I went for my first appointment with Dr. Q yesterday. (I can't think of a clever nickname for her at the moment.) Dr.Q has a degree from China in Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Her website says she is "specialized in treating conditions related to women’s health, fertility, pain syndromes, digestive disorders and mental health." Sounds like a good choice, yes? Dr. Q was recommended to me by a colleague. My colleague has fibromyalgia and uses massage, and occasionally acupuncture, as part of her health management.
As an aside, here's a little snapshot into how I typically manage my health care. Back in November, I developed a chronic pain in my right shoulder and arm. I had had a stiff neck for some weeks, which was probably related, but I chose to view it as inconsequential and assumed it would go away. ("Wow-I-slept-with-my-head-the-wrong-way-again??") Then one day in class, I leaned casually over a student's desk, and ow ow ow - my back was suddenly throbbing with pain. I straightened up, made a face and complained a bit. But assumed it would go away. Well, it didn't. Sometimes it would get better, but overall it got worse. The pain would vary in location: sometimes in the middle of my back, or in my shoulder, or in my right arm or wrist. Any sort of movement (or lack of movement) could bring incapacitating pain, but fine motor movement was especially bad. I had to give up using the mouse with my right hand and I haven't since. (I am a lefty so it was not a difficult switch). Anyway, this went on for about 4 months. I did finally go to a walk in clinic, and saw my doctor as well. Solutions included everything from a prescription for physiotherapy that I didn't use, exercises to relax the muscles (which seemed to help eventually), an ergonomic assessment at work (which helped a lot), a prescription for an anti-anxiety drug (WTF?). And my colleague gave me Dr. Q's contact info. I thanked her and resolved to check out Dr. Q's website in January. By the time I actually phoned, it was July. Right.
I'm not proactive about seeking health care. Maybe I just don't like doctors that much. I don't enter into trusting relationships easily.
My experience with Dr. Q did get me thinking a little bit about how the appointment with her was quite different from my other limited experiences with health care professionals. Before the appointment I filled out a detailed questionnaire which we went through point by point. We must have talked for half an hour. Dr. Q asked many additional questions and scribbled notes on the form as we went. She noticed my picked-off cuticles and told me if I didn't stop doing that, my nails would thicken. (Thanks, I'll make another attempt to kick the habit.) She took my pulse (no comment.) Looked at my tongue and told me (accurately) about my poo. Mainly we focused on fertility, though I had not mentioned it specifically before making the appointment.
- My cycles are too short (yup)
- I am likely not ovulating in some cycles even though I am getting a period (I am inclined to agree)
- When I do ovulate, I am probably not producing a quality egg because it is happening too early (makes sense)
- My period flow is light and therefore my uterine lining is probably too thin (ultrasound showed it was OK, but who knows)
- One ovary may be working fine, the other may not be (interestingly, ultrasound showed follicles (4) on only one ovary)
- Many women with wonky ovaries have acne issues (Testify!)
- My Kidneys and Spleen are weak (note that the terms for body parts mean something different in TCM than they do in Western medicine)
- In conclusion, I definitely have some problems. Although they do not seem to be very very bad.
Dr. Q said she would work with me to lengthen my cycles to 27-28 days, and thicken the uterine lining. It is important to see her on certain days of the cycle. Since I didn't time this appointment with my cycle (wasn't possible) she seemed a bit concerned about being able to work successfully with this cycle. Me too but I appreciate that she was really thinking about it and seemed to care. We then did a treatment. I had a forest of needles in me: head, face, belly (lots!) legs and feet and hands. It was very relaxing although I was hoping she had counted them all so she didn't forget any in there, especially the ones in my hair. Dr. Q warned me I would feel tired afterwards and boy did I ever. I felt like the Earth's gravity must have substantially increased during my appointment.
I have another appointment for CD 15 and we'll see where it goes. She will also discuss some herbs with me at that time. Should be good timing because we go back to The Fertility Clinic next Thursday to go over the latest test results and discuss (I hope) a direction.
What do I think? I felt like the assessment was a lot more thorough than what I'm used to getting from Western doctors. I started with a new doctor about this time last summer (Dr. Gnomish, who is also Mr. Turtle's doctor). On our first appointment, Dr. Gnomish asked if I had any health conditions, was on any prescription drugs, or if I smoked. The answer being no to all of the above, we were pretty much done. Dr. Gnomish was impressed. "Most people have a string of health conditions and a list of prescriptions as long as my arm." A few weeks later I came in for a physical. Did all the usual stuff, was assured none of my moles looked cancerous, and was sent on my way. Now I'm not saying Dr. Gnomish did anything wrong. But my experience with him, and doctors in general is this: If I am not sick and I don't need drugs, well, they have no further business with me. I always seem to be in and out the door in record time.
Again, I'm not trying to blame anybody, but it does seem to me that this attitude is not conducive to understanding fertility. In hindsight, although we've only been TTC for two years, I've always known in the back of my mind that there might be something "off." The acne. The irregular cycles. The fact that I had regular spells of unexplained nausea as a teenager, which I suspect were related to hormones. (It is not so severe anymore, but I still get mild nausea one or two times in second half of my cycle.) But the symptoms never made me sick, in the incapacitating sense.
So I suppose the main difference I felt in Dr. Q's office was that she was willing to take time with me, to listen and ask questions, to question my assumptions, and to make time for treatment, rather than sending me out the door with a prescription and the unspoken conclusion that seriously, I am a pretty boring patient.
How all of this will fit together with The Fertility Clinic I am not sure yet, but I'm glad I'm giving it a try.