The Business of ART

As I said before, I’ve been giving some thought to the idea of finding me a new Dr. Uterus.  This last visit was just such a terrible experience – and the terribleness of it wasn’t even really related to the actual purpose of why I was there.  It was all of the extraneous bullshit and clueless staff.  This isn’t the first time that I’ve had to deal with it, but it was a culmination of all of the crappy visits I’ve had. 

The thing is that, with a few notable exceptions, Dr. Uterus is wonderful.  I read horror stories of other REs and I shudder at their callousness and aloofness.  Dr. Uterus is neither callous nor aloof.  He takes all the time I need to answer whatever question I have and to comfort me when I need that little extra assurance.   He has the utmost confidence that we will eventually be successful.  I know that he truly wants us to reach our goal and will do anything within his power to help us there. And, that is a powerful draw to keep me there.

But, I honestly question whether he has any understanding of what it means emotionally be a woman dealing with infertility.  Because, if he did, I think he would run his practice a lot differently.  I think this is particularly so when you consider that reproductive endocronology is usually not covered by insurance and couples and individuals are paying out of pocket.  Wouldn’t you make yourself stand out from all of the other doctors who are offering these kinds of services? Wouldn’t you make it as stressless as possible for those women who need to seek out your services?

If that is the case, then why would you make your infertility patients sit with all of the pregnant ladies for your partner, the high risk OB?  I don’t begrudge him the fact that she probably hauls in a lot of dough, but is it too much to ask to let us who are dealing with infertility access the office through a separate, infertility entrance?  And, while we’re at it, how about completely segregating your office space from the high risk OB so that I don’t have to see the 3-D ultrasounds of the squished up babies on my way out to pay for the pleasure of the dildocam? I mean, really. Is that necessary?  And, don’t even get me started on when people bring their children in. 

I will be the first to admit that I’m no doctor. I don’t have the slightest clue about how to make a practice profitable and successful. But, I have been an infertility patient for 2 years now with Dr. Uterus and I’ve been to that office so many times that my feet know the exact pattern to walk on the floor and I can predict the size of my follicles on the screen.  In other words, I know what would make my experience at that office good and what will make it bad.  And I know that even though I’ve been making comments about it to Nurse to a T, none of it has changed.

The thing is, I have this sinking feeling that if I were to bring these concerns to Dr. Uterus directly, I don’t think that he would give them much consideration.  Which brings me right back to where I started: after all of these years treating women with infertility, hasn’t he seen enough to know how not to make an experience for someone dealing with infertility? Or, is it not a big enough of a deal for him to do something?

Maybe I should make it a big enough deal.

image: Théo La Photo

7 thoughts on “The Business of ART

  1. Hi there Mrs. X,
    First of all, thank you for your sweet comment on my blog. It really means a lot to me to hear from people who have been there before. You have definitely had your share of heartache.

    I AM a doctor, and I think this setup sounds particularly awful (I think I have commented on this on your blog before). I have been to 3 different RE’s all over the country, and I have never seen or heard of anything like this. I don’t think that RE’s necessarily understand the depth of the emotional heartache that we feel, but most do understand it to a certain extent and try to protect us as much as possible. I don’t know where you live, and I’m sure that your main goal is to get the best care, but I would not think you were crazy to look into other options (as long as they were also top-quality). Your mental health and comfort is SO important in this journey, as you know. I had a hard enough time going to my OB this week for an ultrasound and seeing all of the pregnant people in the waiting room, I can’t imagine what that would be like with every visit. I don’t think I could do it.

    Just my 2 cents. At the very least, it might be worth getting a 2nd opinion from someone else, anyways.

    Another thought- RE’s do very well, financially. If he doesn’t have enough money to have his own office, is he doing something wrong??? Not to cast doubt if he is your pick, but I have to wonder what the story is.

  2. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to go for an appointment with your RE and to be surrounded by a waiting room full of pregnant women – I find it upsetting enough when people bring their children to appointments.

    I thought that beautyandcourage has some excellent advice – as she says, it may be worth having a look at other clinics in your area, even if only to set your mind at rest that the Dr Uterus is the right man for you, notwithstanding the shortcomings of his office set-up.

  3. My two cents is that you should have a heart to heart with your doctor. This is 180 degrees from your experience, but I complained once to my family practice doctor about how consistently rude one of his staff members was and he took it to heart and was very appreciative being told. I don’t know how I would have survived this IVF hell if I had to share my anxious waiting room space with a bunch of pregnant ladies and women. It’s hard enough sitting across from the happy couple who’s just received a big fat positive when I wallow in the land of “so sorry, please try again.” Plus, you’re so articulate that I’m sure your words will be heard. If they’re not, hoof it.

  4. Yikes… you are a strong woman for facing that kind of office set-up the past couple of years! There is noooo way I could’ve dealt.

    I’m extremely lucky to have some pretty good choices of clinics, living in NYC. My RE also happens to have had personal experience going through several failed IVFs with his own wife (imagine that!), and totally “gets it”. That has made all the difference.

    Definitely in agreement with beautyandcourage about the mental health aspect. Especially when you’ve been “in the game” a while. I think I’d be much more inclined to throw in the towel and give up on treatment if I had to deal with a clinic that was anything less than stellar comfort-wise (e.g. especially pregnant ladies in the waiting room — ack!).

    Best of luck in exploring your options! I really don’t think there’s any harm in looking around, asking questions, getting a consult with someone new, etc.

  5. DH and I were comparing our experiences after yesterday’s IUI. His: there were multiple other people (including women!) at the lab for the first time out of 4 he’s been there. Mine: I’ve never seen more than 1 other person or couple in the RE’s office, and that’s been in passing as I’m leaving or they are leaving.

    I can’t imagine the horror of having to deal with pregnant women (who, to be fair, may have their own issues) and babies when facing bad news or even directly before/after a treatment. I vote for putting your concerns in writing to the RE and the office manager.

    That’s worse than the posts I’ve read about “Conceive” magazine being almost wallpaper at some RE’s offices. I’m thankful for the People, Glamour, Field & Stream, etc. magazines my RE’s office has. Much more distracting from the why of the visit.

  6. I understand where you are coming from. My current RE is set up in an OB/GYN office, so I also see a lot of pregnant women, and their children, when I go in for appointments. Unfortunately, REs in my area are not thick on the ground. I think my current RE is the right RE to go to in our area, but the office staff is clueless when it comes it IF. It can be frustrating.

  7. So far, my RE and his amazing nurse (who had a 3rd tri loss, suffered IF, and lost her husband young to cancer) have done a very good job minimizing the trauma of treatment.

    I think there is a better way for Dr. Ute, who is too good a doctor to have this major flaw in his practice. The oath all doctors take is to do no harm and to heal, and the current office set up is doing harm to his patients, whom he clearly cares about.

    I also think that you are an extraordinarily eloquent, thoughtful person who could communicate clearly and kindly the basic problem with his current arrangement. The suffering it causes, which is no different from (or perhaps even worse than) physical pain. How easily this source of suffering could be remedied. So my suggestion: write him a letter (less likely to put him on the defensive than a face-to-face). If you don’t like the response, seek treatment elsewhere.

    I know whatever you choose, you’ll do right by yourself and Mr. X. I’ve learned that we must save ourselves from any unnecessary suffering; the pain along the way is already near unbearable.

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