I don’t like Roger Clemens. And I don’t believe he didn’t know he was being injected with hormones. But hormones make you irrational. That I know. Maybe Roger’s trainer lied to him, like my doctor lied to me. She had told me the in vitro treatments may cause mood swings. My ass. I was on an out of control tilt-a-whirl every day of my treatment cycles. So I understand Roger’s anger, even if we reacted differently: he threw splintered baseball bats and I yelled at slow elevators. Like me, maybe the Rocket was pursuing a dream and the hormones pushed him over the edge when he was emotionally fragile.
Desperation drove me and my husband to pursue invasive fertility treatments. The hormones drove me crazy. I twitched whenever I heard a pen click because it sounded like the dial of the pen-syringe my husband used to inject me every night. My low point came on a July day when the city smelled like arm pit. The day’s crappiness began with the early morning monitoring visit at the fertility clinic. It took three tries and much needle wiggling to draw my blood. Work felt pointless, especially after my doctor called with instructions to increase my hormone dosage. The blood work showed my aging system was responding sluggishly. By the end of the day, I was ready to burst from bloat and foulness. I steamed in the cooled lobby of my building and waited for the elevator with Mr. Mumbler Grumbler from 4E.
“Hi, how are you?” I asked, knowing he’d only respond with a scowl. But I’d been mad all day so any answer was going to be the wrong one.
“Yeah, I’m fine, thank you for asking,” I mumbled. I sensed him tense slightly away from me. “What do you care?” I maybe mumbled or thought – it was hard to tell. My building rage was blinding.
“Who are we kidding, I mean, who cares?” Or who was I kidding. Pretending to hope in the in vitro treatments. Pretending each attempt didn’t crumple my gut: each try a reminder, never an erasure, of the fact that we’d lost our only child two years ago. Pretending that each day of life since our son died didn’t threaten to suffocate me. I felt trapped in my wet clothes the more I began to sweat. Anticipating the elevator ride with Mumbler Grumbler was making me crazier.
“Where the hell is the goddamn f***ing elevator?” I spit as I punched the glowing button. I became enraged when the mumbler turned toward the stairs. Like he was too normal to ride the elevator with me. Me! Like I could be normal though my boy died and I’ll likely never be anyone’s mommy again but I’M F***ING FINE, THANK YOU FOR ASKING LIKE YOU CARE!
The stairway door clicked closed. I sobbed as I leaned on the elevator call button and ignored Fred at the front desk.
“Mrs. B? Are you okay?”
Hormones can make you do crazy things, so I feel for Roger. He’s accused of lying. The lies I told were necessary: Of course there’s reason to hope. Sure everything will be back to normal. I needed those lies to get out of bed in the mornings. Today I’m hormone-free and carry the pain of lost dreams. Maybe Roger feels like I do. I’m not a headlining superstar like he is but I can offer this: What’s happened to me is not okay. But I’ve made it this far. Maybe far enough to dare to believe that I will be okay.