Describe your experience with University of Arkansas Medical School.
The clinic is a small facility but is growing and the rooms are getting nicer, more sophisticated looking, and more welcoming. Dr. Richard-Davis revived a practice and inherited some empty space in the clinic that was not particularly attractive or welcoming. They are fixing that and it looks much better now. The clinic can be slow at times but they have more staff now so it does move a bit faster both getting in for an appointment, getting back to a patient room, and getting phone calls about test results and next steps. One thing I always had to remember was that she was always willing to take time with me to discuss things and answer questions, especially after miscarriages. She does that for every patient so sometimes the long wait is because she is taking care of another patient who is just as scared, sad, or upset as I was sometimes.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Gloria Richard-Davis at University of Arkansas Medical School?
Dr. Richard-Davis ALWAYS knew exactly where I was in the cycle, what meds I was on, the results of any tests, procedures, etc., and she ALWAYS had frank and compassionate conversations with me. She was patient and answered all of my questions every time I saw her, when I called and left a message, or when I sent a message through the patient portal.
Describe your experience with the nursing staff.
The nurses know who you are and where you are in treatment whether they saw you two days ago or two months ago. They are friendly and want to know what is going on in your life besides fertility treatments but aren't so chatty that you are just waiting for them to stop chatting so you can get on with the appointment. They really care and are heartbroken for you when a treatment cycle doesn't work, when you have a miscarriage, or when medical conditions are getting worse so it feels like you're starting at the beginning again. They are very positive and are sort of a cheering section for you and your journey but also recognize when the cheering needs to be about you healing and recognizing that it may never work. They know what they are doing and are knowledgeable about fertility treatments and how things work, they aren't there just to take vitals and get the administrative stuff out of the way.
How was your experience with Gloria Richard-Davis at University of Arkansas Medical School?
Dr. Richard-Davis is incredibly patient, reassuring, kind, and knowledgeable. She was always willing to discuss why we pursuing a line of treatment, why we should switch, what the risks and benefits were, and answer all of my questions even when they were likely repetitive. Patient safety and comfort were foremost in her considerations but she also didn't want to waste my time or money sticking with a treatment plan when she didn't think it would work in the long run. I really appreciated that because treatments are not cheap and time was not on my side.
While I don't feel she had a lot of weaknesses if I had to do it over again I would have wanted a little more warning that some things were really likely and not just something I just needed to be aware of. During one treatment cycle I ended up with OHSS and while I was given information about it, what to look for, that the cycle may be canceled, etc., I didn't really realize that it was something that might actually happen, it just seemed like information they give everyone because it's always a potential side effect. There were also a few times that I felt like she was a little more brusque than necessary but I also recognized that she had a busy clinic and generally took as much time as I needed.
There are two instances I had as a patient with her that are why I recommend her that have nothing to do with any treatments being successful. The first was her reaction to my concerns and anxiety about procedures and surgeries, which were inevitable given my reproductive issues. Previously I had been a patient of Dr. Dean Motous and Dr. Francisco Batres and they had performed three procedures and two surgeries on me. They were never willing to explain to me what they were going to do beforehand or answer my questions afterwards. Dr. Motous was offended that I would ask questions and yelled at me during one of my post-op visits because I was asking questions. I stayed with them because at the time they were the only physicians in the state. So when Dr. Richard-Davis moved to Little Rock and opened a practice I was elated but still very hesitant given what I had already been through. When I explained to her why surgery and procedures were so traumatic to me and the treatment I had received she immediately suggested that we meet outside of clinic hours so she had plenty of time to talk, listen, and answer my questions. Her time is in high demand in her clinic, as a faculty member at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and a mother and yet she suggested that we meet outside of an office visit where she would not get paid or get credit for the visit so she could make sure I was comfortable with what was going on. I don’t know that she does that for every patient, but the fact that she even thought to offer it was really amazing to me.
The second was during pre-op for the first surgery she performed on me and I asked her if she had faith that this would work. She looked me in the eye and put her hand on mine and said, "yes, I absolutely do, otherwise I wouldn't be putting you through this".
Something to note about Dr. Richard-Davis, she went through fertility treatments herself. She spent ten years trying to get pregnant with lots of failed treatments and several miscarriages. So she knows what she’s putting people through and understands the emotional and physical stress that her patients are dealing with. I think the fact that she knows where all of her patients are coming from makes a big difference in how she takes care of them.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Gloria Richard-Davis at University of Arkansas Medical School?
Be honest and open with her about what is going on for you physically and mentally and just communicate with her. I was very shy about talking to her at first despite her asking how I was doing both physically and mentally and generally I side stepped the question about how I was doing mentally. The first time I really answered that question was a break through for the relationship and treatment. She understood what was going on for me emotionally and outside of treatment (work, home, etc.) and would take that into consideration when we discussed treatment options and what to do next. It also made a huge difference after the miscarriages because she had a better sense of how raw and fragile I was because I wasn't putting on a brave face anymore.
Describe the protocols Gloria Richard-Davis used in your cycles at University of Arkansas Medical School and their degree of success.
The initial visits involved discussing PCOS, endometriosis, uterine polyps and hypothyroidism and how they affect fertility. I started taking Metformin at that point. We tried Letrozole instead of Clomid because of recent studies it may have better results for some PCOS patients with far fewer risks or side effects. The Letrozole did not work as well or as quickly as she thought was useful so we moved to Follistim and an HCG trigger shot. The first cycle that was supposed to be just injectables ended up being a hybrid cycle with Letrozole because storms delayed the injectable medicine arriving in time. That treatment was successful but ended in miscarriage. I started baby aspirin as part of the regimen after that. The rest of the cycles were Metformin, baby aspirin, Follistim and HCG. One of those cycles resulted in OHSS but we backed off the amount of Follistim needed and that didn’t happen again. When a cycle resulted in pregnancy I started progesterone immediately to increase the chances of remaining pregnant. Eventually it did work and I had a successful twin pregnancy.