IVF consult day! I have a pit of dread in my stomach about this appointment because I have a list of questions and concerns for Dr. M and I have severe doctor anxiety.
Growing up poor and often without health insurance, doctor visits were avoided, and when I did see a doctor, it was sometimes used as a tactic against me, (“See, the doctor thinks you might be avoiding chores by claiming your stomach hurts”), or it was a completely invalidating experience. Once when I was nine, I had stomach pains bad enough to keep me awake for days, doubled over and howling. I remember my parents asking, “Do we need to take you to the ER?” (who asks a child this?) and then finally a young resident at the ER telling my parents that since I didn’t have my period yet they didn’t know what the pain could be. Looking back, I suspect it was acute pancreatitis.
As an adult, my experiences haven’t been much better. I once had diarrhea several times a day for over a year and I had a GI specialist snicker, ask me if I’d tried to lose weight, and say, “I don’t care if you have to take Immodium every day, there’s nothing wrong with that.” The next GI doctor I saw asked me if I’d tried to lose weight and rolled his eyes when I said yes, but at least he diagnosed my three bleeding stomach ulcers. It took yet a third doctor to diagnose alleged malabsorption, though he remarked, “That doesn’t explain why you are overweight.”
Reviewing my records from my ectopic pregnancy last night I was reminded that my doctors repeatedly noted that I described my bleeding as “very light spotting.” I don’t think they even realized they were falsifying medical notes, I think that they heard my description of “bright red gushes of blood,” and clinically determined it to be spotting based on not filling a sanitary pad, then recorded their opinion on what my bleeding must have been.
I was reviewing these records because my medical history is like an unsolved mystery with no detective. I have had multiple MRIs and ultrasounds showing fibroids in varying numbers, locations, sizes, and types. I mean literally, sometimes they are recorded on different sides, sometimes they are intramural. I have a history of complex septated cysts and my right ovary is no longer visible and my left ovary is 60% of the size it was in 2014! We really are our own advocates because I haven’t had a doctor care about any of this yet.
So, I am sitting here, hours before my appointment, filled with anxiety. No matter how much I plan to be assertive but not “difficult” and get all the information I can, I always end up feeling like I am a child in the principal’s office, sitting quietly and deferring to anything they say. Honestly I am worried about the possibility of silent endometriosis. Especially because my genetic test showed a risk for it and I have a high pain tolerance that sometimes makes me miss or overlook things, i.e. the years of bleeding ulcers I thought was a normal feeling.
Now my husband can’t leave work to make it to my appointment (he’s two hours away by train) and I called the doctor’s office, and they have my appointment scheduled as a “follow up” instead of an IVF consult anyway. Follow up from what?? Just wonderful!