“Everything feels normal” and other lies

OK, I’ll give you that the first stage of grief is denial.  It would not be an unusual reaction to any negative news, therefore, to immediately think, “That can’t be right.”  But when I was blindsided by my UU diagnosis back in September I actually began to have serious doubts about all the other health care practitioners I had ever come into contact with.

Having moved several times, I have been to about 4 or 5 different OB/GYNs or primary care practitioners until that point.  And each one of them during my annual examination would say, “Everything seems normal.”  I distinctly remember one doctor pushing on my pelvis very hard with the butt of her hand, saying, “There’s an ovary…  and there’s an ovary.”  How could so many doctors have gotten it “wrong?”  How could they tell me everything was normal and later discover everything wasn’t?

Of course they were right about my having two ovaries; it still seems doubtful that’s something they can feel from the outside of the body.  I’m sure there really is no practical way to identify if there were two “horns” during a physical examination.  So they weren’t wrong, not at least about that.  But that example just exemplifies the lack of information, awareness, and proactive treatment of infertility in the medical profession.  Infertility is a problem that you don’t look for until there is a problem.  But with a statistic like 1 in 6 couples of reproductive age experiencing infertility, shouldn’t we be advocating for a little more proactive and aggressive diagnoses?  Maybe if I had known at 26 when I got married that I was a UU I might not have waited to try knowing what I know now about my chances of getting pregnant naturally.

I don’t think it’s fair to say that the doctors didn’t know what they were doing when they were giving me their clean bill of health, so to speak.  The x-ray was only first discovered in the late 1800s, and so in the last hundred years how much further have we really come in finding ways to unintrusively examine the body?  Ultrasounds (now in 3D and 4D) and sonography, CT scans, and MRIs – and that’s it.  Genetic research has been around since the 1960s but only in the last twenty years have we “unlocked” the human genome.  Modern medical research is stymied by political agendas, big pharmaceutical company lock-outs, and expensive rigorous testing for approval, a process that could take several years.  I am nearly as old as the first “test-tube baby,” born in 1978.  Reproductive endocrinology is still a fairly young science, and with all the information doctors need to keep track of nowadays it’s no wonder that screening for congenital anomalies and other causes of infertility aren’t exactly on the top list of priorities for doctors.

Even still, it’s hard to have faith in going to anyone but a specialist – if only to save yourself the time of having to run through the details of your own diagnosis and its implications for your treatment.  There’s no denying that.

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