Let’s get scammed #8

I have not felt much like writing about this but I suppose I should tell the story of our 8th IVF cycle. I’m going to be sneaky and back date it. In truth, I started writing this a few months ago and just didn’t have the emotional energy to finish it.

It’s a long one, encompassing 5 months of dealing with a new company and trying a new thing (and being slapped about by incompetence and patronising staff). Here is it:

After finally accepting that IVF Australia are nothing but cheating, lying, incompetent scum, we moved on to clinic #3, the very last option in our state.

Clinic #3 was Monash IVF. We hadn’t heard anything, good or bad, about them but it’s not like they could be worse than IVF Australia, right? They don’t seem to advertise and, until recently, we didn’t know they were an option.

I had decided this time also to choose a female doctor. There are two reasons for this:

1. I work in science and I know from experience that -in general- woman are not taken as seriously and, this, have to be better at their jobs to get to the same point in their careers as men. Sad but true. The plus side of this depressing fact is that by choosing a woman, you can almost guarantee that she’ll be more competent than a man at the same level. I’ll pick a more competent doctor, given the choice. I also chose a doctor who had herself gone through IVF, which does seem like very helpful experience.

2. There’s just something… arrogant… about a male gyno. From conversations I’ve had with those morons over the years, I’ve frequently thought, “you really don’t know that?” and “have you ever spoken to a female?”.

For example, when my wife had her miscarriage, the doctor advised her that she “could take 2 ibuprofen, if the pain was very bad”. Now, she takes at least 2 ibuprofen every few hours for the first few days of her period, normally. So I questioned this. Doctor seemed amazed that someone would take more than one ibuprofen for a regular period. I sat there thinking, “has this (allegedly great gynocologist) ever encountered a menstruating woman??” Even I, with the most mild period pain of every woman I have ever discussed this with, will pop 2 ibuprofen at the beginning of my period, just in case.

The same doctor couldn’t fathom that the effects of progesterone could be felt by my wife when I was taking it. Yep, women pick up on each others hormones. Easily. Frequently. I learnt that in lesbianism 101.

Suffice to say, I went to a female doctor. When I had the first appointment, she pretty much told me that, based on my medical history and age, I wouldn’t have any issue getting pregnant. So I told her how that had gone for me. Again, my extreme infertility is unheard of. I’ve had every test available and, it seems, every treatment available, except one.

The only one left to try was an ultra long down regulated cycle. Basically that means you go through menopause for 3 months and then do a cycle. Apparently it’s supposed to be the “cure” for endometriosis because your body can’t make uterine lining outside the uterus if it’s not making it inside the uterus. Now, allegedly, my endometriosis is gone, thanks to the probably redundant $8000 surgery I had. However, in the IVF cycle I had after the probably redundant surgery, it was only weeks after the surgery, meaning that the benefit of having eggs develop free of poisonous endometriosis for 3 months was not realised (thanks Dr #3!!).

This is the reason I got fed up with the last clinic. Not only did the timing negate the effectiveness of the surgery itself but its proximity to the surgery also meant that my ovaries produced a third of the eggs they usually do. Of course, I didn’t know this at the time so I got screwed over by yet another doctor.

Anyway, ultra long down reg it was. This involved going to the doctor to have an injection once a month for 3 months. All up the doctors visits plus drugs amounted to a little over $200. Not an unaffordable extra, which really makes me question why it was not presented as an option before now. There is no particular disadvantage to several months of menopause (fertility speaking).

I chose to do the down reg portion over summer as I was told menopause makes you depressed and I figured it was better to avoid the compounding effects of menopause depression and seasonal depression.

In the end, it didn’t make me depressed (any more than knowing I was wasting my time, money and life paying evil corporations to make me sick would make a person depressed). I wish someone had told me how great constant hot flushes are at the height of summer. Fun times.

woman with eye makeup
“At least I’m not *super* depressed.”

After 3 months of menopause, I did another round of poison injections. After 10 days of injections, they told me to stop because my follicles were developed enough. I told them that every time some idiot doctor had cut a cycle short before 12 days the majority of the eggs were too immature.

Did they listen to me?

LOL. How would I know a detail like that?!? When I tried to argue the point (because, let’s face it, I am the expert in how my body responds to IVF) the nurse offered that I could drive 3 hours (a 6 hour round trip) to have a blood test (can’t have them just anywhere) so that she could prove to me that she was right and I was wrong. Obviously, I declined this generous offer and just had to accept that they were going to waste most of my eggs.

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I’d like to thank the fine people at Monash IVF for this mess.

Sure enough, after egg collection (12 eggs), only 5 were deemed mature. This ratio is fairly typical after I’ve done 10 day cycles. In contrast, almost all my eggs are mature after 12 day cycles. They had my medical records. They chose to ignore this. Obviously they make more money the less successful they are.

5 mature eggs. 4 fertilised eggs. The doctor called me 2 days after the transfer to say, because they all looked so lousy and because I’m superinfertile, she’d like to transfer 1 embryo on day 3. Of course, I kicked up a fuss and insisted on 2 being transferred (can’t freeze them anyhow). I was a bit nervous about the prospect of a 3-day-transfer. I’ve never had one before and I am very aware that, in general, my embryos look great until day 4 when they all die. They’d probably all look the same at day 3. How would they choose the good ones?

Because of the short notice 3 day transfer, I had to drive the 3 hours up to Sydney on my own. I was a bit late, not accounting for Sydney peak hour hell, but I made it there in time.

In the end, of the 4, there were only 2 good ones. The other 2 had variable sized cells and fragmentation (neither of which are good). They didn’t make it to 5 days. Of the 2 that were good on day 3, one was a ‘pre-morula’ (i.e. between 3 and 4 days of development – good for only 3 days along) and one that was 10 cells (pre pre-morula but still a little advanced for 3 days – the average cell number for a 3-day embryo is 8 cells).

All in all, it was the same outcome as if I had have had a 5-day transfer. The same embryos would have been transferred (unless they died on day 4, of course).

After the transfer, I went to a dodgy looking acupuncture place and got (probably useless) acupuncture. It made me feel slightly less guilty about being so infertile, so that’s a plus. I bought a few groceries (fresh pineapple included, as it is apparently the customary food of the infertile) and drove home feeling sad and lonely.

pink and green pineapple
Pineapple: Food of my people.

That night, my beautiful wife arrived home from work and told me that she’d ordered our favourite take away and that it would arrive in 15 minutes. It’s a silly small detail but it just seemed to make the whole day better and I felt like everything was OK.

Anniversary Celebrations and IVF #7

An update before we start:

The 2 embryos transferred following IVF #6 did nothing but die. No one is surprised, least of all me, but I thought we’d better clear that up. As I said last post, I suspect endometriosis is a bullshit disease that doctors invented so that they could charge to cure it.

But, guess what?!? Today is our 2nd anniversary! Our 2nd anniversary of medically assisted baby making! What do we have to show for it?

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On our 2nd anniversary, we are celebrating: debt, destroyed relationships, demolished career plans, wasted youth, shattered lives, enhanced cynicism, etc

Even if this anniversary was worth celebrating, we are both too sick to. Chloe is in the middle of her 2nd IVF cycle (our 7th overall) and I am taking some crappo poison so that I can potentially get some of her embryos shoved up my cunt.

…And we both have the flu. It’s fun times in this household.

You might remember that on Chloe’s first IVF attempt, she got 2 5 day embryos of the same quality. They were morulas, not ideal but ‘OK’. The doctor refused to transfer both of them (because you really need to be cautious that you don’t give your extremely infertile patients too much of a chance at getting pregnant.) We had a bit of a fight about it but, of course, the person paying for the IVF (aka: me) gets no say whatsoever.

The one they did choose (at random) to transfer stuck for a few weeks and died. The spare went in the bin… which I am still furious about. Quite apart from the fiscal aspect of it, it is wildly unethical to dispose of what could be a human life. To deny 2 infertile people an embryo that they have gone through hell to get and could become their child is a severely fucked up move.

C decided she wanted to go with the same doctor for her second attempt. I despise the guy, but it’s her cunt and her choice what sort of human shitball she lets in there. So, at the negotiation meeting, we came with terms:

  1. If there is one embryo, it goes to C.
  2. If there are two embryos, one goes to C and one to me.
  3. If there are three embryos, two go to C and one to me.
  4. If there are three embryos, two go to C and two to me.

We have these in writing and the agreement recorded via audio. So, if an embryo gets wasted, I will be suing.

Of course, C has an AHM of 4 or 5 so the idea of getting 4 passable embryos is laughable. Getting 5 eggs total is pushing it. Still, the arrangement serves its purpose in that it protects against that horrendous doctor making more $$ out of our powerlessness.

About a week now until the human shitball rapes my wife. I will try to update. Wish us luck.

Extreme Excitement

It’s happening *again* and this shit show starts on my 29th birthday. On my 29th  birthday I stop taking the tablets that give me PMS and that should make my period arrive. I might even have a day of feeling OK to celebrate my birthday.

BONUS FACT: Chemical PMS has made me so angry that I broke my car door by slamming it. Haven’t told wifey. Totally didn’t know that was even a thing. I’m actually quite feeble since the surgery so it’s the last thing I was expecting.

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I honestly don’t know what happened, but it may have been something like this.

Yay! I’m starting on my birthday! How thrilling! My 28th birthday was embryo transfer #1, IVF cycle #2. That was a bust. The past year has been a bust.

99% chance the next month will be a bust too. YAY!!!

But, I digress. I got a call from a nurse last week. She was all peppy and upbeat and all that bullshit nurses are before they release you’re an old hat at this crap and they don’t need to pretend that you’re **going to have a cute widdle baby soon!!! OMG YASSS**

Because this was our first treatment at the new clinic, the nurses hadn’t gotten the memo about me being a cranky barren jaded bitch who does not want to hear their optimistic liar crap.

So, I got a call from a nurse last week. It was one of those upbeat calls where they tell you how *infinitely exciting* it is that you’ve started on your fertility journey with Dr X: Bullshit Fertility Shyster Extraordinaire.

Notice that a “fertility journey” isn’t really a journey. You probably won’t go anywhere except into a pool of debt. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get anything out of it… except that it’s invariably *exciting*. You will ruin your life… but you’ll be *incredibly excited* about the process.

Exciting
Thanks, IVF Australia. It sure is *exciting* when your staff are incompetent, your propaganda heteronormative and USELESS and your doctors more concerned with $$ than doing their jobs. (If only I understood my darn menstrual cycle!)

But, still, it’s refreshing to get the *exciting times* talk again. Just as it was refreshing to shut it down.

Big Kev
IVF nurses remind me of Big Kev. (International readers, Big Kev was an Australian weirdo who was very excited about cleaning products 20 years ago.)

I listened to the spiel. It was great. Those nurses would be great actors, I bet, because they do the talk with such conviction. *I* almost got excited about my fertility prospects. What an exhausting job they have!

“Yeah, look”, I said, when it had abated into a mild insistence that I take a day off work to travel for 6 hours to listen to some idiot nurse telling me how to inject myself with poison. “Can we forgo the part where you tell us how to use all the drugs? It’s just that this is our 6th IVF cycle and I guarantee we’ve heard it all before.”

As a new patient, I’m sure she expected me to be green as grass and *so excited about having a darling widdle cute baby !YAY PREGNANCY! OMG yass babYYYYY 😀 *.

She stopped rhapsodising about my forthcoming *extreme excitement* and simply said,

“Oh.” As in: “Oh. You’re fucked“.

“Oh.” As in: “Oh… 6 at your age… why are you even doing this? Are you crazy? You must be crazy.”

“Oh.” As in: “Oh. So you knew as well as I did that what’s about to happen is not in the least bit exciting so that whole charade was a waste of my time.”

I do wish this crap was over already. I rather just want to get started and get it over with, although I know wishing to be incredibly sick and to metaphorically flush money down the toilet is not something people traditionally look forward to.

But, perhaps, when it is over, I’ll have my answers. I’ll have satisfied my scientific mind with yet another experiment.

Aim: To analyse the impact of endometriosis on developing eggs and embryos.

Hypothesis: Regardless of the presence/absence of endometriosis, I am infertile AF.

I am SO EXCITED for the conclusion.

 

Next Stop: The Health Care Complaints Commission

Every time I tell someone about my experiences with IVF Australia and, more specifically, with doctor #1 (a.k.a Dr Douchbag), they have been incredulous. How can a doctor be that hopeless? That completely ignorant of the ramifications of his incompetence?

During our 6 month wait for donor sperm, (ex)friends (who turned out to be uberfertile, thus necessitating the discontinuation of the friendship, see TBH, I do hate uberfertiles) were going through the process at the same clinic (although, luckily for them, with another doctor). They were surprised that we had effectively been told to fuck off for 6 months. Their doctor had commissioned further tests like fallopian tube blockages (kinda relevant if you’re told you’re doing IUI) and had ordered fertility testing for both members of the partnership. Why not, when you’re waiting up to 10 months for sperm.

At the time, I believed there was nothing wrong with me, so I didn’t make a fuss. I just thought everything would be fine, although the complete lack of attention did strike me as odd.

I should have seen the warning signs. But, I just thought doctors knew what they were doing.

(What an idiot, right?)

I believe
My attitude to doctors, back when I was an innocent young fool.

A few months ago, a lawyer friend to whom I tearfully (and very drunkenly – no way I will talk about this shit otherwise) opened up to about this hell exclaimed,

“Oh my God! If you want to sue them, I’ll help you!”

(Lawyers, right?)

I reluctantly rehashed the experience to my psychologist who immediately recommended I make a formal complaint to the Health Care Complaints Commission.

So, that is what I am trying to do.

No one should have to go through what we went through. Furthermore, no queer couples should have to go through what we went through and I do firmly believe that has been a part of it. I honestly don’t think we would have been treated like this if we were a heterosexual couple. I don’t think doctor #1 had any interest in helping us get pregnant. A lot of his behavior was beyond ambivalent and was downright hinderous.

We should have been given our medical results. My concerns should have been taken seriously. Every other doctor we encountered seemed to see there was something very wrong. The more I read about others’ experiences in this, the more unfathomable it is to me that a doctor could tell a 27-year-old that after 3 IVF cycles, altogether yielding a *total* of one (pretty poor) blastocyst, that “there’s nothing wrong – do another cycle”.

What. The. Actual. Fuck?

Two weeks ago, I was reduced to tears after fighting IVF Australia for my medical records (and being denied them – no surprises there).

Last week, I cried my way through 2kg of IVF paperwork, looking for written proof of my story. They don’t like to give you much to go on. They don’t want any irrefutable evidence of their culpability. So, in addition to the buried memories that stack of paper unearthed, the exercise stirred a pesky voice that whispered:

“No one will believe you. You can’t fight them. They’re bigger than you.”

“Why did you ever trust them? You brought this on yourself. If you hadn’t have been so naive, they wouldn’t have taken advantage of you.”

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I’m not even exaggerating. It is 2kg. I weighed it. One day it will make a nice bonfire.

I can’t help but think that this is all my fault. Although physically, I now have a medical condition (endometriosis) to blame my barrenness on, I blame myself for my lack of action. Perhaps I should have stormed into the doctor’s office and demanded the results of my tests and then researched what the hell they all meant. What if I had called bullshit sooner and stopped blindly going along with more and more and more IVF? What if we had gone to two fertility clinics simultaneously, then maybe one of them would have been competent.

I don’t know how I am going to get through this, but what choice do I have? It’s not fair that I have to spend my days reliving this horrible experience. I never deserved it in the first place. It’s not fair, but the alternative is to lie down and take it and I WILL NOT be doing that, even if it kills me.

Some days I can’t believe it hasn’t.

For further reading on this thrilling topic, see my 2017 complaint to IVF Australia here:

One Year of TTC