medical assistant

Anger: It's Not Just For Breakfast Anymore (Tuesday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. Anger is like a good friendship: It builds over time.) So what were we talking about? Oh right. My friend who believes that anger is a great motivator. I'm sure, even as we speak, she's somewhere motivating herself into a fit. Maybe one day all of her hard work will pay off, and she will have motivated herself into a stroke.

There are many things to anger you when you're going through infertiity. Big ones for me: Misinformation and Missing Information.

Like many people who ride the IUI/IVF well, it's not a wave...let's call it a cyclone on a good month and a tsunami on a bad one- I was told that my pregnancy test was a "low positive". I was like:

"What the hell is a low-positive? A pregnancy test with self-esteem issues?" 

My hormone level was a six. Apparently if I had truly been pregnant it would have been around fifty.

The next time I went in, the nurse came running into the waiting room: "Good news. Your numbers are going up!"

Turns out they had gone all the way up to eleven. So, that was good news? It meant, as the doctor explained twenty emotional whirlwind minutes later, that this was not a viable pregnancy and we'd have to begin again from square one.

So, clearly, a "low-positive" was a "high negative" with some good PR people.

I felt like saying to the nurse on the way out: "I have good news for you! You have a job! Even though you're an idiot!"

Missing information can also be anger-producing: Stuff that nobody bothered to mention.

Before my egg retrieval, I felt like I was getting a fever. Nobody told me that an elevated temperature before an egg retrieval was normal.

All I could think of was all of the money, emotions, and physical and mental energy that had been invested in my impending procedure. And now, because I maybe had the flu, it was all going to be canceled? Not over my dead from hyperpyrexia body! (SAT word!)   

So here I am, the night before, trying to figure out ways to fake out a thermometer.

"I'll think cold thoughts. I'll picture myself in the tundra like I'm doing a York peppermint patty commercial. I'll think about 'Frosty the Snowman' at least until he gets to the greenhouse and becomes 'Frosty the Puddle'. I'll think of the movie 'Fargo' . I'll suck on ice before they take my temperature."

I felt like the low-lifes who spend half of their lives commiting crimes and the other half plotting to psych-out lie detector tests.

If only someone medical had mentioned that I could expect to have a temperature before the egg retrieval.      

My husband knows a guy who applied for a job and then set out to out-wit their mandatory drug urine test.

He drank some stuff that was guaranteed to remove all traces of certain drugs. He didn't get the job. He was perplexed. Apparently it also erased all traces of urine.

Listen I gotta go. I've got to figure out what to wear to Chelsea Clinton's wedding next weekend. What do you mean? You're joking, right?

I'll talk with ya tomorrow.

You Have Entered: "The Infertility Zone" Doo Doo Doo Doo, Doo Doo Doo Doo (Tuesday)

There are spaces of time while I was undergoing infertility treatments that are just blanks in my memory. I'm willing to bet that it's not that unusual. I think that my lapses in memory can be attributed to a few things: 1) Some time has gone by since I've gone through the treatments myself

2) My mind was so overwhelmed and overloaded by it all that some of the details got squashed under the pressure on my brain.

3) I was temporarilty insane. I'd gone nuts... drifted off into la la land during my treatments.

Number 3 is undoubtedly a result of number 2. I had so much information and stress, and advice and stress, and questions and stress, and decisions to make and stress, crammed into my head.

There was no room left in my head for my mind...so it drifted off into a nice pleasant place where my mind played hopscotch and gin rummy for several months.  

When you begin infertility treatments, nothing is gradual. You don't get eased into anything.

You're never walked onto the infertility bunny hill or guided into the infertility kiddie pool. You're thrown off an alp and tossed into an ocean.

And what I needed was infertility treatments with training wheels or maybe the trial size fertility treatments or the free sample.

Could I do an IVF test drive for a few weeks and bring it back if I wasn't completely satisfied?

No such animal. I walked into the door of the clinic. I gave my name at the desk. I shook somebody's hand.

They gave me some paperwork to fill out. And I signed at the bottom. Never once realizing that the small print said: "Sanity will be returned upon completion of treatments."

And, without realizing the gravity of what I had done, I very innocentlly entered the bowels of  "The Inferility Zone"....doo doo doo doo; doo doo doo doo.

Listen I gotta go.  Wimbledon tennis is on. I know that's not amusing. I'm serious. It's on...now... I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.

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My Private Infertility: Trying To Keep Everyone's Nose Out Of My Uterus (Wednesday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. My blog is like a soap opera. If you don't follow it every day for thirty years you'll never forgive yourself.) So what were we talking about? Oh right. How to get people to mind their own business as mundane as their own business may be.

And that's really what I think this is about.

In my opinion, people close to you are not entitled to any information about your personal chromosomal, reproductive, conceptional business, but you can at least understand why they want to know. When their nose is in your business, at least their heart is in the right place. 

Then there are the extraneous yentas in your life who just want to know because it seems like there might be something  juicy there to write about on her Facebook wall. 

An hour ago she wrote about shopping for underwear at  Target. Twenty minutes ago she wrote about trying on said underwear at Target. Ten minutes ago she wrote about waiting in line to pay for same underwear at Target. Five minutes ago she wrote about driving the underwear to its new home.

Two minutes ago, she wrote about trying on the underwear again at home. Thirty seconds ago, she wrote about how the underwear fit much better at the store. (Maybe she shouldn't have treated the underwear to KFC  on the way to its new home.)

Eight seconds ago, she wrote about the injustice of Target's no-return policy on underwear. And in another minute she's going to post photos about the whole madcap episode.

Then she's out of wall crap.

And then you walk into her room, her office, her web:  Just as she's in the market for some new crap to sling onto her wall.

Your only defense: The "Prying Lying" game.  There's only one rule:             You pry.   I lie.  

I invented this game because some busy-body nobody, someone I barely knew once asked: "You're not doing those shot treatments are you?"

I pretended I thought she said "shock treatments" and responded:  "Well, I did have a lobotomy, but that doesn't make me a bad person."

So here are some examples to get you started:

Someone comes up to you and asks: "Why don't you have any kids?"

Acceptable responses:

"I don't want any kids. I had an abusive childhood: My mother always beat me at Scrabble."

"I misplaced some of my chromosomes last year along with my library card and my remote control. The doctor told me there's a chance I would give birth to a stuffed animal."

"I'm really a man."

"I'm planning to adopt Brad and Angelina's kids when they're done with them."

"I strongly believe it would be inhumane to bring a child into the world today. I'm waiting until there's peace in the Middle East, economic stability around the globe, and no oil flowing through the elementary school water fountain."

"We think my mother, father, and in-laws would all make lousy grandparents so we're just waiting for all of them to die."

"I'm lactose intolerant and don't want to risk passing it on to a baby."

"My husband and I don't believe in pre-marital or during-marital sex."

"I figured I waited this long to have kids, I may as well go for the Guinness Book record."

Yes, I agree. Some of the responses are sick. The point is:  If they ask what they shouldn't ask, they get whatever they get.    

Listen, I gotta go. I want to get my soda and chips ready. There's an exercise show coming on that I never miss.  I'll talk with ya tomorrow.

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The Fertility Clinic's Medical Team (Or “Cast Of Characters”): Whichever You Prefer-Friday

(Start with “Monday” if you can. Tell your supervisor that having a ‘blog reading’ period on “Casual Fridays” has been clinically proven to boost employee morale. He’ll appreciate your proactiveness...proactivity...being proactional) So what were we talking about? Oh right. The medical assistant from Hades. (No, I didn’t mean the country with the horrible earthquake. I know what I’m talking about.)

I’ve talked a lot this week about medical and non-medical staff at the fertility clinic and my interactions with them.

But the one staff member who intrigued me most was someone with whom I had no contact whatsoever:                      "The Sperm Collector".

 Well that's what I called him anyway. I know that title makes it sound like he has dozens of samples from all over the world mounted in a glass frame on his den wall. I certainly hope he doesn't.

The young man who worked at my clinic had his desk front and center outside the donation door waiting for the man inside to complete his task. He sat there patiently reading a magazine (although unlike, I imagine, the ones on the other side of the door, his magazine looked fresh and unmangled).

He sat there reading away. So nonchalant. As though someone was in there baking and would, in a moment, fling the door open and hand him a plate of brownies.

I can understand the sounds from within not bothering him. He lived in NYC. I lived in NYC.

The walls in a NYC apartment are so thin you feel like you're in bed with everyone in the building.

You take sides on their spats, you know what their kids have for breakfast, you know what pets they hide when the landlord comes by.

But why does his desk have to be right there? I think if I were that man in the room, trying to accomplish, I would want him sitting across the street.   

Is he there because they had no where else in the office to put his massive one-drawer desk? Or to make sure nobody tries to barge in on the contributor?

Who would have something so vital to tell the man that it couldn't wait? His wife. 

“Aren’t you done yet?  I have a hair appointment at two. It never takes this long when you’re with me.” 

Most likely the Sperm Collector is posted there in case the man's a klutz. If the hand-off takes place right outside the door, it won't give the guy much of an opportunity to spill his future on his shoes.  

See, if I were a guy giving at the office, I wouldn't want a woman to be the Sperm Collector. And I certainly wouldn't want her right outside the door. What pressure. Yet another female waiting for him to perform.   

I guess the man contributing would have to forget that there’s a woman waiting outside the door.

And the female Sperm Collector would have to forget that in his mind, she might be filling in for a lack of imagination.

If the poor guy emerges with only a few drops in the cup, a male Sperm Collector could empathize: "Yeah I know. I have sucky aim too."

While the female Sperm Collector would probably say: "What am I supposed to do with this? I ask you to do one thing. One thing. Is that too much to ask? Do I have to do everything myself?" 

Listen, I gotta go. I'm going to buy a huge beach tube to put around my waist in the pool. It's easier than dieting and exercising.  I'll talk with ya Monday.

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The Fertility Clinic's Medical Team (Or Cast Of Characters: Whichever You Prefer) Wednesday

(Start with "Monday" if you can. Just give your coworkers the "One minute" finger)  So what were we talking about? Oh right. I was giving you the virtual tour of my fertility center theme park. "Meet Goofy. Meet Grumpy. Meet Doc." 

Doctors are great to have in a medical facility. But, let's be honest. Just like the rest of us, they're at the mercy of the receptionist. I don't care who signs whose checks. We all have to make nice with the receptionist or fertility game over.

She doesn't make the appointment. Game over. She doesn't tell the doctor you're waiting and he goes home. Game over. She doesn't give the nurse your message. Game over. She doesn't charge you for the visit...well that would be okay.  

When I started going to my fertility clinic there were two receptionists. Jessica and Jamie. They complemented each other beautifully. Jessica was lovely but as smart as a tuna fish sandwich.

Jamie was speedy, intelligent, and as nasty as a summer rash in the crack of your… knee. (I do have some sense of decorum you know.)

The pair sparked a lot of childhood memories for me. 

My sister and I had identical twin babysitters (Not simultaneously.  I don’t think moms in the ‘70’s were overly concerned about having a one-to-one child-babysitter ratio).

Identical Twin Wendy let you play "kitchen" with real knives while she fell asleep in front of Johnny Carson.

Identical Twin Cindy, on the other hand, followed you into the bathroom to make sure you didn’t drink iodine.  I was like ten at the time.

I’m not sure whether she’d read somewhere that ten year olds were prone to chugging antiseptics, or that she thought that we thought that she was such a sucky babysitter, we might feign a toilet issue so we could sneak out of the room and kill ourselves.

What we needed was the middle twin: The one born with ALL of the chromosomes.

And that’s what the fertility clinic needed: A receptionist who could multi-task: Be pleasant and competent at the same time. 

Of course the pleasant one got canned first. I've never figured out why, (maybe someone could write me), doctor's offices hang on to intolerable receptionists for decades.

After she went, there was always a new receptionist at the desk. 

They were all named, Giselle, or Jaleesa… It got way too complicated. I just called them all Becky.

Becky One went to lunch and apparently kept on going.  Becky Two gossiped on her cell phone while she took your insurance. Becky three was "in training" for six months.

Aren't office managers aware that training a receptionist is like recovering from a stroke? There's a very short window of time for them to improve. If they're not any better by then, they're never going to get any better.  

I just kept repeating my mantra: "It's okay. She's not allowed to touch prescriptions or needles. It's okay. She's not allowed to touch prescriptions or needles."

Surprisingly, I don't complain much to the higher-ups about crummy receptionists. 1) I don't want to be responsible for someone losing their job. 2) You don't know who she is. 

Once as my chiropractor ushered me into his office and closed the door I said:

"That lady at the desk is so rude." To which, of course he responded:

"That's my wife."

Of course I was then forced to go on and on about a fictitious receptionist about whom I was really talking, (in this one-receptionist office), shutting up only long enough to yell: "Ow! My spine!"

Listen, I gotta go. I need the company microwave. I see someone heading down the hallway carrying a frozen dinner and I want to cut her off at the pass. I'll talk to you tomorrow.