All or nothing

It’s been over a month since I last posted. I didn’t plan for such a long break. My mind has just been racing so much, I’ve been finding it hard to put my thoughts into intelligible sentences. I’ll try harder now.

These past 3+ years of trying to grow our family, I estimate I’ve met with about 10 different Ob/Gyns and REs and 4 different GPs (not including the countless doctors I’ve met with at hospital ’emergency’ consultations – usually follow-ups from miscarriages -, as those must have been close to 20).

Prior to this, my experience with doctors in this country, in over 6 years, consisted of one bad case of stomach flu and one strong cold. So, I could say I had very little familiarity with the health care system or even the local culture surrounding health care.

I had plenty of experience, though, in my own home country. I’ve had more than my fair share of illnesses and ailments throughout my childhood and teenage years, many serious enough doctors were afraid I wouldn’t make it out alive.

My first serious condition was a strong pneumonia when I was about 4 months old. Since then, my paediatrician was aware of my deficient immune system and tried all he could to avoid serious infections. I had extra doses of the normal vaccines, plasma transfusions and weekly injections. Seeing doctors, having my blood draw and taking painful penicillin injections were so routine to me as early as age 4, I didn’t realise it wasn’t so for everyone else.

Despite my doctor’s best efforts, I had almost all common childhood diseases: from chickenpox to rubella, mumps and even whooping cough, among many others – most of which I’d been vaccinated against. Each time I’d spend days or weeks in bed, mostly unconscious and burning with fever; much stronger reactions than other kids, including my siblings, had to the same diseases. I missed so many school days every year, I was legally required to fail; but being first in my class despite it all, my teachers would usually fake my attendance card so I was allowed to pass grade.

My mum struggled a lot, taking care of my sister and I, looking after my older (half-) siblings and working full-time, while my father travelled for work, up to weeks at a time. It wasn’t easy on her, but it wasn’t easy on myself either. Besides these diseases, I’d commonly fall ill with serious throat infections and bronchitis. Or, I’d get skin infections from staph or strep bacteria, which were both painful and quite disgusting looking, so not the best for a teenager’s self-esteem.

My paediatrician used to say all would go away by the time I got married. He was quite right. I got better and stronger each year, and today most people can only see a perfectly healthy young woman; they find it hard to believe my childhood stories.

Stories such as the time I was 6 years old and had a routine blood test; however, for the first time on a new lab. Upon results, the lab contacted my mum asking to rerun the tests as they believed I had leukaemia. My mum panicked, but my paediatrician took over, explaining to the lab there’s nothing to worry about, these were my ‘normal’ levels.

Or when a year after that, having been through several plasma transfusions, my doctor contacted my mum saying they’d been notified some of the blood from these lots were contaminated with HIV and I needed to get tested. We immediately set off several thousand kilometres by plane, as in those years – mid to late 80’s – HIV testing was only available on two labs around the country. When we finally met with the doctor who was taking my blood sample, he examined me and told my mum: “We’re going to do the test, but given her appearance (I was extremely skinny and ill-looking) and immune deficiency history, it’ll just be pro forma, as I’m sure she’s positive“.

It took about a week to get the results. I was only 7 then, but clearly remember this time. We’re staying at my aunt’s, and the days between that examination and the final result my mum spent locked up in the bedroom, crying, while my aunt tried to distract me. I couldn’t understand why my mum couldn’t look at me straight. Results finally came and were negative. The irresponsible doctor got quite an earful from my mum and we went back home, carrying on.

By age 15, I was regularly travelling across the country by myself to see an asthma and allergy specialist. It’s accurate to say, thus, I have plenty of experience discussing health matters with doctors, even from a young age. Being the ever curious child and teenager, I was used to asking all kinds of questions to physicians, genuinely interested in understanding my condition in particular and the human body in general. My doctors always answered me in a polite and encouraging way. I never had reasons to doubt them.

After months of unsuccessfully trying to conceive, I went to see an Ob/Gyn to attest whether I was regularly ovulating, since my cycles were getting longer and longer and I had been warned of possibly having PCOS in my teenage years, due to my polycystic-looking ovaries and very strong, irregular menses.

I went to this first consultation armed with questions and requests, given my past experience with my own health care in my home country. This doctor, however, got easily offended by my (in my head, innocent) questions and was rude from day one. I couldn’t understand what I could have been doing so wrong.

About 4 months later, in the third appointment, he told me all my blood tests were normal and suggested to do a HSG to check my tubes since it had been about a year I’d stopped birth control. I was feeling so frustrated with the slow pace of testing here, I asked him to also check my progesterone levels at 7dpo, to confirm ovulation and make sure there was no luteal phase issues. This request was received by the doctor as an unexpected threat, to which he responded by getting up from his chair and yelling at me. I was so shocked with his reaction to what I perceived as a simple question, I didn’t know what to do but cry, sobbing heavily, while he continued screaming at my face for a good 10 minutes.

After I wiped my tears and found strength to politely share I was worried about having been intermittently bleeding for over a week, since around ovulation, and that the bleeding was becoming stronger, he dismissed me and told me I worry too much and should just go home and wait for the HSG appointment in a month from then.

Unsatisfied with his treatment and knowing my body, I decided to take a pregnancy test a few days later, since the bleeding wouldn’t stop. It was positive. That was my first pregnancy and it turned out to be ectopic. Had I followed his advice and blindly waited for a month, most likely my tube would have burst and I would have undergone a much more dangerous emergency surgery.

But when I returned to his office for another scan, after my HCG result had come back at 10000 even though no pregnancy was seen in the uterus two days prior, the midwife was certain the pregnancy was ectopic. She went out to speak to the doctor, but he never even came out to see us. He didn’t offer us any words of compassion, nor did he apologise for ignoring my concerns. He let it all in the hands of the midwife. I never saw him again since that yelling episode.

I wish I could say his behaviour was an exception, but it turned out to be a cautionary tale of what I would encounter from then on. Most doctors we saw were not compassionate, dismissed all of my worries and questions and were downright rude. Maybe it’s all a big cultural misunderstanding, but my experience have been disappointing at best.

It’s only to be expected, then, that after 3 years of such treatment, I started getting used to it, stopped asking too many questions and accepted whatever was thrown my way, even when I didn’t quite understand the doctor’s logic or didn’t quite agree with it. I was tired and defeated.

My faith in the medical community and in my own gut was restored a month ago, at last.

I booked a free 10-minute Skype consultation with Dr. Braverman but didn’t get my hopes too high. I thought 10 minutes were not enough to even go through someone’s full history, so this free consultation was probably more of a publicity stunt than a real doctor’s opinion.

It turned out it was nothing like I expected. He seemed genuinely interested in our history, asking several questions and not at all rushing the consultation. I was amazed how every question he asked me, every frustration he shared with the local doctors’ actions and answers, were the exactly same ones I’ve had all these years. It was as if he was reading from my notebook of unanswered questions. But not only that, every explanation or theory he shared was based on rational thinking and logic. His approach to medicine was ultimately scientific, which is what I’ve been missing all this time. When we finished the call, I only had one thought in my head: this was the doctor I’ve been looking for all these years.

I’m not here to say he’s the right doctor for everyone and I can’t even comment on his treatment as he hasn’t treated me yet, but his attitude was exactly what I would expect from a competent doctor, one I could really trust. My husband was equally positively impressed. If this was a publicity stunt, it certainly worked on us.

Although we were so excited by this initial consultation, when we received the full fee schedule from the clinic, we had to take time to think it through. He charges extra fees throughout the pregnancy, which combined with testing fees and treatment costs abroad (Spain) can quickly add up and drain out all our savings before we get our much waited baby. It took us several weeks of talks and thinking over to come to a decision.

We finally decided to go ahead with the initial testing and diagnosis with him. This much we can afford, and I really need a complete diagnosis at this point, for my peace of mind. After getting his results and treatment recommendation, we can then decide whether to go ahead and follow his treatment plan or continue with the (much cheaper) doctors here.

We’re both tired and in need of a clear path forward. We’re ready to give our all. It’s all or nothing now.



27 thoughts on “All or nothing

  1. Wow your Ob/Gyn sounded so horrible! What was his problem, seriously. Thankfully you didn’t ignore your symptoms and got checked out. I wonder if the costs in Spain are similar to Germany? Here’s it’s about €4000+ for one ivf cycle, but most health insurances pay around half.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I still can’t understand why such a rude doctor decides to work with infertility, of all medical specialities. I mean, it’s well document how stressful infertility is, he should expect frustrated patients! Costs in Spain are similar, it seems. We’re were quoted €4000+ for a fresh cycle. We won’t be able to use any insurance though, so it’s all self-paid…


  2. I am so sorry that you had bad experience with the unprofessional doctors. Few months back, when i went back to see my regular RE (I had 2 losses under her), she asked me if she did d&c for me or not. She was so unsure and i was surprised. She is the one who did d&c for me and also suggested me for gestational carrier. Wierd right?. I am so happy that you are going to Dr Braverman. I am in reproductive immunology protocol with Dr Kwak Kim and its promising so far. I hope I can update you soon with great outcomes!😊All the best friend!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I stopped expecting doctors to remember or even read my file prior to a consultation. Every time I have to explain everything from the start… so tiring…
      I’m so glad things are going well with Dr. KK for you! I hope you get great news soon! 🙂 How about those liver tests? Any news?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, i know!. Our case is one among 100 for them. So why do they care!. So far so good with Dr KK’s protocol. Hoping to get a good news soon❤️. Liver tests came back to 110 and then yesterday to 52 from 264. Less than 40 isnormal. It was scary!. Dr confirmed that it is not due to blood thinning lovenox injections. So i am happy!😊. Preparing for another immuno suppressant ivig infusion coming monday!.


  3. 😦 You have had it so rough, from Day 1. It has made you such a tough lady. I am so sorry that you have had awful luck with the OBs you have seen. I would have made a report of the Dr who screamed and you AND neglected you! There is no other way to describe what he did than unprofessional and neglectful, and I hope that no one gets hurt under his ‘care’.

    I have heard many great things of Dr. Braverman. It’s too bad that it is so expensive. I hope that the diagnostic plan gives you some answers, and I hope that there is an easy treatment that can be done by a local doctor (A nicer one I hope!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words! I’m not sure how tough I am, RPL is certainly trying to break me… My husband wanted to report that doctor too, but we later heard from a neighbour whom had been his patient too that he has received repeated complaints for similar reasons, and I had more urgent things to worry about (ectopic pregnancy). I hope he learns his lesson soon.
      Dr. Braverman’s fees are not cheap for sure, but I really hope it will be worth it! Thanks for your support!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are tougher than you think. We all are.

        It took me a while to realize it, because RPL has broken me, but as a young adult I would think “If I found out I couldn’t have kids, I would just drive off of a cliff” I seriously had that exact thought and probably even said that (that was way before even meeting B, just a general comment I had) But here I am. 5 losses and an unfixable diagnosis later, and I’m still here. I am not in great shape, but the thing I always thought would kill me, hasn’t.

        And you are still here too. Fighting. And sharing the journey with the rest of us. You are a lot tougher than you give yourself credit for girl.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am in shock at how awful that Doctor is. Honestly sometimes I am so confused why people become doctors, especially if they have no compassion for others. I’m glad things with Dr. B went well initially and I hope he’s able to help you out. Good luck!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I hope he can help me too, or at least give me some answers. I also don’t understand why that man decided to become a doctor, and especially a fertility specialist! We heard many other patients complained about his behaviour, so I hope he will rethink his attitude.
      I’m so happy for your great news! Congrats again!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am so sorry for what you’ve been through over the years. Like you, we finally also decided to do the testing with Dr. Braverman. We got an answer, so it was worth every single penny we spent travelling internationally to see him. In the end, his treatment plan was simply too expensive given the travel and uninsured treatments that would be required, locally we could not get the treatment he required for us to increase our chances of success. So we chose adoption and it’s the best decision we’ve ever made. And, I credit him with finding us an answer and allowing us to choose our path to parenthood without regret. (Please know, I’m not suggesting you will be the same way, just wanted to share our experience).
    I wish you the absolute best! And enjoy the trip to visit him! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, I really appreciate your support and hearing of your experience. I hope we can soon have a clear path forward too. But we won’t travel to the US to see Dr. B, we will be having Skype consults and we will be monitored by a doctor in Spain who has worked with him several times before. We will enjoy our trip to Barcelona, though! 🙂
      Hope you get better from this nasty lung infection soon and back to baby snuggles!


  6. You have been through so much and I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with all of that. That OB/GYN sounds horrifying – there is simply no excuse for a doctor to treat a patient like that ever. I’m glad you’ve found a doctor that is working well with you and good luck with your testing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You certainly have gone through a lot…too much really. I’m glad you are finding peace with talking with Dr. B. I truly appreciate the Dr.’s that actually listen and look at you as an individual…not like everyone else(because we are ALL different..and need different protocols and tests). best of luck with your initial consultation…so excited to hear what they can find out and bring you one step closer to your child!! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your support. We have all been through a lot, you certainly haven’t had an easy journey! You’re so right when you say we need individual care, this is exactly what I’ve been missing. I’m so glad I found a doctor I trust now!
      I hope everything is going great with your babies and sister! Looking forward to an update from you soon!


  8. That’s fantastic – glad you have a way forward. One thing I wanted to check – are you in Spain? The stuff I’m doing right now with Dr S is in London and is from what I can see, quite similar to Dr Braverman (reproductive immunology) so if you need any recommendations closer to Europe, let me know. I can let you know details of costs and tests if you drop me a line. Either way, fantastic news that you have a way forward after such a tough time with your previous docs. X

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I’m in Scandinavia, actually. I’ve considered Dr. S in London, but ultimately we decided to go with Dr. Braverman as we thought he had the most comprehensive testing (it really is all or nothing 🙂 ). We’re going to Spain to Braverman’s affiliate there, so we don’t need to travel so far to the US. But I think you’re in great hands and hope Dr. S’s protocol will work for you! Hugs


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  10. I didn’t see this when you originally posted it, so I wanted to pop back on and read. First of all, I am so sorry you had to go through all of that in your childhood! And I cannot believe how much of an a-hole that OBGYN was to you. That is inexcusable. And thirdly, I am so, so, so happy you did the phone consult with Braverman. I really do believe that man is a genius, and he genuinely cares about his patients. I don’t think the man stops working ever–I’m not sure he sleeps. The fees are CRAZY, I agree, but I also agree with you that having an accurate diagnosis is priceless. For me, he was a miracle doctor, and for many others as well. He still listens to my concerns and advocates for me even now, even though I haven’t been in his care since I was 10 weeks (I’m 32 weeks now). Anyway, I’m so glad you talked to him and are getting all the bloodwork. If you friend request him on Facebook, you can read stories and see photos of people that he has helped. They fill me with so much hope. Now I’m going to pop back over and read your post from today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And OMG completely irrelevant to your post, but I just realized I’m not 32 weeks like I said above–I’m only 31 weeks. I guess my anxiety is causing me to convince myself I’m further along than I am, eesh.


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