Australia - Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 325 (135)


Thursday 27th January (2005)

Sandy’s doctor’s appointment here in Perth, that we booked whilst in Queensland, was for this morning at ten forty-five. This allowed us the luxury of a bit of a lie in which, together with the change in the time zone, meant that were truly rested and relaxed when we awoke. We hadn’t yet bought any fresh food supplies so we skipped breakfast and walked over to the nearby medical centre to make our appointment.

Since learning that Sandy was pregnant, we’ve done a fair bit of research and information gathering but we still had a few more questions about prenatal care and such so we figured this appointment would be useful to that end. When we finally went in to see the doctor, however, our whole world was turned upside down again. On the strength of the previous pregnancy test being a urine-based test, the doctor was by no means convinced that Sandy was even pregnant. He suggested several possibilities such as a thyroid problem brought on by the stresses and strains of travelling. Before even entertaining any of our questions, he wanted to order a blood test by means of a more definitive determination of Sandy’s potential pregnancy. He was a cold and matter of fact doctor and he didn’t do very much to put either of us at ease. He didn’t smile once whilst we were there. I asked him about the Doxycycline issue and he consulted a book before telling us that this particular drug was a category D drug and that this category of drug is known to cause birth defects. Although technically true, this information was quite a shock since it was contradictory to the previous information we had been given. We had previously learned that the side effects of Doxycycline are only relevant if taken after eighteen weeks of pregnancy and even then only stretch to foetal teeth discolouration. We came out of the doctor’s office not only unsure of whether Sandy was even pregnant or not but with the additional worry that we may have to be concerned about birth defects if she was. Once again, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of not being able to adequately put into words the emotions that were now going through our heads. We just spent the past week becoming accustomed to the idea of having a baby and now, all of a sudden, the whole thing is nothing more than pending. What if Sandy wasn’t pregnant after all? Dare we even entertain that idea? We found that we were both trying our best not to think about either scenario at all throughout the rest of the day. We had come to love the idea of starting a family and neither of us wanted to dare to consider this no longer being the case. How cruel it would be if this joy were denied us after the idea had sunk in. We really didn’t want to think about it too much. The only way I can describe it is that this numbness and shutdown of thought was an automatic self-defence mechanism to protect us. We were both silently hoping that Sandy was, indeed, pregnant but to hope for something that is subsequently ripped away from you is a very destructive and harmful experience. Sandy gave a sample of blood at the nearby pathology lab and we would now have to wait until a new appointment with the doctor tomorrow before we could be sure. The whole thing is still a secret and all we had was each other for strength.

Whilst providing the blood sample, the pathologist told us that the doctor had marked the blood test urgent. As a result of this, the test results would be ready by this afternoon. Armed with this information, I walked back into the clinic and asked if we could get the next appointment for this afternoon already – and with a different doctor. Fortunately, both were possible and I was given a new appointment card for four forty-five later this afternoon. We would still have to wait for the results but the less time waiting, the better.

We were charged AU$50 (€30,50) for the doctor’s consultation but nothing for the pathology work. We can claim most of this back from the nearest Medicare office but I’ll wait until the end of our stay here in Perth before doing so, as we are likely to start accumulating more bills I would suspect.

After Sandy was done with giving her blood sample, we meandered back to the hostel. Whilst pottering around in the kitchen, another traveller, a Korean guy, asked us if we were the same couple that he had seen in the backpacker’s hostel in Tully, Queensland. What are the odds of bumping into the same traveller in two different hostels just about as far apart from each other in Australia as is physically possible?

I was exchanging text messages with my brother, Paul David, throughout the morning and he was able to come up with a phone number for the convent where Mary’s sister, Sister Jacinta Noonan is a nun. Mary is a good family friend and we had planned on visiting Sister Jacinta to say hello, as we are here in Perth, but I’ve not had any luck getting in touch with her so far. With the convent phone number supplied by Paul David, I was able to finally reach her and we made an appointment to swing by and say hello tomorrow afternoon. I’ve only met Sister Jacinta once but she seemed to remember me from that meeting. It will be nice to see her tomorrow, I’m sure.

We quite like it here at this hostel and we’ve decided to stay for a few days. We may yet get in the car and start touring around the region but for now we are content to stay where we are and just slow the pace down a bit. This means that we will need to stock up on food and to that end we drove off in search of a supermarket. Prices for pretty much everything are elevated here in the city so we headed out of town for ten or twenty minutes in search of a supermarket in the suburbs, where I suspected the prices would be more reasonable. After twenty minutes of searching around, we found a supermarket with the help of a couple of directions from a passing taxi driver. We picked up enough supplies to feed us for a few days all for about AU$75 (€45,75). With a car boot (trunk) now full of supplies, we made our way back to the hostel and found some space in one of the fridges and a spare cubbyhole to store everything. Some slices of turkey and ham along with a fresh loaf of uncut bread made for some nice sandwiches for lunch.

For the next few hours, we did our level best to try to keep busy and our minds occupied. Judging by my shaking hands, I don’t think I was very successful at this. It’s amazing how every second seems like a minute and every minute seems like an hour when you are waiting around for time to pass. The clock did finally inch it’s way around to four o’clock and we slowly made our way back to the clinic, all the while desperately pretending that everything was fine and we were just out for a stroll. We showed our faces at the reception desk and were asked to take a seat ready for the new doctor to see us. The next ten minutes were agonising but the ordeal was not yet over. For one thing, the previous doctor that we disliked so much walked past us. He didn’t say anything but it would not have been difficult for him to conclude that we were there to see another doctor and not him. It was an awkward moment. After a while, the receptionist then came through to tell us that the lab results were still not yet ready. She suggested we make a new appointment for tomorrow. Not bloody likely! I asked her if she could call the lab herself to find out when the results would be ready. Somewhat reluctantly, she agreed to do so and went off to make the call. She came back a few minutes later and told us that it would be another hour and a half still, but she did agree to find us another appointment slot with the last doctor on duty then. Once again, we left empty handed and somehow needed to find something to do for another hour. We spent that time wandering around the city centre, aimlessly and without really taking any of the surroundings in. Once again, we just had each other for comfort and emotional support. I guess it was a wise idea to keep things a secret up till now, despite the best efforts of one of my brothers to try and find out what it is that we are trying to keep secret (are you reading this Paul David?).

So, we went back to the clinic again for the third time. This time, the receptionist confirmed that she had received the results from the lab. She didn’t say what the result was and I didn’t dare to ask her. We waited for the new doctor to finish up with the patient he had with him before we went into his office and sat before him. We tag-teamed at explaining the whole situation and he picked up the phone to talk directly to the lab right there and then. The test results were in and they were positive. Sandy was, indeed, not only pregnant but very pregnant with no room for ambiguity. A mixed feeling of relief and euphoria overcome the two of us and I remember my shoulders actually sagging as I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if this is what our lives would now become from here on in. We still have a long way to go with this pregnancy and there may be pitfalls and hurdles to be overcome along the way. Even after the birth, the emotional rollercoaster will not end with illnesses and other trials and tribulations to test us. Still, they say it’s just the first thirty years that are the worse.

We spent the next thirty minutes or more talking with the doctor about various issues and he was absolutely superb. He put our minds at rest on a number of issues, not least of all that concerning Doxycycline. In his view, we had nothing to worry about. Although he did his best to volley the barrage of questions that Sandy and I alternately threw at him, he eventually suggested that we would be best advised to visit the local hospital, where they could perform all the necessary prenatal tests and where we could get the very best health care and advice possible. A GP can dispense good general advice but the hospital will have a maternity department that do nothing other than deal with maternity issues day in day out and we will be better off in their care. To that end, he compiled and issued us with a referral letter and we will go over there tomorrow morning. We left his office with a content and warm feeling about Sandy’s pregnancy, even though his blood pressure test showed Sandy as being hypertensive with a slightly elevated blood pressure. And so the rollercoaster ride that is pregnancy continues. There will be more twists and turns to come, I’m sure. When this ride ends, we will get right back onto the next one again – family. Welcome to our new lives.

With Cheshire cat grins on our faces, the two of us walked happily back to the hostel, where Sandy cooked us each a T-bone steak, whilst I drove ten minutes out of the city to find a fish and chip shop. I bought more than we needed and we offered the excess to the other hostel guests. This went down well. As we ate, we all sat in the cavernous and comfortable TV room to watch a movie. Life is good.