Thursday, 30 December 2010

1st Appointment

As mentioned in a previous post, we chose our clinic based on its excellent English language website. It just so happens that it is also one of the most 'famous.' In Konglish, 'famous' translates to popular and/or best. It certainly was popular. On a random Thursday morning between Christmas and New Year, it was amazingly busy. I commented on this fact to the nurse, and her reply was 'we're very famous for our work'.

This 'very famous' clinic is at the CHA hospital, in Gangnam, Seoul. The international clinic nurses were excellent, spoke excellent English, and walked us around the hospital, showing us where to go and translating forms and stuff where needed.

To be honest, apart from a couple of forms, we managed well enough without translation. Generally Koreans speak enough English to get by, and doctors usually have a very good level. The other good thing about the Korean health service is that things move very quickly. We'd made appointments, and I imagine without them it would have been a little slower, but we were seen on time.

My husband's consultation went as expected. Fill in the form, see the doctor, give a 'sample.' Unfortunately he didn't take a picture of the room, but says it was like a love motel with a lounge chair and a TV with only one channel - showing porn of course. The nurse was very careful about confirming his identity before putting the stickers on his 'cup,' which is reassuring.

My own consultation also went more or less as expected - I suppose because I've done my research. I did have a nasty shock when the doctor said he wanted to do a hysterosalpino-contrast sonogram, immediately. Now, as I understand it, this procedure is quite painful. I suspected he would want to do one, as taking my word for it that I need IVF without any English or Korean medical records wouldn't make him a very good doctor. Luckily, he decided to put this painful test off til next cycle, so now I have that to look forward to.

Conversation sample about HyCoSy:

Me: Is it painful?
Doc: Sure

long pause

Me: Do I get an anaesthetic?
Doc: Sure... well, painkillers.


Doc: People say it is the worse pain they have ever had and don't ever want to have that procedure again.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

In a way, I'm lucky

Writing about my infertility makes me feel like a bit of a fraud. Don't get me wrong, I cannot conceive 'naturally.' I will need extensive, expensive treatment to get even close to being pregnant. However, there are also so many other stories that are much longer and more painful than mine. There are couples out there who have been through more loss and frustration that I would ever be able to cope with.

In a way, I'm lucky. I did have two years of 'trying,' but not really. We weren't 'actively trying,' we were just letting nature take its course. There was no charting or temperature taking, no drugs or blood tests. But nature did not take us anywhere and after two years we both knew that there was a problem.

My ectopic pregnancy and subsequent surgery was a horrible experience and I'm not trying to downplay it. It also all took place in a foreign language which I was far from proficient in.

But, the experience cut down the investigation period of my infertility from what would have been months at best, years at worst, to about an hour. During the surgery to remove the ectopic pregnancy, the specialist recognised scarring and they did a lap and dye right then, rather than postponing it and recommending it later.

The recovery from the surgery sucked. I had not only lost a baby, but also lost hope of a future baby. The options for blocked fallopian tubes are grim. It's IVF. There is surgery to try to repair blocked tubes, but when we had our consultation with the fertility specialist in Spain, all he mentioned was IVF. I wonder whether the Korean doctor we'll see on Thursday will say anything different.

But we know. We know what we need to do. There is no mystery, less frustration. While I still have to go through IVF, I will hopefully be starting it at 31, rather than in another two or three years time after a battery of other options has failed.

I feel lucky about all this. I know the odds suck, but there is still a chance.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Begin the beginning...

We have decided to take the first steps in getting IVF started in 2011. I know we can't really 'start' for probably a couple of months yet, but we have made an appointment with a clinic.

Seoul is a really big city, with who knows how many IVF clinics. I have been researching them for the past few months, and in the end chosen one on the following criteria: does it have an international clinic where the doctors speak English? Is the website in English?

If you live in your native country, the choice of clinic might go on criteria such as proximity to your house, success rate, cost, whether or not you can do egg-sharing etc etc. I wish these were things that I can choose on, but when you are a stranger in a strange land, 'Does the doctor speak English?' is a key factor.

But you should learn the language! How arrogant are you to live in a country and not speak the language? Yes, all these things are true, but IVF is a complicated process and the last thing you need is a miscommunication. Last year when I had surgery in a Spanish hospital, it was terrifying not knowing if I had communicated everything properly to the doctors.

Having chosen the clinic, I made the call, and we are booked in for later this week. What surprised me however was that they have booked my husband in for tests before even knowing what the problem is. I guess they assume they're going to do those tests anyway. I'm just so used to stories of the NHS where everything takes forever and they only seem to do tests if they absolutely have to.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Why Am I Here?

How to begin this blog? I've typed five or six introductions, all of which I deleted on account of being too glib, too trite, too smug or just too stupid sounding.

How's this: I'm infertile. Some time 5-6 years ago I caught chlamydia, I thought it was a urinary tract infection and the symptoms went away. I don't think I had ever even heard of chlamydia at the time. I then developed symptoms of PID about six months later, went to the doctor, where it was misdiagnosed as stress.

Fast forward to two years ago, when my partner and I started trying for a baby. Nothing, nothing and more nothing for nearly two years, until February 2010, when the stick finally got that second line. Two weeks later I was in hospital having surgery to remove an ectopic pregnancy from my left fallopian tube. I have scars on my stomach from the camera, operation site and from where they injected dye to check the state of my tubes.

My tubes are f-ed up by the way. Completely blocked on both sides. Somehow one swimmer got through, but the fertilized egg was too big to get back (or so it was explained to us). We were told by a fertility consultant that IVF was our option. Months of internet research suggests the same. We can't afford IVF.

We got new jobs, we moved half way round the world to make enough money to save up. We also moved to a country were IVF is significantly cheaper than home.

For various reasons, we have decided to wait to start IVF til next year. I am currently very far away from having a child.