First thing- completely unrelated to fertility. Despite being educated and being a GP, it’s only within the last few years that I’ve realised what ‘a couple of’ means. It means two. Fancy that. Actuality E nags me that I get it wrong so often or didn’t know that. I must have daydreamed through that bit of learning at primary school! So what does ‘a few’ and ‘several’ mean?
Anyway, moving on.
It’s been a busy TWO weeks for us both.
We attended a mandatory IVF intro meeting last Mon where a great deal of info was given to us in 90 mins. As a GP, I understood it, but for laypeople it was a massive info dump with some scary stats eg the risk of congenital diseases in IVF kids is higher than in natural pregnancies.
A few days later the next meeting was with one of the IVF nurses to go through the regime, check bloods were up to date and order the drugs. Unfortunately as per usual, due to work I couldn’t make it. E said I needed to get some up to date bloods: HIV, Hep B & C & Syphilis. Seemed strange as we were using a sperm donor, but I did as I was told.
So I booked in for bloods at my own GP surgery & managed to get the fertility clinic to email me the blood request rather than me drive to the clinic and collect it! A real hassle due to limited parking. The wonders of email!
So early this week I had the blood test & requested the flu jab. Plan is to get a hard copy of my results today.
Also earlier this week E received her first batch of IVF drugs with the aim to start tomorrow. I’m sure all couples take a photo of their first batch.
The other event we had this week was a fertility support group meeting that I had booked many weeks ago online.
E has always found solace with the online fertility community and like me has her own blog and twitter feed, but I’ve always felt that meeting other couples face to face would be best. The online community is great, but meeting people and supporting each other is better.
The meeting was in the evening and I was anxious I would be late due to work, but thankfully I finished on time… I’m going off piste again…
In the UK, our esteemed PM, David Cameron wants all GP surgeries to be open 7 days a week 8am to 8pm. Now on face value, all of you, especially in the UK will feel this is a must, but there are some big problems with this idea. (These are my views plus available data).
1 For that plan to work, the GP workforce needs to increase by 5000 to 8000 docs. But there is a recruitment crisis at the moment. Simply new trainees are not picking GP life as an option whereas in the past it was seen as a great alternative to hospital life. But there is a recruitment crisis in hospitals too. Despite medical schools being filled and first year doc jobs being filled, it seems that further down the line, jobs aren’t being filled. The assumption is docs are emigrating to Australia, where there is now an excess of British doctors according to reports.
2 Funding. Unfortunately the media has the impression that GPs are loaded, that we all drive Bentleys, we play on the golf course at lunchtime and live in palaces. Michael Moore’s docufilm Sicko also gave that impression, but alas IT’S NOT TRUE!
In the UK, healthcare is free, but all those services are funded centrally and GP practices are independent contractors, so are dependent on this funding. But traditionally GP funding is poor and it has gotten worse. Small practices have closed or merged due to the funding crisis. Whilst the money I earn is good, it doesn’t equate to the hours I work.
3 Our work hours. Most GP surgeries are open for calls from 8am and physically 8.30am to 6.30pm. Typically I’m at work 7.50am but often leave 8pm. One day a week, our practice does extended hours: 8 am to 8pm. Yesterday I was home by 9.45pm. If E and I had kids, I would never get to see them in the evening.
4 The past. Our esteemed PM constantly harks back to the past when it comes to the GP service. When all patients knew their GP, saw them regularly and was visited by them on the way home. Sounds amazing. Here’s the reality. In the past, people were less demanding on services. Most people knew how to look after themselves and how to deal with minor ailments eg the common cold. GPs worked full time. GPs did know their patients well.
But my dad was a GP in those halcyon days and I hardly ever saw him because he worked late, attended deliveries and saw patient on his way home. He and many docs like him slept minimally due to out of hours commitments (6.30pm to 8am, including their own day shift) and went to work the next day still feeling tired and for some mistakes happened. Eventually the GP contract changed. Many GPs opted out of out of hours and new GPs wanted flexible hours, especially female docs who wanted to spend time with their kids ie see them. And that has now changed for all the workforce. Of course the change has affected continuity with patients.
5 Advances in medicine has meant people live longer. GPs deal with more complex patients than ever before. The volume is higher and so are the demands. Most patients are friendly and understanding, but a handful are very demanding, sapping our resources, energy and empathy at the expense of others. A small minority can be very aggressive and occasionally manipulative, with some doctors being physically attacked.
For my Dad, being a GP was practically his life. For me, my life is with E and hopefully with kids, GP’ing supports my life. I love being a GP, but I don’t want it to be my life!
That’s why the PM’s grand plan is unlikely to work…
Anyway, what a massive tangent that was!
The support group meeting was what we both needed. We met other couples at various stages of their infertility journey and felt we could be truly open about our feelings and listened to some heartbreaking stories from other couples and amazing efforts to get through bad times. We plan on attending a more official session today at our fertility clinic on the advice of one of the couples.
In the meantime, we’ve been firing up our new wood burning stove now the temp has finally dipped. It’s been brilliant and really warms the living room up. It’s installation resulted in us painting the room and installing up cycled furniture- the TV cabinet and picture frame (both based on Pinterest ideas),
Also we cooked up an amazing brisket con carne and chilli corn bread on Sunday which we shared with E’s sister and brother in law who live nearby.
I also made a sweeter cornbread recipe by myself a day later and it was A-MAZING! Alas no photo evidence, but it was so quick to make. Used Pinterest again!
So that’s it for this entry. Pretty massive. A few photos for diversion.
I’m off to get a hard copy of my blood results and then tomorrow E starts Cycle 1 IVF. Fingers and toes crossed…