My Amendment to H.R. 1628

Thanks to the behind-closed-doors method the Senate is using to try to pass TrumpCare, you now have the opportunity to request that your personal health care premiums not increase by any passing of the bill.  You submit your amendment and ultimately your Senator can decide whether or not to bring it up for inclusion in the bill.  It is then introduced, read, debated, and voted on.  You can learn about the whole process at http://www.ouramendments.org and submit your personalized amendment there.

Some of the essential agreements of the amendment are:

  • [your name] shall not experience a rise in health insurance premiums or a reduction in premium tax credit or assistance with paying cost-sharing.
  • [your name] shall not experience any annual or lifetime limits on coverage; or higher costs due to a pre-existing condition as defined in Section 2705 of the Public Health Services Act.
  • [your name] shall not experience the loss of coverage of any Essential Health Benefits as defined in Section 1302 of the Affordable Care Act or have to pay more in premiums or cost-sharing for coverage including all Essential Health Benefits.

Pre-existing conditions include things like asthma, cancer, and infertility.

Essential Health Benefits include pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care, as well as prescription drugs, lab services, preventive and wellness checks, pediatric services, hospitalization, and emergency care.

I ask you to protect yourself from losing coverage and seeing your premiums increase due to the tax breaks the TrumpCare bill will give to big businesses, like pharmaceutical companies.  Submit your own amendment.  And if you’re up for it, submit your personal story for your Senator to enter into the congressional record, as I did.  For inspiration, here’s what I submitted:

I am a mother of two with a preexisting condition that affected my fertility, a condition which wasn’t discovered until after my doctors declared I was infertile and put me through a battery of tests. I have a Mullerian anomaly – a unicornuate uterus – which means I was born with only one half of my uterus. As a result, many infertility treatments were not feasible due to my congenital abnormality, and I had a high rate of miscarriage as well. When I finally had a viable pregnancy, the fetus suffered from intrauterine growth restriction and was breech. Due to this high risk pregnancy, I had twice-weekly ultrasounds to ensure my baby was growing and healthy. I also had the additional burden of a C-section due to the breech position. I cannot imagine going through this ordeal without the provisions afforded women by Obamacare. I write today on behalf of women everywhere who might have an undiagnosed preexisting condition like mine to respectfully urge the Senate to keep protections for preexisting conditions, to keep funding for essential programs for low-income women like Planned Parenthood, and to keep healthcare affordable by not giving tax cuts to the wealthiest members and businesses.

If you’re so inclined, go ahead and comment with your amendment as well.

I realize it’s not exactly popular for me to have taken a political slant with my blog.  Most of you are probably just curious about what it was like for me to go through everything, and maybe it helps you feel less alone and gives you hope for building your family in whatever capacity that means for you, which brings me such great joy.  Although my infertility struggles are over, I see my role now to be a role model for others, to share everything I learned from the process, and to ensure women are empowered with the information they need to make the best decisions they can for themselves and their (future) families.  That means letting you know when major legislation affecting how infertility, prenatal, and pediatric care might be decreased (or increased!) and giving you the tools to help do something about it.  You may not agree with me, but it does not change the fact that I will continue to advocate for policies that will benefit you through the lens of infertility.  Even if I no longer have a personal need to benefit from those policies.  Maybe that’s just the mom in me.

*I’m not a professional protester, and I have not been paid or hired to write this post.

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This Bud’s for you, kidney

Since I was first diagnosed with UU and it was even suggested that I might have one kidney, I’ve been trying to make the most of the situation using some self-depricating humor, mostly with my husband but occassionally with a friend aware of my situation. While I’ve been trying to conceive for 18 months I’ve stayed relatively far away from the alcohol, or only imbibed when I knew I was in the clear for that cycle. My family makes it difficult because they really like to drink, and suddenly refusing to have alcohol in their company would probably raise a few eyebrows and give me looks of disapproval, much less start the gossip mill. And the last thing I need is my grandmother on the phone asking “Any news?” more than she already does every week.

Anyway, it’s pretty rare that I have a drink and I’ve become a cheap date because of it. And instead of cheering, “Down the hatch!” I would say something like, “Get to work, one good kidney!” I know for some people that may not be funny, but for me in order to get through this you have to have a sense of humor about it all. 

When I found out the results of my MRI, that indeed I have a left-side unicornuate uterus, 2 ovaries, and 2 kidneys, I had two glasses of wine that night – one for each kidney to work on. Keep up the good work, guys!

MRI = Satellite radio and yoga mudra

I ventured into yet another hospital today to complete my MRI exam and fulfill some bloodwork. I arrived a little bit early but was taken right away into the main radiology area. I waited no longer than 10 minutes anywhere before meeting with someone; in fact, it felt like instant service. I’d never been to this hospital before but it’s not known to be one of the area’s best; rather, it leads a quiet, forgotten existence tucked away behind a highway. But not being able to get through half a Simple & Delicious magazine before meeting with the radiology technician? This place doesn’t seem that bad.

First I went to complete my MRI. The fertility clinic had scheduled the appointment and told me it was for 10am; yesterday the hospital called and told me it was 10:30am. So I arrived for 10am, because hey, I have the time and I’d rather be settled in and waiting than anxiously driving to the place. I expected to wait a little before my appointment, but no, they took me right away. Between a painless registration and two friendly nurses walking me down to the MRI, I was surprised how fast they were taking me back. What service! Then I met with the MRI technician, who needed some clarification about why I was having the procedure. I don’t know if that’s hospital standard procedure, but this is where my months of research into having a potential unicornuate uterus (there’s that darn hope again!) came in handy. “I’m here to have my uterus scanned and my kidneys scanned.” “Why do they need your kidneys?” “Because I was diagnosed with a unicornuate uterus” – blank stare from technician (male) – “which means I have half a uterus, and usually people with my condition also have one kidney.” “Have you had any problems until now that would make them suspect you have only one kidney?” “No.” “Oh.” The insinuation being that if it hasn’t been bothering me, why check it out? But I was not going to have to go through all of this not to find out if I had one kidney or not. Haven’t I waited long enough?

The MRI was not as frightening as many people make it out to be. I’m not claustrophobic but it is a rather small machine, so I can see why the worry. I wore two hospital gowns and socks, and they offered me a blanket but the room was warm enough. I had headphones on with satellite radio pumped into them (on a station of my choosing). The technician propped a wedge pillow under my knees. A fan blew fresh air over me; my head and feet were both sticking out of the machine. The sun filtered in from the high windows, lighting up the room and warming up my toes. The noise of the machine would give me slight pulsating sensations in my body, almost like a massage. While most people hear “don’t move” and panic, I dug into my yoga mudra practice and relaxed. Just be. Just lay here and do nothing. Just breathe…

It probably took between 30-40 minutes to do both scans, but with the music and the technician telling me every few minutes “This one’s only 4 minutes long,” the time went by quickly.  After the MRI, I felt extremely relaxed (probably from all that slow, deep breathing). I went down the hallway to the laboratory area and again, within 10 minutes I was helped. And this is where I had the most, shall we say, interesting reaction to my declaration of a unicornuate uterus…

A trip to the RE

Tomorrow I go for my MRI. You would think I would have had one already to find out if I have two kidneys or not, or to get a better shape of my uterus. My OB/GYN’s office told me my insurance wouldn’t approve an MRI unless I had the ultrasound first.

Remember that my OB/GYN’s response to my ultrasound images was, “Everything looks normal.  Proceed as usual.” She assumed I would get pregnant before we had to meet again. But we’ve had two follow-ups since and still nothing.

So last week I had my first appointment at an RE, at one of the fertility clinics nearby. Having tried some of the holistic services at a competing fertility clinic (which is both a clinic and a mind/body center), I only had an image of clinics as being moneymaking houses reeking of excess.  My OB/GYN recommended the one that I went to, which made me a little trepidatious given her previous judgement of my treatment. But in my hour-long appointment with Mr. Hope I actually felt a little relieved, that maybe I was actually in good, capable, knowledgeable hands.

This place was not as flashy as the other clinic – it certainly didn’t have travertine tile floors, a Keurig, and a fireplace in the waiting area. Instead, it’s a brand new building with modest decorations, comfortable couches, and a no-fragrance policy. Once inside, our vitals were checked and then we met with a physician’s assistant. The main doctor of the practice is booked until mid-April, but because I’m new the nurses made sure I had an appointment with the PA sooner rather than later. She went over our histories and the images of my HSG, and what she told me brought me right back to square one, where I had been in September.

Among my short-term recommendations: to stop using clomid, to get an MRI to make sure I have both kidneys and to get a better picture of the uterus, to get initial bloodwork and a month of monitoring to see how my ovaries function on their own, and then to wait to meet with the doctor. Before we left, Mr. Hope gave 3 vials of blood. I have already been warned I will give much, much more than that.

Haven’t I given enough?