Below is my Advocacy Day letter. If you aren't attending or have not written your own letter, please feel free to add your thoughts for our lawmakers here.
I once began undressing at the doctor's office before the nurse left the room, and before both of us realized one little detail: there was no drape on the table. While I laughed at the time, the truth is that it's sad. It's sad that I go to the doctor often enough where I undress without even thinking. It's sad how a visit that should be a yearly occurrence has become an "at least once a month" affair. It's sad that I have to budget in my co pays, drug costs, and surgeries. It's sad that my most personal and intimate moments and experiences are forever ruined, and that I'm indifferent to situations (like the one with the drape) instead of embarrassed.
I'm tired of being sad. I'm also tired of fighting. Three years ago this month, doctors diagnosed me with infertility. I was only 23 years old at the time. Newly married, I faced never becoming a parent, living in chronic pain for the rest of my life, a high risk of developing cancer in my reproductive organs, and the likely chance that I would one day need a hysterectomy before I experienced menopause. The list of health ailments continues, and my medical bills keep piling up. To date, we've accumulated over $75,000 worth of medical expenses.
But despite what you may think, I'm not tired of fighting the disease. Don't get me wrong – I would love not to deal with this on a daily basis. I've had my fair share of, "I can't do this anymore" meltdowns in my car on the way home from another doctor or emergency room visit. Mostly though, I'm tired of fighting for the disease. I'm sick and tired of fighting, advocating, and championing for my broken body.
That's why I'm writing. I'm asking you to do it for me – to do it for all of us. We don't deserve to be told that infertility is not a disease, even though the World Health Organization recognizes it as such. We don't deserve to be told that the medical testing and treatment we need is elective in nature, and therefore will not be covered by our insurance policies. We don't deserve to bear the financial burden of something we did not choose, on top of dealing with the physical, mental, and emotional strains of this disease.
We deserve better. We are empathetic, passionate men and women who simply want the same dignity and respect given to others facing medical crises. We want our voices heard, and – to show you this – I've asked some of my friends who also could not make it today to share their thoughts with you, too. I encourage you to go to my Advocacy Day blog post (http://www.fromiftowhen.com/2011/05/advocacy-day.html) and read the words of my friends and fellow infertiles. "Listen" to what they have to say. Their stories are important.
My husband and I made the decision to pursue domestic adoption late last year. While I look forward to the day when I hold our baby in my arms, I equally look forward to the day when I won't be treated differently because my body is broken. I don't know when that day will come, but I do know that you have the power to make it arrive sooner. You have the power to turn our voices into action. You have the power to fight for us. I can only hope you decide to use it.