“First there is a mountain,
Then there is no mountain,
Then there is…”
You read lots of horror stories in the newspapers about doctors operating on the wrong kidney or the wrong side of the brain. Last week, Janis and I had our own mini-horror story to contend with thanks to a lab technician at Pacific Gynecology here in Seattle.
You may have read an earlier post here (First We Take Manhattan: We Visit New York City and Have a Baby!) which recounted our success in an egg donor procedure which concluded with Janis getting pregnant last month. NYU asks Janis to go in each week for an HCG level test to ensure she’s still pregnant. Last Monday, a few hours after Janis took the test Dr. Hickock’s nurse called to tell me that Janis’ level was “under 1.0.” I asked her what this meant. She asked if Janis had had any blood in her urine or cramps or any other discomfort to which I replied, “No.” Then she said, “then that’s strange because this level indicates she’s not pregnant.” I was dumbfounded and VERY upset. The nurse asked me if I wanted the results tested again. I, of course, said “Yes.”
Then I had the happy task of informing Janis that she’d miscarried. I don’t even want to go into how hard this was and how confused and shocked we both were. Then, I called a few good friends who I turn to during my hours of trouble to tell them the horrible news.
When Janis returned home from work that night, she cried both for the loss of the baby and because she knew how important this second pregnancy was to me. Though we mourned in our way, it was hard to know how to feel about a fetus which aborts after only a month’s gestation. It didn’t feel like we’d lost a child (though thankfully I haven’t known such pain myself). In fact, I remember saying to myself: “The loss of this fetus does not feel the same as the loss of a life. And those on the right side of the abortion debate who contend that a fetus is the same as a life are dead wrong. A one-month old fetus is the promise of life, but not life itself.” And there is a big difference between them. I’m not saying that the “promise of life” is less than life or somehow worth less. But they aren’t the same and those in the anti-abortion movement who tell you they are are dead wrong.
When we went to bed on Monday night we were terribly sad and depressed. Everything seemed lousy. But little did we know how much lousier things could get.
At 1:30 AM, a mere forty minutes after I went to bed, Janis and I woke up to a huge crashing sound in front of our house. After racing downstairs, and taking a few moments to get my wits about me and wake up out of a deep sleep I heard the deep, rumbling sound of an old car or truck with a very bad muffler “peeling out.” I realized that cold air was rushing into the house through a huge hole where the glass in our French door used to be. I immediately called 911. But since I didn’t know at the time that we’d been burglarized, the call was low priority and it took SPD 20 minutes to arrive. When Janis finally came downstairs with Jonah, she was the one who realized that our wallet and purse had been stolen (they’d been sitting near the front door–one of the biggest No-nos in burglary prevention). Needless to say, the patrol car that went looking for the burglars didn’t find them.
The police officer also located the 50 lb. rock on our living room floor which had made the terrible noise as it crashed into our French door. The force of the rock had severed the shutter from the door and gouged a large hole in our floor.
Then, at 2 AM we began the ‘welcome’ task of cancelling all of our credit cards, ATM cards, cell phone service (Janis’ cell phone had been in her purse), etc. That morning we’d begin the process of trying to recover our life.
So what did the thief earn from his haul? $150 cash!! The cards were cancelled, the cell phone disabled. He got nothing. And what’s the damage? We still don’t know but I’m guessing it will be in the many thousands. Now you know why your insurance rates go up.
I fell asleep around 4 AM that morning. Janis got about 2 hours sleep after the burglary.
At 9 AM that morning, Dr. Hickock’s nurse called to tell us that their lab tech had retested the lab sample and realized that “she’d tested the wrong assay” (whatever that means). She told me that the the lab tech had “come to her in tears” to tell her of the mistake (I should think so–but don’t ask me to feel much sympathy!). I told the nurse that I was horrified and deeply upset at the mistake and that I wanted her to bring this mistake to the attention of the medical staff who supervised the clinic’s lab.
A few days later, I called the clinic manager to continue this conversation. After leaving a message and not hearing from him for TWO DAYS I decided to call again. We finally spoke and I made clear how aghast I was with this wrong result. I said I wanted to know how the mistake occured, why it occured and what was being done to ensure it wouldn’t happen to Janis or their other patients again. When I offered to write a letter to this effect, he suggested I send an e mail which he’d share with the medical staff.
I don’t know about you, but I’d like to think that a medical instiitution that makes such a mistake would be on the phone immediately to the wronged patient in order to apologize and try to make things right. That didn’t happen here and I think it’s a shame. Needless to say, my confidence in the medical care provided by Pacific Gynecology and Dynacare has been shaken.
This incident reminds us of why we chose to leave Seattle for the egg donor procedure (which was performed by Dr. Jamie Grifo of NYU Medical Center). We just didn’t have confidence that a Seattle infertility clinic would have enough experience or a high enough success rate to justify doing the procedure here. I think our judgment has been more than validated both by the two successful pregnancies via NYU and our unhappy history with Pacific Gynecology.
But I really must end this post on a positive note. None of us was injured during the burglary. And Pacific Gynecology has just given us back our pregnancy. Life is becoming good once more.