First of all let me say – wow! What an expensive few days.

Australia offers amazing subsidies for fertility treatment. An average cycle costs around $35,000. Majority of those costs are met by the government and private health insurance companies. For our first round of IVF at our last clinic we paid around $5,000 out of pocket for everything including hospital stays, medications, anesthetists fees, lab fees, storage fees when Nemo was frozen and everything in between.

So far at our new clinic we’re already around $2,500 out of pocket and we haven’t even started the actual cycle yet! The first reason for this is the simple fact that smaller, boutique fertility clinics are much more expensive than the large, production-line type clinics that advertise on the tv and in women’s magazines. Anyone who understands anything about economies of scale will see why. But those clinics don’t offer the same level of care, personalised service, tailored fertility programs and attentiveness that Doug and I really require. So we’re happy to pay more if we get a better service. Secondly, MRIs and ultrasounds are expensive. It’s ridiculous actually, just how expensive they are. But I needed them and I’m glad I had them done. I was actually really lucky that I was able to get them done so quickly.

Last week I was up at the hospital getting my ultrasound (which was routine and boring – how I hate having to fill my bladder!) so I asked to be booked in to get an MRI. The receptionist, an older lady with perfectly manicured nails, frowned and looked through the computer booking system.

“Sorry dear, the earliest we have available is five weeks away. Can I book you in then?” she asked.

“No!” I gasped. “I have an appointment with my doctor on the 27th and I need an MRI before then!”

She smiled sweetly and patted my hand. “I’m very sorry but MRI is only offered at our large hospital radiology sites. I can see their booking systems on my screen and they’re all full-up. We have a terrible backlog at the moment.”

In my mind, the fertility express train I’d been riding on all week slammed on the breaks and slowed to a grinding halt. Another five weeks until I could get the test done? I’d been waiting since April and now I wasn’t going to be able to start a cycle for another two months at least! The driver of the fertility express was throwing my suitcase off the side of the train and giving me the definitive heave-ho.

The receptionist could see me starting to hyperventilate and frowned again. “Why do you need the appointment so urgently, dear?”

“I need to get the all-clear on my brain scan before I can start IVF.” I said quietly. “I just want to have a baby.”

The receptionist bit her lip, then picked up the phone and dialed through to the radiology clinic located at Melbourne’s biggest private hospital.

“Hi Susan, it’s Debbie.” she gushed, suddenly upbeat and perky. “Look I have a favour. I need to fit a young lady in for an MRI. Can you help me out?”

There was a long pause while Susan obviously checked the computer system at her end.

“Yes I know.” the receptionist sighed. “It’s a five week wait everywhere at the moment.”

My heart started to sink. I loved this lady for trying but there was just nothing that could be done. The fertility express was pulling away from the station and I was still firmly on the platform.

“What, you have?” the receptionist said, perking up again. “Can I snatch that appointment? I’d super appreciate it!” and then she gave my details over the phone and hung up.

“My dear you’re the luckiest girl in Melbourne! While I was on the phone the clinic had a cancellation for tomorrow at 7.30pm. Can you be there?”

“YES!” I cried, my stomach doing flip flops. “Thank you so much!”

And in my mind I ran to the end of the platform as the train pulled away, took a deep breathe and jumped, landing expertly at the back of the train. There was hope yet! We were still moving forward on our journey.

The MRI was actually quite relaxing. Am I the first person who has ever thought that? Am I a total weirdo?

Previous MRIs have been scary and noisy affairs. The clunk clunk clunk and thud thud thud of the machine, the voice in my earpiece saying “Hold very still now Sadie. Very still.” and the fact the top of the machine is about 2 inches from my noise, all make for an unpleasant experience. But on this particular occasion I had a radio playing in my earpiece, a warm blanket wrapped around my legs and the bang bang bang of the machine was enough to drown out the negativity that constantly lurks in my mind at the moment. It was a rather peaceful hour in the machine and I drifted in and out of sleep. Still, you’d want it to be a relaxing experience, considering it cost $700!

After the MRI was over, I went up to pathology at the hospital and got my blood work done. The pathologist asked me why I was getting so many tests done, and I explained I was going through IVF. “Oh that’s nice. My daughter is pregnant at the moment.”I wanted to tell her she wasn’t being helpful, but instead I just smiled and congratulated her.

In the end I felt pleased for accomplishing everything I needed to in such a short space of time. Doug and I are heading back to see Doctor B tomorrow and then we’ll be able to make decisions on our next treatment. Let’s hope the test results are good and we’ll be full steam ahead on the fertility express!

(sorry….no more lame train jokes…)


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