I'm a science nerd so I appreciated having this information, but he [Dr Sandler] sometimes presented the information just as information giving me little indication as to how this information would affect my husband and I in real life. It seemed like he was using a "flow chart" of sorts where if treatment A didn't work then we move on to treatment B without necessarily considering me, my history or how the previous treatment went.
RMA is a huge practice. This has its benefits, but for me, it seemed to have more drawbacks...Each time I called I would have to give a brief overview of my history and a different person would contact me. There were times when I was given two different answers to the same question and had to navigate very confusing waters with little direction.
How was your experience with Benjamin Sandler at RMA of New York?
Dr. Sandler is incredibly knowledgeable and often explained what was going on in great, scientific detail. I'm a science nerd so I appreciated having this information, but he sometimes presented the information just as information giving me little indication as to how this information would affect my husband and I in real life. It seemed like he was using a "flow chart" of sorts where if treatment A didn't work then we move on to treatment B without necessarily considering me, my history or how the previous treatment went. He was somewhat personable, but I wouldn't say his bedside manner was always great. Sometimes it seemed as if he wanted to succeed with us more to advance his own ego than to give us sometime we want so badly.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Benjamin Sandler at RMA of New York?
Don't expect warm and fuzzy.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Benjamin Sandler at RMA of New York?
RMA is a huge practice. This has its benefits, but for me, it seemed to have more drawbacks. I never spoke directly with Dr. Sandler when I had a question or corner, nor did I have contact information for a specific nurse or assistant. Each time I called I would have to give a brief overview of my history and a different person would contact me. There were times when I was given two different answers to the same question and had to navigate very confusing waters with little direction. Everyone was nice enough, but many times I felt that the person I was dealing with was not looking at me as a human, with very complicated emotions surrounding infertility and the treatments I was going through.
Describe the protocols Benjamin Sandler used in your cycles at RMA of New York and their degree of success.
We started with three cycles of IUI using the pill Letrozol and Ovidrel for the trigger shot. I was told each time I went for monitoring that I was responding well to the medication, but got a negative result each time. I don't recall having any side effects from the Letrozol. I bruised at the injection site from the Ovidrel (but I bruise easily in general). Then we moved on to a traditional IVF cycle. We used Follistim, Menopur, Cetrotide, and Ovidrel again for the trigger shot. Giving the shots to myself wasn't as bad as I expected. I bruised at the injection sites (which you should try to vary as much as possible to avoid injuring the same spot repeatedly) and was sometimes red and irritated as well. I had a very "full" feeling with the injections (which I was told was normal bloating) and was sometimes uncomfortable for a few minutes after each shot (mostly with the Menopur and Cetrotide). We got 9 eggs from this cycle, and at the time were told this was a good number. Unfortunately, only 4 fertilized with ICSI (my husband had testicular cancer in 2013 so they did this because of his medical history) and by the time day 5 came around for the transfer only one was left (it was not at blastocyst stage yet, but they transferred it because it was all that we had and said there was still a chance that we could get pregnant). We did not, however. When we met with Dr. Sandler for a follow-up we were told that 9 eggs was not really a good number (not sure why we were told at the time that it was) and for someone my age and without any other obvious health issues they would have expected more (a doctor we saw before beginning this whole process brought up the idea of endometriosis but Dr. Sandler felt strongly that he did not need to investigate this further). We were also told that my right and left ovaries produced a different number of eggs during this cycle. Dr. Sandler said he would like to see more egg production and more even production between the two ovaries so he recommended another round of IVF but using what they called a "flare protocol". So for IVF round 2, I went on a birth control pill for about 20 days first (this is supposed to shut the whole system down so that when the injections begin, the system is "flared" up and made to produce more eggs and with evenness between the ovaries). Then I did injections again, but this time using Lupron, Follistim, Menopur and then Ovidrel for the trigger shot. This time 13 eggs were retrieved, 8 fertilized with ICSI and 3 remained at the time of transfer. Dr. Sandler recommended that we transfer two embryos (this time they made it to the blastocyst stage) so we did. The third was allowed to mature another day and was frozen on day 6. I should also mention that with all rounds I also used Medrol, Endometrin, and Prometrium after the transfers (I also took a single dose of an antibiotic with each round). Again, we got a negative pregnancy test. We met with Dr. Sandler again and were told that the one embryo that was frozen made it to a very good stage (all embryos are given a rating based on their development) and he recommended that we transfer that frozen embryo. So we did. I took Estradiol and then used the same progesterone as with the fresh transfers. Again, a negative pregnancy test. We used all of our available insurance benefits and also paid a lot of money out of pocket with Dr. Sandler. So after many failed attempts we decided to try a different doctor just to have a fresh set of eyes look at our case.
Describe your experience with the nursing staff at RMA of New York.
With the exception of one nurse, they were generally very quick to give information and sometimes I felt like I was being rushed off the phone. Some seemed somewhat unhappy to be doing what they were doing. I know we all have bad days and things going on outside of work, but this is a very sensitive field to be working in so one would think they would have been a bit more compassionate.
Describe your experience with RMA of New York.
Very large, clean, and "doctor office" like. Easy to get to for me which was a plus.
Describe your experience with your monitoring appointments at RMA of New York.
I tried getting to the office before it technically opened since I have to be at work early in the morning (by 8am). Usually there were about 5 people there with me. They generally started seeing patients for monitoring on time. The longest I waited was an hour, but that only happened once.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Benjamin Sandler at RMA of New York.
All three cycles of IUI were covered by our insurance and I do not recall the specific costs. A round if IVF with medications ran well over $10,000. Payment was due on day one of the cycle and in full. The anesthesiologist did not take insurance so each retrieval required at least $750 out of pocket. I spoke with Dr. Sandler at the last follow up appointment about finances and he was able to reduce the cost of the frozen transfer that we did.
What specific things went wrong at RMA of New York?
- Failed to call in prescriptions to pharmacy
- Lost paperwork
- Failed to call with results
- Failed to inform you of changes in protocol
- Provided conflicting information
- Failed to convey critical information
Describe the specific things that went wrong at RMA of New York.
I was given conflicting information several times. Instructions given on my voicemail were often different than those on the actual prescription requiring several phone calls to clarify. I showed up once for bloodworm and an ultrasound as instructed and was asked why I was there as the orders had not been properly sent. I had to call on many occasions to ask for refills. The "IVF coordinator" who I was given contact information for often had to consult with a nurse or two to get an answer to a question when one was directed to her.