Monday, July 28, 2008
My bed rest buddy, Sara reminds me that I can't just post on and on about my pre term labor issues than disappear from the blogosphere for days on end.
All is well, actually better than usual, on the pregnancy front. My contractions have been better the last week or so than they have been the entire pregnancy. I just know that now that we're almost at the golden ring, 36 weeks, all my PTL issues are going to come to a screeching halt and she's going to stay put for weeks and weeks. She is already screwing with us.
All is not well, however, on the laptop front.
I've been MIA because my laptop is having some trouble. As in freezing all the time, can't do anything, barely got some important files backed up, trouble. He had to go to the doctor today, and I don't expect him back until later this week. Considering I didn't pay much for the laptop, if it's an expensive fix I'm guessing I may never get him back. I really don't have the right to complain too much, we still have a functioning perfectly fine desktop (but it's in the garage and it's hot in there) and I do have my laptop for work that I can use for Internet access (but it's heavy, and it gets hot and it's slow and ugly) so it's not like I'm completely shut off from the world, it's just far more inconvenient.
Less than a week from freedom...at 36 weeks, it's expected that my bed rest will be lifted! I have no idea what I'll do with myself.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
The Pre Term Birth Prevention Program I'm in includes a weekly phone call from my perinatal nurse. It's scheduled for the same day, same time each week. I had my weekly appointment with my OB the same time as my weekly call last week, and if I'm not home to take the call, they consider it a missed appointment. Two or more missed appointments and you're out of the program. So, like a good patient, I called before I left to advise them I wasn't going to be home for the call, but everything was pretty much status quo and I was on my way to my OB anyway.
Unfortunately, I they didn't transfer me to my nurse, but to a trainee who didn't seem to understand why I was calling. To compound the confusion, her accent was very thick and I was having a hard time communicating with her.
The banter started predictably enough.
"Are you having contractions?"
"Uh, yeah...always. But that's normal for me and I'm on my way to my appointment anyway..."
"You're drinking water and laying on your side?"
"Um, no, I'm leaving. But it's not an issue anyway, I always have lots of contractions and there is no-"
"Oh, well, typically right now it's anywhere from about 5-7 or more, but you see, that's not why I'm calling, like I said that's normal (is she not looking at my chart??) and I've been to L&D enough times for us to know there hasn't really been any real cervical change, sooooo..."
"No cervical change?"
"Nope! Just a really grumpy uterus."
"Hmmm. Grumpy CLITORIS."
Virtually the entire conversation I was straining to understand her, but I'll be damned, that clitoris comment came through loud and clear.
I have no doubt that my clitoris is grumpy at this point, but I certainly wasn't discussing it with the perinatal nurse. I don't think that's contributing to my pre term labor issues.
Monday, July 14, 2008
I've considered posting about insurance coverage and infertility for quite a while, but have always stopped myself for some reason. It is a cause near and dear to my heart. I even created an online petition a while back to send to Congress as they reviewed HR 2892 which would mandate infertility coverage nationally (this bill has been introduced 6 times and never made it to the voting stage...this year was no exception). We had over 2,000 signatures last I looked. Shitty thing is, my Congressperson ignored the petition (all 50 pages I sent her), and the other Congresspeople I sent it to (those on the committees reviewing the bill) didn't give a shit either, since I couldn't vote for them. Gotta love America.
At any rate, it's a volatile argument on both sides and I really wish we could just take the emotion out of it and debate it rationally. That means no "uncontrollable desire to reproduce their DNA" argument from the NO side and no long drawn out stories from our side about how painful it is to go through infertility and all that. No one cares. Let's just talk facts, shall we?
The reason infertility should be covered is because it is not fair to not cover it.
Does that do it for you? Good enough? Because that really is it in a nutshell.
My parents did a good job and didn't overly indulge me as a child. When I said something wasn't fair, they were quick to swing around and growl "LIFE'S NOT FAIR!", something I never really understood since I felt that was just validating my point. But I don't believe infertility should be covered just because it has cost me a shit load of money. I don't think it should be covered because it really sucks to go through it, and then turn around and realize you're going to have to spend your life savings treating it. Talk about adding insult to injury. But still, that isn't reason for me to think that an entire (cough *corrupt* cough) industry should change their policies. I understand they're in it for the money. I understand covering infertility would cost them money. I understand they really don't give a shit that I have to spend my life savings treating my disease even though I have full medical coverage. I get it. And I wouldn't fight it...IF it was fair across the board.
My point has always been this: infertility should be covered because it is a disease. It is specifically excluded from insurance policies for reasons unknown (besides the cost factor). Now, if all diseases were excluded, I wouldn't agrue. Hey, even if all non-life threatening diseases were excluded, sure, I get it. Not covered. Or even all reproductive issues. OK, got it. Or hey, anything that has to do with vaginas, ok, no problem. Or diseases that start with the letter I. See my point? I'm not asking for special treatment. I'm asking for the same treatment as any other disease.
You see, when I reviewed one of my company's insurance policies that was available to me, I thumbed to the "what is not covered" section. In addition to the regular non-medical things that aren't covered with most policies - dental work, vision exams, cosmetic surgery, etc. - there were three other items listed. Inexplicably, these three were singled out:
- Diagnosis and/or Treatment of HIV/AIDS in excess of $15,000
So I concluded that infertility and the cap put on HIV/AIDS had to do with moral or religious issues. I decided the Catholic church had somehow infiltrated the insurance industry. Infertility treatment could include IVF, which the Vatican has adamantly opposed and they feel it is just soooo wrong. HIV/AIDS - well, it's a gay disease isn't it? Can't be too obvious about discriminating against them, so give them a little bit of coverage. Not too much though, not enough to...oh you know, keep them alive. $15K may sound like a lot to you, but the medications to control HIV/AIDS are beyond expensive and $15K doesn't go very far.
I have yet to figure out how the amputees have offended the religious right or the ultra conservatives. I'd be really interested in hearing anyone's theory about that one.
Once I heard a semi-rational reason for excluding infertility: it was considered experimental, and insurance does not cover experimental treatments. Now, I would have been okay with this since infertility isn't being singled out, it's just part of experimental treatments. But, that's old news and not applicable anymore. The AMA (American Medical Association) has not categorized infertility treatments as experimental since the 1980's. Next. Gotta give me something better than that.
Because I can give you something better. Beyond infertility being a disease and should be covered because it is such, I can also throw a Supreme Court case at you. In case you don't like my disease argument, how about this: In 1998, Bragdon vs. Abbott, the United State Supreme Court rule that reproduction is a "major life activity." Any person with substantial limitations to reproduce meets the definition for disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act and should, therefore, not be denied medical treatment for his or her condition. Excluding coverage for infertility treatment would be a violation of the ADA according to this decision. Ha! I win!
For those of you that don't want to pay for me to choose to treat my disease, I get it. (I won't bore you with the research that shows that it would actually cost as little as $3 per person per year and would actually lower premiums in many respects because it would lower the risk of multiple - especially high order multiple - pregnancies). But I didn't create the system. I don't want to pay for Bob to get his ingrown toenail worked on because I think had he just cut his toenails properly from the start, it wouldn't be an issue and I don't think I should have to pay for that. But that's how insurance works. We all pay in so that when we need it, it's covered. I would be all for a reform where your premium, even in a group health care setting like an employer plan - was reflective of how much you utilize the service. I don't think it's fair that my co-worker that never goes to the doctor - ever - should have to pay the same monthly premium as me, someone who is like Norm from Cheers at my doctor's office, just in case he needs medical care sometime in the future. I don't agree that's fair. But it is the way it is, and I didn't make the rules.
And I really have to giggle when people say coverage for infertility would raise their premiums, blah blah blah. Because the cost of my IVF (that we paid out of pocket for) was a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the amount I've sucked out of the system with my high risk pregnancy. All of my pre-natal care is 100% free with my insurance policy. I don't even pay a co-pay. So do the math. Weekly appointments since I was 4 1/2 months pregnant, all free. Four trips (so far) to Labor & Delivery, all free. My delivery will cost a $500 co-pay, that's it. My pregnancy could raise my company's premiums, but no one complains about maternity coverage.
Incidentally, I should point out that I have tendencies towards hypochondria, so pregnant or not, infertile or not, it's highly probably I can raise any company's premiums just being me. Giggle, giggle.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Three days of consistent (every 5-10 minutes), strong contractions will do that to you. Good news is, it's the same false labor I continue to have and I'm not dilating at all. FFN was negative again. Bad news is, this is just how my pregnancy will continue and there's nothing we can do about it.
You see, my uterus is irritable. As am I, these days. So what is an irritable uterus?
For the most part, Braxton Hicks contractions are rarely painful and will remain quite irregular. During periods of heavy activity, however, you may find the contractions become uncomfortable. If so, resting with your feet up will usually lessen your discomfort.For many women, having Braxton Hicks contractions would be a blessing. For those who have been told they have an "irritable uterus" the onset of mildly uncomfortable contractions during the last weeks and months of the pregnancy would be ideal. Irritable uterus is a term used by doctors to describe painful contractions that do not cause changes in the cervix, like those seen during labor. These contractions can be frighteningly similar to the real deal, only without the regularity of true labor.
Yes, this means I experience labor-like contractions all the freaking time. And that freaking sucks! It's painful, it's tiring, it's annoying and there's really no way of me knowing if I'm having cervical changes without having to go to L&D. Luckily, they've been very nice to us. We're regulars. I'm waiting for them to just point to the room we'll be in and allow me to hook myself up to the monitors, enter my info into the computer ("yes, I feel safe in my home. No, no alcohol or smoking during the pregnancy. Nope, I don't have herpes. No allergies to drugs.") and even administer my own FFN test. If I could only check my own cervix...
The highlight of our trips to L&D is getting to hear her heartbeat the whole time we're there AND see the BPM (which fascinates me). She's a little superstar and always does perfect while on the monitor. Which is interesting, since I've noticed she can be having a very quiet day but strap that monitor on her and she starts doing flips and turns and moving all around. She either a) is a show off or b) doesn't like the monitor and tries to kick it off my stomach. Considering who her parents are, I think it's probably A. Trouble.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
(ok, so I'm a few days late posting...I hit 32 weeks on Sunday. Sue me, I've been soooo busy on bed rest you know).
Still hanging in there. The contractions have come back full force yet again and I'm trying very hard to avoid L&D today because frankly, So You Think You Can Dance just isn't as enjoyable from a hospital bed as it is from home.
They have calmed down a bit from the every 5 minute pattern my uterus likes to employ.
My weekly internal yesterday is probably the reason the party started in my uterus. My internal where my OB declared my cervix "oooey and gooey" and in the same breath said, "it's the same." Really? My cervix has been oozing this entire time? That's not a comforting thought. What if it just oozes right out of me? I need a cervix, don't I?