Friday, June 8, 2012

It's All About Who You Know

I recently had a friend ask on behalf of a friend who we've consulted to help us conceive, and it got me thinking I should post these resources for others who may be in need of a new direction in their own pursuit.

Let me start by saying that, although we've suffered loss and numerous frustrations, and although we still have a long way to go, we have been extremely happy with the medical professionals who we've been seeing.

I will also say that making the decision to seek specialized fertility treatment, beyond what your regular OB/GYN or general practitioner can provide, is a huge step.  I know - we ambled on for a year and a half hoping less aggressive steps would be enough, knowing we did not have the over-abundance of funds it would take to see a specialist, but finally realizing it was not going to be enough. 

Biting the bullet and making that commitment to go to that first appointment is difficult for a number of reasons, not least of which being the revelation that you do need that extra help.  I felt as if going to a fertility specialist would be admitting there is something wrong with me.  Well, it turns out, there is something wrong with me.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  But once you do make that ultimate commitment, at least from my experience, it's difficult not to go all in. 

I've provided links to these services in previous posts, but here they are in a quick breakdown for easy access. If you are or know someone facing the seemingly insurmountable hurdle of infertility, I urge you to read on. 

Oregon Fertility Institute, the practice of Dr. Aimee Chang
9370 SW Greenburg Rd.
Suite #412
Portland (really Beaverton/Tualatin)

What We Love
Dr. Chang is reliable, straight-forward and very knowledgeable. I have never left her office feeling she hasn't been completely honest with me or that she hasn't given me the best advice.

The office is very small, so the one-on-one attention is incredible, both from Dr. Chang and her assistants. There is a very noticeable difference between her office and a larger facility, such as the Vancouver Clinic, in the attentiveness and genuine care I feel going to OFI. At a time when you are at your most vulnerable, this is one of the most valuable things you can get out of your doctor's office.

I have never had a doctor take time to call me herself to give me test results, let alone a doctor who would do so after hours, on her cell, driving home from work. And Dr. Chang’s medical assistants are very helpful and quick to call you back to take your questions or relay information you need. All in all, OFI is very personal, which is exactly what one needs when going through such a sensitive experience.

What I most wanted in a fertility specialist was a) someone who would be upfront and honest with me because leading on an infertile couple is the worst thing you can do; and b) someone to hold my hand as I entered such foreign waters. I believe I got both with Dr. Chang and her office. And they are open on Saturdays.

The Cons
The office is in Beaverton, so it's a bit of a hike, at least for those in the 'Couv.

A couple of the medical assistants are relatively new to the medical field, so their confidence in doing the more minor procedures, such as blood drawing, can be shaky sometimes.  But, I also have very tough veins to find, so part of that blame lies with me.

The Price
The price is steep for those without health insurance that covers fertility treatment. Our first round of treatment, out-of-pocket for ultrasounds, medication, consultations, bloodwork and interuterine insemination (IUI) was about $3,000.

Blossom Clinic

3531 NE 15th Ave., Suite A
Portland, OR

What I Love
I’m going to break this one down a bit. 

Generally, here is what I love:
See my previous entry about alternative medicine.  But overall, Blossom is a fabulous little corner of a shopping complex in North Portland anchored by a Whole Foods.  I have found it to be a balm for a tired soul.

The practitioners offer a variety of services to look at a patient’s health in a holistic manner.  They offer acupuncture, massage, nutritional guidance, herbal medicine, but also links to a community and a new perspective in a world monopolized by western medicine – all in support of women’s health.  They are women caring for women.

Through Blossom, I have discovered new ways of perceiving my body and the energies that impact my well-being.  I am confident that with the treatment I’ve received at Blossom, paired with the treatment I’ve received from Dr. Chang, I have surrounded myself and my infertility with the most complete plan of attack possible.  The only way we could have better odds at having a child naturally, at this point, is if we inherited or won about $15,000. I am so grateful to have added these two completely different and completely complementary weapons to the arsenal in my private war on infertility.

Liz Richards, L.Ac
Liz is my acupuncturist, but there are many layers to be found in that single word. She analyzes my condition from a Chinese medicine tradition.  She understands what is happening with my body on any given day and how to approach whatever the need may be at that point in time.  Liz treats your body, but she also cares for your mental and emotional health.  And she listens.  I have found myself on numerous occasions just venting my frustrations and knowing they were not falling on deaf ears or even ears that have undoubtedly heard the same frustrations from patient after patient.

Dr. Elise Schroeder, ND
Elise is a naturopathic physician, whose specialty lies in female hormonal issues.  She helped me find the most appropriate diet for my particular metabolism, which happens to go hand-in-hand with PCOS.  But beyond that, she helped me UNDERSTAND how my condition is affected by my metabolism, and vice versa.  And like Liz, she takes the time to genuinely listen and understand and offer the feedback you most need.

Again, I am blown away by how my perception has been so greatly expanded by going to Blossom Clinic.  It’s as if we were winding our way through a dimly lit tunnel, going on and on, and all of a sudden we turned a corner and discovered the switch to turn on the bright fluorescent lights showing us everything we’d been missing with such a narrow awareness.

They do not bill insurance; however, they make it as easy as possible for you to bill your insurance yourself.

They are not open on weekends.

Each practitioner sets her rates independently.  My weekly acupuncture treatments with Liz are $85. My insurance covers about two-thirds of my acupuncture-related costs. 

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