Monday, 20 June 2011

Summary Sheet

I am not, by nature, an organised person. If my friends get a birthday card within the correct month they can consider themselves lucky (the father's day card I bought remains stubbornly unposted), bills get piled not filed, and I am pretty sure I've lost track of at least one pension from previous jobs.

However, infertility has taught me the importance of notes. In fact the single most useful thing about this blog is I can go back and double check what treatments/drugs/periods I've had and when.

(Yes, yes, the second most useful thing has been meeting you lot. Honestly! Don't log off in a huff.)

Every appointment I go to I take with me reams of paper - letters from doctors with test results, lists of every procedure I can remember, and two copies of the all important summary sheet.

Whether they want it or not I give the doctor a copy of my summary sheet, and I keep a copy so that we can consult it together.

Ideally the summary (like any good CV) should be no longer than one sheet of paper, however I have now edged onto the second page with all the IUIs, IVFs and general fanny fiddling. And prominent, at the top of the page, is my ever increasing age (I tend to leave this off my CV, but in fertility terms it opens rather than closes doors as they note how swiftly I am advancing towards 35 and kamikaze eggs - six weeks to go).

Not all Doctors appreciate this. Many of them try to dismiss it.

I press it on them like an Aunty with a spare handkerchief. Usually it helps, it means when they are leafing through their file, which is currently rivaling the King James Bible for number of pages - if not literary prowess, they can work out chronologically where in their notes the information they want is likely to appear.

Yesterday I excelled myself, I prepared my own file - with dividers:

And I typed out my questions.

This won't actually help me get pregnant but hopefully it will make the appointment as fruitful as possible and, at £200 for a bit of face-to-face time, I intend to get my money's worth with as little faffing as possible.

I would strongly recommend anyone else, whether they are seeing a doctor for the first or umpteenth time, takes along their own summary sheet.

Right, lecture over. Wish me luck, actually forget luck; I just hope I get more than a sucking of teeth and shrugging of the shoulders when I ask what on earth I should do next.


  1. One of the most important things we can do for ourselves is to be our own best advocate, and this is a great way to do it! I've been toying with the idea myself, as if IVF #2 doesn't work out, we'll be seeking a second opinion. I hope you get some good answers at your consult!

  2. I have one as well, they are wonderful when it comes to answering questions and filling out paperwors. Especially fi you change doctors frequently, and I consur, I ahve used my blog as a reference point on many occassions, love it! Good luck getting answers....I hope you get a few steps closer if not actually achieving your goal.

  3. I wish you good answers, then. And a plan. Persistence is the thing here, I reckon.

  4. Did you set it up on a excel spreadsheet with columns and rows? I'd love to see your example so I can see how to set mine up.

  5. Excellent idea! Hoping this appointment goes well... looking forward to your update!

  6. An excellent idea!!! Wishing you major lack of shrugged shoulders.

  7. I did the same thing with all my info, tabs and a first page header that referenced what tabs they would need to look over. The doctor looked briefly at it, looked at my HSG x-ray and said "There's nothing here that shows any reason you can't get pregnant. I have to assume it's your age and let's go straight to IVF". Liz, you've already been that route, and now you're paying for it out of pocket. Don't let a doctor you pay for dismiss you, make sure you're heard and that they treat you proactively. So proud of you for keeping your head and moving forward!

  8. Your post is better late than never I guess. I am seeking a second opinion today and had to frantically try to get everything together last minute. The appointment was made last minute though so it's not totally my fault. I'll be better prepared next time though thanks to your advice.

  9. I think that is a great idea! Next time I see my RE I will do this!

  10. Anything with coloured dividers does it for me. I hope the appt went well. One disadvantage of going to a new place is the almost inevitable insistence that all the damn tests are done all over again. But being comfortable with a clinic is so important that if you have lost confidence in yours then it's time to move on.

  11. Fanny fiddling... love it!
    (ahem... have just realised that could be misconstrued...)
    Am so sorry IVF No 2 didn't work for you. I really hope your appointment went OK.

  12. Well done, I do admire your organisation and determination and do make sure you get your money's worth :)
    Am so so sorry the IVF didn't work, hard to know what to say but I'm glad to see you are still striving ahead

  13. You must be sure to get all your questions answered - I always get misdirected and distracted. I think having a list of questions is the best plan. I hope you have a couple of "This was a problem in the past - how do you plan to address it?" questions on your list.

    Much luck with your appointment...

  14. Oh your so organised- I love it!

  15. I'm a huge believer in the summary sheet (as well as the color-coded file). It has accompanied me to countless appointments. Sometimes doctors ignore it but sometimes they have been drawn to it, as if magnetically. If I present it, I know they are getting the full picture. I also know that I've done as much as I can from my side.

    So kudos to your sheet and your organizational skills in this department. Who's to say that they won't - at the end of the day - make all the difference?


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