MUST READ FOR ALL PATIENTS

From the other side of the desk

Today I write through the lens of the people on the other side of the desk…those of us that work in this very specialized field.

I have been working in Assisted Reproductive Medicine for more than a decade now and it escapes me how the English language can have so many words yet none that come close to the inspiration that our patients bring to my team and I every day. Each morning I walk up our steps and pull that silver handle, I scan the faces of those persons sitting in our waiting room.

I smile and say good morning. There is a familiarity, a thread that connects them on that sand coloured couch that many of them don’t ever recognize. It is the light of a WARRIOR.

The definition of a warrior is a person who shows or has shown great vigor and courage.

A warrior is also referred to in many places as a CHAMPION. Defined as a person who fights for or defends people or causes, a fighter or warrior.

There couldn’t be a more authentic or describing word.

I’m sure some of our patients would almost laugh at that word but let me share what have seen in all these years for the warrior comes in many different armors.

Some of these warriors sit there nervously laughing, some holding the hand of their partner, some with their gaze cast to their feet. Each of them having their own protective mechanism/armour …they do what they have to in order to make it through today. As I go to get my morning coffee, I take in the realness of why they are here today. Somewhere along their path to parenthood, something didn’t go as planned. Somewhere when they made the life changing decision to start a family, their bodies let them down.

To get here, to get to the clinic, our warriors have had to go to battle. They have had to deal with many unfair and insensitive comments that are made by those persons in our community who do not experience infertility and ignorantly have no clue what they are talking about when it comes to the ease of getting pregnant. Infertility unlike a blister on your toe, where you simply take a Band-Aid plaster and off you go on your merry way with assured healing in a few days is not the case in our world. For anyone who has experienced infertility you know the hardships that you have had to endure, the battle of constant disappointment, exhaustion on a mental, physical, financial and even spiritual level. Infertility can drain you.

But this special group of persons, the one thing they do without sometimes knowing it is that they fight for the cause of having their family and do this with such great courage. For many, this fight looks like a daily choice. The choice to eat better, to make healthy life choices, to do research on this consuming disease. This army chooses to laugh when all they want to do is cry, to hug that friend that just announced they are pregnant knowing they are not, they endure the wounds of a body that has let them down, they encourage themselves or their partner when they are at their lowest and question if to even continue on this path of parenthood. And in my eyes the most courageous step they make, is the choice to seek help. To see an IVF specialist is like taking a sword and wielding it at the attacker. To many of you reading this, these are not just words, what you have just read is your real life.

As with any battle, you sometimes have to change tactic while on the battlefield. We have seen patients through the years have to redefine their description of success when it comes to infertility treatment. For some that means stepping up the treatment regime to move to IVF, or repeating another cycle if the first cycle did not work, for others it may mean using donor eggs or donor sperm, or moving to adoption. For some this definition means closing the door on all further fertility treatment. This is something that is not talked about a lot, and would be remiss of me if we didn’t acknowledge these valiant warriors on the field, but when treatment doesn’t work it can be the most heartbreaking moment both for the patient and for us. To know when to stop fertility treatment and take back control of your life and live it with a new definition of success, well this simply is beyond bravery.

These warriors are a very special band of brothers and they all have one thing in common. Each of them have looked at this disease (and it is a disease defined by the WHO!) and said we are not going down without a fight and with the choice to seek help, they have joined the ranks. As these warriors do this, they extend their dream of having a family into our hands. They have asked us to come alongside and help them in this fight and we respectfully accept this challenge. For many of us on the other side of the desk, me included, the bestowment of this request is humbling.

I am extremely fortunate to be a part of a very progressive and successful IVF unit creating the next generation of society in an environment where we see love, courage, dedication and science combined. Here we see many victories and daily have confirmation that our protocols are working and consistently have couples returning with their babies for us to grab a quick snuggle or they send in photos of their new family radiating their new love. There are days when I shed a tear and see the reward for the effort I know our patients went through to get to this point and the extreme dedication of my fellow team members.

So today from the other side of the desk, to you our patients I say thank you…YOU inspire US! We look at the world through your eyes and you make us better people. You are strong, you are brave, you are WARRIORS of love, you are WARRIORS of life. We are with you in this war, we are a part of your army – YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

– Rachel de Gale

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