Photographic Evidence

All through fertility treatments, I loved collecting pictures. Ultrasound pictures of my ovaries with follicles (one doctor dubbed them "chocolate chip cookies" with follicles as the chips), of the moment an embryo or two were released into my uterus. Photos of the inside of my uterus from hysteroscopies, looking vaguely like alien landscapes. Hopeful photos of embryos that had made it to the point of transfer, either blobs of 8 cells or split-disc-looking blastocysts. Sadder photos of my rupturing tube both inside my body and on a tray when I had the ectopic pregnancy, and the one lonely photo of a briefly viable gestational sac.

In more hopeful times, I saw these photos as the earliest possible baby pictures ever. I saw them as proof of the inexplicable medical miracle that was possible. Photos of such tiny things! 

Eventually, though, they became a record of pain and worst-case scenarios, and a gallery of sadness and loss. That, for some reason, live in a floral box in my attic. How could I ever get rid of the pictures of my hopeful, ill-fated children? 

I still find photos of medical procedures fascinating. No one would humor me when I had my hysterectomy; I really wanted a picture of that organ, excised. I had to use my imagination instead. Apparently people think it's weird when you want a picture (or the item in a jar, which is illegal in New York) of an organ you're exorcising surgically. 

Lucky for me, knee replacements are cool and you are encouraged to take pictures of your x-rays. They don't take pictures of your surgery, probably because it is so aggressive and traumatic, what with the power tools and the mallets and the gore. But I do have some nifty pictures of my new knee, just under seven weeks after surgery: 

HOW COOL IS THAT? But also, yikes. No wonder that hurt so much! All the pounding components into bone and shaving bone to fit the implants. Bleccchhh. 

This, along with my hysterectomy, are some of the only surgeries and medical procedures where I have way better outcomes after. I lost something in both, but they were both things that didn't serve me. Both my uterus and my left knee caused me pain and hampered my quality of life. One is just gone, but this new knee is an improvement! I'm working hard to get my strength back and looking forward to getting back to the things I love doing. 

This photographic evidence of things done to my body makes me so very happy. I have a new knee. I survived this procedure and my body is stronger for it. It was worth the pain. I didn't have the same positive outcomes from the many infertility photos, but all of them remind me that I'm a survivor. I can come out the other side of something traumatic with more strength than before.


  1. You ARE a survivor! I'm so glad the new knee is worth the pain. I'm not a "photo collector" in the way you are (never got any of any of my infertility/ectopic procedures), but this pic is definitely worth keeping. I do have one in my head of an x-ray of my ankle and its plate and several screws, and think about that now when I feel its strength.

  2. I didn't keep anything from my TTC days except the pictures of my children (i.e., my blastocysts).

    Oh wait, I did keep a few more things: the stuffed animal I brought to every appointment (I was extremely scared of every injection, ultrasound, and blood draw), a card I bought myself, and a couple of onesies that I'll regift if anyone special to me has or adopts a baby.

    I greatly appreciate you sharing your experience with your knee surgery. I help patients after their surgeries all of the time, and hearing your patient experience has helped me a lot. Thank you!

  3. I have such a fascination, too! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who wants to see my own innards, even when they become outtards. You have two beautiful knees, my friend, and you are a survivor!

  4. For all the ultrasounds I had during my one ill-fated pregnancy and many fertility treatments, I have exactly one ultrasound picture. Also six lousy Polaroids taken after our daughter's stillbirth, three in which she is only visible as a bundle of blankets. I have no desire for other such medical "souvenirs," lol -- although I did take some photos of my dressing-covered incisions after my gallbladder removal last year. (StepMIL actually had her gallbladder in a jar after it was removed!) All I can say is that if having the photos etc. gives you some satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment/survival, you earned it! :)