Naturally.

Two weeks ago, I walked through the rain to yet another unfamiliar medical building and knocked on the door of yet another office.

The waiting room was completely different from that of Clinic One: or Clinic Two, or Clinic Three, for that matter.  The entire space could probably have fit into a single ultrasound room at Clinic One, in fact, and I couldn’t imagine the cheap white IKEA chairs in this waiting room finding a home among the faux-leather and plush seatbacks of the other offices I had visited recently.

The doctor, who I suspect can’t legally use the title of doctor, was the only person in the tiny IKEA showroom of an office on this particular rainy Thursday.  Smiling, she ushered me down a narrow hallway into an even smaller room, with a treatment table, a small desk and two chairs.  Several diplomas were framed on one of the beige walls, none of them bearing her name.  I sat down and, somewhat ashamed, handed Dr. Nature, the naturopath, my incomplete medical history forms.  I had left them almost entirely blank: a combination of the bustle of the last day of work before vacation, and my own reticence regarding this appointment.

You see, it’s actually fairly implausible that I would be sitting in a naturopath’s dimly lit office on the late afternoon/early evening before leaving for vacation.  I wouldn’t have believed it six months ago, frankly.  Many people, both online and offline, who I respect greatly place a lot of faith in a broad range of “alternative therapies”.  I use that term only because I can’t think of a more descriptive one at the moment, though logically I recognize that these therapies– acupuncture, reiki, massage, aromatherapy, naturopathy, hypnotherapy, whatever else– are actually much less radical than their medicalized alternative.  That said, I have also somehow developed a deeply ingrained belief that something isn’t likely to help you unless it is available in a pharmacy, prescribed in a clinic, by somebody who was issued the title of doctor by a recognized medical school.  I know: I’m so cynical that I make myself wince.

My visit to Dr. Nature wasn’t the result of a Christmas miracle in which my Grinch-like heart grew three sizes, but rather the quirks of my work-funded health insurance.  I’m very, very, very grateful to have the health insurance that I do: it’s the reason that my teeth are checked for cavities occasionally, and my impossibly tilted and scratched glasses were replaced last year.  However, my health insurance seems to fund things in a haphazard sort of way, with no rhyme or reason to what is covered and what isn’t.  Fertility treatments?  Not covered, at all.  Therapy, which would also be fairly useful?  Nope. Prescriptions?  Sometimes.  At some doses.  Maybe.  Massage?  Sure!  Go for it!  Naturopathy?  Absolutely!

A coworker of mine, pregnant belly pushed up to our office lunch table, reminded me of this fact in early December.  She had been trying to get pregnant for a year in a series of IUI cycles, unmedicated and medicated, using frozen donor sperm.  After a year of failed cycles, she had seen Dr. Nature.  She was pregnant the next month.  Sitting at that lunch table, my cynical brain screamed “Coincidence!”, but hope and my insurance coverage countered, “Why not try?”  Which is how I found myself sitting in a small clinic room with Dr. Nature, the same naturopath seen by my pregnant coworker.

Though my scepticism about naturopathy didn’t dissipate when I walked into Dr. Nature’s office, I decided pretty quickly that I liked Dr. Nature herself.  She was nice.  If she saw my scepticism, she didn’t point it out.  She responded to my nervous joking with her own humour, and accepted my incomplete medical forms– offered sheepishly– without criticism.  She began by asking why I had come to see her– to which I responded by mumbling something about how I had heard she got people pregnant.  She then turned to my incomplete intake forms and began to ask me questions.

We talked about the two IUIs using frozen donor sperm that have already happened, and chatted a little about  the pros and cons of the area’s fertility clinics.  I told Dr. Nature about Clinic Three and the extensive male medical history form that Sea had been required to complete, and laughed.  She asked about follicle size, hormone levels, and my uterine lining.  My scepticism began to waver: she clearly knew a lot.  She asked about exercise, stress, medications, my family health history and my diet.  As I responded to this last inquiry, her smile began to falter a little.  She noted that Sea seems to be a good influence, which is true: if it weren’t for Sea, my instant noodle intake would be much higher, and I probably wouldn’t know what kale is.  She also noted that my consumption of approximately a candy store’s worth of sugar a day is probably not supporting fertility.  She doled out dietary advice in the manner of a ninth grade home ec teacher: eat leafy greens, dark berries, orange foods.  I asked her if barbecue chips counted as an orange food.  She put her head in her hands, slumping towards her desk.  I took that as a no.

Having finished prescribing a much less candy-centred diet, she asked me how I felt about pills.  Having determined that they were neutral territory, she wrote out a list of pills, oils and drops that were to join the thyroid pills, B12 supplements and prenatal vitamins already filling my cupboard.  Looking back at her notes about my diet, she threw in an additional Omega 3 supplement.

Finally finished, she walked back down the narrow hallway to issue me a receipt.  We were the only people in the tiny office, as far as I could tell, and she was receptionist as well as doctor for the evening.  As I stood to follow her, I looked out the window behind her desk: it was now completely dark, and the rain had turned to sleet.  We had been there for an hour and a half.  She was still sitting at the reception desk as I left, probably writing notes about her most difficult patient ever.  As I walked out into the rain, I realized that I had forgotten to ask her about whether Doritos were an acceptable orange food.

Next time.

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13 thoughts on “Naturally.

  1. I also very much fall into the cynical but why not try camp, especially if something is covered. A lot of folks I knew swore by eating whole pineapples (cores included) during the tww, which seemed silly to me, but since it was something afforable, K and I figured it was worth it to try.

  2. I’ve never been here before. (Am here thanks to Dresden’s master list.) I…I am cynical too. However after two failed IUI’s last year, I think I’m ready to try anything. Good luck and please share what things help because yeah…

    • Thanks for reading! The thing is, it’s hard to know what makes a difference. If this cycle works, it could be naturopathy or it could be chance. Conversely, if this cycle doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean that naturopathy isn’t helping!

  3. What a lovely read. You’re not outside your comfort zone (as if getting IUS and all that jazz wasn’t outside your comfort zone already). It sounds like the changes that she suggested can do nothing but at least benefit you. Who of us couldn’t use more leafy vegetables in our diet? I certainly could improve.
    I hope you get some good results 🙂

  4. Im impressed that you were open at least to giving it a try, even if it just was for insurance reasons. Sometimes, its the tiny quiet offices, with the more personal dr’s, that are the good ones. If she is able to help you and get you pregnant than who cares if she doesn’t have faux leather sofas and a giant office yk?

  5. I was cynical but now a strong believer that my “alternative” therapies had a lot to do with my success at pregnancy. Both Chinese medicine (including acupuncture) and naturopathy did wonders. Even if it ends up it did little towards the actual fertility success, I did change my lifestyle and diet enough to notice a huge difference in my health. Good luck! Love your writing, as always.

  6. I have heard great things about ‘alternative therapies’ (especially acupuncture, as mentioned by ?Lex, above).

    I am all for natural therapies, less into Dr’s and pills – never helped me much… I tried to get my wife to try some when we were trying but she’s a bit of a skeptic 🙂

    I hope you find it helps you!

  7. Well I’m a bit late to reply but wanted to write as a strong supporter of natural therapies. My GP (general practitioner doctor) was astounded when my naturopath not only diagnosed my anti thyroid antibody issues before any one else had, but then managed to (solely through the use of detoxes, dietary changes and supplements plus a homeopathic medicine regime ), decrease my antibodies by half and still going, plus get my resultant hypo thyroid more under control. As the thyroid wasn’t responding as quickly as we needed it to (given our tight timeframe a that our donor is in NZ), she the requested that my GP prescribe me a thyroxine drug as well. She’s amazing and the results were all done by blood test analysis and up till u started the thyroxine, I had no other treatment except accupuncture. So can definitely say it was the naturopathy only that contributed. The GP thinks she is pretty clever too 🙂

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