Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Do we listen to the experts?

About Irene, I think a facebook friend said it best- her status update was' Irene, you bore me'. Thank god for boredom. I was in the mandatory evacuation zone, I packed up, stayed with a friend, had a tranquil weekend and came home to a perfectly untouched apartment. I did get to talk to many branches of my far flung family who called up panic stricken, because of CNN,  who were making it sound like the apocalypse was coming.  The majority of the reporters, were of course in Manhattan, trying to make as big a deal as they could of 1 foot of water. It would have been funny if it had not been annoying. From what I could see, Irene did very little to Manhattan, but did stir up trouble (though hardly as much as had been anticipated) to places like Long Island. Hope everybody is ok.

Even though many of the precautions seemed over the top in retrospect, I'm glad everybody played it safe.  But that is my nature. I got to witness an interesting example of the choice between playing it safe versus the alternative this weekend.  A friend cooked dinner, and one of the things she made was fish. Since I never eat fish without first finding out what kind it is, I asked, and was told, swordfish.  I definitely would not eat that. The reason I declined was because swordfish (along with shark) is one the the fish varieties that is very high in methyl mercury. My friend had no idea about that fact, and was completely taken aback that I would not even have a tiny bite of the fish.  She was like, well, what harm can eating it once do? The answer is, probably not that much, if you are not pregnant. Mercury is deadly during a pregnancy- tiny quantities can disrupt neuronal migration and hence can cause major defects in brain development. There is that ill-understood, poorly defined possible link between mercury and autism. The deal is, once you take mercury into your body, it is very hard to expel completely.  A good portion will go sit in your cells, in some corner of your body. If that cell is every broken down and recycled during pregnancy (low probability), mercury can renter your blood stream, and travel past the placenta, where it can wreck havoc.  So there is no way I will ever eat shark or swordfish or even tuna (certain varieties are kind of high) not until I close the door on having any children in the future.  I explained all of this to my friend, who ate all the swordfish anyway, and will probably continue to do so.  She served it to everybody else there- all women. One of them asked why I was not eating fish and I told them what I had told my friend. All the  women there were of child bearing age, 4 of us were single (it IS new york) and one woman was married, and I think, from her alarmed reaction, plans to TTC soon. Nonetheless, after initially bypassing the fish, she went and ate a few slices.  Honestly, the odds of any harm coming of eating it, this once, is pretty low. But because of my training and my knowledge and my own personal history of pregnancy loss, I could not help but be alarmist. Everybody ate the fish, and I'm glad, for my friends sake, that they did.  But it struck me, that, despite knowing how bad it is (the FDA counsels against any woman of childbearing age consuming any seafood species high in mercury, and I told them this), everybody went ahead with it anyway.  Maybe they will not repeat the process, now that they know, but who can say? Overall, the thing I was surprised by that none of them knew about the dangers of mercury and certain seafoods. Making a choice is fine- its your body, your life but I just want people to be educated before making that choice.

In other news- I got browbeaten by my doctor into agreeing to get the HSG done. I've protested to him time and time again, that an HSG is not supposed to be the best test to reveal scarring in the tubes/uterus. His rejoinder each time has been, the people who are doing it have not been using the test correctly, they do not know how to read it, an HSG, in the right hands, done by me, will tell us what we need to know.  What can I say? He IS the RE, I hope he knows what he is talking about. So, while I'm with him, the HSG is what I will have. 


  1. Good for you for standing up for what you believe in with your friends, and educating them in the process!  Good luck with the HSG - I hope it really does work in the way he wants. I tend to listen to the docs too...

  2. I use to copius amounts of tuna until, in my late twenties, I heard about the danger & haven't had any since.

    Hope your HSG goes well. Good luck

  3. I actually dislike most of the super high mercury fish. I like fish a little lower on the food chain.

    Sounds like you should maybe re-do the HSG? I mean, if you'll listen to the experts about the hurricane...maybe you should listen to the experts about this too. I just sure as hell hope he actually DOES have a magical HSG technique, because that is NOT a fun test to go through once, much less twice.

  4. I was also glad that Irene was more whimper than bang. Just glad it's over.

    And I'm surprised that none of the women knew that about swordfish - I'm pretty careful in that direction, as well (also won't eat a lot of farmed fish because of the crap they pump into the farms). Interesting. New Yorkers are supposed to have the highest concentrations of methyl mercury in the country.

    As to the HSG, I think it's a might-as-well situation. It's not as involved as other things, the recovery is immediate and if he's good, he may very well to pick up anything.

  5. I have not actually had the HSG done ever before. Yes, in an uncertain world, the 'expert' is your best bet, but more importantly, I don't have a choice, taking a militant stand with your doctor does not seem like the smartest of approaches:) He better have magic hands (and eyes)!

  6. Glad Irene treated you gently. That is an interesting fact about New Yorkers, I wonder why that is- sushi guzzling? I've never so many sushi bars in one place!

  7. This makes me wonder how much I've ingested over my life and is sitting in my cells.  Hope the HSG comes out good.

  8. Good luck with the HSG. I hope you get some answers.

    As for the mercury, it's amazing how people will ignore the risk when it comes to themselves (and their future children if they later get pregnant), but then decide, for example, not to vaccinate their kids.

    A lot of this stuff is not well understood and I am glad people like you are sharing the information, whether people listen or not. 

  9. Good luck with the HSG.  I hate those.  I'm glad Irene wasn't as bad as it could have been, but 40-some deaths in the US is bad in my opinion.  And, like you say, better to be prepared.