At 6:30 this Sunday morning, I found myself driving, wondering what percentage of the rest of California were still in their warm beds at this early hour, happily enjoying some pleasant dreams. In my still-groggy state, I toyed with the notion that maybe I was actually still in bed myself and merely dreaming and imagining that I was in my car on my way to work for an egg retrieval. Normally, I don’t have any trouble distinguishing reality from dreams, but I do have the excuse that I spent last night out with friends watching the movie, Inception, and fell sleep late while enjoying intricate thoughts of dreams within dreams within dreams.
I gradually grew more wakeful and upon arrival in the OR, any inkling of self-pity disappeared as the “misery loves company” principle took over and I was reminded that I was not the only one up at this hour. The patients were there of course, along with their husbands. There was one nurse in charge of the pre-op area. There was the anesthesiologist, the OR circulating nurse, the OR scrub nurse and the embryologist who would do the egg collection. Even though I didn’t see them, I know there was another embryologist in the back who would be taking care of processing the sperm samples and there would be a recovery room nurse. So, not counting the patients, no fewer than eight people were sacrificing their Sunday morning so that we could all work together to help our patients get pregnant.
After my procedures were completed, I then had to see patients in the office. Today, I did two IUI’s and a bunch of ultrasounds. So add my medical assistant as one more person who was up at this hour on Sunday morning. Now if you’re wondering why we chose to see these patients on a Sunday instead of a regular business day, it’s not really my choice, nor is it the patients’ choice. It’s really dictated by their ovaries which grow follicles at different speeds, necessitating our adjusting our schedules to fit the optimal time of ovulation. I’ve had the debate with many other RE’s who believe that we can still avoid weekends as long as we are not compulsive about the actual day of the IUI or retrieval. They argue that if we do the IUI’s or egg retrievals one day earlier or one day later, we can avoid weekends with just a small compromise in success rate, if any. In fact, some papers have been published purporting that the decrease in success rate as a result of a one-day compromise on the optimal day is not statistically significant. Still, I have yet to buy into that and don’t mind working 7 days a week. It’s really a lot more palatable because Saturdays and Sundays I only work until 11 am and then have the rest of the day totally free.
So with all this recent talk about different specialties in medicine and how some doctors claim not to be happy, I’ll remind everyone that every field has its own pros and cons. So while most radiologists, dermatologists and primary care doctors are enjoying their Sunday morning at home, I’m diligently at work with no complaints. 🙂