Saturday, January 3, 2009

IVF: When professional and personal collide

As I sit here at work, I am reflecting on downsides of being a physician going through the IVF thrill ride.

Perhaps the most invasive is that it seems that everywhere we go recently we bump into one of our many physicians. A few weeks before Christmas we went to a holiday party attended by mostly academic types (more PhDs than MDs) for the medical school's anatomy department.

I do a bit of teaching for them and we ordinarily enjoy this particular party since it is a diverse crowd as far as these things go (physicians from multiple departments, PhDs from several areas). The first thing our host greeted us with was "Wasn't there someone pregnant at your table last year?" hinting that it might have been us. NO! IT WASN'T US!! He went after this line of questioning a few more times before we were able to successfully derail him onto another topic.

While appetizers were served, the host selected faculty to give short speeches. This year we were shocked when the RE scheduled to do Mo's retrieval stood up. He hadn't seen Mo during her monitoring and wouldn't have known who we were, but we definitely recognized him just the same. It's hard to remember what he said exactly, something about the beauty of the female pelvis and enjoying having the chance to work with the medical students because they remind him why he went into medicine.

After this I was selected to speak and was a bit dumbfounded to say the least. We had to leave the dinner early to make it home for the exact timing of Mo's HCG trigger shot. As we said our goodbyes, the RE gave us a big smile and shook our hands. Fortunately, Mo's personal RE made a surprise appearance at her retrieval, saving her the discomfort of comparing the carpaccio to the arugula salad with her legs suspended in OR stirrups.

That same night there was another dinnermate, a slightly wacky surgeon who kept saying he had to leave but managed to singlehandedly polish off the entire table's antipasta platter. As we left the retrieval the next morning, lo and behold we saw him down the hospital hallway with a gaggle of medical students and residents. I could see he spotted us and I tried to quickly divert us to the service elevators (no small feat since Mo was still feeling the effects of the conscious sedation). Luckily we avoided him, not that it would have mattered but I just wasn't up for post-party chatter, and who knows what Mo might have said.

Another social event we enjoy is an annual medical charity concert at Carnegie Hall (this is the only charity we are ever invited to - perhaps someone's error?). This year we were fortunate to see both my urologist (of Rocket fame) and Mo's OB/GYN (of you-don't-need-anesthesia-for-your-D&Cs fame). Quite the gang to gather for a little music. There is just something awkward about knowing that the guy sipping a martini next to us had his fingers up my (well, you know). And for Mo to have to stand in her little black dress near the OB who scraped out her uterus oh-so-painfully. It's disconcerting to say the least. Are they thinking the same thing? Nah. Luckily, professionalism still reigns.

We were seated in the balcony, giving us the all-too-tempting opportunity to launch Jujubes (particularly at Mo's OB, who we've both grown to dislike). Alas, other than making snide comments to each other, we remained respectable.

I recently selected a new primary care physician. I chose him because he is, in many ways, unlike most of the physicians at my hospital. His office is in a nondescript midtown office building and he is a believer in alternative medicine in addition to traditional Western medicine. At our first meeting I told him that I was looking for a physician who was outside of my normal work interactions, someone I felt completely comfortable with. He looked at me, smiled, and nodded knowingly. I am the patient and he is my physician. I kind of like stepping out of my work shoes and being heard as a regular Joe.

Best wishes to everyone for a healthy and productive 2009. 2008 had its highs and lows but I am ready to hit the ground running.



  1. And I thought it was bad when I ran into someone I work with in the hospital just as I was turning into the clinic!

  2. That has to be awkward - that first comment about someone being pregnant at your table was over the top. I am happy for Mo that you are so supportive as a hubby.

  3. I too work in the medical field and my RE's office is now part of the group that I work with (it's complicated but, I went to this RE before I had the job, then got the job later). So it's nice, because I have a short commute to the RE office (across the road), but it will be awkward when I run into the board members... hasn't happened yet but, I know it will... le sigh.

  4. Oh my -- that's just too much! Thanks for sharing that kooky tale. Cheers to 2009!

  5. it is kind of weird. my RE lives around the corner from me. One of my NP colleagues' husband is a new OB fellow and my case was presented to him at grand rounds...he knew that it was me b/c of some of the information that i had shared with his wife. the head RE at my clinic did the PCO guest lecture for my class this semester. and i taught one of the nurse's daughters in school. (she actually gave me several hugs during the grad ceremony--no other parent did that). then there are always the other people that you know--"say, what are you doing in this area? do you have a patient here?"

    it is kind of weird. i picked an off-site PCP for the same reason :)

  6. Oy vey. I cannot even imagine.

  7. my gosh, great post. So nice to know that I am not the only one that tries to balance work and life and that some of you have a much trickier road to navigate between the professional and the private. Yikes.

    I am jealous of your new PCP.

  8. Wow, I can't imagine how weird that'd be. I'm sure I'd make terribly awkward jokes around them re my cha cha vs the carpaccio...

  9. Been there. It's hard to know the polite way to behave. I always settled for pretending the person concerned had never seen my bits in stirrups.


  10. Good to hear from you, Will. I can totally imagine Mo devising a point system for hitting drs with Jujubes. Most points for evil OB, of course!

  11. I think if all physicians had to endure what they put their patients through, they would be a lot more humble. I'm thinking of switching to an RE who went through IVF with his wife.

  12. Happy and health 09' to you as well!

    Good luck!


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