Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Doctors. Lots of Appts. Full Steam Ahead!

Boy do I have a lot to talk about this time around!

Meeting the new OBGYN
So, as you may remember, my last OB left the St. Louis area and left me high and dry. I had only been going to her for a little over a month. At first I was really bummed because I thought she was "the one" - she too only had one ovary and one fallopian tube, and she was able to get pregnant without too much trouble. However, at my last appointment with her, I realized she might not really know all of what she's talking about. She said she doesn't do mid-cycle monitoring while on clomid, so we had no way of knowing if my follicules were maturing properly the on the first round. She would also talk down to me a bit... more like giving me the look of "you silly girl"... which got old quick.

This idea of going to a new OB wasn't the worst thing ever as a result. I was hopefully she would know more about infertility - she was older so one would think that would mean more knowledgeable. I was wrong - again.

Maybe it's too much for me to be judging her too much too early, but in this type of situation it's half gut feeling and half what plan or advice she recommends. I didn't get a warm fuzzy on either of those. My gut told me "this isn't the one"... it was pretty obvious too because my husband said afterwards "I thought that if she told you to calm down one more time you were going to scream". I guess my body language is pretty outspoken.

I DID like the fact that she asked more about my female history than any other doctor ever has. It's amazing how reassuring that alone can feel. When she took a look at my chart and saw that this second round of clomid was, at the time, 52 days long, she said "that is unacceptable". She was baffeled as to why the clomid didn't work and asked why the last OB upped my dosage. (Remember that was done with the intention of it upping my ovulation date). I honestly think she thought I might have hyperstimulated and asked that we do an internal ultrasound that day. In the ultrasound room she took the time to show my husband what we were seeing - again my uterus looked good and I think she said my lining was at 5mm (not sure what this means for CD52 and she didn't really say much either).

Then she asked what ovary I still had intact. I am embarassed to say I can NEVER remember the answer to this question. I mean really - it's not like I dress it every day! For the record, if you must know, I have my left ovary (and apparently a little of my right still). I believe that she said I had around 5 or so follicules, but I don't remember for certain. I do know that she said there were several follicules that were not ovulatory follicules (were too small I think) and that there was one larger one, but it was oddly shaped. She said she thought this was because it was on the verge of being absorbed and there was nothing to worry about. She did confirm that there was no PCOS "string of pearl" style cysts present and thought that meant that the clomid was doing something, just not enough. She didn't know why this cycle was so wacky.

I asked about doing an HSG because I was concerned about my only tube being blocked (have read scar tissue from past surgery causing this). She said we shouldn't be looking into this right now because I'm not even ovulating or having a normal cycle. That we should first solve the ovulation issue and go from there. I didn't wholy agree with her - what if it IS blocked and all these months and clomid cycles are for nothing?

I also asked about whether we should have a post-coidal test done, since my cervical mucus was slim to none this time around (wasn't super great the first time either). She again stressed that we shouldn't do this now - it would be too premature because we don't even know if I'll actually ovulate and we would need to time the test around when we think I'm ovulating. I also didn't completely agree with her on this one either. My question is, isn't there another way to still do the test... like have me do the OPK testing and when I get a positive, schedule the post-coidal? Or, since OPKs detect an LH surge, wouldn't it make sense that if I get a positive OPK, I could come in to have bloodwork done to see if my LH is actually high and, if so, do the post-coidal then??

Of course that's assuming that we have Day3 bloodwork to measure from. Which we don't. In all fairness to her, I never mentioned this when she asked if I have had any bloodwork done. I just whipped out the results from the one test I had ((FSH 4.8, LH 18.3, TSH 1.58) which was actually done on CD13 by my OBGYN (3 OBs ago... can you believe I've been to some many different ones in the past 8 months!). That OB said "you can get it done any day", so I did. Honestly, at the time, I think she was simply looking for the FSH to LH ratio to determine if I had PCOS. As you can see it my LH levels are clearly more than 3x what my FSH is. I still think I should have these done again on the correct day - CD3.

She did, however, want to check my prolactin (which could help tell us if I have a pituitary abnormality) and estrodial levels (produced by the ovaries and the brain and will help tell us the baseline of estrogen in my body). The estrodial level is important in part because I have amenorrhea (lack of menses). Apparently estrogen monitoring during fertility therapy is also helpful to assess follicular growth. Seeing as how right now we have no way of knowing if the clomid is actually doing anything, that might be something to check out, though she certainly didn't suggest that. While I'm greatful she mentioned wanting these levels checked, she said I could get the blood work done anytime in the cycle - however, that simply isn't the case. Pretty much any infertility clinic website you read states clearly that estradiol (and others like FSH and LH) must be drawn on CD3. Prolactin can be any day of the cycle. The fact that she said any day makes me really doubt her expertise.

Oh, and I didn't mention that since my cycles are so unpredictable, and therefore my ovulation date is as well, she doesn't want to monitor follicule growth mid-cycle like she normally does. She said it would be "too difficult" and said to just wait it out to see what happens and to call her if it's day 40 and my period hadn't shown. I also don't agree with this decision. I don't really want to keep going with clomid if I have no measurable data with which to make a decision on what to do next cycle. Given the fact that doctors don't like to do clomid for more than 6 cycles (she also practices with this rule), this would mean I am getting ready to embark on my 3rd cycle and come out of it with very little new valuable data. That just doesn't sit right with me.

After talking it over with my very patient, and I do mean patient because I over-talk things, husband, he too agrees it would be silly to continue on the same path with no new info. We came up with few scenerios about what to do (since I'm now on my 4th progesterone pill and will start my period soon, which means that IF we want to immediately do another round of clomid, we'd be starting that on Dec 23, CD3). In the end, we decided I would call around this week to try and find another OBGYN who is more compassionate (I don't think me and this last lady would get along, let alone the fact that I don't think she's very knowledgable in infertility) and has more expertise in infertility. We also wanted to begin calling around to see how long it would take to get in to see a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) and how much an initial consultation would cost.

I had some extra time on my lunch today and was able to get a lot accomplished... drum roll please.... :)

New, new :) OBGYN Appointment Made - He does IUI's!

Dec 30 at 2:30 pm - I came across a local St. Louis baby forum with some OB recommendations and saw the name of a doctor located in O'Fallon, Missouri near Progress West Health Center. The poster said "he does IUI's". I was floored and thought there was no way! So I called and, yes, all three doctors in their practice do them. Not that that's what we will end up doing, but it does make me think that if they do a more advanced procedure like that, surely they know more than your average OBGYN. I have to admit - the only thing that bugs me is that he's a dude. I've never gone to an OB of the opposite sex, but, if he knows his stuff, then I guess it will be worth it. At least my husband will be there with me on the first appointment!

For your reference, the name of the doctor I'm referring to is:

Allied Associates OBGYN

830 Waterbury Fall Dr. O’Fallon, MO 63368 (near Progress West Hospital) (314) 569-2751
Dr. Craig Boyd - 21 yrs experience; board certified OBGYN; can do IUIs!

Appoinment Made with a Reproductive Endocrinologist!
Get this - Dec 23 at 9 am. I am so amazed that he could fit me in so soon! And, hold on to your pants, the consultation cost is: F-R-E-E!!!! Whoo hooo!!!!!!!!! I actually had to ask her to repeat herself and then, when I called back to make the appt, I asked the other girl who answered to confirm that. I just couldn't believe it. Especially since I had just got off the phone with another Infertility Clinic in the area who couldn't get me in until the end of January and who's initial appt cost would have been $300-400. Believe me, I'm still asking myself what the catch is with this other one I found. What's even cooler is that this is the same doctor that I listen to quite frequently on Life's Online Infertility Talk Radio show. I always make note of who the guest was on the show when I take my own personal notes, in case you're curious what he has to say. It has been a great way to sort of get to know how he probably talks with his patients at the clinic and makes me feel much more at ease. Thus far, he seems to be very kind and knowledgeable.

Here is his information:

SHER Institute, St. Louis

456 N. New Ballas, Suite 101, Creve Coeur, MO 63141

Dr. Peter Ahlering
Obstetrics & Gynecology - 16 yrs experience
Sub-specialty: Reproductive Endocrinology

So... where does that leave us? Well, our tenative plan is to play some massive doctor toss-up. Meaning, on Dec 23 at 9 am I will go see the RE. We will probably talk about my history and he will recommend a battery of tests he'd want done before laying out a game plan. I am going to mention where we're at with our OB currently (getting ready to start a new round of clomid) and see if he has any opposition to that. If not, I will go the appointment that afternoon at 1pm with my current OB to have my CD3 ultrasound done prior to starting clomid that night. Then, on Dec 30 at 2:30 pm, CD10, I will go to the new OBGYN. We wanted to get in to see him before the time when I should hypothetically be ovulating so that if he wanted to do mid-cycle monitoring, we would still have time to do that. Though it just dawned on me that we'll be in Chicago at that time!! I can't believe I didn't think of that until now. Looks like we have something new to talk and think about. Oh well, not going to let it ruin my day. I am on cloud nine with the free consultation and the new OB am just going to trust that it will all work out. If we don't immediately do another round of clomid, then that might be ok, depending on what the new doctors think.

Ok, off to do some last minute Christmas shopping and grocery shopping for holiday parties. Should be fun :P

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The Swann's December 22, 2008 at 6:31 PM  

Wahoo for a New Dr and one who seems to know a whole lot more!!!!! Oh I can't wait to hear about your first RE appt too!!! ;-) You're going to have your baby(ies) in your arms before you know it!!!!

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