Our first phone appointment with Dr. Braverman was in the beginning of January 2017. He asked us tons of questions about all the tests, procedures and treatments we had gone through in the last year and a half. He spent a lot of time talking with us about our options including whether we should travel to New York to his office or do over the phone consults with a physician in California.
Going to New York sounded fun and all but it was not a feasible option for us at the time. So, I called doctors in my area willing to essentially be the middleman between us and Dr. Braverman. That’s when we went to see Dr. Bob. He interviewed us and gave us his two cents on our infertility journey which we had to sit and smile and nod through. But, after all the advice giving (offering no new information), Dr. Bob agreed to help.
Dr. Braverman had Dr. Bob order a slew of tests…and by slew, I mean two pages worth with really small font (half a page for Andrew and the rest for me). We had to go to specialty lab place to have them drawn and specialty shipped to the specialty lab somewhere obviously very special. One lady started on Andrew’s labs – I think 3-4 tubes. Another lady took me into a room and brought in a rack of lab tubes.
I didn’t think much of this rack of tubes since phlebotomists often do this and use what they need. Little did I know, they needed to fill all of it. They poked me 3 times to get all the labs – and not because I wasn’t giving up the goods but because I had so much blood that needed to be drawn, my veins would clot after a while. I remember calculating how much they drew – 150ml or 5 ounces.
Then we waited and waited and waited some more. I called Dr. Braverman’s office and no one knew anything about the results and the people who would know weren’t returning my calls or emails. So, once again, I turned to Dr. Bob.
In the hopes of Dr. Bob being able to get in contact with someone in Dr. Braverman’s office who could talk about the lab results, I made an appointment. Sure enough, when Dr. Bob called he was able to get through right away to Dr. Braverman himself. Dr. Braverman looked at my chart and saw all my test results were back but he wasn’t notified so he didn’t know to call me. He stated that he would look over everything and call me back within a week to let me know what he felt was the best treatment plan.
Well, the news wasn’t great. He recommended all kinds of treatments that were basically experimental and/or super expensive. For instance, he wanted me to undergo surgery for endometriosis that he said my inflammatory markers indicated I had. Unfortunately, all would be out-of-pocket because even if I could convince my doctor to do it (highly unlikely), Dr. Braverman wanted me to see an expert. I happened to look into this route and it would’ve been about $20,000 and miss time from work. The worst part is no one can be 100% positive someone has endometriosis until they open them up and look. So, even if I did have an extra $20,000 laying around, it might not even have been necessary.
The only useful piece of information we ever got was to start metformin (I wrote about this medication in my previous post) and to cut back on red meat (according to my test results, he was able to tell me how much red meat I ate in a week).
I think the most frustrating part was we spent $5000 on the consult, $600 on Dr. Bob to order tests, $1200 for the labs and all we got from it was recommendations to take a medication my infertility clinic should’ve had me on already, a surgery that there was no way we could afford, and a small dietary change.
I spoke with my infertility doctor about all Dr. Braverman’s recommendations and he stated that he did not agree because most of the suggestions were experimental – and he doesn’t do experimental treatments. He told us that he had patients with my condition and issues get pregnant with in vitro fertilization and it would be possible with us.
So, here we were: do we continue or just call it quits?
We decided to continue on with IVF. Maybe we should’ve seen that the hurdles my body was causing would make getting pregnant (or staying pregnant) impossible. Maybe we shouldn’t have spent the modest savings we had and the money we had to borrow on the more treatments that obviously wouldn’t work. But, we were told by experts that it was possible and I think the hope of being parents blinded us.