Saturday, July 11, 2009

Attempting to destress, and what do I get? Stress!

I've been thinking of exploring acupuncture for quite some time. If we're putting this much effort and money into our cycle already, and if it has a chance of improving our odds, I wanted to give it a shot. With our IVF cycle nearly upon us, I decided NOW is definitely the time.

A couple of weeks ago, Christine Kleinschmidt of the WellBody Acupuncture Clinic in Maplewood, MO. came to speak to the local St. Louis area infertility group I attend. Christine was awesome and came highly recommended by ladies all around the St. Louis area, many who have gone through infertility treatments - some who've also cycled under Dr. Ahlering's care too!

The benefits
I really loved they way she presented herself - very knowledgeable and in tune with IVF and seemed compassionate and understanding of what we are all going through. She gave a nice overview of possible benefits such as a more regulated endocrine system (read: less stress!), hormones in sync and ready to produce better quality eggs, helping the eggies that will be recruited mature at the same time for retrieval day and better blood flow to important reproductive organs throughout and after transfer. Given that I have PCOS and scarring issues the first and last are particularly important. I recently did a guest post on a friend's blog detailing more about the wealth of knowledge Christine had to share. Check it out when you get the chance.

Why I chose the middle road... my excuse anyway
Given her obvious level of expertise, I was all but convinced I would be making an appointment with her that next week. Well, the next week came and I started breaking it down. It would take 40 minutes for me to drive to her office, and she doesn't have true evening hours, so I would have to work through my lunch two days a week so that I could swing cutting out of work early. Then, with the possibility of driving back home 40 minutes in rush hour traffic, I decided maybe I should seriously pursue another option closer to home.

So, I paid yet another visit to Google and searched high and low for someone who specialized in acupuncture for fertility. In the end, all I could locate was one doctor who does both chiropractics and acupuncture. A bit hesitant I continued on through her website to a paragraph that read the doctor has "completed extensive post-graduate study in acupuncture emphasizing areas of study such as female issues". Perfect, I think. A lot better than I've managed to find elsewhere and she is only 15 minutes from both work and home. That alone, I thought, had to count for something. So, I gave the office a call and they scheduled a 15 minute consult for the next day.

I came out of the initial consult feeling pretty good
Even though I waited a good 30 minutes to see the doctor for a 15 minute appointment, I thought maybe it was because they had "worked me in" or something, so I kept an open mind. In the review, I had the chance to ask a few questions and she asked a few of me; enough that told me she has worked with other women who've dealt with infertility before and that she was aware ART treatments are fairly complex in nature. So far so good. She sends me out the door with a survey to complete which would help her tell which areas my Qi is weak - essentially it was the questionnaire from the infamous book, The Infertility Cure, we have all read or heard of in the IF community. It was clear she has read it too, which is good, and I would imagine that a lot the ways she treats her patients are mirrored from this book. On the whole, I suppose there's nothing wrong with that.

There's a first time for everything - My first official session
On this appointment, I was supposed to have a physical, discuss current hormone levels, etc. Given that this was the Friday before the holiday, they must have way over-booked themselves. I waited another 30 minutes for the doctor on this day. I also didn't have my physical like I was supposed to have. We did manage to squeeze in a five minute conversation about the questionnaire that I completed and, from that, she began to locate areas that she felt may need work on. I walked away with a smattering of concepts like "I suffer from blood stasis, or blood stagnation, and also dampness" and that "my liver and ovaries are weak".

After the quick review, she took me out into their multi-purpose room to do the session, but all the tables were full. I was so thankful for this because she then took me around into another more private room where the lights were dim and the curtain was pulled. There, I was told to lie on my back and raise my right arm in the air and make a fist. For the next minute she proceeded to push against that arm (and I was told to resist) while she took her other hand and pressed on what she called "points" along my upper and middle chest, and down alongside my rib cage and around to my sides. Each time she would get to a new spot, she would call out a different organ or key Qi area. At the end she mentioned something about my liver and ovaries being the weakest. Between this and the review, she felt she had enough info to start the sticking. As she was talking to me she started poking them in all sorts of places - just above my wrists on the top of my arm, on the flip side, in the web of my thumb and pointer finger and then a couple places on my legs - just above my knee on my inner thigh and one point below my knee and towards the ankle.

Then, without much warning, she whipped out the electrodes and started hook them up to most of the needles saying that it amplifies the affect. I was, admittedly, a bit freaked about this at first. She turned it on and said I should start to feel a slight pulse in some of the points. And then we waited. And waited. And still nothing. I was really beginning to wonder just how high she was turning that thing up so that I would feel it. And then, oh boy, did I feel it. It wasn't just a pulse, it was a pinch and in one area in particular, it was a pretty strong pinch (my inner thigh)... you know the type of loving pinch only a little brother can give that causes you to let out a nice loud scream. Only I that machine looked nothing like my brother and I didn't think it would be fitting if I screamed for my mommy. Just when I gave the "OK" I can feel it, without any time to ask if it should even be that strong or an explanation of what to expect, she set the timer for 15 minutes, drew the curtain and walked away.

But waaaaiiiit!!! I can't take this for that long!! I honestly wanted to reach my scrawny fingers down there and yang out those two needles as quick as I could. Instead, I found some inner place that I didn't know existed and managed to see through the 15 minutes. I will say that about 5 minutes into it, my once reddish palms now matched the rest of my skin color (she had said blood was pooling in that area) and seemed to be the same temp as the rest of my body. At about the 10 minute mark, the tear-jerking pinch in my inner thigh wasn't so unbearable and had managed to even it's pulse with the rest of my nodes. Thank goodness! Cause, really, 15 minutes is a L-O-N-G time when you're sitting there starring at the ceiling :-)

High hopes for the second appointment...
With one session under the belt on Friday, I figured why not. Let's do it again on Monday like the doctor requests. Attempting to get it all in under an hour's time so I can be back at work, I head out. Arrive at my appointment 5 minutes early, am handed "my folder" and told to proceed back into the lovely muti-purpose room where I was asked by a male nurse/assistant of sorts which area I was having done. I said, I really didn't know and that I was told the Dr and I would be coming up with a treatment plan today. He then shows me to a table and tells me to make myself comfortable while he let's the Dr know I'm waiting.

Fast forward the clock to 40 minutes later, a different doctor shows up at my bedside and tells me she'll be doing my session today. I know she was just being polite, but I kindly explained that I was in for infertility and wanted to speak to the doctor so that we could develop a customized treatment plan before doing my session today. I then also told her that I probably didn't have time any longer for a session but was still hoping I could talk with the doctor to get that taken care of.

A minute later my doctor comes over. I told her the same - that I didn't have time for a session but wanted to make sure we were coming up with a treatment plan that will coincide with my upcoming IVF cycle. The response was ok I suppose. She attempted to tell me more than she already had, but I didn't feel like I learned all that much new, to which she ended by saying the only true critical times would be around what she called "harvest" and "implantation". Gag. Ok, I'll cut her some slack. I mean at least she grasps the overall concept, but would have made me feel better if she had the lingo down. She also throws in a caveat that "and you won't know exactly when those will even be, so it might not even matter"... almost as if she might not be able to work me in during those critical times, so don't concentrate solely on them. And, to top it all off, she let's me know she will be out of the country for a few weeks, some of which will fall during my cycle.

Well, if nothing else did it, that certainly did. Why would I want to go there if the person I found and was half beginning to trust just up and disappears for a good portion of my cycle. I didn't want to come to the woman who just got her acupuncture license a couple years ago, I wanted to come to you! I really did leave more stressed than when I went in, I'm afraid.

I tell you all of that... why?
Because, like most of my posts, this is a way for me to vent. To journal all of life's random happenings, down to the last boring detail if I so choose. I also do it because I'm sure at some point someone else will read this who has never been to have acupuncture done and has no idea of what to expect, or anything to compare their experience to. I fall into that last category even as I write this. The only knowledge I have beside this, as far as what is "ideal," would be from listening to the guest speaker I mentioned earlier. The same woman who I really am now wishing I would have gone to in the first place. Last week I was trying to figure out how I could make it work so that I could go to her. While I've not ruled it out all together, it is looking more like it may be too stressful to try and coordinate.

I do eventually want to do a session with her though - if nothing else to experience *ahem* what a real infertility acupuncture session is like. In the meantime, perhaps a massage or two is in order... you know, for destressing and all ;-)

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Jess July 11, 2009 at 6:05 PM  

I was debating on acupuncture and you have me scared now! :) I don't think I could do're one strong lady!!

I'm sorry that your 2nd option wasn't great! Christine sounds wonderful, too bad her hours don't work for you! I have a lot of friends who are IF and swear by acupuncture, it might be worth it to take a half day at work and visit her. My friend went in for acupuncture before and after her IUI and another did the same thing for IVF and both got BFP.

I hope you get a message because you really need to destress, especially after your two acupuncture sessions.

Anonymous July 12, 2009 at 6:12 AM  

Well, I'm glad you are not going to be treated by this doctor! First of all she seems quite vague on what you need done and when. So completely support your call of not doing it and try some massage instead. I love alternative therapies in support of IVF cycle but I love more to be in tune with the therapist. When I did my search for a new acu/reiki/massage therapist, I happen to phone this one who was obviously completely in the dark about infertility (bless her) and kept referring to my "infertility issues" as my "verginity issues"!!! Needless to say I never even considered making an appointment! Love, Fran

Jess July 12, 2009 at 1:02 PM  

You received an award from me, check out my blog! :)

stlcouple September 2, 2009 at 10:27 PM  

Congrats to the blog author on your pregnancy! Your story and strength after everything you've been through is such an inspiration. I also live in St. Louis and DH and I have struggled with infertility nearly 2 yrs. (and 1 miscarriage), and wondering if anyone might have a referral to a great counselor or therapist in STL who has experience helping individuals or couples through this. We went to a counselor before, but he had no experience with infertility issues. We start group next week, but wondering of any good support groups in STL, especially that might have other husbands in the group he can relate with. Thanks so much for your help.

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