life, love, and maybe babies

Friday, July 17, 2015

Just Hear Me Out Again: 5 Things Patients Can Do to Improve Their Fertility Clinic Experience

A few days ago I published a post explaining 5 ways that fertility clinics could improve their service to all of us thousands of infertiles. I feel like it was well received and several clinics seemed to even take note of the advice. Yay for being good sports! 

But, my friends, we as the patients are not perfect. While fertility clinics can always improve on their customer experience, we can also strive to make their lives easier, which makes our lives easier which makes life in general easier.

Ya dig?

So here are 6 ways you as a patient/customer can help fertility clinics do their jobs better and keep frustration levels down to a minimum. 

1. Write it down

I don't know about you, but the second a doctor comes into the room, my brain becomes about as useful as my ovaries. It just shuts the hell down. I have all these grand and wonderful questions to ask and they just fly right out my ears. Inevitably I sit there and nod along and smile and realize after I get to my car that I didn't ask one question. 

This is not productive.

Before you go to your appointment, write down anything and everything that is concerning you or you don't understand. This is the time to mention that you read that hot flashes are normal on your current medication, but you feel like yours are super intense, and is that okay? This is not the time to say, "Nah, I'm good. No questions." You do have questions because this is some serious shiz you're doing. I know docs can be intimidating, so if it helps, have your partner be your back up question asker. Have he or she promise not to let you out of that room until you've asked your questions.

2. Be on the lookout for mess ups

Doctors goof. It happens. They are human beings and they are destined to make mistakes. Don't be naive and think you won't be the one they mess up with. If the protocol they give you looks weird or not in line with what you were understanding, you have to speak up. 

(Keep in mind, I did not say to be an elitist snot while you speak up.)

Be respectful of the doctor and the nurses. I find it's always good to start out with, "Please help me to understand this prescription better. I thought we had discussed that we were going to try XYZ first. Did I misunderstand?" That works a lot better than, "Dude, you quack. This is the third time you've given me the wrong prescription. Do you even have a license?"

3. Know your boundaries

If the doc advises something you aren't comfortable with or glazes over something too quickly, you must tell him. When we went through our orientation at the clinic in Colorado, there was so much paperwork being flung our way that I didn't understand or even remember half of it. At one point, someone in a lab coat asked us if we wanted to dispose of our unused embryos, store them, or donate them. I felt a lot of pressure to answer right then and there (she wasn't the friendliest), but ultimately said I didn't know and could we re-visit that question? I mean, this is a big deal, yo. I didn't want to make that decision all hopped up on hormones and altitude.

There are big choices you are asked to make when undergoing fertility treatments, and they deserve to be taken seriously. Clinics are in the business of getting clients in and out quickly because well, they're a business. So it's on us to pump the brakes and not feel bad about pumping the brakes. Docs will assume you're all good with everything unless you say otherwise. Put on your big girl panties and speak up if you're uncomfortable or confused. That's on you, kiddo.

4. Just throw away your clock

I get it. You're Type A and efficient. Your appointment is at 3:00, and if it hasn't started at 3:02 you start to get twitchy. Sister, get over it and read a Harry Potter book or invent the next Twitter while you wait. 

Remember the advice I gave you at the beginning about writing down questions and clarifying things? If everyone takes that (very good) advice, their appointment is going to get a little lengthier. Can you give the docs and nurses a break? It's not like they're having Tupperware parties in between appointments. They run from patient to patient with little to no downtime. Sometimes they don't even take a drink of water. You want your doc to be on time, but you also want a doctor who's clear headed, yes? You maybe can't have it both ways. 

Think of it this way: you're on an airplane and just about to take off when the pilot announces there's an hour delay. Everyone on the plane immediately loses their shit and starts complaining about how this is the worst airline in the history of ever and they want a refund and blah blah blah. Little do you know, oh snarky one, that the pilot discovered a crack in the windshield and had the plane taken off, the windshield would have ripped off the plane and you all would've been sucked out and died. Now aren't you glad they took a little time to fix the problem?

Remember that the person in the room next to you might have just found out that she will never, ever produce eggs and she's having a complete meltdown. Aren't you glad the doctor took a little extra time to be with her and console her? And besides, you always wanted to read Harry Potter anyway.

5. Don't exaggerate or lie

This seems like a no brainer but it happens a lot. I was told when I first started the infertility process that I should just go see a doc at 6 months and screw waiting for a year. "Just tell them you've been trying for a year," was the advice I was given. This. Is. Stupid. Six months of trying does not an infertile make. If you're giving your doc false information up front, then they can't properly treat you. 

This same philosophy goes for treatment once you get into the nitty gritty. Don't lie and tell your doc you already tried Clomid and it didn't work just because your read in some random thread online that Clomid is worthless. Everyone is different. Your doctor (if he is worth his salt) is going to look at your case objectively and with fresh eyes. It's very possible he'll decide that Clomid won't work for you, but let him in on all the info first. Do you really want a doctor giving you a protocol based on bogus info? This is how bad, bad things happen, people. 

Be straight up with your doctor about everything. Have an STD? Don't hide it. Doctors don't care anyway. Did you have an abortion when you were 17? Spill it. A doctor's treatment is only as good as the information he is given up front. If you give an edited medical history, expect second-rate treatment.

6. Give feedback

This is vital. Fertility clinics can't get better if they don't know they're messing up on something. Many clinics ask for feedback via an online survey or even comment cards. Like I said before, don't be a beeotch about it, but give it to them straight. If they're massively failing at a decent bedside manner, let them know. On the flip side, if they're doing something great, let them know. Everyone who works at a fertility clinic is probably there because they at least have a mild passion for helping people. Let them know if they are helping you and why. Positive reinforcement is contagious. It makes people work harder and smarter. And you ever know, maybe because of your input your next 3:00 appointment will actually start at 3:00.

XOXO, lovelies!

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