Monday, July 27, 2009

In charge

One thing I've learned from my experiences is the importance of staying in control of my medical care. I always revered doctors, trusted them, believed whatever they said, took their words for the absolute truth, and never questioned their advice. After all, they went to medical school. What do I know? I've since come to realize that doctors are fallible. They don't know everything. They are human, and they are flawed.

I've had tremendous care through the past six years of having children, and I am grateful for that. My OB was smart, compassionate, and she gave me great care. When we had the ultrasound that revealed our first child had died weeks earlier, I said I wasn't leaving the clinic until I had the D&C, and she agreed. When my test results for antiphospholipid syndrome were borderline after the death of our second child, she informed me of the potential treatment options. I researched them tirelessly on the internet, printing pages and pages of studies to support that the heparin injections were my best chance of carrying a child to term. She listened to my demands, and she agreed to the treatment plan. When I asked for more tests, she agreed. When I asked to be seen every two weeks rather than once a month throughout my fourth pregnancy with my son, she didn't even hesitate. When I begged her for more ideas after our fifth miscarriage, she provided a different treatment for the suspected blood clotting. When I told her I started acupuncture treatments to build up my system, she supported me.

Throughout all of this, I was talking to other women who experienced recurrent pregnancy loss and researching treatment options. It was after our sixth miscarriage that I really took matters into my own hands and determined I needed to see a specialist. I regret that it took me that long, but we get where we need to be when we need to be there. I wish my OB had taken this step, and my mistake was waiting for her to.

It was after my first meeting with a reproductive endocrinologist that I realized how much I didn't know. There are many ideas in the medical community about what causes recurrent pregnancy loss, but very little testing and, therefore, data to strongly support the many theories. I learned that OBs don't have a lot of information (my theory is that they are focused on their healthy pregnant patients and don't take the time or have access to review the research from the specialists). My specialist found a potential cause, low thyroid levels, that my OB had never even suggested testing. When my current specialist reached the end of the road with what she could determine, I asked to see another specialist. I hope to have that happen within the next few months. I won't stop until I feel I turned over every stone. Above all, even if nothing definitive is ever found, even if we don't have another child, I know that I did everything I could to remain in charge of my medical treatment. After all, isn't that all we can do?


wifey said...

My trust in doctors almost cost me my life. I knew something wasn't right with my fifth pregnancy but the nurses kept blowing me off, saying that spotting is common, etc. I finally stood up for myself and insisted on an ultrasound and guess what? The babe was in my tube! I was on blood thinners at the time - I could have died if that tube burst. I will always be my own most fierce advocate from now on.

Good for you for taking charge of your own care!

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