9 Mar, 2020

IVF in Athens

It’s our first appointment at our new clinic in Athens and I am a little excited. For the first time in a long time I feel positive and hopeful. The sun is shining – so much so that even the Greeks keep remarking on how unexpectedly warm it is for the time of year, and the streets are quietly stirring into action. Most of the action involves sitting outside, drinking strong coffee whilst catching up with friends. I think I’m going to like Athens.

When we locate the clinic, I suddenly feel overwhelmed by the newness of everything: the foreign language, the vastly differing protocols, the small and busy waiting room where everybody seems to know what they’re doing except me. Well, except us. Our names are called and we are sent upstairs for our first scan to check on my disappointingly low number of follicles. As I am wearing a long dress I surmise that it will be easier to keep my dress on, rather than change into the exceptionally small and paper-thin pinafore provided. Whilst deciding this, I failed to remember the most fundamental principle of an internal ultrasound scan: you actually need to be able to see what’s going on inside your body, which is impossible to do when wearing knickers. I haven’t yet realised this and we are caught in a sea of pleasantries – the embryologist, nurse, husband and I are all commenting on how nice it is to finally meet each other when a male consultant enters the room and asks me to lie down so he can start the scan. They look utterly baffled when I tell them I have my knickers on, as does my husband, but as quick as flash I bundle them into his hands so he doesn’t have a chance to voice his embarrassment.

Within thirty seconds, it is clear that all is not well. In amongst the mundane chitter chatter of differing follicle measurements I hear the word ‘polyp’. This is followed up with, “Gosh, it’s really very big and it’s in the exact place an embryo would need to implant. If you don’t have it removed you won’t be able to get pregnant naturally or through IVF.”

Now, there were two things I was afraid of when we embarked upon our first private cycle abroad:

  1. The escalating cost if problems are uncovered.
  2. The prospect of having surgery in a foreign country where consultants may not speak English.

I have been with my new clinic for approximately 4 minutes and in that time, they’ve uncovered a significant barrier to pregnancy – a barrier that needs removing this week, at a cost of £1500. The procedure will be carried out at a maternity hospital in Athens, not at the clinic, and I will need two lots of anaesthetic in one day as they want to schedule it for Friday, a few hours after my egg collection. My worst fears have come true.

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