King Duncan Had Less Than I Did, I Assure You

Your Auntie Ann has some advice for you: do not, under any circumstances whatsoever, get yourself born with two uteri, medicate yourself with drugs to markedly increase the plump vascularity of your endometrium for 5 long weeks, and then eject the lot in a 16-hour bleedathon.

You will end up in hospital on IV fluids with a blood pressure of approximately Bugger over Fuck. 

I had what the older generation would classify as a ‘funny turn’ on Wednesday evening which continued until, on Thursday morning, I suddenly and painlessly lost what I then thought to be a significant number of large clots. (Ah, naive child! Such inexperience!)

The absence of any real cramping had caught me on the hop, and I thought we’d left it too late to reach hospital. There followed the most horrendous 30+ mile journey in rush-hour traffic, and, as my head was still in the funny-turn-fall-over stage, the profound and ultimate sinless public shame of being carted through the thronged main doors at 9.30am in a wheelchair, with bed hair. What expression are you supposed to adopt, for crying out loud? Stoic? Pained? Helpless? In retrospect, I should have simply feigned unconsciousness, slumped artistically, and welded my eyes firmly shut against the indignity.

Naturally, as soon as I arrived on the ward, uterine action ceased, and it was only after much to-ing and fro-ing, and – despite the Prof’s detailed but illegible notes – having, as usual, to work my explaining way up the ranks (No, you cannot send me to theatre. No, you are indeed unable to visualise that cervix. Yes, I have done this before.) that we agreed that trekking home again with a half-open cervix wasn’t an option compatible with cytogenetics (Yes, I am clearly written up for fetal karyotyping. No, I do not need to justify this decision to a Registrar. Go and ring my Professor.) and that I may as well start misoprostol a day sooner than planned. By the time the ward bed-block resolved and I moved into a room of my own, it was early afternoon, and I’d sent John home (it was, unamusingly, his 39th birthday; watching bleeding wives is not quite his metier plus Harry needed collecting) and settled down with my book for the long haul.

I did very well with the misoprostol, all things being considered. I hung onto the loading dose of 4 dissolvable tablets for approximately half an hour, before brisk southbound vaginal traffic bulldozed them back out, intact, into one of a long series of horrifyingly weighty bedpans, where the sight of them caused me a moment’s perplexed What The Hell? That 30 minutes, however, was just enough to nudge things along very gently, and by the time the second dose fell due at 4pm, I knew the sac was imminent and wouldn’t take it.

There was puzzlingly, weirdly little pain, from start to finish, and at absolutely no point did I need pain relief, although I eventually accepted some paracetamol simply to keep my nurse quiet about it for the next 4 hours. There was mild dismay from the staff regarding the sheer unbelievable quantity of… output. The veteran of two previous losses – with a double uterus, moreover – at about this gestation, I was initially fairly sanguine, but even I began to stare in increasing consternation as it just kept. on. coming. Agitated, I began to feverishly review my knowledge of Basic Anatomy, and even allowing for my distinguishing deviation from it, could not work out how several quarts-worth of endometrial wall could be so busily decanting from two little pint pots, especially as only one of them even felt active. I vaguely wondered if it was time to look for higher ground.

Of course, there is only so much of this sort of thing that a body can take before Exhibiting Complaint, and by dinner time I was towing a wheeled IV stand on my frequent staggers to the bathroom. By bedtime I was clutching it as a walking aid. By the time my uterus decided that it was, broadly speaking, finished, I was darkly cursing the drip fluids that kept relentlessly filling my bladder and driving me out of bed. By 1am, I was exhausted enough to drift off for a couple of hours – no thanks to the usual hospital clatter and clamour and the dear lady across the hall who snored like a jet engine being tested to destruct, but probably some thanks to rubbish blood pressure.  

Anyhoo. By the time breakfast rolled around, I felt a lot better, bleeding had slowed dramatically, and after short commons the previous day, I fell on breakfast and demolished it. I was keen to ensure that correct cytogenetics paperwork had been completed, and, that done, depart. Fat chance: everyone had the immortal rind to be stupidly busy. By 11am, I hadn’t seen a medical soul since 6am except for the phlebotomist (I have no idea why they still wanted full blood counts at that point, and neither had she when I enquired, but I held an arm out unbegrudgingly nevertheless.) so I removed my own IV and started politely agitating at the desk – neither action quite endeared me to Sister.

Eventually I recruited a delightful young SHO who cheerfully grappled with the cytogenetics paperwork – evidently not something anyone was familiar with – and tried his best to calm my worries that after 20 hours in the fridge already, Turbo’d be useless by the time the pot arrived anywhere.

I was finally sprung at lunchtime. I came home. I slept. Nagging nausea is still an issue, but I feel nearly human again – or did, until I saw the news, which upset me back at the time.

In terms of where we go from here, I honestly don’t know. We haven’t discussed it, although I have booked an IVF follow up appointment with the Consultant who had the titanic struggle with my transfer. The Prof (primarily an obstetrician) said she was happy to manage scans of any future pregnancy but was, bizarrely, ‘too depressed’ by events to discuss the actual way ahead – if there still is one for us. After consultation with Transfer King Consultant over management of miscarriage, she brought back a message that he was devastated to learn our news, but was still very upbeat about the future. Given that A) he is an absolutely delightful chap, B) he doesn’t seem to want to give up on me, C) he is the only senior consultant in the unit I haven’t yet seen, and D) he was so spectacularly nice to Harry when they met: we’ll go see him in a few weeks.

Life is full. But I feel, in every possible sense, very empty.

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25 Responses

  1. Well, I’m glad to hear that you survived all of that and that it wasn’t too *physically* painful, but…damn all the same. I hope you’re able to get some answers from cytogenics, and that you recover from the anemia (certainly you must be anemic after all that?) uneventfully.

  2. oh, oh, words fail me. You are brave, you are beautiful and you deserve better than this. I am so sad for you. xxx

  3. Oh you poor dear. Like MFA Mama I’m glad it wasn’t too painful in the scheme of things but even so just awful for you. Am liking the sound of charming consultant though and whilst it’s nice that Prof lady empathises maybe getting depressed isnt exactly too too helpful at this juncture. On hand for long distance tea, gin, whatevers. X

  4. Two of my sister’s classmates were on that plane: it’s still upsetting, too.

    And Jesus, Ann, that is a lot to go through. A lot. Jesus. And I say that as an “agnostic with doubts” (to quote Michael Palin) who doesn’t often take whatsisname’s name in vain.

    I fervently hope you get some answers from the genetics people.

  5. I’ve been following your story for a while now and was very sad at the latest developments. Just wondering whether you have considered possibly transferring your embryos to a gestational carrier. I admire your strength and honesty.

  6. I am exhausted just reading that, so I really really hope that the rest of the process is downhill for you… my goodness gracious.

    Thinking of you this weekend…

  7. My God. Given you’d been drained completely, did John just roll you up like a carpet and pop you on the roof-rack for the drive home? HOW much blood? Given your interesting internals, perhaps you keep a spare carotid in each uterus or something. Oh, the horribleness. My dear dear girl.

    I’m glad it wasn’t too painful, physically at least.

    (Insides are effin’ weird. I bled all the way down to bugger over fuck and ended up on a drip on a less-than-five-week miscarriage once. Informed Medical Comment: ‘oh! You’re actively bleeding, aren’t you!’. Um, yes, sorry about the blanket).

    As for The Prof, oh, SHE was ‘too depressed’ to discuss next steps, was she? WTF? She’s added to my list of people to slap’n’sneer.

    Good luck with Consultant. He sounds a stirling chap. May he prove to be so.

    And much love to John. What a royal fucker of a birthday for him. I ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT wish him many happy returns, that would be sadistic. But I do hope all his future birthdays are merry and fun and the only woozy lying-down done is done by the joyously pissed.

    You are very much in my thoughts. Many, many hugs.

  8. I’m pretty sure the appropriate posture for any trip in a wheelchair is artistic slumping.

    That is not a good birthday surprise for John.

    I’m glad you didn’t have much pain, and I’m sorry your were almost exsanguinated. Guess you’d better be eating steaks and spinach for a few weeks to get your iron levels back up. I recognize that empty feeling and I hope that it doesn’t last.

    Here’s hoping the Consultant has something to offer…

  9. As Katy said, you deserve better than this – much better. One of the things that makes this sad, sorry and painful event worse is that you still had to fight to have the written instructions of your prof followed through properly! I often wonder why notes are kept as they are so seldom read. Do you think the residual heparin/aspirin caused the very excessive blood loss? If you are brave enough to try again, maybe just aspirin will suffice? I admit to being deeply mistrustful of heparin as the one time I took it following a surgery that required a couple of days mostly tethered to my bed, I spurted blood clear across it, a nurse and onto the floor when my cannula was removed. I bled for what seemed like ages before the nurse could get it under control. The assorted massive bruising all over was very impressive too. With subsequent surgeries I have refused it point blank.

    Well, I hope you manage to get some rest over the weekend and maybe a little enjoyment from John’s birthday . . . ? As to where you go from here, who knows, although I suspect you may be a braver girl than me Gunga Dinn.

    xox

  10. I’m really quite flabbergasted about the Professor. She is quite that sensitive, eh? To give up so easily? Aren’t medical professionals supposed to be… you know…. professional?

    A friend of mine had a scary postpartum hemorrhage (some placenta retained without her knowing it) and used a food-related metaphor to describe it that I shall never forget. Your bleeding sounds quite terrifying and I am glad you are able to recuperate now. Holding hopeful thoughts that the Consultant will prove more resilient (seriously?! “too depressed”?!) and that you will find–well. Whatever you need right now.

    The physical misery, pain or no, seems like the ultimate insult added to emotional injury. Or I guess the linkage is more intimate than that. But that’s what I remember most about my own small bleed, hunched on the toilet. Ann, my heart goes out to you again.

    • Prof is an odd woman, admittedly – but then, so am I, and we got on very well. But her flabbered ghast over the Bad Ending was, I agree, thoroughly peculiar. She was evidently genuinely distressed by it, but we were puzzled by her complete despair.

      If I was gravida 6 para 0, I would be less mystified, but I HAVE actually produced a living child: ergo, it is not impossible.

      I do rather wonder if the fact that Transfer Consultant has actually met Harry, and appeared fairly taken with him, was instrumental. We are lucky in having a selection of very good clinicians in the unit, but a couple of them are just such kind people also.

      • Yes–on the one hand I don’t want to be all Pollyanna but on the other thing there seem to be a lot of hopeful things about your situation, Harry being number one.

        Good bedside manner, as you know, is priceless in a doc; but somehow it never occurred to me that it could go both ways, that the doc might be more motivated by his or her own emotional involvement in you and your family. But regardless of motivation, it’s so nice to run into a medical someone who IS nice and who makes you feel personally cared for. Really hope he will be the one to help you get where you need to go.

  11. Wow, this could be me, hemmorhaging on my husband’s birthday, had a friend leave work to drive me to the ER, sent home, only to restate bleeding copiously, sitting on toilet to minimize already impressive gore to brand new house, pass out, return to ER in Ambulance to finally be admitted (by same doctor that had just discharged me) for emergency surgery.

    I will admit, lying there on my brand new floor, my blood everywhere, stripped down to milk-stained maternity top and giant postpartum granny underpants, seeing that stream of beautiful young paramedics streaming in, I wanted to curl up and die.

  12. Stupid spell checker will NOT let me write re-start in above. It insists I meant restate. Gah.

    Anyway, I empathize with the blood gore and hope that the universe is finally done messing with you, my dear girl. Much love. Bloody gore, that is. Ah. Technology. For some reason this new format on my iPad will not let me go back and correct mistakes without deleting all I have written since the error. It’s making me crazy!

  13. Oh goodness, what a tough few days you’ve had. I’m so sorry that you had to go through it at all, and I’m so sorry that you didn’t miscarry peacefully, painlessly and without expelling your circulating volume.

    I have to say I agree with May – the Professor does need a slap. Admittedly it’s pleasing that she cares and is upset by your miscarriage, but really, she needs to be professional about this and provide help and advice, not just refuse as she’s too depressed. Is she actually 15?? The Male Consultant sounds like a nice chap, here’s hoping he has something helpful to add. (If you tell me his name I can do some digging if you want…)

    Re the full blood count, well, I assume they wanted to know exactly how haemodilute you were, having watered your blood down with their fluids to a weak ribena…

    I’m sorry about John’s birthday. It probably wasn’t the present he wanted on the day. I think that during the infertility years/miscarrying years, birthdays seem to go down the drain anyway. If you’re not actively bleeding you’re missing your baby…

    I know that empty feeling, it’s awful. I don’t remember finding anything to take it away. Sending hugs and hot water bottles, and furry blankets, and an offer to wrap you up in bubble wrap… if that might help at all…

    Lastly, I remember being admitted to hospital in Malaysia, after a bout of food poisoning left me leaking constantly from both ends. Literally. My in-laws took me in the car to hospital where I was forced into a wheelchair (just as well really, as I couldn’t actually walk) but I was really quite embarrassed at the state of myself, vomiting continuously into a cake tin, of all things…

    So sorry Ann, thinking of you still.

  14. Dear girl, you surely do know how do things properly, no? I’m totally with you on the slump and feign a coma to avoid public mortification due to Reproductive Innards (Anomalous Versions). See also: Mullerian Bastardry. You have my undying admiration for such grace under enormous pressure. Even though it did sink to Bugger over Fuck.

    And I’m also WTBF with multiple question marks at the Prof. Depressed? Stand aside Madam, or drop to the back of the queue. Depressed is not your job at the moment. Professional is what you should be aiming for.

    Thinking of you all and hoping for the gentle healing of your physical and emotional selves. Soonest. XX

  15. I’m sorry.

  16. Utterly horrendous. I am often amazed by out bodies ability to keep producing liquid, whether it is tears, snot, blood.

    I am so sorry that even when it is over, it isn’t over – you still had to go through all this.

    Go King Consultant.

    Take care.

  17. […] nobly, with a stiff upper lip that’d be the envy of Lord Uxbridge, Marquess of Anglesey, going through utter hell. Fucking bastard Universe.   Leave a Comment LikeBe the first to like this […]

  18. To Hell and back you’ve been, Ann. I’m so very sorry. What a very miserable sized crumb of comfort that you didn’t have a lot of physical pain. Awful bloody times.

    Thinking of you.

  19. Enough now. Enough.

  20. Dear Mrs HFF,

    I am so abjectly sorry to be commenting so very late in the piece on things. I can, with justification, blame 84 nocturnal hours of work in the last seven days, but I shan’t.

    I’m so abjectly sorry for the loss of turbo.

    Much love,

    G

  21. “Bloody hell” seems the best phrase to use to a) express my reaction and b) literally describe what you’ve been going through. You poor, poor thing and poor John to, to have it all going on on his birthday. Yes, thank you Universe. You have ‘delighted’ us enough. Now sod off.

    I give the Prof 10 points for empathy, but am deducting 8.5 for general uselessness in the situation. YOU get to be depressed; SHE gets to do something about it. Transfer King sounds like a good egg though.

    Hope you are feeling better today.

  22. Even in extremis you write so beautifully. I’m so sorry. I thought I had commented before, but I think it has been eaten. Double the uteri, double the ordeal? At least, and then some.

    love.

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