How to win friends and not eviscerate people

A violent mix of reactions raged through my skull as I sat across the table from the pert nurse, her face stone-set in an expression of distaste.

I had just been called back to the clinic to pick up medication they had neglected to mention during my earlier 2.5 hours there. Having voiced my vehement displeasure at losing another two hours of my day to correct their error, the nurse had just announced that she was “not going to sit there and put up with that kind of language”.

I stared at her. If I wasn’t frozen by shock and the ingrained capitulation of a scolded child, I would have leaped across the table and ripped out her throat. Was she kidding me?

During the short but high-charged and tearful (on my part) visit, she reprimanded me for not bringing in my medication; went on to put my reaction down to hormones; instructed me to “take ownership of the process”; and lastly pointed out – after I’d explained the massive dent their repeated errors were making in the effectiveness of my business – that “when you make IVF a priority in your life, you have to make sacrifices”.

Then: Awesome artspace in a deserted house in Bruges.
Now: How I feel at least once every day.

How, exactly, is one meant to react to that? I swallowed my seething rage, gagged on it for 24 hours, and then wrote a scathing letter that I thankfully did not send. Because that’s one of the big things I’ve learned so far with this IVF business. My moods aren’t necessarily swinging wildly – I still feel sane and can rationalize the emotions I’m feeling – but I can no longer tamp down my most extreme emotions. The scowl you can usually hide? Right there for all to see. The huge waves of joy from a beautiful song? Forget that – now I cry too.

It’s the extremes that have emerged, so I knew it was best to keep the letter unsent, to speak with my doctor directly when I see her next, and to just vent a teensy bit on this blog.

The worst part, I feel, is her “sacrifice” comment. She’s obviously too young, busy and short-sighted to realize just how much this is costing us, on many levels. Here’s a quick glimpse at what else we’re paying, on top of their fees:

• I am an immigrant. To pay for this process, I am sacrificing the chance to visit my family and friends for about five years. Ouch.
• I quit my day job and started my own business in order to gain more flexibility in my schedule.
• All plans to fix our house, take a holiday, or even go to the movies every now and then, are off the table.
• We have sacrificed any hope of conceiving naturally.
• We have sacrificed any thought of having more than one child – we likely won’t be able to afford to do this again.
• And every day, as I inject hormones into my abdomen and pop pills, as my husband works overtime to ensure he can join me on morning cycle monitoring trips, and as we drive the hour-plus from Waterloo to attend the clinic, we make some kind of sacrifice.

What I wish I’d said: “I have taken ownership of my process. What I have not done is become a mind reader.”

What I will actually do: Recommend they create a new position of Patient Advocate and have their photo prominently displayed, so whenever a new patient comes in, or an existing patient has a question, they can check with the advocate instead of dealing with a flustered doctor or nurse. It’s either that, or hire more doctors and nurses.

You see, while this process can bring out some elements of the crazy, there is much clear-headedness in between. And it is that which I hope to use for good, instead of evisceration.

*

AND a stat update:
We are brewing 16 eggs. Retrieval likely this weekend. I feel like I’m the unsuspecting star of the crazed-female thriller “There Will Be Bloating”.

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