Tuesday, January 31, 2012

So, what's your opinion, doc?

Yesterday, we were told that our second cycle of IVF has also not been successful. One question rebounded from most of our friends and families when we called them to inform about this sad news ; " Do you want to consult another doctor?"

You will meet this question in many avatars:
"My friend/cousin/brother/relative had been to this doctor, and was successful in the treatment"
"This stream of medicine is much more proven, reliable and established than yours"
"This doctor is very experienced and knows all.."
.... and so on an so forth.

I personally have firm belief that we should stick to one doctor for your treatment. And yet, if not for doctor hopping, we would not have found out our issue itself! :) Ironical, isn't it? But here's what i make of it.

  • In the Initial days, when we only know that there is a problem, and we don't know what it is, i feel that it is 'more the merrier' :). Different diagnostics, as long it is not "for the sake of it" diagnostics, is good for us to know that is wrong. But then, "how do you know that it is not "for the sake of it"? I think that's where our involvement comes in. Medical information is available freely on the net ( and if you are here, reading this, you are familiar with Google.) We should not take the inputs from the Dr. at face value, and we should definitely do our re-searching online and also discuss this with few friends to get their opinion.

  • Once we identify the problem, and we start looking for a specific solution to this, stick to one doctor. Do your research beforehand to know our doctor and his/ her performance beforehand, and in the initial days, monitor the interaction. Here are few things that i found very symptomatic of a Dr patient relation:
  • >>> If you find that the doctor is not accessible, either you have to jump through 15 hoops to speak to him, or if you need a appointment schedule to be set 2-3 weeks in advance, i suggest, you start looking out. Accessibility is key, especially if you have any sensitive issues.
  • >>> If the Dr continuously says "All is Well" and continuously asks you to just keep trying, it is better to get another doctor's opinion.

  • Once the treatment starts, many times, we will find doubting whether this course that we are taking is correct or not. It might be a good idea, to get a second opinion at this time. Be very clear on what we are trying to do. We are not searching for a new treatment, and when we go to the new doctor, just tell him / her that we are only trying to validate our current treatment based on the existing diagnostics and patient information.

And, Believe in Serendipity.
Here's what happened to us..
  • We started our consultation with a gyneac early enough. The Dr. was very accessible and was very clear on her advice. But it didn't look like we were going anywhere (Point 2B above, crossed! :) )
  • We spoke to a friend who had the same Dr, and was going through same issues, and she asked us to consult another doctor. Now, this Dr., thought looking at it in a slightly different angle, was very tough to meet ( We would have to get appointments one month in advance - point 1A above, crossed! :) ), so we decided to give this Dr, a slip. ( but not before we wasted a year or so with him :( )
  • Our family recommended us to another Dr, who identified the problem, and suggested a small surgery to resolve it. Now we knew what the issue was.
And purely out of luck, my friend was getting his baby born in Dr. GHP's hospital ( who is our current doctor.). When we heard that we could walk in and meet the Dr, and she would meet you irrespective of the time of the day ( or night ) as long as you were waiting there, we decided to give it a go. 

About a year or so of her care later, and two failed cycles later, we have been asked many times, do you want to change doctor? I have not really had a motivation to do it - for cpl of reasons - she is extremely accessible, and all her diagnostic, seems to be on the right track based on online forums. And yet, we still did consult yet another famous hospital for validation, and the direction and treatments were validated by that  Dr. too. I guess, we will go with this Dr for some more time....

Fingers Crossed for next steps :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Farook and Shah Rukh!

I had to blog this :)

Today is my nephew's birthday, and so in the morning, we made the customary call to wish him. During the conversation, i asked him " so are you all ready to wear your new dress and go to school?" ( Some traditions, some memories dont change over time :) ) Unfortunately for him, last night, Kerala Governor M O H Farook passed away, and the schools in the state have apparently declared it a holiday, on this account.

So, when i asked him, i got this sad reply "No, there is no school today-someone passed away last night, and therefore its a holiday"
"Someone passed away? Who?"
"I don't know.. someone did!" came the sad reply from the 10 year old, "i think its there on all the papers also"

"Ok.." I went to google and checked it up - just to see that Farook had passed away. So in all earnestness of letting this young guy know who this "someone" was, i told him "Oh, it is Farook, the Kerala governor"

2 seconds silence.
And then with a lot of trepidation, lot of anxiety and and a lot of fear in his voice came a question "WHO? SHAH RUKH? "

We had to spend half a minute to pacify his anxiety and to get him to know that all the words that end with "Kh" is not Shah rukh! Once he knew it, it was back to "oh, someone passed away!" his life crisis averted ! :)

May "Farook"s soul Rest in Peace!

Post Script: I didn't know this, Farook was the youngest chief minister in India ( URL: malayala manorama, TOI )- He was CM of Pondicherry when he was 29! For all of us who yearn for young blood in politics, he should be a mascot!
( the malayala manorama URL is in malayalam font )

Thursday, January 26, 2012

To tell or not to tell? or, the curious case of "I know Jay, and I'm pregnant"

Since the time that we knew that we had to go through the IVF procedure, one question that always kept us thinking was " should we tell others about this?"

Somehow, it seems a little sensitive. And opinions are widely distributed in this regard. But with the wisdom of someone who's been there, done that - here's my recommendation - please do! And here's why....

  • It manages anxiety among close family and friends. Peer pressure is no pleasure...
  • It helps you to be honest about why you cannot take time for social events - you are going to spend a lot of time at the doctor's anyways
  •  It can surprise you with the support you get. Once you open up, you will realize how many people around you has gone through similar situations. 
Once we started opening up, almost every other person knew someone who had gone through this, knows how difficult the time is, and is willing to help; or even more surprisingly for us, how many people around us had actually gone through this. ( thanks to all those friends for their support.... You have no idea how much it matters to us ). You will get doctor reviews, procedural comparisons, medicine notes and so much moral support. That itself is enough to go ahead and open up.
Given the software dev mentality that i have, i like to analyse this to death and categorize this to 4 phases :

  • The Deep Sigh phase - This is phase 1. You are having a conv and you hit upon this difficult question of " so what are your family plans?". You stop for two seconds, take a deep sigh, and start " you know what, we are going though an IVF....." 
  • The Tilted Head Phase - This is phase 2. You have used up your quota of sighs ( and it doesn't work when you try to :) ), you continue your conversation without stopping, but by tilting your head to one side and having a "this is a difficult topic" face expression.
  • The "Oh That!" Phase - No conversation stoppers, just an "oh that! that is because we are going through an IVF..."
  • The "You mean you still don't know this? phase - well, you get the idea. by now, probably the radios are announcing your progress in their daily news :)

This opening up business has also given us phenomenally funny moments in our journey. I had a lady friend who was also going through some difficulty in getting pregnant and was taking medical advice. ( She is blessed with an adorable baby now :) ) Anyways, we used to discuss this quite often. One day, when I was at the airport, she called me up excitedly, and said that she is pregnant. I requested her to call my wife and tell her this, as i would be getting on a plane and i would have to switch off my cell phone. I kind of missed the fact that this friend and my wife has not talked earlier at all  :):):)

So here is how the conversation apparently went :

Triiiiinng triiiiiing ....
My wife picks up the phone.

"Hi this is ...., is this Aparna?" a voice from the other side ( Aparna is my wife)

"Oh hi!" 2 seconds silence
(awkward silence, my friend suddenly realized this is the first time she is speaking to Aparna )

"Hi Aparna, I Know Jay, and I am Pregnant"

2 seconds silence this side of the line. and then, a fitting reply
"I also know Jay, but i am not pregnant......."

What happened when i came back from my trip is still classified information.