I’m going!

Unbelievable: I am actually going to Colorado!

Even though my hormones have always been normal and I’ve never had an ovarian cyst, I worried that something would go wrong today. And some things did go very wrong today–but they didn’t have anything to do with my body. Then a lot of things went right. Here’s the story:

When I was called back to get my blood drawn at Long Island IVF, Nurse C greeted me with a serious look and the question: “Do you have your blood order?”

Here’s the backstory: CCRM faxed the blood order to Long Island IVF yesterday, and I called Long Island IVF to ensure that they had received that fax. They indeed had. All was well. But then I got to thinking: Is anything ever that simple? No. So I called CCRM and asked them (in a voicemail, always in a voicemail) if they could email me a copy of the blood order, so I could print it and bring it with me “just in case.”

“I do happen to have a copy,” I stammered to Nurse C, “but your clinic verified that you received the faxed version from CCRM yesterday.”

Nurse C wrinkled her nose and said, “We can’t find it anywhere in the system, and all faxed documents not in the system were shredded at the end of the day yesterday. So it’s most likely been shredded.”

“Oh.”

Good thing I freaking had a copy on me! Good thing I asked CCRM to email it to me, because they wouldn’t have done so without prompting. And I couldn’t have called CCRM, right then, to have them fax another order to Long Island IVF because in Denver, it was 5:30 a.m.!

Then the next bit of news. Nurse C looks down at the blood order and says: “We can do everything on here but the CBC. You can get the CBC at an outside lab….But I’m sorry to say that the chances of you getting it done STAT are very slim. That test takes a long time to run, and it’s the weekend…”

DH and I just looked at her. “What do you mean?” I said. “I called and verified with your clinic that you could do progesterone, estradiol, CBC, and ultrasound. I asked. You said yes.”

Nurse C wrinkled her nose again. “No, we can’t do CBCs. If we do that, and there’s a problem, we’re then responsible for your care. We can’t be responsible. You’ve got to go to another lab.”

I stood there in the bright light of the blood-draw room and started crying. I had anticipated all sorts of complications today, but this one came straight out of left field. I knew that the CBC was a blood count, and it was being ordered because I’m going to be taking Lovenox injections (a blood thinner). CCRM had written “STAT” next to CBC, so I figured it was just as crucial for them to receive today as the other tests.

“But I’m to start my stimulation tomorrow morning,” I said. I was crying freely now, unable to control it. “I need to buy my plane tickets today. I, I—”

They were asking me questions, trying to help me, but I literally stopped understanding what they were saying. “I asked for two weeks off of work. I can’t be held up because of this.”

“It might not affect the start of your stimulation,” Nurse C said, but her voice was far away.

I gave DH my phone and paperwork and said: “I can’t do this–please, take care of it.” Tears were streaming down my cheeks. I sat down and had my blood drawn. Then I was led to a room for my ultrasound. The ultrasound technician was absolutely gifted, and even though my left ovary was “hiding,” as usual, and very difficult to see, she found it without hurting me. I was thankful for that.

When we were done, Nurse C came in and said: “I fixed it.” But as she talked, I realized that that still did not mean they would do the CBC for me.

“To get you past the step of having to have CCRM fax you or Quest a new script for the CBC, I just photocopied this one and scratched out the tests we’ve already done. We found the nearest Quest lab for you and they’re taking walk-ins for another hour. So if you leave right now, you’ll make it there. Ask them if they can do it STAT, you never know–it’s marked STAT here…”

I thanked her and began to gather my things quickly when it occurred to me to ask: “How did my ultrasound go?”

“Everything looks great.”

That made me feel a little better.

DH and I very grimly and stiffly walked like soldiers to our car. We got in. He plugged in the address of the Quest lab in our GPS. We said very little, and I drove dangerously fast on a nearly empty tank of gas to the Quest lab, twenty minutes away.

When I opened the door to the waiting area, I saw rows and rows of people, scripts in their hands. The sign-in list where I wrote my name was filled to the brim. I quietly mentally put away my plans for the day—booking my plane ticket, getting a massage, packing.

We asked at the front desk if we would be able to get the CBC done STAT, and she said, “No, we send CBCs to a lab in New Jersey on Saturdays—the earliest they’d have the results would be Tuesday.”

Tuesday.

I called CCRM the minute it turned 9 a.m. here, knowing that at least one person would be in the office by 7 a.m. in Colorado. I broke through to their emergency line and explained what had happened. “Do you need the CBC to give me the go-ahead on my stimulation?”

The woman was not a nurse, and she did not know. “I’ll just have to leave a message for you,” she said cheerfully, “and a nurse will get back to you.”

More waiting. I couldn’t read, couldn’t talk. I just sat there as one by one the other people in the waiting area were called back. I wondered if there were any possibility whatsoever of getting the CBC done that day and sent to Colorado, or at the very least by extremely early tomorrow morning.

After what felt like hours, I was finally called back by a tall woman whose messy brown hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail. She smiled kindly when I walked through the door and said, “I’ll meetcha in Room 2, hon.”

When she came back to the room, she was looking at the blood order with a concerned expression. “All righty then, hmm, STAT, huh? Hmmm. I really don’t think we can…”

“Is there any way?” DH asked.

“Is there–” I said, and the tears started flowing again.

“Oh my goodness! Oh honey, don’t cry, don’t cry,” the woman said. She brought me tissues, the look of concern on her face now for me. Something about her kindness made me cry harder, and in that instant, I wasn’t just crying about the CBC. I was crying about everything—the miscarriages, the countless doctors appointments and blood draws, the incredible stress DH and I have experienced during the past two years, the herculean efforts we’ve exerted to make this CCRM plan work. It felt so damn good to cry! Soon, I was hyperventilating a little, like a child who has skinned her knee.

“Oh, you’re just the sweetest thing, aren’t you! Poor thing,” the lovely woman cooed. “Look at this. I’m highlighting STAT. See here? It’s highlighted. And we’re gonna get it done for you today. Don’t you worry. I’m going to call them right now and tell them to come pick it up. Okay?”

“You have no idea what this means to us,” DH said.

“Thank you!” I cried. “I’m sorry. It’s just been so stressful. Such a stressful morning.”

The woman had the phone at her ear already and was calling whoever it was she needed to call. “Don’t you worry! It’s going to get better. Just you wait and see. Everything is going to get better.” She was patting my hand.

I loved her.

It was not easy for her to make arrangements. It took a long time. But she did it. She did it! “We’re going to get this to your doctor today,” she said, smiling, and then she took my blood.

When we left, she was bent over her countertop, working on something—she was extremely busy, and she’d spent so much time on me—and I couldn’t restrain myself from hugging her from behind, and patting her shoulders.

I don’t even know her name!

“Everyone who works in health care should be exactly like that woman,” I said during the drive home. “There should be a test. She should be the standard.”

A little while later, I got a call from CCRM; turns out, it would have been fine if they got the CBC on Tuesday. It was the progesterone and estradiol that was crucial to receive today.

Sigh.

So! After all of that, I almost didn’t have the energy to worry about what the hormone results were going to be. I had a strong feeling everything was going to be okay, so I went ahead and booked a very reasonable one-way ticket to Denver on the 8th, one that would fit my injection schedule. Then DH and I fell in a heap inside a sunbeam on the hardwood floor and napped.

I ended up getting that massage, after all, and afterward, I got the call from CCRM: “Everything looks great and you can start your injections tomorrow.”

At last! Tomorrow morning, the adventure begins.

I wanted to take the time to write the story of today in detail because I think it is important to capture the stress and uncertainty women face when dealing with clinics, policies, orders, scripts, and so on. Everything is time sensitive. You have very little control or power when faced with health care rules and regulations and precautions and limitations. It’s hard to describe the experience other than to use that cliche, “roller coaster.” An anxiety-producing roller-coaster. Your stomach in knots, your hands perspiring, as you inch up and up each hill, not knowing what to expect when you get to the top—will you fly out of your seat and plummet to the water below, to drown? Or will you remain fastened securely in your seat as you crest that hill? When you scream on the way down, will it be in pain or in glee? You just don’t know what it’s going to be until you live it.

And women like that kind one at Quest are there to hold your hand through it.

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2 Comments

  1. Jen

     /  January 30, 2013

    Wow, exactly. The logistics and red tape are often more grueling than the treatments themselves. I just stumbled onto this blog tonight, and many of your words brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for your eloquence, and for taking the time to capture in writing what so many of us feel.

    Most people who haven’t been through this just can’t understand why the smallest thing can almost break you. The one thing I always try to remember now is that none of us know the burdens carried by others, so kindness and empathy should be extended as much as possible.

    I’m off to CCRM for IVF #4 (first with them) shortly, and I will be following your journey along the way. Good luck to you!

    Reply
    • Are you in Denver yet? I wish you the best of luck. We did not make it to transfer. Still not sure if the embryos are chromosomally normal (will find out around the 7th) but the embryos were too poor quality to transfer (Dr. Schoolcraft doesn’t transfer that grade of embryo). The logistics of going there seem kind of insane—the Day 3 kit, the calls, the travel arrangements—but of course if it works all of that will seem like nothing. Keep me posted on how things go for you, I will be rooting for you all the way!

      Reply

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