Caravan Sonnet: Thursday Health Thoughts: Doctors out of State/Country Series- Guest Post: Katie from Always, Katie

6/12/14

Thursday Health Thoughts: Doctors out of State/Country Series- Guest Post: Katie from Always, Katie

Happy Thursday y'all!! I am so excited to continue this six part series on Thursdays dealing with topics related to seeing doctors out of state or country. Last week (in part two) we talked about How to find a doctor  and as I mentioned I will be talking about this subject (and sharing some of my own experiences) in the following weeks but am SO excited to have several guest bloggers who have chosen this option for various reasons and are going to share their experiences too! Here is the list of the topics for the series and the coming weeks:




Today I am so excited to have Katie, from Always, Katie sharing her story with us. (Side note: I am totally hoping that Katie & her husband Ethan have a doctor as good looking as the guy above so that they can introduce me! *hahaha* This single gal can dream right? Either way I hope it brings a smile to your face! *smiles*) So without any further waiting I am going to let Katie share her story! 
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Hi friends!  I'm so excited about what Rebecca has asked me to share today.  It is SO far outside my husband's and my usual "style" to make a choice like this, but we could NOT be more thrilled with the path we find ourselves traveling!

My husband and I have been struggling with infertility for about four and a half years.  In that time, we have done 5 rounds of Clomid and more tests (blood and much more invasive... and humiliating) than we care to count, we have moved twice (from OH to SC and back), and we have seen at least eight specialists (not including my diabetes specialists, and I may be missing some others).  We have been told that IVF (in vitro fertilization) with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) is our only chance at me being able to carry our children.


When we moved home last year, we began working with another specialist in the same practice our old specialist had been in, and moving toward our first IVF cycle.  By November, most of our ducks were in a row, but the doctor wanted to get a few more tests done to rule out some stuff and fine-tune some meds and such. We told him our goal was to cycle in March, and he said that was a very reasonable goal, and we would make that happen if nothing surprising came from these tests.  Nothing surprising came from the tests, and we were thrilled when I started taking birth control (the first step in an IVF cycle - shuts everything down so the doctors can take complete control of the timing of my cycle) in early February. 

Things seemed to be progressing strangely when it took us weeks to get a financial quote (that wasn't even personalized), then we were told we would have to make an education appointment where we would also go over the quote prior to starting my actual cycle.  That appointment? Couldn't be booked for another couple weeks... which put us into mid-March before we'd even have the information to get my cycle meds shipped to me.  To abbreviate the rest of this long saga that makes my blood pressure rise (even now!), early March turned into mid-March, mid-March into first week of April, first week of April into first week of May... I had been on birth control for several weeks at this point, which made me gain weight and lose blood sugar control, and I was told I'd be on it for at least several more weeks.  We tried to figure out a way for me to go off for a little while and get a break, but that would have pushed our egg retrieval and embryo transfer to mid-June.

In tears on the couch one night, in utter frustration and near despair, I blurted that "we should just go to Jamaica or whatever!"  I had read on a message board or in an article years ago about a clinic on some tropical island where you have a long vacation, walking distance from the beach and your clinic, and do IVF for about the same cost as IVF in the States (including travel and acccomodations), and I thought... US doctors have let me down, let's run away.


My husband looked up and asked if that was really an option.  I said I didn't know much about it, but probably not.  We're very normal people.  Normal people don't run away to a tropical island for medical care.  They just don't.

But we're also students and researchers by nature, so we dug in.  Turns out, the clinic is not in "Jamaica or whatever," but in beautiful Barbados.  Over the next couple of days, we tore into magazine and news articles, message boards, TripAdvisor and other review sites, medical journal databases, and the clinic's own website, and were impressed and encouraged by what we found!
  • The doctor was educated in Ireland and has published reasonably extensively
  • The clinic is accredited by Joint Commission International (a US-based internation accrediting body.  BFC appears to be the only facility of any specialty with that accredidation on the island).  I recommend checking out any out-of-country clinics on the JCI website.
  • The head nurse/clinic coordinator/my favorite person, Anna, worked with some of the BIG names in fertility research and practice in the US.
  • BFC has distinguished themselves as a relaxation-focused, patient-centered practice.  After my experience in OH, that seemed like a dream!  We can do acupuncture, reflexology and lots of massage, in a wellness center within the clinic. :-)
  • There are NO negative reviews of them ANYWHERE online.  We searched lonnnng and hard for some.  We found plenty by women who did not get pregnant, but none that wouldn't go back or recommend them to a friend.  This is a GREAT source for people considering medical tourism for any specialty - Patients Beyond Borders.
So we began to let ourselves think of this as a valid option, and I stayed home from work one day to make phone calls to our OH doctors and to BFC.  In talking with Anna, I discovered that they are as calming and supportive as the internet had led me to believe, and learned that our case is not too complicated.  I also learned that their success rate for my age range and our needed procedures is 77% - compared to 56% at my OH clinic.  (By the way, when comparing success rates, make sure you're comparing apples to apples.  Some clinics can report things differently to get better-looking results.)  By the end of that day, Ethan and I had decided to go ahead with the phone consult with the doctor - if they would take our case, we would "break up" with our clinic here and get ready to fly to Barbados!

Our phone consult went wonderfully, and we were impressed by Dr. Skinner's brilliance (Don't you love when that is so evident?) and her wonderful "phoneside manner."  By April 1, we knew we would be in Barbados from July 1 - July 15.  At that time, my clinic here couldn't promise me a certain month, much less a window that specific!

Since then, we have been coordinating blood work that they need in Barbados, as well as travel plans, online pharmacy orders, and all the other little details.  Anna and I talk at least once a week, if not several times a day, over email.  My husband and I feel very valued and supported, and we are finally on the home stretch now.  I'm back on pre-IVF birth control, and the rest of my meds are in the process of being shipped to us! We fly in 17 days :-)


We would appreciate your prayers for a successful cycle!  We truly feel that this great leap of faith on our part has been God-inspired, God-directed, and God-blessed, and we are trying to wrap our brains around the idea that we might - FINALLY - be parents in less than a year!  So thankful for this opportunity, and for the opportunity to share here today. 
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Thank you so much again Katie for sharing your story with us!! Head on over and check out all of her lovely writing and follow along on on this exciting adventure! You can find her blog by clicking HERE!!

Stay tuned next week part three of the series: Paying for Costs/Expenses when traveling out of state/country. Happy Thursday y'all!!

2 comments:

  1. Yes!!!! Lord, please bring life to Katie's womb! Thanks for sharing (and hilarious about the guy comment Rebecca!!!)

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    1. Hahaha :) I thought you might appreciate that Caroline!! :) And YES!!! Joining you in that prayer of bringing life to Katie's womb!!!! :)
      :) Hugs sweet friend!!

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