Resolve to know more about your treatment

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National Infertility Awareness Week is coming to an end. I wanted to do one more post in honor of it and to be a part of the Bloggers Unite Challenge (we are celebrating 25 years after all!).

After 29 months of regular doctors’ appointments, I’ve realized how important it is to be your own advocate with your treatment plan. No one know yours medical history as well as you do. No one cares about the outcome of your treatment as much as you do. It is up to you to keep your doctors and nurses on their toes and ensure you are getting the best treatment possible. It’s not always easy to second guess your doctor, but they are people too and no one is perfect. Since I’ve taken a more active role in my treatment, I feel more empowered and more confident of the path I’m on. Here are some tips that have helped me take charge of my treatment:

Ask questions. This one is obvious, but easier said then done. It is very important to understand why a doctor may choose one way over another. Don’t be shy, a good doctor will be thrilled to explain his methods. Why start stims on day 3 instead of day 5? Why implant 2 embryos instead of 1? If you think of something after your appointment, call your clinic’s nurses line!

Do your research. Before choosing an IVF clinic (if you’re lucky enough to have multiple in your area) check out their stats on SART (Society for Assistant Reproductive Technology). All IVF clinics are required to report their stats to them, so it’s a great place to compare success rates. You can also compare your clinic to the national success rates. The stats I find to be the most indicative of a good clinic are percentage of cycles resulting in live births for fresh and thawed cycles (don’t ignore the # of embryos implanted or cycles cancelled either).

Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, question it. I’ve followed too many instructions that I wasn’t comfortable with to later regret it. If you feel like you need to do the IUI 24 hours after trigger instead of 36 hours, let them know. Obviously you need to take the doctor’s opinion to heart, but perhaps they weren’t thinking of something in your history. I’ve had nurses look at my history too quickly and give me the wrong dosing schedule. It’s up to you to know your history and be your own advocate!

Get a second opinion. Some doctors are better than others, some are more familiar with your specific condition, and some just may have more experience than others. It’s important for you to be comfortable with your doctor. If you just aren’t jiving with your doctor, find another one. Both times I’ve requested a change in doctors it’s even been within the same office. No one should question your desire to change, don’t be nervous to make the call, it’s more typical than you think.

Utilize the IF online community. If you wonder if anyone else has had luck with a specific treatment plan, there’s no better place to go than the IF online community. Post it to a board, blog about it, or ask in a facebook group. Your RE may have seen hundreds or maybe even thousands of patients, but that can’t compare to the millions of us online. Should you take your medical advice from ONE person online whose not a doctor? Of course not. Compare stories, ask around, and gather information. Bring it to your doctor and discuss it together, perhaps they’ll learn something too.

Just remember this is your journey, don’t be passive in it!

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I got a response!

So if you’ll recall, late last week I posted about sending letters to my HR department requesting infertility coverage for our insurance. I am happy to report, I got a response! I really didn’t think I would hear back, so I am excited! Here’s what he said:

I wanted to acknowledge that we’ve received your letters in regards to fertility benefits. I’m doing a little research on what we currently cover regarding fertility benefits and would like to get back with you in person to discuss. Would you be open to that? 
 
I believe we do spend quite a lot on Employees and spouses who use fertility drugs. You are correct that we don’t cover in-vitro fertilization procedures which can be very costly. I would like to take the research you sent us and further evaluate these benefits to better understand the coverage and what we do and do not pay. Each year, we get many requests to cover or increase coverage for our benefits. We attempt to look at each one to determine what we cover and see if we should make a change. 
 
If you are open to meeting, I can set something up for us in a few weeks. Let me know if that would work and thanks for sharing your thoughts and information with us. 
 
I of course agreed to the meeting. I’m not exactly sure what we’ll discuss, but perhaps he’ll outline that in the appointment (which he hasn’t set up yet). Regardless, it’s a step in the right direction! Feels good to do my small little part during National Infertility Awareness Week!
 
Happy advocating! 

Resolve to know more

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RESOLVE is urging the infertility community to spread the message “Resolve to know more.” I’m writing about how others can resolve to know more about comforting someone battling infertility. Since infertility is still a fairly uncomfortable topic for most, treading the waters can be intimidating. Here are a few tips –

  • Stay away from using cliches. We’ve heard them all before and they weren’t helpful the first time.  “God has a plan for you” or “It will happen when it’s meant to happen” or my personal favorite, “Just relax” make us crazy! The next person who tells me to relax is coming off my Christmas card list. If you want a generic thing to say, try “I’m so sorry, that must be horribly difficult. If you want to talk about it, please let me know”. 
  • Be extra sensitive on holidays. Holidays can be especially painful for those of us with infertility. Imagining how events would be different with kids, seeing a facebook feed full of babies and children enjoying the holiday, and being around our family members with kids are just a few of the triggers than can make the holidays extra difficult. I have a friend who sends me a text every mothers day just to “let me know she’s thinking of me”. An easy thing for her to do, but it really has meant a lot to me. 
  • Be interested in the process. The friends and family we’ve found the most comfort in are the ones most interested in our treatment. Treating infertility isn’t just taking a few pills and having a bunch of sex. It is a time consuming, complicated, sometimes painful, always exhausting, and completely engulfing process. I appreciate when my friends and family ask questions and seem interested. 
  • Don’t complain about your pregnancy. We know you are bloated, swollen and nauseous but we’d love to feel ten times worse and be in your shoes. Whenever I hear a woman complaining about her pregnancy I want to just shake her and tell her how lucky she is and to appreciate every wave of nausea, but I don’t because that’s what a crazy person would do (and I’m not quite there). 
  • Offer your time. If you are family or a close friend, offer a ride to an appointment or to sit with them in the waiting room. A lot of appointments are involved with infertility treatments and it can get overwhelming. Having someone else come with us make it a bit more fun and spices up the routine. Personally, I prefer to go to my appointments alone but I do appreciate the offer. 

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