumps of fairly unhealthy stuff with a few vegetables and a bit of protein thrown in for good measure.
So here's the new plan - after the new year, we're going to get in touch with Foresight. We'll get our hair analysed to see what nutrients we're short of and what we have too much of, and then we'll take whatever supplements they recommend and go on whatever diet they suggest to get our bodies, our sperm and eggs and my uterus into the best condition they can possibly be in to help conceive and nurture a healthy baby.
I hate faddy diets, but we're both prepared to follow this as strictly as we possibly can for four or five months in order to give ourselves the best possible chance of producing healthy eggs and sperm when we go for IVF #3 - hopefully in the late spring/early summer. (And if it doesn't work, we'll probably live on chocolate and wine gums for the following four or five months...)
So if you see a pair of weirdos walk into a restaurant after the new year with big clumps of hair missing at the back, loudly demanding organic mung beans and dandelion coffee, do pop over and say hello to us.