When I look at things objectively, I am pretty lucky.
I went off the pill in July ’07. I first saw a GP in January. By February I was in with a fertility specialist. I’ve had an HSG (tubes all clear and now squeaky clean!). Q. has been analyzed (no problems there). Tomorrow I have my second appointment with the fertility specialist to discuss the many tests she ordered when we first met her, and to decide how we proceed from here.
I am going to take a little bit of credit for the speed at which things have happened. Despite my previous post, once I decided to start paying attention to what was going on (or more accurately what was decidedly not going on) with my body, I really started paying attention. I read everything I could find, starting with the pregnancy books and quickly finding my way to infertility (via Taking Charge of Your Fertility) from there. I have the type of personality that lends itself to addictions/obsessions; if I pick up a new hobby or interest, I tend to almost single mindedly devote myself to reading about it, studying it, engaging with it, etc. until eventually some form of new life/old life balance asserts itself. In the past my addictions have ranged from Monty Python to cricket, vegetarianism to ancient history. Nothing, once it burns itself into my brain and becomes a target of possibly unhealthy devotion and interest, is ever rejected. I just eventually find a balance again. (I console myself with the belief that at least Monty Python has got to be better than drugs or gambling…)
Infertility became my new obsession. And so, although I would like to think that once I am pregnant I will be able to kiss this part of my life goodbye, and gleefully sail into a world where one never second-guesses one’s ovaries, I can’t see that happening. Once an obsession, forever a part of me.
But, as the title of this post suggests, all the information and reading in the world couldn’t have made as much of an impact if I hadn’t been unbelievably lucky with my doctors. Not once, but three times.
Doctor the first: In another city, at another time, referred to him (an ob/gyn) for reasons unrelated to infertility. While determining (yet again) that nothing seemed to be wrong with me (why does determining this always seem to involve painful and invasive tests?), it happened that we discussed my lack of natural cycles when off the pill. Q. and I had been together for a couple of years by that point. I was starting to wonder if I was coming to a new conclusion about children.
Doctor the first, while being somewhat dismissive about my concerns, did say this: “It sounds like you’re not ovulating. When you decide you want to get pregnant, start trying six months before you think you really want to be pregnant. After the six months, if you’re not pregnant (and I don’t think you will be), come and see me. Do not wait for a year.”
Doctor the first instilled in me the importance of being proactive. So, after I went off the pill, and my cycles failed to materialize, I started charting once three months had passed. Once I had three months of charts (six months without a period), I went to see Doctor the second. With my chart. And a full page detailing my wonky reproductive history for the last decade. (I told you I started paying attention.)
Doctor the second: My current GP. She works at a clinic near where I work, in a new city, where I needed a doctor. I went to the clinic because it was convenient. I asked to see a female doctor. By some most happy coincidence, I ended up with the only doctor on staff who deals with fertility issues in her other clinic.
I turned up for the appointment, waved my chart and started talking about my medical history. Doctor the second immediately agreed that I needed a referral, and wanted to do as much of the groundwork testing as she could to save time when I finally got in to the clinic. She didn’t want to prescribe anything like Clomid since she felt she couldn’t properly monitor me in the clinic. This testing revealed that my ovaries were consistent with PCOS (where were you, cysts, when that first ultrasound happened in 1998?), and that I was hypothyroid. I wasn’t too surprised by the former; the latter was unexpected and a bit of a shock. All the other bloodwork (hormones, glucose tolerance) was normal.
Doctor the third entered the picture when Doctor the second faxed off my referral. I had requested a particular doctor at a particular clinic on the advice of a friend. The clinic phoned back soon after my referral was sent. That doctor no longer worked there. My doctor sent back the referral without specifying a doctor. I had an appointment the next week.
Doctor the third is new to the clinic, so she doesn’t have a full case load. Thus I managed to avoid the (usually) lengthy waiting times. (I am also very lucky in that I live in a big city where there are lots of options. I am deeply sympathetic to those who wait for months and months to see a specialist.) Thus far Doctor the third seems very thorough and sensible. I do not get the sense she will try to railroad me with treatments.
I know of others who have to wait for a year, or suffer multiple losses before their GPs will take their pleas to see a specialist seriously. I know I am very very lucky in what has happened. Still, if this has taught me anything it’s that being your own advocate is essential when it comes to your health. I think I didn’t have to push for a referral because I came in with all the questions answered, all the information available.
That, and I was lucky. You can probably guess I’m hoping my luck doesn’t run out when it comes to treatments.