Monday, 8 April 2013
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.