CD21 – IVF Cycle 1 – 6DP5DT – WTF Appointment

unser Wohl / CD21 – IVF Cycle 1 – 6DP5DT – WTF Appointment
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    After another big fat negative (BFN) on 5dp5dt, I panicked and contacted my general practitioner (GP) at my local health station. I don’t think Finland assigns GPs to patients, but I saw this doctor once, and I liked her, so I reach out to her directly whenever I have a health concern. She is British and allows me to vent about Finland’s backward healthcare system. I have some experience with the British healthcare system, as I summered once in Bath (I said that like I’m in a Jane Austen novel on purpose). I messaged her through Maisa, which is one of a thousand digital health platforms that exist in Finland where patients can keep track of their health status; I am exaggerating, of course, but each time I mention that I cannot find a record here or there, I get told of another platform where I may find it.

    I explained to her in the message that I had just gone through IVF (she knew, she generously ordered all the blood tests for me, allowing me to avoid paying for them through the private sector). I informed her that I felt it within my soul that I was not pregnant ( remembering that moment brings tears to my eyes). How did I know so certainly? I feel like it was the same way I knew every cycle I tried getting pregnant through IUI or naturally. I knew because I felt like aunt flo (AF) was coming. I knew because AF cramps feel different than the other symptoms I had been experiencing since the start of this process. I knew because I have had AF cramps for decades. AF cramps are light scratching on the lower abdomen; over a large surface, not just isolated spots. It’s a pain that radiates down the leg, mostly my right leg. It is back aching. It’s headaches that do not go away by drinking more water. It’s PMS, and I knew it. Maybe when/if I ever get pregnant, I will be able to say PMS symptoms are just like pregnancy symptoms, but since PMS symptoms are what I know, I knew on day five after my embryo transfer that aunt flo was coming that I was not pregnant.

    The end flashed in front of my eyes. No, just the end of my IVF journey. I only have one embryo frozen. I only have a little saving left. I don’t have a job. I am a self-funded Ph.D. student. I have given up on applying (no, begging for money). I have given up on the Ph.D. even though I haven’t informed my supervisor and the school. I need the residence permit to stay in Europe. I need to stay in Europe as it’s my best chance of having a baby on my own.

    I called the women’s hospital to ask about being seen in an emergency. You can only be seen by a gynecologist on the public side through referral, and you have to give your general doctor a convincing reason. I just knew “I just failed IVF” wasn’t a good enough reason. Or was it IVF that just failed me (weep! There is a reason I could not write this post on 5dp5dt.)* I woke up this morning (9dp5dt) thinking I’d gotten over the loss, silly me!). Anyway, I thought I might have better luck getting seen by a gynecologist if I went to the ER, but when I looked up the women’s hospital ER, it said that one had to call first to get cleared to come to the ER. I called. The woman on the phone asked me to assess my pain level on a scale of 1 to 10 (we’re talking about pain because I still had ovary pain, although my biggest ailment at the time was psychological). How do I assess my pain on a scale of 10 when I don’t know what level 10 pain feels like? Was it the level of pain I felt after I woke up from anesthesia after my myomectomy (open surgery to remove fibroids), peeing after the surgery, or is it more like labor pain, which I read is the worst kind of pain, but which I have never experienced. If level 10 pain is like peeing after a myomectomy, I was probably at level 2, but I told the nurse 5 (weep). However, 5 was not the correct number. She gave me the same generic, robotic response that I too often get from a healthcare professional who doesn’t give a f**ck, “every woman who has had IVF experiences ovary pain” (really, all the same?). “We don’t consider this an emergency. You just have to wait for it to go away”. When I persisted that it was affecting my daily life, she said, “Well, you can always make a follow up appointment with your fertility clinic.” I said, it’s a private clinic; an appointment will set me back 300 euros. She didn’t care, I can’t remember what nonsense she spewed at me, but there was some faux compassion, I think. I got off the phone thinking; I am not paying 300 euros for a WHAT THE F**CK (WTF) appointment (google it!).

    That’s when I decided to message my GP, knowing she could do nothing. She responded within the hour. She ordered a pregnancy beta test and scheduled an appointment to see her the following day. I had the blood drawn that afternoon (5dp5dt) even though I was concerned it was too early. The nurse told me I’d get the results that afternoon, so I was restless all afternoon. I was calmer than in the morning, maybe because the fear of the unknown was less present since I would know soon. The results never came. When I woke up on 6dp5dt, a notification that the results were on Maisa was in my inbox. I checked; my beta HCG levels were less than 2 ui/l, and pregnancy levels are above 5 ui/l. I felt nothing!

    I had my WTF appointment with my GP. It was therapeutic. I cried. She was understanding. She was disparaging about the Finnish healthcare system, mainly that the women’s hospital is not going to care about an almost 40 years old woman trying to conceive by taking a look at my embryos to see if they were viable in the first place (In response to me expressing doubts about my fertility clinic’s credibility– my way of blaming everyone, everything except my body). I have not reproduced the doctor’s words verbatim, but it did mention my age and the women’s hospital not caring. Her statement was well-meaning and more of a critique of the Finnish healthcare system than her saying I am a lost cause because I am nearly 40. She also made a statement about the hospital using my recent relationship as a reason to deny my referral for public fertility treatment in October as them looking for any reasons to deny me. I think she’s just as disillusioned by the system as I am. She’s on my side. She’s referred me again, even though it will be a year since I had been in a “relationship” just two months before my 40th birthday, and there is a slim chance that the women’s hospital will accept the referral. Maybe one day, I’ll explain the referral system in another post. I left her office with hope, at least, and the confirmation that I was not pregnant.

    Finland has no avenue for someone going through what I went through on 5dp5dt. Does the US?; the UK? I wish I knew. I’d freaking move there. I want to live where women really get support, not just on paper or rhetorics to get elected, but actual quantifiable support that one can write about.

    This Post was written on CD25 – 9DP5DT (AKA CD1 of the next cycle).

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