Friday, March 6, 2009

Close encounters of the IVF kind

Will here. I was caught in a pickle yesterday. I have a new doctor who I have become very comfortable with (i.e., she knows just about EVERYthing about me), and I happened to see her yesterday morning at the IVF clinic. At first I just caught a sideways glance and I wasn't sure it was her - people look somewhat harried at these offices, so there was not definite recognition on my part. After Mo and I settled into our chairs, I tried to steal another glance but couldn't quite tell - was it her or just someone who looked an awful lot like her? I felt guilty, like I shouldn't be curious. Later, when Mo and I were heading back to the ultrasound, she was heading on her way out. We walked right by each other, and our eyes met briefly. It felt like the solar eclipse - I knew I shouldn't look, but I had to.

Working as a physician in a large academic medical hospital, it is not uncommon for me to see people at work that I know socially. I am sure it may feel a little awkward for them, but I usually don't think much about it. However, my own physicians are (mostly) physically removed from my workplace (I chose things this way) and do not have hospital privileges where I work. I like this distinction between my two roles of physician and patient.

Running into my doctor made me think about the doctor-patient relationship a bit differently. When I go to see her, I think that our lives are completely separate. There is comfort in this distance. I've told her we are going through IVF, and I always thought she seemed quite knowledgeable and empathic. I now know a little bit more about why.

When I see her again, I'm not sure how to handle this. It feels like the elephant in the room. Do I acknowledge seeing her? Do I pretend it never happened? I don't want to know the details of what she's undergoing, but it feels false to just pretend we didn't run into each other.

I tell myself that if we lived in a small Rockwell-esque town in New England this would be a common occurrence. Is it perhaps the perceived anonymity of our relationship that is comforting?

I've written about seeing our IVF physicians at social events, which is an awkwardness all it's own. But I'm wondering if others have visceral reactions when they see people they know at their IVF clinic or if they see their physicians outside of the clinic? How do you handle this?


p.s. It's crossed my mind that my physician may be wondering some of the same thing as I am. Hadn't thought about it that way before, but she and I are both physicians now facing running into a patient (for her) and a doctor (for me) at the IVF suite. Strange parallel lives.

Add to Google Reader or Homepage Subscribe in NewsGator Online Subscribe in Bloglines Add to My AOL


  1. I too work for a large AHSC, and as it is also one of the best hospitals in this city (and the only AHSC to have IVF in the city) I have to go to doc's where I work, which is awkward, especially when they ask me what I do, and I explain and none of them know me personally but all know of me.. it's awkward, and mixing ivf with work, for me, has felt very strange, and am happy that our frozen embryos and transfer happened in another city at a clinic that is not an AHSC.
    All that said, she already knows that you guys are going through IVF, so my guess is don't bring it up unless she does (pure Ass*vice as who knows what the right thing to do is?).

  2. I wouldn't bring it up unless she does. My guess is that if she didn't bring it up when you were discussing your own experience with IVF, it was because she had her reasons for not doing so. You never know what those reasons are, so I would let her lead this one.

  3. Not to freak you out even more, but what if she reads this blog? I dont know, I might be too uncomfortable to ever go back to her. On the up side - she was probably more prepared for your chance encounter then you were... she must have known that it would be inevitable she'd eventually see one of her patients there. I am a doc as well, but happily do not ivf receive care at the hospital where I work.

  4. I probably would not bring it up either unless she did - but she may be thinking the same thing!

  5. I wouldn't go there unless she does. Elephant in the room, yes, but she must have had some reason for not mentioning it before.

    Don't you just hate IF waiting rooms? There's just something about the energy in there...

  6. just caught up on the last two posts.

    i pretty much agree with everyone else. don't bring it up. odds are she won't either :)

    so excited that the ER is right around the corner! wahoo!!!

  7. We had a similar experience when at an adoption info session, the social worker took attendance and named my husband's therapist! The therapist had canceled her slot at the info session when my husband said he was going, to ensure her privacy, but the social worker outed her. So much for confidentiality! My husband did bring it up with her and they talked about it. He felt more comfortable that way and the therapist called the social worker to complain. Good luck with your situation.

  8. Perhaps she was there with someone else, as moral support? Maybe she was brought in to consult on something un-IVF related that was going on with another patient? There is no way of knowing why she was really there.

    If it were me, well... I let others have their privacy even if I don't appear to have any. I tell my docs everything, but don't expect the same in response. It's part of my personality to do so - not necessarily theirs. Also? They have to keep a professional appearance with their patients. If you were seeing her for IVF related stuff, she could probably tell you that she had gone through it herself. Since you weren't, it doesn't fall in the "realm" of things she can share with you, I don't think. All JMO, of course.

  9. Hi, I'm new to this blog, but had to comment on this because something similar happened to me just a few days ago. I go to the clinic associated with the hospital I work in & I saw not one, but TWO, co-workers in the waiting room. Its a huge hospital, we all just happen to work in it & have crossed paths, so we know each other. I don't think they saw me, and there was no acknowledgement, thankfully. I decided the best approach would be to let it be. What happens at the clinic, stays at the clinic. As for your predicament, I would not bring it up, unless she does---and I can't imagine that she would, its somewhat inappropriate for doctors to spend their patients' time discussing their own lives. I don't see why you can't continue to see her as a patient---you're not keeping your struggles a secret from her; unless the next encounter seems weird, due to her discomfort with the situation, I think you'd be losing out on a great doctor. I'm not sure how to articulate this, but, for me its less awkward/embarrassing/unnerving for someone to find out I am seeking treatment for IF if they are in the same boat. Like a shared secret, or a membership in a club (the suckiest club ever!)

  10. I live in a picturesque Norman Rockwell town. . .and it's still awkward when this stuff happens. For example: while getting the ultrasound where my miscarriage was confirmed, I was in the waiting room of the clinic for a very long time. My OB's office didn't have a tech that day, so I had to go to the hospital u/s facility. While there, I saw a man that I work closely with (although he works for another entity, and not in my actual office). I tried to pretend I didn't see him, but we were both in the waiting room forever, and it was big, but not THAT big. So eventually, I had no choice but to talk to him. Fortunately, he made it more comfortable by telling a really funny story about what he was doing there (who knows if he made it up on the spot, because he's that kind of guy), and didn't ask me what I was doing there. . .an hour from home, and with my husband in attendance. I'm sure he thought it was very weird. (My OB is near my office, and I commute.) Mercifully, he's never asked about it since then.

    Long story short: here in small town New England, we don't ask any questions when such run-ins happen, and we pretend there's nothing to see here, nothing at all.

  11. In many circumstances I am all for stating the obvious. However, I feel different about this particular circumstance. Once I saw my shrink pull into the parking lot behind me at her office. I sat in my car and waited until she got inside to go inside myself. The last time I saw my OB she was in the lobby waiting on the elevator with me. I kept my back to her and did not acknowledge her. I'm weird about seeing the doc outside the doc's office. Don't know why. But I am. So, if it were me, I would be totally doing the "we both know we both know therefore we don't need to talk about it" thing. But, as I said, I'm just weird about this issue.


What do YOU think?

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Popular Posts