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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32 Responses

  1. Oh, you poor dear. Bucketsful of hugs.

  2. So very sorry for you. I am unable to think of anything constructive to say.

  3. Oh Ann…

    Much love x

  4. Oh Ann, that’s so unfair, so very very unfair. I understand the Tulip poem perfectly.

    xox

  5. I havent know what to say, everything was a little too close to home and I disnt want to stell your grief, but I am so, so sorry for all the shit, pain and heartache. I wish I could just give you a hug and I don’t give them out that freeluy

  6. I am so very sorry for all of the c**p that’s been dolled your way. It’s a damn shame and it makes me very cross with the pregnancy-fairies or whoever else is in charge of these things.

  7. Oh, you poor, sweet, dear woman. Not fair. NOT FAIR.

    Docs do have to “see for themselves,” unfortunately, as “Well, the patient told me…” does not hold up well in court. Still, it’s so very frustrating when you know what’s what and they won’t listen to you, though isn’t it?

    I hope your uterus has the mercy to settle down now.

  8. Oh, how horrible that must have been. I’m so sorry you’ve had insult added to injury.

    Your poem, while beautiful (in theory), makes me ever-so-slightly angry, for some reason.

  9. Brave girl.

  10. I just want to hug you x

  11. Oh, God, the cruelty of it all. Poor you. Poor your confused unhappy uterus.

    (On shamelessly personal note, intrigued that you have total, utter proof (wish wish wish you hadn’t had the opportunities to do the research) that The Pain doesn’t depend on size of contents of uterus. Still haven’t quite forgiven the sister who remarked, on hearing that my periods are throwing-up-bad, ‘what are you going to be like during labour?’)

    Re: tiresome SHO and registrar needing to check for themselves, which makes you feel they’re treating you like a moron, which under the circumstances is libelously unfair – I give them minus ninety-seven points for poor attitude. But my doctor friends have told me enough horror stories of docs who took the seemingly articulate and intelligent patient’s word for something and it… ended badly. So I don’t blame them for double-checking, especially as your notes had vamoosed (for which I dock them another four hundred and seventy three points). Just, arse, it’s not what you need.

    Why the hell can’t a hospital keep patient’s notes to hand? Didn’t we all spend all that money on shiny new computer systems? *snarl*

    Am now feeling weepy over a Wendy Cope poem. You are wonderfully unexpected, my dear.

    Many hugs. Much love. Did John enjoy his go on the entonox? Would love to know what it’s like when not spoiled by horrible hurtings.

    And another hug.

    • Oh goodness, the never-ending saga of “we don’t have the notes, doctor!” made my admissions a nightmare when I was practising. If only the hospital system would sort itself out, life would be smoother for all concerned. They’d still have to look for themselves though.
      If it helps, I can bet you anything you like, the SHO was thinking “Fucking hell, I really could use this woman’s notes” and probably screaming at all relevant personnel “Get me this woman’s notes! Now!”
      Sigh…

      • Ah, I get mildly exasperated, but only because I’m in pain and snappish. I can see it pretty clearly from the clinical side, too. Well enough, in fact, that I have been asked twice during this miscarriage alone if I am a doctor? I don’t *think* they were being ironic…

        I do generally know more about mullerian duct abnormality, recurrent miscarriage and now, it seems, clinical protocol re foetal cytogenetics, than junior doctors treating me, but simply because I’ve had many years to foster a little specialist knowledge into a dangerous thing! On the other hand, they know a monstrous shitload more about useful things like How The Body Works. I had to google my blood pressure before I realised it was poor!

        And, to be fair, I’ve not met a junior doctor recently that wasn’t completely up-front about the fact that I was outside their experience, once we get around their inevitable initial assumption that they must have misheard me, or that I am extremely confused…

        • Actually, I came very close to being dismissed as completely hallucinogenic. There is a standing joke in our household concerning a story (that John claims I told him and I think he told me) discussed early in our relationship, concerning Marilyn Monroe when she met Arthur Miller’s mother. Story is toward the end here http://www-cgi.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0508/21/lkl.01.html but in essence, Arthur Miller’s mother described Marilyn as ‘a nice girl, but pees like a horse.’ Loud urination has always subsequently been referred to as Marilyn’s horse, or some such. Anyways, just as the nurse was coming to see how the entonox was working out for me, John was choosing to have a noisy pee in the adjacent toilet. I came so close – SO CLOSE – to announcing, with faux-cheeriness… ‘That’s my horse in there!’

          • Bwahahahahah!

            • I think it takes a while for the notes to shuffle back to the correct file. My Granny was rehospitalised quickly after an initial stay and her notes chased her around the wards for quite some time.

              I must say that despite all the data protection arguments, I do rather support that all enveloping computer database thing they were supposed to be developing. Weren’t they? ‘Spine’ or something?

  12. You poor, poor thing. I wish there was a way I could give you foot rubs, breakfast in bed, and a fat, healthy full term newborn. Alas, all I have are internet *hugs* and my sincere wish that things quit sucking rocks for you very soon.

  13. Oh dear God, I had not imagined anything like that. I am so sorry about that week from Hell. Oh, Ann.

    (I wish the description of the rush to hospital was from a novel, because it’s so painfully accurate. The expanded consciousness and altered sense of time that pain brings? I never saw it articulated so well.)

  14. Oh sweetheart, I’m so sorry.
    Right, there’s nothing else for it, I shall wrap you in my bubble wrap (so nothing else can “bruise” you), install you on the sofa, put Pride and Prejudice in the DVD player, and occupy Harry with… something I’ll make up as I go along. In your eye line, of course, so you don’t miss him.

  15. The physical pain sounds awful but, as before, a hundred times worse is all the emotional agony–worries, fears, grief–it signifies and magnifies. The nice thing about most physical pain is that, once it stops (please, let it stop for you) it’s more or less done with. I wish we could say the same about the emotional side of things.

    There have been many times that I wished I could reach through the screen and give someone a hug, but this definitely makes it into, oh, the top two.

    Somehow I want desperately for you to be able to rest and cocoon for a few days, with some Harry time of course. Life, annoyingly, often gets in the way of recuperation, but I really hope you get a chance to just be for a little while and let the shock and awfulness filter out somehow.

    Good wishes and a tip of the hat to your horse who must have been worried pretty sick about you.

  16. Just…bloody…ouch. Oh, Ann.

  17. God, how terrible. “I’m so sorry” just seems utterly inadequate.

  18. Why isn’t it simple. And the stark description of it as a £4000+ miscarriage – although money is almost irrelevant at this point.

    I am so sorry you have to go through this loss for so long.

  19. With every twist and turn of your story, I want to:

    1) get a whip and a chair and try to use lion-taming on one or both of your uteri, and I mean that not in an icky way
    2) sit you down and get you drunk
    3) send you loads of books so that you don’t have to think
    4) hug you

    Take your pick. I’d avoid 1, though, it will certainly be messy.

  20. I used to watch real life medical progs. Not any more. I will just be watching shouting ‘that’s nothing’ at the tv after following your saga.

    Sorry it’s been as physically traumatic as it has been mentally. Hugs x

  21. I do hope that it has all settled down in there now. You really have had a truly grim time of it. I wish that I could do something more useful than virtually sitting next to you and patting your hand and providing tea (couldn’t risk bringing my cake to the home of an expert).

    I so get the frustration of dealing with endless medics sans notes and in some cases sans much experience to speak of. I have also occasionally let them believe I might be a dr until they ask me a direct question at which point I fess up to being a lawyer. Which can work equally well in the getting a modicum of respect for the fact that you know your particular collection of ills pretty damn well thank you.

  22. Good heavens. I am so sorry. You have a remarkable way with words. I hope things quiet down.

  23. Dear Anne — I hope life finds a way to bring another child into your family in the near future. I’m so sorry that your pregnancy labyrinth has been so twisted –and painful — this time around. I just can’t get over the irony of those post-pregnancy darkened pee sticks either. The tulip poem you posted was beautiful. Here’s wishing you some sturdy oaks, evergreens, or perhaps some wistful, beautiful wisteria in the future.

  24. Glad you’re back. Not at all glad for the pain, all the types of pain. and *hug*

  25. Well that fucking sucked, didn’t it? It is one of those stories where one reads it thinking, ‘surely things get better now.’ And then they don’t. So sorry. And thank you for the poem.

  26. Hope you are just being quiet and not having another episode of medical awfulness (as opposed to the other awfulnesses). Hugs.

  27. Oh Christ.

    I’ve only just read this all — I am wayyyy behind on blog reading.

    I just wanted you to know that my heart it broken for you, and I’m so glad you made it through to the other side. You are one hell of a lady.

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