Apr 15, 2011

All about my missing plan

I was feeling pretty angry and despondent about things last time I posted. I have definitely calmed down a lot since then, though I do really wish I was using our treatment break more productively. I keep telling myself I am going to start going to yoga, run more regularly, and order some relaxation/meditation tapes. So far, I have done exactly none of those things. Truthfully, I have been really exhausted the past week and I am not sure whether I am still jetlagged (if so, I suppose this will be solved since we are going to the states next week for Passover!), whether I have been fighting a virus of some sort, or whether perhaps my exhaustion is more of the psychological variety (quite possibly it is a combination of all 3).

My disappointment and frustration with my recent appointment got me to thinking more about the differences between the fertility treatment experience specifically and the healthcare system in general in the United States compared to Israel. While I have been living in Israel for 5 years now, I think that I still have very American sensibilities and expectations when it comes to healthcare and this cultural disconnect is often a source of my angst.

In Israel, everyone functions flying by the seat of his/her pants. There is very little advance planning for anything in general, big or small. There is a very strong cultural mentality of living today as if it is your last and not worrying about tomorrow (in large part, likely due to the by-the-seat-of-your-pants instability and uncertainty that has unfortunately defined our 62-year-old history as a country). While this mentality has served us not so shabbily as a small Middle Eastern country, it is sort of a neurotic infertile's worst nightmare. I am very American in my planning in that I like plans. I love plans. I really love having a plan. Very little cultural value is placed on having a concrete plan for the future - even next month. Shit happens. Our whole country could be annihilated next week, my right ovary might explode, our city might blow up, my next menstrual cycle might take 97 days to begin. But if the world as I know it is still standing next month, I want to have some vague idea of what the plan is, even if the plan might change.

In America, we are very good with plans and also with numbers. We love having dates and numbers even if they end up being totally changed or utterly meaningless. We are excellent at even making make-believe or pretend plans as in "This is your hypothetical IVF calendar for next month assuming everything goes to plan and you respond exactly as we hope." (It is my understanding that this actually happens approximately never.) When it comes to IF, we all know that the cliche proverb "Man plans, G-d laughs" is the ultimate truth and yet, when it feels like we have so little control - over our bodies, our lives, our dreams for the future, it is hard to underestimate the comfort one can find in having a plan. Some patched together semblance of how the future might look next week or next month or the month after that. No such thing in Israel. For someone as neurotic as myself, this is all very unsettling. I must learn to become even more adaptable and flexible than living here has encouraged (haha, more accurately 'forced') me to become so far, or I will continue to resist going with the flow and flail helplessly kicking in every direction in the process, likely making myself and Y and to a lesser extent my doctors and nurses miserable in the process.

More to come on differences between treatment in America and Israel soon...


  1. This is fascinating - I love to hear about the cultural differences between countries, and to have them applied to fertility treatments - so interesting! That being said, it would drive me nuts - I completely understand the neurotic planning person you are. I am the same way! Thanks for sharing...

  2. I'll admit I had wondered if there was a cultural aspect to the shortness of your recent appointment.

    I consider myself to be pretty flexible but I still need some sort of a plan. The complete lack of a plan would drive me bonkers. I understand things change but I need some sort of idea of where we're going. Guess I'm just too stuck in my American ways. :)

  3. Amazing to hear about your experience in Israel... must be very hard to want to plan into the future when the system you're in doesn't see it like that. I know how you feel about wanting to use this break constructively and also feeling exhausted... hopefully the energy fairy will visit us soon :)) I can highly recommend Circle & Bloom fertility meditation sessions which you can easily download via their website, if you're looking for that sort of thing - I love them :))) xoxo

  4. Here is Korea it's the same with regard to forward planning. 'Come in on day 3,' 'ok, come in on Saturday' without any 'hypothetical' planning. Things just happen when they happen. It's frustrating if you need to fit things around work, but actually I think it takes some of the stress out in other ways, as I don't end up 'what if-ing' myself to death. Not too much anyway.

    Really interesting to hear about Israel - more please!

  5. I totally feel you. My doctor likes giving his patients only their immediate instructions so that they don't get overwhelmed. I like to have the whole cycle laid out so I can see what I have to do ahead of time. I'm slowly getting used to their method. At least we have really good health insurance. I can't believe you're going back to the States this week! Maybe we'll be on the same flight :). Chag Sameach.

  6. Same here in China... nobody even bothers to tell you when they think each step might happen - you just find out info one day at a time. I think the nurses and Doctors laugh at me because I always have a list of questions to ask so I know what to expect, but I don't mind.. I need some sort of vague plan!

  7. New Year Mum - I am definitely going to check out Circle & Bloom - thanks! There is also a meditation CD on Dr. Alice Domar's site that looks good, but I will have to see whether they can ship it internationally. What is treatment like in Australia? I have heard great things about the healthcare system in general in Australia but know almost nothing about it.

    Timi - do you find it at all patronizing that he withholds information so that you "don't get overwhelmed"? Maybe that is my RE's deal too (probably), but I find that sort of attitude kind of patronizing.

    Kat and China Doll - Interesting to hear that things are similar in Korea and China. Perhaps things are like this is most places, and America is actually the exception and not the rule. For all the current problems in the American system, I feel like at least doctors in America believe in empowering their patients and involving them more in their care.