Monday, 8 April 2013

Infertiles Anonymous


It's awkward being in the dual role of referring provider and a patient at my RE's office. At my initial consultation, the receptionist identified my name and asked "Oh, are you the one who works over at XYZ?" I simply nodded. She noted, "your office staff does such a good job of forwarding patient records." I didn't tell her that I personally pull all the pertinent results and notes and write up a summary sheet as I hate receiving incomplete or disorganised records. During my exam, my RE commented, "I can tell you're an Ob/Gyn provider as you've positioned yourself perfectly on the exam table..."

One of my biggest concerns when I first stepped foot into my RE's office was running into a current or future patient. I arrived at the information session early so I could take a seat in the very back of the room and I stared out the window to avoid making eye contact with anyone. I feared someone would recognise me and think, 'she can't be any good -she can't even get herself pregnant!' I schedule my appointments at the beginning or the end of the day when there are fewer fellow patients in the waiting room. I'll also slightly alter my appearance; wear my glasses, pin my hair up, find someway to be in cognito. I bury my face in a book or my phone and use every bit of body language to convey 'don't approach me'.

I feel that I have progressed in this process that if I do run into a patient, I can just say, "Yes, even me." However, I resent the fact that attending a fertility clinic outs your status as TTC. It lets everyone into your private life in more than one way. To a certain extent, it reminds me of the uncomfortableness associated with purchasing birth control as a teenager (okay, late teens) and dreading the judgement from adults who would know that I was engaging in premarital sex. I recall shopping for condoms in Tesco. I selected the queue with the youngest checkout girl as I feared the older women would see me as being the same age as their grandchildren, and might feel compelled to lecture me. I packed my purchases into my rucksack myself and proudly started to walk out the door. An older lady called out to me and as I turned around, she held up the box of condoms, which I had left on the till. She winked at me as she placed them in my hand. Now, I feel the embarrassment is generated by the accompanying pity, 'Oh, you're trying for a baby, and you can't do it by simply having sex?'

Is there a secret code among infertiles? That what happens at your RE's office, stays at your RE's office? Membership to the infertility club implies a promise to keep each other's secrets? At the very least, can I claim access to a type of reverse HIPPA protection that prevents my patients from telling anyone 'Guess who I ran into at the fertility clinic today!'

Speaking of, guess who I ran into coming out of my RE's office today? I was walking out of the office and I spotted my office manager feeding a parking meter. Oh fuck. Every so often she has to attend meetings at the hospital right next to my RE's office. As it was raining, I had an umbrella somewhat covering my face, although I know she would have recognised my jacket. I'm pretty sure she didn't see me as she didn't look up from the meter, and there aren't any signs [from her vantage point] for the fertility office. A reminder that I'm not safe even outside of the waiting room.

9 comments:

  1. Love that, "what happens at your RE stays at your RE." I can imagine how difficult that is for you- the possibility of running into people you know professionally. Our RE's clinic was 2 hours from where we lived. Even though the drives sucked, I was so thankful to not have to worry about running into anyone I knew.

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    1. OMG, I can't beleive how exhausting that must be!

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  2. Maybe if you ran into a patient is there a way you could pass it off as official business? I hope you don't have to spend too much time at the clinic because you get your BFP soon :)

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  3. I've had that worry of seeing a co-worker or aquaintance at the RE's office (though probably not as awkward as you seeing a patient). Thankfully it never happened. They were also really good at scheduling appointments so I rarely saw other people or if I did I was only in the waiting room with them for a few minutes. I guess that's the bonus of a clinic with only one doctor - no waiting room packed with people.

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    1. It's one of the reasons I went to a smaller clinic, there are some times when there aren't any other patients in the office.

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  4. I bumped into a co-worker in line for bloods at my clinic one morning. We spoke briefly, and seemed to have this unspoken agreement not to bring it up at work. We've gone for coffee once or twice outside the office to talk about it, but it's nice that she's as discreet as I am.

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    1. Ah- so there is a unspoken understanding or secret keeping!

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  5. Thankfully I've never seen anyone that I know at the office. One of my coworkers took his wife to the same clinic and I know we were being seen there during the same period. I would have been mortified. Can you imagine..."Okay, have a good appointment. See you in the office this afternoon!" It gives me the creeps just to think about that.

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