Cathrine R. Patient Interview
Can you tell us a little about what brought you to Dr. Opsahl?
I had been going to another fertility clinic over the course of the last year and a half before I found Dr. Opsahl. I had been diagnosed with a lot of different issues and we were at that stage where IVF was next. I have a great acupuncturist that I had been seeing since November of last year, she did a study years ago with Dr. Opsahl. She knew where I was and the next step and she encouraged me to get a second opinion. She told me Dr. Opsahl had just opened a clinic in Kirkland and she said I should check him out. So I called, they got us in right away and they were able to review the charts. He was more aggressive than the other doctors at the previous fertility clinic and it was more hands on. The other doctors at the other company were good and concise but they were too clinical. I think Dr. Opsahl brings another element to the equation where it’s actually more about the person and it’s more individualized than standard or factory.
What do you mean when you say he was “more aggressive”?
When we did our IVF prior to seeing Dr. Opsahl, we were talking with the other fertility specialist, the doctor that had been seeing me for the last year and a half. She gave me the lowest dose of the drugs you have to take prior to your egg retrieval for all the stimulations. When I went to Dr. Opsahl he said my AMH count was low, I’m older (I’m 38) and I have a lot of odds that were against us, for us to become pregnant with one round of IVF was like 22 percent. He recommended giving me the maximum dosage of drugs that were allowed to really stimulate the eggs properly, to give me better odds. My husband and I felt that he was better because he was more aggressive in that manner. I felt like the other company weren’t into doing a one shot deal, they were more interested in having you come back multiple times, of course so they can make more money off you. Rather than having a repeat customer, having to go through multiple cycles, which I was in my head prepared that this may take more than one IVF. Which, thank goodness it didn’t with Dr. Opsahl, he made it happen in one shot.
How were your interactions with Dr. Opsahl?
He was very opened and very compassionate compared to some doctors who are very cold and very clinical. The first meeting, we sat down with him, my husband and I spent over an hour, maybe an hour and a half and of course I came with a huge history of treatments that we had and IUI’s and so forth. He was matter of fact, he was very concise and to the point but, he was very human and very in touch with how a patient feels. This is a huge issue a lot of couples face and it’s very draining with your emotions and quite overwhelming but, he made it seem like he really cared.
You hear every infertility website says, “it’s tough, it’s emotional” but, for those going through it, it really is. Can you talk about the reality of the emotional experience versus what someone may read on a website?
I have read my fair share of stuff too, with IVF and different people’s experiences. A lot of people don’t realize how many people are faced with infertility. Once you do begin reading about it and talking about it with other people, you see people struggle with one issue or another. Whether it be female or the man or both, and it’s hard because for each person it’s probably different. Each month you are hoping for a success and it hasn’t happened yet like I read in another story. It’s like having a death in the family, just like you’ve lost something but, you lost something that’s so hard to grasp in your mind. It’s something conceptualized and you feel but, yet you can’t quite get your hands around it. I think people with this tend to cope differently and it’s good to have support. I think because Dr. Opsahl’s team have been working with fertility patients for a while, they know how to offer that support.
Did you have any interactions with Dr. Wiemer the embryologist, if so, how were they?
Yes we did. We met him, not during the egg retrieval but during the implantation process. He was there and he was very like Dr. Opsahl: down to earth, easy going, smart. He was a huge presence in the room but, he made it seem like, hey, here we go, let’s get to work. He was very reassuring and at our side, very compassionate just like Dr. Opsahl.
Did Dr. Wiemer talk to you about the science behind your treatment?
Yes he did. They ended up taking 10 viable eggs that were good enough to transfer. At the time of transfer he was there with us and showed us the different embryos and talk to us why these would be the best. Both Dr. Wiemer and Dr. Opsahl sat us down and gave us what the odds were and what their thoughts may be and they did the assisted hatching in order to help us and so forth.
So where are you now in your journey?
We are twelve weeks pregnant so we are just ending our first trimester and going into our second.
That’s incredible news. If you had any advice for the person who doesn’t know what to expect, and is about to go through this journey, what do you think it would be?
I would tell them to take it one step at a time. Definitely do your research and find the right fertility specialist that you can really gel with. Someone that can understand you and someone that you can have a frank conversation with and get the facts but that yet, you feel comfortable with. There’s a lot that goes into it, like the staff, and I cannot say enough about the staff with Dr. Opsahl. It was a complete 180 from going through the company we first began with. Having a staff that will sit you down and tell you step by step what’s going to happen. Having that communication is so important because it seems overwhelming when you first begin. Reading of all the things you can face with infertility, and all the different items that go with it, things like the emotional stuff and the different drugs for egg production. I think the number one thing is to get the right specialist that you can relate to and that they identify with not just your intentions but with how you feel. To have someone compassionate by your side and to be patient. For some people this could take a few months and for others it could take years. And most importantly, don’t give up.