We had a cat when I was born, a fluffy Persian that I can’t remember but my mother says I absolutely loved. He was the first of a long line – I have adored cats for as long as I have been alive. Next was a black street cat, a hunter who brought home a grown rabbit once. A red tabby, who would track down rats at our farm. Princess, who I adopted from a shelter because she was the most scared one looking there and she was going to be put down that day.

I wanted to be a vet as a child. Our local vet let me watch surgeries and I was fascinated. I helped out in shelters, I fed the cats and played with them, I cleaned off their babies and washed out their infected eyes.

There were a lot of strays in the small town I grew up in as well, roaming the fields, whole gangs of them, and I eagerly attempted to befriend them all.

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As soon as I walk into the acupuncturist office, the whole vibe is different from what I had expected it to be.

Somehow I had imagined a nice curl of incense, an ohmmm-track playing in the background, decorative pillows on the ground, and a Buddha or two. I mean, this is an alternative treatment, right? Holistic and stuff?

Instead, the waiting room is entirely empty and bleak. It smells like a doctor’s office. There are health and women’s magazines, ten tips to please your man, things like that. This summer’s crash diet!

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We have filled out a lengthy questionnaire, sat through forced counselling, had multiple vials of my blood taken for a full HFEA approved chromosome screening, and then waited for a few long weeks.

But now we know that….

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I am ALWAYS cold. It’s not unusual for me to wear a fleece in tropical temperatures, and even when walking in bright sunshine at thirty plus degrees my body is cool to the touch. I have long known that this is perhaps not exactly normal… But I just assumed it was one of my various oddities, something that might be annoying to live with for me, but that no doctor cares to diagnose.

I have had my thyroid checked a few years back and found out then that something is off with it, but it wasn’t bad enough yet that it warranted treatment.

Until now.

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It’s raining.

The west London pavement is strewn with dirty leaves, and Jo and I huddle under our hastily bought umbrella and hop-skip our way over flooded gutters and large puddles.

By the time we make it to the Lister clinic it’s with sodden shoes. It isn’t exactly the most graceful way to arrive but we hurry inside, and shake out our umbrella before wrapping it in a plastic bag so we won’t drip all over the waiting room.

The first thing I notice is that this looks like an actual hospital. It’s much larger than I had imagined, with a proper reception desk, and several floors to the building. It’s closer to what I would associate with a clinic in Belgium. We settle in to wait, but then… someone comes to inform us that actually the open evening is cancelled, and that we should have been informed (we weren’t.)

Oh, great. We ran through the rain for this!

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