Chinese Medicine, it’s an experience

I walked through Camden last week with a bleeding, rather sore lump on my head, a bag of stinking herbs half my weight, a free (gluten free, caffeine free, dairy free, sugar-free) herbal tea and £270 lighter… I think it’s safe to say I’ve officially entered the – OK I’ll do anything anyone suggests, stages of IVF. I’m on to the Chinese medicine and acupuncture.

My 5 stages of IVF

  • Total denial  – it would be different for us, Mr Potnoodle’s sperm would have got better in the last few years. It would be fine.
  • Suspended ‘unicorn’ belief – ok, we would plan to do IVF but would no doubt, like many others I had heard about, get pregnant whilst waiting for my period to start. It would be fine.
  • Vague but non-commital acceptance – Ok, we’re doing this thing, I’ve not got any problems, I’m fairly young in the world of IVF (35), so long as we get one to put in and a couple to freeze I’ll be happy. I refuse to put two in because I don’t want the very real chance of twins. This will be it, we’ll be fine.
  • Dismayed, full acceptance – This is wholly unlikely to work any time soon, may as well put three in for all the good it will do. I can’t imagine this ever working.
  • Disbelief and desperation – Let’s throw all the shit at the wall and see what sticks (Chinese Medicine, womb checks, strict diet, no coffee, no tea, no nothing unless it’s organic, grown from the ground/lean). In-depth talks with new doctors, embryologists and about 30 supplements a day.

Just thought it would be good for you guys to know where I’m at with everything.

This isn’t to say I feel terrible though, as I sit here waiting for my noxious smelling herbs to boil, filling the room with an aroma so unpleasant I find it hard to describe, I’m fine. And I mean that. Sure I’m sad at times and I am having a few more wobbles than I’ve been able to avoid up until now, and the serious thought has crossed my mind of never being able to have my own children, but I’m fine. On the whole. That thought is thankfully still just a thought at the moment, not a truth yet, and when it does pop up, I pop it back down again like a game of Guess Who until if and when I truly have to deal with it – which I hope I never do.

But back onto my £270 worth of herbs as they’re my main concern right now. I’ve been advised by a Dr Lili in Camden (who is a lovely lady and I am sure not in the business of poisoning people) to take these herbs, soaked for an hour, boiled for 45 minutes and strained, once a day. The outcome of all that boiling and straining is something that resembles pondwater and I doubt tastes too different, in fact, pond water probably tastes a whole lot better.

Every other day I make these concoctions and feel like a cross between the Blair Witch and a five-year-old making secret potions or tea parties out of mud. Squashing down a collection of dried twigs, leaves and something that really does look suspiciously like a poo, into a foul-smelling broth that fills the whole flat with a rather rancid smell of what’s to come.

Mr Potnoodle did suggest I try something like honey as an addition to make it more bearable. But I think much like that sickly air freshener McDonald’s uses in their loos to mask the smell of shit, it would only make it so much worse.

The upshot of all this is that I’ve now worked out some cunning ways to stomach the stuff to share with you.

  1. Dried apricots after each mouthful gets rid of the taste quite fast.
  2. Breathe in away from the mug, then breathe out as you drink.
  3. Take big gulps, three at a time whilst holding your breath. It’s better to get it over with fast.
  4. Water it down. It does no harm to the ‘medicine’ and yeah, it means there’s a bit more of it to drink but it’s not nearly as bad a little diluted.
  5. Don’t have it too hot. A retch-inducing steam going up your nose is the last thing you want, and if it’s too hot you can’t take big gulps so it’s pretty much like slow torture.

On the plus side, when I first went to see Dr Lili my tongue came up on the tongue chart as ‘Qi Deficient’. I have no idea what that means but I do know that two weeks in my tongue is now matching up with the ‘normal’ tongue illustration on the chart which must be good (?).

I also got my own back, as Mr Potnoodle laughed at my unfortunate medication, I glibly said that I hoped his prescribed bundle of herbs wouldn’t be as bad as mine as I had booked him an appointment with Dr Lili too….


**TAKE NOTE** Speak to your IVF or NHS doctors before doing down a Chinese herb route and don’t take them while actually doing IVF as they mess up the hormones you are given. Don’t self-medicate and make sure you go to a recommended and respected clinic.


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