Tulips

Wotcha, fellas. Didn’t mean to vanish, but I’ve been a bit washed out. And possibly washed up.

What’s to tell? Well, given, 1) that I have spent the last week in disappointingly savage amounts of pain concentrated very narrowly on my ex-pregnant uterus, 2) that I took heparin and aspirin for 5 weeks specifically to improve placental infiltration, and, 3) that the stick I peed on a couple of days ago is still Dark As Dark: I conclude I almost certainly still have fragments of placenta lodged deep in my endometrium.

My white blood cell count is high, according to the Drs who keep ringing me up and blathering about the antibiotics they have already prescribed me (discharge paperwork fail), yet I have no signs of infection. Consequently, it is looking more and more likely that the autoimmune disorder I already suspected I host, is viewing these placental fragments with intense horror and suspicion. Had it stopped at merely viewing, it wouldna be so bad, but, not content with having neatly ejected Turbo, I then progressed, miserably and inexorably, some 4 days after miscarriage, to full labour contractions. I emphasize, again, the full, because, having previous experience of childbirth with bugger-all analgesia save entonox, I remember precisely what meaningful expulsive contractions feel like. To my reluctant interest, the gravidity of the uterus in question has no bearing on the ferocity of cramp, or pain level that can be achieved. Who knew?

You’d think, given foreknowledge of Ah! Labour Pains! I would propel myself into hospital before it all ramped up to that level, but… Ann just ain’t that clever, ladies and gents. I have viciously painful periods in any event, and I was grimly convinced that the cramps must surely plateau out anytime now…. now… now?… Jesus God, there’s no baby to come out. Absurd. Christ. Can’t talk anymore. Am going to have to start groaning soon. Am going to have to start screaming soon. Collapse. Tears. Bathroom. Howling. Husband. Delightful Doctors Next Door; for which, dear God, I am profoundly grateful. Arrival of babysitting in-laws to view my ignominious, gasping, staggering, bent, pyjama-clad departure: profound lack of the grateful.

It was about 10pm on a pleasant summer’s night, and I was, obviously, in a peculiarly accentuated state of awareness. I have memories of beautiful silhouettes of foliage against the deep blue and darkening sky, interspersed randomly with the texture of the plastic dashboard moulding that my white-knuckled fingers froze to. I think I probably groaned a lot. John likely thought it a longish drive. Re-run of the wheelchair shame, with thankfully far fewer spectators this time. Pulled backwards down long, curved, deserted, glowing, yellow-lit corridors. John has learnt where the bumps are, now.

When you present with pain post miscarriage, particularly in the wee small hours, it matters not one jot what it says on your medical notes in re: This Woman Is Complicated Stuff: Page Your Boss. No. For a start, your notes won’t be there anyway. What WILL be there is a tired SHO. You can always tell when the nurse has collared them about your particular case, because the exclamation ‘Two?’ will travel loudly down the quiet corridor to where you are huddled, gripping the entonox cylinder as if it is your Best Friend Forever in the entire world, which, at that moment in time, it pretty much is. (You swiftly realise that it’s far too little, far too late, and the co-ordinated discipline required to both hold the mouthpiece and breathe is actually beyond you; you gratify a long-held wish of your husband by passing it over to him instead for a swift try.)

Gynae Drs are looking for the two most likely causes of pain at this point: infection (take bloods, set up IV antibiotics) and a clot wedged in cervix (speculum examination). It matters not two jots how clearly you enunciate between contractions that the cervix in question is not, really it is not, visualisable by speculum examination: they seem to feel they are mightily culpable if they don’t take a look anyway. (If you are very lucky indeed at this point, they will trot off to tell their Registrar they can’t see what is allegedly (‘Two? Are you certain?’) there, and the Registrar won’t believe the SHO or read your notes, and will want to re-examine you themselves.)

I was fortunate this time: I had a reasonably kind-hearted soul who was moribund with a streaming cold (that I can’t believe I didn’t catch), who gave me pethidine (demerol) before the speculum exam. Murder the pain: it did not, precisely, but it made the world a more acceptable place for an hour or so. Voltarol and IV antibiotics followed, and I eventually managed some hard-won sleep. The pain had settled by morning  and a scan showed no retained products – a neat euphemism – although it did show a reasonable depth of evenly-distributed endometrium still to come away, not necessarily this month.

So, off I trotted home. And that evening, the whole frantic shebang started up again. It fell, thankfully, a tiny fraction short of full-throttle contractions, and merely stopped squarely in Significant Agony. By dint of swallowing a (when I looked up the max dosages afterwards) highly unwise amount of paracetamol, voltarol and codeine during a Cocktail (un)Happy (9) Hour(s), I managed to put some kind of lid on it. I emerged from my drug-induced exhausted stupour around noon the next day, and that evening… yes, you have it right. It all started again. Marginally – just – less crippling than the night before, but still a long way north of anything I’ve experienced, bar actual childbirth.

And so we went on, me and my detonating uterus, all week. Every 24 hours, the blasted organ would spark up again, in a slowly dwindling series of attempts to rid itself of whatever tiny remnants were causing my whole system such overblown and tragically misguided panic.

It wasn’t my best week ever. Harry was on half-term and I missed him badly, I saw him so little. I am still not entirely out of the uterine woods (now there’s a nice surrealist image for you) but I’ve been quite a bit better since the weekend. Hurrah for the end (I hope) of the £4,000+ miscarriage.  

Well. That was a nice few months that were… less than invigorating. I always knew that this was a highly probable outcome. The worst part, for me, has not been the painful aftermath, mind-blowing as it has been. Pain is fairly straightforward, at the end of the day, and there’s a certain amount of mental detachment you can achieve with it, given practice. I found it less far easy to subjugate the grinding day-to-day worry that came before it – I’d choose pain over anxiety in an instant – and my stomach-churning panic, over several hours, when I couldn’t find the heartbeat. Those are not moments I particularly wish to re-live. 

But, of course, I will.

Tulips

Months ago I dreamed of a tulip garden,
Planted, waited, watched for their first appearance,
Saw them bud, saw greenness give way to colours,
Just as I’d planned them.

Every day, I wonder how long they’ll be here.
Sad and fearing sadness as I admire them,
Knowing I must lose them, I almost wish them
Gone by tomorrow.

Wendy Cope

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