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Revisiting: The Importance of Second Opinions

06/25/2013

Belle

I’ve talked about this before, but after reading a post by a fellow blogger, I felt compelled to bring it up again. This woman has been struggling to get pregnant for more than four years, while dealing with pre cancerous cells and treatments to combat them. Scary shit, y’all.

The good news is that right now she is free of the cells. The bad news is that the treatment medications caused her to regain the weight she lost and now her RE refuses to treat her due to obesity.

Ok, we all know there is solid evidence supporting weight loss and conception/success in ART. We also know that Tender Loving Care can do a lot to improve success rates. I am a firm believer that TLC needs to be in every area of our medical system. I believe our doctors are our partners and together we should work to accomplish the shared goal of better health.

In my personal opinion, and I am no doctor, I feel that this blogger’s doctor should be real with her: yes, weight loss before treatment is necessary for good success rates and mama safety. And then this doctor should WORK WITH HER. The doctor should inspire her, connect her with resources (and not just a local Weight Watchers Chapter, but evidence based information, nutritional support that FITS her lifestyle, realistic fitness recommendations, support groups, etc.) so together they can accomplish not just the weight loss goal, but the ultimate goal of successful pregnancy.

During my struggle with chronic uveitis (read about uveitis here. It sucketh mucheth.) I consulted with FOUR specialists before I chose my doctor. I explained my goals in treatment to each: save my vision using non-toxic drug options (meaning no immune suppressing drugs), then proceed with trying to get pregnant. You can’t try to conceive while on  immune suppressing drugs. It was very important to me that I find a doctor who would respect these wishes and I trusted would step up when we got to the point of no return and it was truly time to break out the big medication guns.

One doctor I consulted with did not come right out and say it, but was not supportive of my desires to have a child. Another actually said, “Just forget about having kids. That is not going to happen with your condition.” and then proceeded to force a heavy medication on me before trying less invasive alternatives or even exploring the evidence supporting or rejecting these alternatives. These doctors were clearly not going to work with me. Instead, they were going to run over me. I fired them.

I found a doctor who would work with me and am so happy that as of right now, several years after getting sick, I am able to manage my condition with a low dose of steroid eye drops, diet and lifestyle changes.  Will it always be this way? Sadly, probably not. But right now, I see an excellent team of doctors who all respect my wishes and are working hard to manage my disease. Oh, and I’m 39 weeks pregnant – something that several doctors said would never happen.

I tell you guys this to inspire you to never settle for sub-par medical care. I want to encourage every. single. person who finds my blog to seek additional opinions if they feel their condition or needs are not being met 100%. I encourage you to never settle for a practitioner who just plows over your feelings. You and your doctor should be a team working towards a common goal, be that disease management, achieving parenthood, etc. Your doctor should remember that this common goal can only be achieved if the whole you (physical and spiritual) is taken into consideration.

It took me four eye specialists and four reproductive endocrinologists before my eye condition was stable and someone was able to get and keep me pregnant. Once I found the right doctor for me, treatments were straight forward and success followed quickly. If a scared little lady in Kentucky who gets anxiety shits before meeting with any new doctor can do this, I know you can to. Be empowered, be confident in your body and mind and never let a practitioner run over your dreams.

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8 Comments

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  1. Kathy #
    June 25, 2013

    Excellent advice (as usual) You are one smart cookie !

  2. faith #
    June 25, 2013

    Dear Cousin….THIS is what it is all about..right here! YOUR POWER!! Through information and the written word you can share your story and wise advice to thousands of women. You CAN be the change you wish to see..You CAN help others and by doing this..it helps you heal as well. I love the circle..you are at the center of it. We all are when we do something to empower ourselves and others. So many hugs going out to you right now 🙂
    This fits into a part of what I will be doing in Ethiopia..EVERYONE….PLEASE CHECK OUT THIS LINK..IF YOU FEEL THE URGE TO DONATE SUPPLIES OR MONEY LEAVE A WAY TO GET IN TOUCH WITH YOU BELOW..

    http://www.hamlinfistulausa.org/home/

    There are literally millions of woman suffering through gynecological issues right now that don’t have a way to be informed or empowered. They have no advocates or community that will help them. They are shunned, belittled, embarrassed, in pain and/or almost dead. We all should be thankful every moment to be living in our reality where education is a click away, support is a blog post away and positive energy is a thought away.

  3. jak #
    June 25, 2013

    AMEN! you have to take charge of your body and your healthcare. you’ve done a great job of this and are an excellent example to others:)

  4. karaleen #
    June 25, 2013

    I learned this lesson in a very hard way during my mother’s cancer battle. My sister and I figured out real fast that we were the only people who really cared about her condition and we had to FIGHT to get her what she needed. I totally agree with every word you said Belle. And yay for you for fightning for your dreams.

    And to that blogger who was dumped by her RE…that just saddens me. The RE we went to actually specialized in women who suffered from PCOS which usually also had weight gain as a side affect. They were so great about working WITH their patients….yes…losing some weight and being healthy were part of the plan…but I saw many many women in there who were overweight, or even obese walking out with their graduation bag which meant they made it to 7 weeks pregnant or beyond. There is no reason at all for her to give up, or even put off her hopes of a family because of her weight. She just needs an RE who knows how to work with her.

    kd

  5. June 25, 2013

    I love this post, especially being in NP school. Patients first, always!

  6. June 25, 2013

    I couldn’t agree more! I now have an amazing GP for the first time in my life who listens to what I think and when I say things like “Can we explore my magnesium levels, I hear magnesium can help some people with migraines” she simply fills out the form for the blood test, no questions asked. She then goes on to say “If the blood test is low, of course we will supplement. If its not, we still will to see if excess levels can help your pain (yay!) however we just won’t know how much to try.” So sensible and willing to try my suggestions! She also talks to me about lifestyle changes and refers me to whoever else I may need.

    I now also have a great women’s health specialist and gynocologist who both monitored an ovarian cyst for AGES before actually ASKING if I want it removed (I do…now that it actually hurts). I have a decent allergist and I have a psychologist now too, who after one meeting I absolutely adore because she asked me the right questions and is having me referred to a sleep specialist. My GP, in her wonderfullness, agreed with her assessment of me and my sleep problems (which I thought were normal but are very abnormal) and literally said “Hats off to your psychologist for picking up on that”.

    Thats what I love most. This team of doctors, despite only two working from the same clinic, communicate regularly, listen to each other and work together to get me better. Tender loving care is definitely there, even in the most abrupt of personalities. And I will definitely be evaluating my sleep doctor very closely too, considering the strong drugs that may come with the sleep condition I am suspected of having. I won’t necessarily say no, but I will be very wary if he leaps to the strongest drug straight away.

    After 27 years of putting up with pain and advice like “Drink more water, theres not much else you can do” it is such a nice change 🙂

  7. June 25, 2013

    Seriously! Second opinions. I always cringe when I, inevitably, hear the story of the couple that has been trying for years, only to learn that the husband’s sperm is not okay. Turns out the doctor never thought to check….Second opinions! Empower yourself!!

  8. jak #
    June 26, 2013

    bah! something else i wanted to add to this that jumped in my head when i talked with my father in law today (well, yelled at him… he can’t hear very well) about whether my mother in law should do anything about her bum knee. she’s well into her 80’s, smoked half her life, ate lousy half her life, and probably can’t handle knee surgery. orthopedic doc wants to do it. cardiologist said there’s no way she’ll recover easily and things could actually end up worse off. the solution – accept that you slow down with age, use supportive care, skip complicated knee surgery for the old lady.

    sometimes when we look for second opinions, we are looking for someone (a doc) to DO MORE. not do less. but sometimes the best second opinion we could have received is not to do anything at all. sometimes MORE intervention, although it sounds great because it makes us feel like we are doing something about the problem, is not the best option.

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