Contacting Fertility Clinics – My IVF Clinic, North Lakes

Continuing on with my efforts to find a suitable service that would endeavor to support patients who have needs specific to mental health support, I gave My IVF Clinic at North Lakes a call.


My IVF Clinic, North Lakes – 3/7 Endeavor Blvd, North Lakes, QLD, 4509

Friday 6th of October

Phone Call

I didn’t get the names. I’m so terrible with names. I need to work at recording peoples names!

I first asked the receptionist where the egg pick up (EPU) procedure was done. I think it is important to know whether this procedure is in-house or in a separate facility. It could meant eh difference between their theatre procedures and a different hospitals procedures.

My IVF uses a private day-surgery facility located just next door for the EPU. They do the transfer in the clinic.

Then I moved onto the big question, can I have a partner for EPU. Apparently it is the ‘hospitals policy’ that no partners are allowed.

Time to call the hospital

Not being one to let things go, I thought I’d call the hospital and follow up on this ‘hospital policy’. I rang the North Lakes Hospital. The receptionist couldn’t help ( Gale or Gail? I don’t know, but she was so LOVELY! I guess her name was worth remembering), she did organize for the manager to call me back.

When I spoke to the Manager there (again I don’t have her name! I’ll get better I promise), the manager said it is up to the doctor performing the procedure. She said that they HAVE had additional people/partners in theatres before. Interesting. I couldn’t really find out what procedures they were, if they were IVF procedures or other things… but it apparently has been done.

Back to My IVF Clinic

Naturally, my next step was to call My IVF Clinic back. I’ve left a message for the manager there to call me back. I also noted in the message that the Manager at the North Lakes hospital said it’s doctors discretion.

No one called my back on Friday, so I’ll give them a few days and call again next week. Might have to ask to book an appointment to discuss… now… if I could just book (willing to pay!) an appointment with the actual doctor… I might get somewhere.

 

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Contacting IVF Clinics – The Fertility Centre, Springwood

Having recently contact The Fertility Centre – Sunshine Coast, I thought it would be prudent to call their Springwood/Brisbane office just to see what they would say. I was sure it would be the same answer, but I still need to make these calls and start learning how to have these conversations.

I have to say, the first impressions were not good.


The Fertility Centre, Springwood

Friday 6th of October, 2017

Phone Call

When I called the service, Renee answered the phone. I assume Renee is a receptionist as she was able to answer general questions, but needed someone else to call me back.

I asked if they did the procedures in-house, or if I had to go to a 3rd party day-clinic. I was advised they do both the egg pickup (EPU) and the embryo transfer in house. I guess that is a good start.

I asked about the EPU and the embryo transfer process, specifically could my husband be present. She said no, he couldn’t be there for the EPU, but he can for the transfer.
I continued to push for a reason as to why no one else can be present. Renee said that the answer was no, and that it wasn’t going to change. I pushed for the ever elusive reason, she said that it was just policy. Eventually she took my name and number to have a nurse call me back, though she continued to insist the answer was not going to change.

Later that afternoon

A Nurse called to discuss this with me. She said that no clinic or hospital, that she was aware of, would allow partners into the theatre during the procedure.

She tried to assure me that it only took 5-10 minutes for it to be done.
She spoke about a few reasons, that the theatre space is small, that having non-medical personnel in the room increases risks in case there is a problem with the procedure he won’t know what to do/will be in the way (Folks, I’ll tell you now, Husband worked a few years with the Royal Flying Doctors Service, flying around in a tiny space. I’m sure he knows what he’s doing).

She recommended that, if my anxiety was so severe, that a clinic that uses full/general anesthesia would probably be a better fit than a clinic that keeps patients awake. That it is very important the client stays still during the procedure, and if that can’t happen they can’t do the procedure.

When I explained that general anesthetic still had the same problem, of me being unsupported and experiencing panic and significant distress in the time between Husband not being allowed with me and going to sleep, she said it was a very short time and that no one else is allowed in.

That was the end of that

So that was the end of that conversation.

Interestingly, she didn’t speak about ANY mental health supports, counselling or options. It was a conversation that said ‘we only do xyz and if you need anything else, well that’s too bad. We are not going to discuss options between x and y.’

Contacting IVF Clinics – First Clinic Pt2

This post (and future posts), will be about the challenges I face in getting my mental health needs met, that is specifically that I need another person present, during IVF procedures.


The Fertility Centre – Sunshine Coast Pt2

If you haven’t read part 1, catch up on the story here.

Just like the previous post, I am going to pre-empt this by saying the staff at The Fertility Centre – Sunshine Coast have been wonderful, kind and polite! I don’t have anything negative to say about their service, other than it hasn’t been able to accommodate what I need yet.


This is part 2. In the previous post, I walked you through the joy and subsequent devastation/anxiety/panic that came when the nurse said no, Husband couldn’t be present for the 2 procedures.

After that first appointment, I went home and talked things through with the ever-patient husband. After a few days I emailed the clinic…

Hi Emily, (Emily is a very nice, polite and professional person there)
Could you please forward my following follow up query to the nurse I spoke with today? I’m sorry, I’ve already forgotten her name.
Good afternoon,
Thank you for taking the time to speak with (Husband) and myself today. It was great to hear the information first hand, rather than trying to interpret information from the internet.
I was pleased to discover things would work pretty much as I’d assumed they would, though there is a small hiccup that may mean I may not be a suitable match for your service. I say small, as it may seem minor to you but large and potentially devastating to me.
I’m concerned specifically with the OPU. I’ve never had surgery, never had any form of anesthetic or pain relief in my life except for neurofen. I’ve never been ‘drunk’ or experienced feelings I can only imagine as being helpless and unable to act effectively on behalf of oneself.
Add in that OPU isn’t painless (which isn’t surprising, I expected something), thus requiring Valium (something I’ve also never experienced) and I’m reluctant to proceed if (Husband) can’t be present. I didn’t expect that he wouldn’t be able to be present, that kind of threw me today. I accept that no one’s going to implant 2 eggs, but to not allow (Husband) to be present must be a physical/spatial limitation rather than a medical one.
I know myself well. I either need (Husband) by my side, or I need to be asleep (not supported at this clinic, I know).
I need someone I know and trust by my side, because when I start to panic/worry, I shut down and cannot make decisions on my own. I cannot advocate for myself or my needs. Plus I’ll be on drugs which, by their design, inhibit those same things. I don’t have mental health issues, I don’t have general panic attacks, it is specific to Dr’s/medical/dental. Not an uncommon fear.
I realise (Husbands) presence may simply not be an option in the space of a small, low cost, clinic, but before I give up on the idea of IVF I need to explore all possible options that I can think of. Is the springwood or gold coast clinic bigger? Is there an option to do OPU/fertilisation/transfer at another clinic? Do I need to go and book a consult with QFG instead and discuss fertility options there?
What are the health implications of triggering ovulation and then not being able to collect the eggs? I’m imagining a scenario where OPU is scheduled, the ovulation has already been triggered, and I simply cannot go ahead with the procedure.
I’m ready to sign and move forward, but I can’t in good faith do that without raising this issue and finding a resolution.
~Kate~

And then I received the following response

Hi Kate,
I understand that you have some concerns about the EPU and where to go from here.
The main reason that (Husband) and all partners are unable to be theatre is that we are performing a medical procedure, if something goes wrong, we need to ensure that we have the perfect environment in which to help the patient. I cannot say for sure, but nearly all theatres that are doing medical procedures would not allow extra people to be in theatre. We have the fertility specialist, a General Practitioner, two nurses, and a scientist in the theatre, and if something was to go wrong, we all need to be able to access the patient quickly without moving other people out of the way. It is very rare that something will go wrong, but it is part of our protocol that we do not have extra people in theatre.
I am not sure if Springwood or the Gold Coast clinics have a larger theatre room, but as far as I know, they would be operating under the same protocol for their theatre. If you wanted to have your EPU done at a different TFC, the whole cycle would have to be done through that clinic – doctors consult, scans, blood, etc.
You are more than welcome to call QFG and organize to have a meeting with the nurses up there to discuss your options. (Husband) would not be able to go into the theatre up there either, and as far as I am aware, he is unable to wait with you once you have been admitted.  At TFC, he will be able to wait with you up until you enter theatre if there are no other patients on the list for that day (but that would not able to be guaranteed), then he would be just outside in the reception waiting room.
As to being unable to make any decisions on the day, all medical decisions are made and consents signed before you are given any medications.
In answer to your question about being unable to go through with the EPU, there are no real medical implications. The eggs would still ovulate from the follicles, and you would be required to abstain from intercourse  as there would be a risk of multiple eggs fertilizing.
I understand that this information may not be what you want to hear, but I just wanted to answer all your questions.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at the clinic.
Kind regards,
Zoe Pearce

Now, see, isn’t that a lovely, polite and professional response? I can’t fault the staff there, they have been wonderful.

Problem is, those reasons are not good enough to exclude a person undergoing a medical procedure from having support. If I was giving birth, Husband would be there. Husbands are even allowed in theatres for C-sections. I simply cannot accept, that in this day and age (it’s 2017 for crying out loud!), that medical staff can’t make arrangements for another human in the room.

Anyway, a few weeks later, I received the following follow up email from TFC-SC and provided my response.

Hi Kate and (Husband)
This is just a courtesy email to see if you have thought anymore about a cycle with us. Look forward to hearing back from you.
Kind regards
Jayne Herman IVF nurse co-ordinator
Hi Jayne,
Thank you for your follow up email. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like a cycle through the fertility clinic is going to be possible.
In order to undergo IVF, I need to find a solution where my husband can be present with me for the extraction and implantation. I’ve been advised this isn’t possible at your clinic.
Please let me know if this changes in the future and we can begin the IVF process straight away.

And I never heard from them again. So I guess they decided I wasn’t going to have IVF.

 

Contacting IVF Clinics – First Clinic Pt1

This post (and future posts), will be about the challenges I face in getting my mental health needs met, that is specifically that I need another person present, during IVF procedures.


The Fertility Centre – Sunshine Coast Pt1

Click above to visit TFC-SC

I am going to pre-empt this by saying the staff at The Fertility Centre – Sunshine Coast have been wonderful, kind and polite! I don’t have anything negative to say about their service, other than it hasn’t been able to accommodate what I need yet.

Finding the service

So, when I first started researching IVF on the Sunshine Coast, I discovered The Fertility Centre – Sunshine Coast (which I will forever shorten to TFC-SC). TFC offer affordable IVF. IVF without all the bells and whistles. Due to our low income status, I could have been paying as little as $300 per IVF cycle.

I was over the moon, to say the least. Suddenly, my dreams of having a family were actually possible. Up till this point, I’d just crushed my soul time after time, telling myself we may NEVER be in a financial position to have a baby and to bury every maternal feeling at all times (just WRITING about having to bury my maternal feelings makes me teary).

So, I read their website. I read it again and again. I scoured it for every bit of information I could. I think I know their website front to back by now.

First appointment

I called and booked an appointment.

I went to my GP to get a referral. I filled out forms. I organized proof of low income status… I was excited.

I waited in agony for 7 days until my appointment.

The clinic was clean, tidy and… you know… doctors waiting room looking. The lady behind the counter was friendly, she took my paperwork and said she’d see if she could get the low-cost IVF paperwork approved before we left today.

The nurse saw us. She took us through how the whole IVF thing worked with there service. From what I remember and understood, they can do pretty much the whole process in their clinic. They have a day-surgery space in house. Rotating doctors who do the surgeries depending on who is rostered on, etc.

I was so nervous and excited! Husband was with me (of course).

We discussed PCOS and how my periods were unreliable. I could have a period every 2 months or my next one might not hit for 6 months. She suggested I start on the pill as soon as my next period happened, so we could get my cycles predictable as you must start the IVF medications on the first day of a period, so obviously knowing when that would be is important.

I asked if Husband was able to be present for the tests, the needles, the scans, etc. She said yes. WIN!

Then she started talking about the egg pickup or extraction, fertilization and then returning the embryo… I asked about Husband being there… she said no, it was against policy. He could not be present during the 2 procedures…

It started to go south

I think my ears went deaf at that point.

Blood started pounding in my ears, I couldn’t breath, I was hypersensitive and I felt like I could feel every molecule in the room against my skin, prickling and irritating it. My clothes were heavy, suddenly it felt like gravity had grabbed my clothes and was pulling it to the ground. The urge to get the clothing off was strong, if I could get it off me it would stop pulling so hard…

I couldn’t talk. I was so focused on not crying, so focused on not letting the nurse see I was crumbling inside, so focused on keeping that anxiety and panic at bay… because in that moment of saying no she just told me… you can’t have a baby.

Try to understand my position

She left the room to speak with the admin lady. While she was gone I tried not to cry. I didn’t want her to come back in and ask ‘what’s wrong?’.
I’ve experienced that genuine concern for another person suddenly turn to ‘are you serious? is this woman serious? how fricking ridiculous is she being right now’ tone/voice/look when they realize I’m crying because she said no.

But it’s more than a no.

My fears are real, anxieties related to medical procedures are common and should be treated with dignity and respect. I shouldn’t be so afraid, but I am. Having to hide it all just makes the emotions bigger.

When she returned and asked what was wrong I lied and mumbled some half ass excuse about being so emotional that I might finally be able to have a baby. I guess she bought that excuse as she started going on and on about how yes, the IVF journey can be a rollercoaster… blah blah… great to meet you… blah blah.. I was barely holding my cries back… the lady at reception said we had qualified for the cheap IVF…

I was fast approaching ‘bawling my eyes out and howling hysterically while curled up in a fetal position’ status…

I couldn’t tell her what was going on. I needed to get out. I needed to leave before I became hysterical (and wouldn’t THAT have been freaking embarrassing? Grown ass woman behaving hysterically because she said no… I’m so embarrassed at the thought).

Because I knew, when she said no, that I would not physically be able to walk into that surgery room alone. That I would become hysterical and then everyone would look at me like I was crazy…

*sigh*


So, that is Part 1 of my experience with The Fertility Centre – Sunshine Coast

Stay tuned, and I’ll post Part 2 – the follow up, and link it in here.

Wishing to Wear Hijab More, but…

So, lately I have found myself wishing I could wear hijab more. It sounds like it should be so simple. Want to wear hijab more? Wrap it round and off you go! Go to the shops, grab the groceries, wander around the office, attend customer sites, go to the park, library, beach etc. Just wear it and go!

It isn’t that simple though. I know, as I write this, that some people will read this and judge with thoughts of ‘she’s just making excuses’ and ‘If you believe and have faith, then you would do it in spite of the difficulty’. You know what? That’s ok. If you feel the need to judge where I am at in learning Islam and my current capacity to get through challenges, then I guess that is just where you are in your place and space of life. I am somewhere different.

Current Challenge 1 – Local Cultural Attire

When the clothes people wear is so normal to them, they hardly realize that they do have a cultural dress.

I live in Australia, on the Sunshine Coast. It’s a typical beach lifestyle here year round, so the cultural dress of the area is board shorts/shorts, bikinis or a one piece suit is typical. For women no longer in their 20’s, t-shirts, thongs/sandals might be a little more common. If you are not at the beach, summery clothing is usually short sleeved or sleeveless with straps or strings. Shorts, short skirts, etc. This is just the cultural dress of the area. Evening wear, if you are going out to a restaurant or something, is usually a T-shirt of some sort and jeans/long pants OR if you are a lady you can wear the shirt/pants combo or a nice dress or skirt and shirt. That’s just (in general) what people here will wear.

YES there are other types of clothing options worn by people, no I’m not saying EVERY Sunny Coast person dresses like they are about to surf a wave. Merely I’m stating that this is the most common dress and sets the standard for what is ‘normal and acceptable’ social wear.

SO, the cultural clothing is also MY cultural clothing. I’m white Australian. While I wasn’t raised here on the Sunshine Coast, I was raised on the Australian Coast, I swam at beaches, I hung out in Tshirts, shorts and Thongs. I’ve worn bikini’s and feel very comfortable in swimmers that show plenty of arms and legs.

It is a very large shift to go from Bikini’s, short and tshirts, to modest clothing and hijab.

And to be honest? I think that it’s extreme. Seriously, if I were to suddenly go from traditional local attire to full, modest, Islamic attire, I’d argue that I had become an extremist and Allah is against extremism.

I am still Australian, I’m still part of this amazing beach community and becoming Muslim isn’t going to remove me from that. So how do I achieve both? How can I be a casual, beach Aussie and be Muslim? I don’t yet have an answer for that.

Current Challenge 2 – Access to appropriate attire

With that cultural clothing demographic in mind, Muslim women stand out, regardless of how ‘casually’ I dress, it stands out. Put aside the Hijab scarf for a moment, and consider the rest of the attire. Long loose pants or a long skirt you could get away with. A little trickier in an office environment that dresses a little more ‘office smart’ rather than ‘social worker casual’, but still wouldn’t raise too many eyebrows.
Wearing a long sleeved anything? People will think you’ve lost the plot, gone bonkers, misplaced your mind, etc. Also, most of the clothing readily available in stores around these parts are marketed to the prevailing majority of clothing culture. The casual, beachy, Aussie lifestyle.

Dressing so vastly differently from everyone else is a challenge. Challenge in access to the style of clothing, challenge in choosing situation appropriate clothes, etc.

Current Challenge 3 – wearing a ‘scarf’ in the QLD heat

THEN ontop of the odd/hot clothing choices you add a scarf and you stand out. Everyone is barely clothed and you might as well be wrapped up in a blanket with a neon sign above your head that flashed ‘very different’.

Now, if someone asks ‘aren’t you hot?’, I’d simply respond “of course! The weather is 35 degrees” (Celsius, for those who need the Fahrenheit equivalent it is 95).
I would still be ridiculously hot without the scarf, but the scarf does keep the burning hot sun off my head, ears and neck, so aside from avoiding sunburn I also have a shade source that goes everywhere I do. Winter isn’t too bad (the 4-8 weeks of slightly cool weather), but mostly it’s hard.

Current Challenge 4 – Face of Islam

I don’t want to be ‘the face’ of Muslim people. When I dress modestly and wear hijab, every word, action or inaction that I make is a reflection on the Islamic community as a whole, and vice-versa. I am Muslim, true, but my actions are mine and mine alone. I don’t see someone yelling at their child and go ‘oh, all those atheist’s just yell at their kids’ or see a Christian jay-walking and extrapolate that all Christians ignore the road rules. No, I see THAT PERSON is making the choice to yell and THAT PERSON is making the choice to jay-walk.

I feel, when I wear hijab, that every action I take, every time I don’t smile broadly and welcomingly at everyone, is deemed a critical assault against that person and that Muslim people are just not friendly.

I’m sure most people I walk past probably don’t care too much about my hijab. I am SO grateful to those people, for making my life just a little easier with their kindness.

Current Conclusion – I do what I can, when I can

I mostly wear Hijab and proper dresses/long attire when I attend prayers etc or a Muslim community event.

If I am having a really positive day, I’ll go out and about and run errands etc. in hijab. At those times I feel like I’m doing my bit to promote Islam and the Muslim people as nice, friendly and regular people.

With all that said, the majority of Australians are laid back and casual, don’t particularly care how others live their lives. Though I do pick and choose carefully where I will and won’t wear a hijab for my emotional safety. For example, I won’t be going to any late night things in hijab, or attending any professional events in hijab.

IVF Frustration and Mental Health

Anyone who has:

  • had IVF,
  • known someone going through IVF, or
  • known someone who needs IVF

will be aware that IVF is a pain in the proverbial butt.

It’s expensive, there’s medications and needles. There’s nurses and doctors, clinics and hospitals, scans and really awkward positions… and up to this point, you still might not be pregnant!

IVF can be daunting and confusing. Every clinic has a different way of phrasing things, some clinics do full anesthesia, some go generals or just rely on pain relief.

IVF pricing is either super cheap from $400-$500 per try to upwards of 4-5k per try and the levels of pain relief and anesthesia change according to that price. Need to be fully asleep? Pay 4 grand. Be awake and conscious throughout with a pain whistle/breathing thing? $400.

But hey, I’m an idiot who desperately wanted to have kids by 28 (I’m now 30), who wants a small sports team worth of kids and is slightly terrified that the best I might get is one. Not to say one child wouldn’t be a blessing.. but if you want a huge family and can’t, the thought is frustrating!

I’m also deeply terrified of doctors, dentists, hospitals, procedures, etc. etc.

I’ve never broken a bone, never had anything stronger in my LIFE than a Panadol. I’ve never been drunk. One of the nurses told me the medication is just like being tipsy and I FREAKED THE HELL OUT! What do you mean TIPSY? What’s that like? Do I have any control? What if I need something to stop? Can TIPSY people act coherently? I’ve never experienced people who drink as capable of making decisions and standing up for themselves and their needs.

I remember visiting the dentist as a kid for a filling, and halfway between the door and the chair I just froze. I couldn’t go forward, but I wasn’t allowed to leave. I couldn’t advocate for my fears and no one around me either knew how to or was willing to act on my behalf. I literally felt like I was about to be assaulted, because that is what it is when someone DOES SOMETHING TO YOU WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO! I was so close to tears when my mother told them I was about to cry and I was dismissed from the room. While my mum had her teeth done instead of me, I sat outside on the steps and cried. It was awful, humiliating and painful.

Anyway, fast forward to now and I don’t believe that, when under the influence of drugs or medical staff’s pressures, that I will be allowed to advocate for myself. I believe I will be ignored, dismissed, and people will simply do as they please because ‘that’s policy’.

I trust my husband. I need my husband present. He can advocate on my behalf, he knows me, knows me mental health. Please understand, I don’t have panic attacks in normal life, I work, I’m a professional, I deal with personal and professional challenges ALL the time without falling apart. I don’t need pscych-medications, I don’t need to balance hormones or brain chemicals to keep me emotionally stable. I just have a DEEP ROOTED FEAR with all things medical.

NOT A SINGLE IVF CLINIC that I have spoken to has recognized that mental health, panic attacks and fears are important. I’ve been simply told ‘the IVF process is no big deal’.
Why should I trust you, the medical professional? At the very least you’ve ignored how I feel, at worst you’ve just told me I’m never having kids because I can’t ‘suck it up’ for 20 minutes.

So, I’m going to blog about every service I speak to, every conversation I have, every receptionist, manager, nurse and doctor I speak to.

I will be recognized and health professionals WILL acknowledge mental health in ALL it’s forms.

Startling Realisation – I’m Muslim!

Salam!

I was sitting around today, waiting and thinking.

Waiting for my husband to finish ona job site and not really thinking about anything in particular. After a while, I realised I’d been thinking about the Quran, Allah and what I’ve learned and discovered so far.

Suddenly, it dawned on me. I’m Muslim. 

I believe in Allah and Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him). I realised I even THINK ‘peace be upon him’ at times when I think about him.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a TERRIBLE Muslim. I didn’t grow up a Muslim, so there is a TRUCK LOAD of things to learn how to do and incorporate, or remove, from my life. There is no way I can become a saintly Muslim overnight. I’m going to continue to sin for weeks, if not years, to come. There is so much ingrained haram things in my life.

And that’s ok.

The Quran sets out how people should be taught and led to Islam. Literally baby steps. Allah does not expect that I will suddenly be a halal eating, hijab wearing, 5 prayers a day person. Allah knows and accepts that I need to learn and grow. Allah knows this growth could take a lfetime.

On top of that, I don’t just blindly follow what people say. ‘Oh Sister’ a fellow Muslim might say ‘you wear jeans and that’s haram’ or ‘you should be wearing your hijab in x style’. I appreciate the input, but I would like to learn and know in my soul that what I’m doing is ACTUALLY what Allah wrote into the Quran. I’m not interested in haddith at this time. Everything I need to know to become a good Muslim should be in the Quran. After all, it is LITERALLY gods words. Plus, I can only learn so much about Islam, I don’t have hours a week to devote to becoming a better Muslim.

Also, I’m Australian Muslim. I have a culture and existence that doesn’t disappear because I am Muslim. 

I also wish to be mindful of my friends, family and colleagues. A sudden change in behaviour, dress and manner would easily be viewed as extremism. Allah is against extremism, and I think going from Aussie beach swimwear to full hijabi swimwear in the space of a day is quite extreme.

So! I’m Muslim.. wow. Ok. Now I need a game plan on how to start letting friends and family know about this in a gentle way.

I think I’ll start with my brother and sister. The two people who I know will be ok and not freak out.