Those Who Assist Us With Our Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Tuesday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. If you enjoy reading about a 40 something womans's mental decline, you'll devour it.) So what were we talking about? Oh right. How even though I was a regular at fertility clinics around town for a while (depressing but still preferred over singles' bars-although both "VIP lounges" were much the same: Half-naked women "dancing" with their feet mid-air), I was never really quite sure what each member of the medical staff really did.

Am I the only dumb patient?

My dentist's office staff kind of paid for that today. I guess I went in there with this post on my mind. Everyone who approached me I grilled like chicken on the Fourth of July:

"Who are you? What's your title? Did you go to school for that?" One woman I cornered turned out to be their 11:30 appointment. (Well how should I know? Who wears a white jacket to their teeth cleaning?)

Anyway, I think you should be well-acquainted with anyone who might put their hands in your mouth, don't you agree? 

Although, considering where fertility clinic staff members put their hands I shouldn't be so sensitive. I think everyone but the receptionist tickled my tubes. And she might have also, had she a hands-free phone.

So this week's Health Expert article is by an embryologist. When I first read this great article, I finally knew two things: 1)What an embryologist really does, and 2) Why I could never in a million years be one... unless you wanted your lab sued several times over.

First, the embryologist, Carole Wegner, emphasizes how meticulous an embryologist must be: About procedures, about supplies, about equipment.

I don't think my two favorite mottos: "It's probably fine", and "Who's gonna know?" would fly. In fact, forget the lab, they don't work too well with my husband.

Like how I compensate for my shortness: When clothes fall off the hangers in the closet, I just leave them on the floor and eventually, when a nice little heap has accrued, I can stand atop it to reach things on the shelf above.

Doesn't that somehow fall under the life giving you lemons make lemonade axiom?

So translating this habit to the lab, I would likely put unlabeled sperm samples down wherever and say:  "It's probably fine. I'm sure they're all nice people."

And apparently all supplies in the lab haved to be tested to make sure they have no toxic properties. So I guess if I ran a lab and a tool dropped on the floor, there's probably something in some protocol handbook that you get when you're hired that would preclude me from invoking the "eight second rule".    

(Well I'm sorry that rule has a humane purpose. How many delicious last cookies in the box would be needlessly tossed in the garbage, uneaten  just because they, through no fault of their own, fell on the floor?)

Something else Carole will discuss:  That data is kept on each person working in the lab to avoid "Technical Drift": What happens when technicians do the same tasks over and over: Little by little they drift away from the accepted standards and protocols.

I worked in customer service at a call center for many years. It happened there a lot. One day you were saying: "It's always nice to serve you. Have a wonderful day!" And a few months later you were looking at the Caller ID and mumbling to yourself: "Oh man... not this assh again."

Listen, I gotta go. I have to apologize to everyone at my dentist's: Another one of my mottos: Be pleasant to those who either serve you food or clean it out of your teeth with sharp instruments.

Please check out Carole Wegner's article: "Quality Assurance in the IVF Lab"

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow