I thought about kicking myself for not posting for NIAW, but have realized that the point of this blog is to educate people, not to mention the fact that I verbally spread the word throughout the week. I AM kicking myself for missing out on the opportunity to buy an awesome shirt from an amazing woman for the purpose of raising funds for Resolve. My understanding is that it was a successful fundraiser, and I'm sad I let the days slip by without participating. You really need to check out her blog!
I decided before I jump back into routinely posting, I should tie up a few loose ends and catch you up on recent developments.
After my last post, I received many kind thoughts and comments and want to say, THANK YOU, to those who were concerned for me and who reached out to encourage me in various ways. I am grateful for your support. My husband did, in fact, get to reestablish communication with me and was able to return home several days later. My sanity stayed in tact and his return was a welcomed relief as he has been here to help shoulder the many "burdens" that have been popping up left and right.
I would like to address here the issue of the lovely FN. There was one woman empowered by the military to be a liaison between military patients and the military fertility clinic nearby. Her role is to make sure everything is in order as far as testing and lab work before sending a patient on to be seen at the fertility clinic. She also happens to be a retired military Colonel, and she is every ounce the stereotypical flint-faced, hard-nosed, no-nonsense, weathered and terse female Colonel. I think a male Colonel would have been more sympathetic.
In the civilian world, a patient typically gets a referral to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE), makes and keeps an appointment with them, and starts down the long, arduous road to attempted reproduction. In the military, when asking to be seen by military specialists rather than civilian, it's a very different story. We had no idea how different.
When I first saw the FN, she basically indicated to me that she did not believe I was infertile enough to be seen by a specialist, or that I have PCOS. She told me to maintain a particular diet (which I had been adhering to faithfully for a year already), to gain 30 pounds, to exercise more than the three days a week I already devoted hours to, and to have a barrage of repeat tests run. Then, after a few months of all of that, she would see if perhaps there was something wrong enough with me to send me on to the military RE.
That appointment was by myself, while my husband was thousands of miles away in training. We had a time constraint, and I had just witnessed my hope of having an IVF before my husband deployed come crashing down before my eyes. There were other stressors I was dealing with on top of all of this, so I had a moment and a half when I finally made it to my car.
She had not wanted to see my medical records. She had questioned my confirmed diagnosis of PCOS given by a physician (she happens to be a Nurse Practitioner, not a physician). She didn't believe me when I affirmed that I already strictly adhered to the diet she laid out for me. She insulted not only my intelligence, but also the intelligence of those who work under her. She assumed that because I do not work that I am also uneducated. She interrupted me when I tried to answer her questions and also when I tried to ask them. Her every movement and tone of voice indicated to me that she really didn't have time for me. She was condescending and haughty. I did not know how on earth I was going to be able to continue dealing with her through an entire IVF process if I were even given the opportunity.
I had determined that the next time I saw her that my husband would be with me and that I would address the issues I had with her.
The day I "got" to see her again (oh, joy!), was also the day I got the call that the referral we had gone behind her back to submit was denied. We had been rejected as unsuitable for IVF because of "not enough information" according to the note written by the doctor. We had submitted all the information requested by the clinic, which I had triple checked with the people at the clinic to make sure we included everything. (Seriously, does seven years mean nothing to these supposed infertility specialists???)
My husband went with me to the appointment and we had a game plan. If she said we needed yet more testing, he was going to tell her that we were not going to waste any more of her time (because clearly she had been wasting ours). It had been over a month since I first set up an appointment with my PCM to get a referral for infertility. I still hadn't been given that after three appointments!
The FN was a much different person in the presence of my husband (which I had expected) and even managed to show some sensitivity when I started crying in her office. She also had some surprising things to say, one of which was that she wasn't at all concerned about my weight...what!?! I had only gained one pound since seeing her, not the 30 she had requested. She told us that we needed more testing, which caused me to falter, and then she said that we could decline testing at any time...what!?! That was not what she had indicated to me initially. My husband told her that he didn't see why we should waste any more of her time and that we would be leaving because we didn't have time to wait for more testing. She said she could submit the referral for us the way it was and that the chance was slim, but still possible, that we would be able to get in a treatment before he deployed. I'd like to know where her sense of urgency and hurry was the month before when I had initially gone in to see her!!!
We left with the realization that the only sure way we'd get in an IVF before my husband's deployment was by going to a civilian RE. So, I called the RE we had used here for our first two treatments to set up an appointment. He didn't have an available appointment until the middle of May! I called another clinic several hours away referred by a friend and they had an appointment within a week, they accepted our insurance (which doesn't cover IVF), but they were going to charge us for having to address any questions my husband had about his involvement if he went with me to the appointments. Not the greatest incentive for having my support system with me at the appointments.
We called one other place a little closer to home and they had an appointment available in two days because of a cancellation. I was ecstatic! I asked how much IVF costs through them and also if they accept our insurance. The cost was not unreasonable, but they did not accept our insurance. When they confirmed, however, that my husband is active duty military, I was told that they offer a 50% discount for active duty military! Again, I was ecstatic! That meant that the cost of the procedure was only going to be one to two thousand dollars more through them than it would have been through the military. AND, these people want my business, meaning I will be treated like a person rather than an identification number.
So, we made and kept an appointment with that fertility clinic. We LOVED the doctor from the start and were elated that we didn't have to beg and plead to go straight to IVF. He was on board with us and even gave us insight into why the other procedures had likely failed for us, given our history. He also told us that we should be able to get one IVF in before the deployment (provided my ovaries and follicles cooperate), and that if it is unsuccessful, we will be able to freeze and use my husbands "samples" while he's away.
I have been on the birth control pill to prepare for the upcoming IVF for the last two and a half weeks, and I go in for the kick-off ultrasound this Thursday. We have a timeline in hand and we're praying for my ovaries and follicles to cooperate and respond well to the medication. Today I am waiting for the medication to be delivered, and these last two weeks my husband and I have been filled with eager anticipation and cautious optimism.
We have informed family and our close friends and are asking for prayers from all.
The irony is, I received a phone call about a week ago from the military fertility clinic indicating that I had been accepted into the program and that I needed to set up an appointment. We set up an appointment (we had been instructed that even if we were seeing a civilian RE that we should make and keep the appointment with the military clinic if given the opportunity), but are fairly certain when they hear of the deployment we will be put on a waiting list until he gets back. It's a back-up plan, of sorts, I suppose. My husband was pondering aloud that they seemed to be quick to accept us this time, with little extra information than they had the first time. I told him that it seems to me they are in the habit of denying anyone that comes across their desk without this woman's name on their form. It's sad to me that they rely so heavily on her, especially considering she probably makes a lot of people cry.
Thanks for bearing with me through my absence from blogging, and the length of this post. I hope that this has answered any questions you may have had regarding the FN and our status with IVF. Feel free to ask any questions I have not answered, or any questions that have come up as you have read this post.
Thanks again for your support and for sticking with me through my absence!
"...Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:24b-25