I re-started my round of doctors’ office visits last week. A new ob-gyn – a new attempt at explaining my unexplainable tangled mess of medical history, religious views, and philosophical conundrums. This visit was vastly superior to my last attempt to deal with the fertility issues: the doctor was recommended to me by someone who goes to church with her, meaning she was much more understanding of my moral objections to most fertility treatments. In addition, she took the time to listen to me. She spent 45 minutes with me, just listening. She actually listened to everything I had to say. Doctors so seldom spend time listening….but since she did, I feel like I can trust her. And an equally exciting factor? I scheduled the appointment online! I HATE dealing with front desk staff on the phone. I’m to the point where I nearly have a panic attack when I know I have to call somewhere to make an appointment; no matter how often I repeat that I’m severely hearing impaired and I need the person to speak more slowly and more clearly, only about 1 in 20 receptionist does what I ask. Instead, most front desk people get frustrated with ME, and start speaking to me like I’m a total idiot who is wasting their time and ruining their day. I hate feeling like my hearing loss is a burden on other people. I hate thinking about how I used to be able to hear, I used to be able to make phone calls with no problems, I used to be Hearing. So the ability to make an appointment online – not have to spend time begging a receptionist to be patient with me – not having to ask someone to repeat something sixteen times – was a godsend.
Despite the auspicious beginning, the doctor confronted me with two unfortunate facts:
1. It is highly unlikely, given the endometriosis and other considerations, that I will be able to get pregnant in any “natural” way. If I want to get pregnant, I will need some kind of “artificial assistance”, like Clomid.
2. The options I’ve already been given: birth control, LupronDepot, or fertility treatments, are really and truly the only options available for treating my endometriosis. If I don’t do anything the endometriosis pain will continue to worsen.
I already knew these facts, really, but she put them much more bluntly. At the same time, she accepted that it is not an easy decision, nor something that someone else can decide for me. Unlike my previous ob-gyn, she did not insist on one treatment, nor accuse me of pill-seeking if I decide that palliative care for menstrual cramps is a better option than the menopause-inducing LupronDepot. She also admitted that none of the options are “good” options – the cause and progress of endometriosis aren’t understood well enough for a definitive “cure” to have been developed.
Although my mental health has improved dramatically since my near-nervous-breakdown last summer, I m still overwhelmed by the continuing decisions facing me. None of the options are good options! None of the treatments are good treatments!! Palliative pain-relief care has obvious drawbacks, not just because it leaves me experiencing pain, but also because untreated endometriosis can cause more scarring that can worsen my fertility potential. LupronDepot induces temporary menopause, complete with mood swings, depression, insomnia, dizziness, hot flashes, etc. etc. (Sounds great, sign me up!!) Considering I’ve already been struggling with depression and insomnia because of the infertility, neither my GP nor my husband nor I think that increasing these things sounds like a good idea! And dizziness? When I’ve already got these weird vestibular migraines (maybe – or maybe it’s a tumor on my auditory nerve!), increasing my chances of vertigo and debilitating dizziness is not something I’d like to experience. On the other side of treatments, I could start fertility treatments – except that I have grave moral and religious objections to anything more serious than Clomid, and the ob-gyn says my chances for success on the Clomid aren’t high, because of all the other things.
So where do I go from here? This isn’t where I intended to be….I still don’t know how desperately I want children. I don’t know how to even start making these decisions. I don’t know how to face these very real and very complicated issues. I’m glad set it all aside for the last six months, and philosophically, that’s still what I think about fertility. But – I don’t know how to reconcile moral views on fertility with the necessary treatment of a real disease like endometriosis. The whole mess is intensely overwhelming.
In the meantime, I’m going to concentrate on my dissertation….reading and writing about medieval Latin charters has got to be less stressful than all of this!