Delayed Eviction

Thank you for your lovely words and kind wishes.

I’m still here. I feel tired, wretched and poorly, and haven’t the energy to do anything after Harry-wrangling except stare listlessly at the screen before heading toward another early bed, into which I collapse like a mighty tree-trunk afflicted with Dutch elm disease, oak leaf roller moth, red band needle blight, great spruce bark beetles, AND savage axe-wounds.

I saw my lovely consultant in her lunch hour yesterday, for which I had to pay, as my pregnancy was officially Nothing To Do with her NHS clinic, which evidently has a waiting list of Horrendous. I haven’t had a bill yet, but I feel she’s worth the dollar.

‘That’s really NOT fair!’ she exclaimed, when I told her it was all over bar the shouting. I nodded vehemently.

I wasn’t really expecting to discover anything on the scan. I didn’t seem to be very far along, I’d been bleeding and cramping heavily, and my peesticks had gone awful faint. Strictly speaking, reading them within the recommended time window, I was absolutely and totally un-pregnant.

Consultant has never scanned me before, so I have to give the lady full credit for the lightning-like speed with which she oriented herself, and instantaneously announced that the pregnancy was ‘definitely, 100%’ located in my right uterus.

‘Score one to me,’ I remarked, drily, marking on an imaginary scoreboard.

(It’s doing exactly this sort of thing that earns me a reputation for being exceedingly odd.)

I have an 8.2mm sac still in residence in Cameron, albeit empty of any sign of life; the several areas of echogenicity previously flagged up as likely adenomyosis were obstinately lurking in there too. Blair has produced its usual decidual reaction and, despite the heavy bleeding to date, there’s a helluva lot more of it to come. Awesome.

Consultant thought that Cameron looked like a ‘fabulous’ uterus, especially now she is significantly increased in size post partum. I was obliged to pull a face and inform her that my son might vociferously disagree with her.

Back in the office, she announced that – and I can’t do justice to her wonderful accent and exclamatory intonation – ‘I have made my decision! I would like to put you on heparin and aspirin. Straightaway! From now!’

‘Oh! Erm. Good? It’s just… there’s this thing with my heart… I keep getting palpitationy arrythmia thingies which are probably nothing at all but they’re a bit… worrying. Is that going to be… ok?’

Cue much quizzing on what, actually, WAS the nature of the matter with my back-to-frontness – which I couldn’t answer, because I don’t know if it flows the wrong way around, is completely flipped, or just tangled and twisted around a bit. She said that a cardiology opinion was requisite, both in terms of how my heart weirdness is likely to affect – or, likely, not – my general health, but also in terms of conception, pregnancy, and my forthcoming laparoscopy. Once I’d seen a cardiologist, I should start anti-coags. I told her that my GP seemed pretty relaxed about it all, but that I was sure he would refer me if I really twisted his arm, whereupon she told me in no uncertain terms that he couldn’t possibly object, ‘he won’t even query it!’, that a cardiology workup was absolutely necessary, that I should look on the internet to find the best cardiologist locally and ensure I was referred to him, and that there would not be a problem, at all, with my GP.

I held my tongue. An appointment with my GP’s a tough gig.

I asked about our recurrent miscarriage investigations, which were done back in 2006. She scoured my records – I began to feel as if I was really getting my money’s worth around now – and elicited that my Factor 5 Leiden has never been done. My lupus has, but she arranged a repeat of the thrombophilias in any case, to be taken once the pregnancy has fully departed.

‘Lovely hormones!’ she remarked, peering closely at the screen. God only knows what ancient test results she was looking at, but my mood swings and chaotic ovulation would dearly like to call her out on that one.

She insisted, once she had seen my stubborn resident sac, on taking a beta HCG, despite my assuring her that it would be quite ridiculously low. If I had to put money on it, and judging from my intense study of the pseudo-science of peesticks, I’m guessing it’ll come back around the low teens. In any event, if it comes back below 50, I get to avoid a 62 mile round trip in order to repeat it. 

We talked about weight – again – and I explained that her scales had been pretty optimistic, to the point of actual inaccuracy, and that I actually had over two stone to lose. Bless the woman, she looked absolutely crushed with vicarious disappointment, and said lots of nice, encouraging things. I never got around to telling you that I’d had an absolutely lovely letter from her following the previous clinic appointment that had incensed me so much (upon re-reading that post, I see that I expressed myself about as badly as usual. My frustration was predominantly directed at NHS incompetence and my own sad inability to shed the pounds. I was, not very far beneath the indignation, crossly aware that I must, to my own detriment, have somehow snuck under her FAT! PATIENT! radar first time around, as opposed to falling a tragic victim of moving podgy goalposts.) emphasizing that there was now an increased anaesthesia risk (heart) and that she was absolutely confident I would be shedding the required weight in jig time. She said it all again, and was as sympathetic about the horrors of excess tonnage as a woman with a fabulous, gym-honed body can be, but let us stop this comparison woe. We agreed that Ann must diet.

So, I left, feeling rather thrown by the clinging sac and – particularly – the prospect of daily injections for rest of my child-bearing life. I’ve self-injected as much as the next addict IVF veteran, and needles hold no fear, precisely – I refused to use the cartridge-thing to depress the plunger, in any event – but I’m not precisely grinning about the prospect, either. However, I accept I’m presenting a reasonable case for pre-gestation anticoagulant therapy, what with 3 out of my 5 pregnancies being Surprise! ones – and I’m puzzled, in retrospect, why I wasn’t prescribed them during my troubled pregnancy with Harry.

Speaking of Harry, I arrived at his nursery to find that he was just as savagely grumpy and Totally-Coming-Down-With-Something as he had been during the morning, only now with an extra helping of exhaustion. He ended up a screaming thrashing heap on the floor 3 times between the school door and my car, located, due to School Fabulous’s nightmare parking, half a street away. Grappling with his struggling form in the middle of the road, in full view of about 25 waiting minibuses and taxis, I became horribly aware that the wanding of my cervi an hour before had provoked… tsunami. Convinced that I had just visibly miscarried the fluid equivalent of a entire bloodbank all over my trousers, I made a herculean effort and rammed a loudly-grieving Harry highly unceremoniously into his car seat before scurrying into cover in the driver’s seat. Surreptitious investigations revealed that I had, in fact, merely expelled a large quantity of ultrasound gel over my clothing instead.

Two hours later, I lugged a sleepy, hot, hysterically distraught and sensory-overloaded toddler down to the GP. He had some cream promptly prescribed for his eczema, which had flared horribly overnight; the school nurse had rang me to discuss the awful state of his lacerated back (Harry had attacked himself with determined nails earlier that morning) as I left the hospital, which didn’t improve my sense of self any. I then immediately presented Harry with books he hadn’t seen for a while to keep him quiet while I discussed the Heart Thing in peace.

It failed. The book ploy, the discussion, everything. Harry screamed so loudly I could barely make myself coherent, and threw himself around the room in protest. GP, as I fully expected, thought that my heart was Fine, and I was Fine, and heparin would be Fine, and my palpitations were almost certainly just Fine muscle spasms. I explained – I think I explained – that it was bugging me, and Consultant wanted it Looked At. He said he would ‘write to the heart people’ to arrange for me to be hooked up to a heart monitor for a bit – I assume, days? – and see what the machine made of my palpitty things, which are pretty frequent. He said ‘they might want to see you first’.

Gah. I know when I’m outmanoeuvered. And I probably AM merely another manifestation of GP’s ubiquitous Worried Well.  Harry was heaving on my hand with all his might, trying to remove me from the room, so I let him take me – returning only to grab a prescription for hefty amounts of codeine, which GP handed over like an obedient lamb. We came home. We both went to bed.

I picked Harry up from School Fabulous today – which he loves with all his toddlery heart – to find his little classmate lay motionless, unresponsive on the nursery floor. Some members of staff and his mother, a friend of mine, were crouched over him; she was calm, but I saw her pallor. I enquired, briefly, if I could do anything to help. She told me no, they were good, but that she wouldn’t be able to make our coffee date next week. An ambulance was on its way. The last I heard from her, 4 hours later, he was still in Resus.

I keep seeing his tiny, still form lying on the floor. His mother’s stricken face. As with so many of the things in this life that I wish I’d never seen, it reminds me that my own burden is not, comparatively, very heavy at all.

What Are You?

If you are going to be rendered unwell, are you most likely to

A) have a clear diary in which to groan at leisure,

B) have a ticket to a special event which you are keen not to miss, or

C) have a ticket to a distant special event, for which you have arranged to stay with friends.

.

In pre-visit dialogue with your kind and understanding friends, are you most likely to reveal that

A) You have the most dreadful snoring problem that you do hope won’t keep them awake,

B) You have simply poisonous wind which you do hope won’t induce vomiting incommode them too much, or

C) You are likely to lose your pregnancy in their house.

.

During aforementioned stay with friends, are you most likely to need a loan of

A) Money,

B) Clothing, or

C) Opiates.

.

During debilitatingly heavy bleeding and cramps, are you most likely to

A) Take to your bed and cease to function,

B) Take the manufacturer’s recommended dosage and operate on limited service, or

C) Take a little more than the manufacturer’s recommended dosage and take no notice. Pain is weakness leaving the body.

.

Apart from your reproductive system, is the body part most likely to be causing you added anxiety and concern your

A) Skin,

B) Bowels, or

C) Heart.

.

During the loss of your 5th pregnancy and 6th fetus, are you able to comfort yourself with

A) Chocolate and bed rest,

B) Alcohol and daytime TV, or

C) Neither, because you must start a savage diet and also own a toddler with a busy schedule.

.

Would you be most likely to miscarry

A) At the weekend,

B) During the week, or

C) On Mothering Sunday.

.

Mostly ‘A’s

You are a delicate, lovely flower.

Mostly ‘B’s

You can tough it out against adversity.

Mostly ‘C’s

You are a leathery, hardy veteran and prime agricultural marriage material to boot.

Croak

I am, contrary to all online appearances, still alive. Where were we?

The Centre Parcs tropical waterworld was the crowning delight of Harry’s young heart. Never has ‘more’ been signed so enthusiastically than by a beaming toddler who has just zoomed gleefully down a long water flume that, in his mother’s AaaAAaarRGhhhH! startled opinion, was rather too scary and fast for small people. Rendered unfeasibly buoyant in his float-incorporated swimsuit and little water wings, he morphed into a confident water-baby, happily doggy-paddling several feet between crowing parents.

My two closest friends came to stay with us there for a couple of days and I cruised to great glory and triumph in the resulting Monopoly contest. I would not have bothered to mention this, were it not that the slightest reference to my victory makes my insanely competitive husband break down and cry inside.

It took me a week to tackle the holiday washing. Boo. Hiss. Etc.

I had a 1st of February laparoscopy date through, the day after I actually bestirred myself to obtain and send a copy of my New Cardiac Strangeness report to my consultant.

The aorta and IVC were noted to be transposed, so that the aorta lay to the right of the IVC. This arrangement is a congenital variant and appeared to continue throughout the abdomen, unlike the more commonly seen variation where the IVC crosses the aorta. Occasionally variations in IVC position may be related to abdominal pain, and certainly it would be necessary to make a surgeon aware of it, should the patient require abdominal surgery at any future date. A full assessment on ultrasound is limited and CT would probably be the best method of full assessment. You may also wish to consider a chest x-ray to see whether there is any cardiac anomaly present.
 

My consultant is on leave until the 1st, so as a direct result of my fannying about and not getting on with things, her secretary and I have been obliged to postpone my surgery until she is back. I’m pretty confident that my abdominal aorta has not managed to migrate the whole unlikely half-foot or so to the front of my uteri, so I don’t expect it’ll hold her scalpel off for long, unless she decides to bung me through a CT scanner first.

I am divided equally between nerves, avid curiosity and an impending sense of Doom. The sedation worries me not one jot, as does the thought of hosting uteri-cam, but I’m squeamish about my belly button, and the whole inflating-of-abdomen thing makes me mentally scuttle under a rock. I do not want post-operative shoulder pain, either. The prospect of abdominal pain I can deal with happily enough – I have a great number of metaphorical t-shirts formally proclaiming me a Big Girl in that respect – but I am a little nervous of making new friends. And, while I am admittedly ON FIRE to find out what my peculiar duo of uteri look like in, literally, the flesh – they’ve been hurting a fat lot more than usual lately. I am consequently darkly suspicious of quite how much adenomyosis I have managed to grow in the last couple of years, and feel even more broodingly about this deforming-uterine-walls-synechium thing I have also acquired.

In a clever bid to cheer myself up, although I was professedly supposed to be cheering her up, I hopped on the train to see May on Friday. It was a day out alloyed only by current circumstances for May, which could hardly be more miserable, and by my stupid, stuuuuuuupid attempt to leave London on a Friday afternoon, on a tight schedule, to get home for Harry’s bedtime. I should have consigned him from the outset to the sans-maternal bedtime experience he happily underwent in any case when I was inevitably delayed, and stayed stolidly and unashamedly where I was for several more hours; I was warm, comfy, nattering blissfully, oh-so-spectacularly very well-fed, having a truly lovely time – and H would have been home for dinner, had I stayed a little longer! Going early was the poorest decision I’ve made so far this year and I’ve kicked myself ever since. Bah, bollocks and bugger.

I also walked away the proud new owner of a simply beeeeoooooouuutiful scarf that May crocheted for me, for our crafty Pay It Forward. My wonky lavender sachet – which is all I have to show for the whole intervening 12 months since actually, you know, announcing it – wilted sadly in comparison to May’s fabulous and elegant woolly warmer. I will post photos tomorrow, as the camera is currently out of sight under the desk-compost. Robyn and Pam, you’re next on my construction list. Don’t hold your breath when your letter-box clatters.

I will tell you of another poor decision I have made, in the hope that you may avoid it yourself. Back in August, I asked you for your literary Top Male Totty: I had been sighing over the same well-thumbed characters for far too long. You responded joyously in spades (any more, anyone?); I purchased a number of new authors as a result and I have, so far, found your collective judgement absolutely impeccable. My mistake centred in delaying a proper tackle of QoB’s suggestion of Brust & Bull’s Freedom and Necessity for so long. I had to hastily scramble off the train back from May’s at Warwick, in comically undignified fashion, completely caught up in this beautifully written little historically-set gem. I could pick the odd hole in it if I had to, but I’m not sat in a classroom, and really, who the fuck cares because, Ladies? 

James Cobham is a guaranteed knicker-dropper.

My top five is scattered into total disarray – again. A good job I hadn’t laminated it yet, eh? This new lad’s going in somewhere high. Fnarr.

Do yourself a favour and beg, borrow or steal a copy. Sadly, there is no sequel to enjoy; it stands proudly – snigger – alone. It has also managed to largely distract me from the fact that I woke up Saturday morning with my tonsils resembling red golf balls and my chest, in addition to feeling sat-on by, say, a hefty-arsed pony, producing things I would prefer not to look at.

I am heading back to my pit of tangled duvet and throat sweets, clutching my copy protectively to my quivering bosom. I may be some time.

Today’s The Day The Teddy Bears Have Their Black Mass

*taps microphone uncertainly*

Is this thing on?

*shades eyes and peers out into the dark*

Umm… Hi.

This… blogging thing. It goes like – how?

I left you with rather odd anatomical news (from me! What a … a non surprise!) a fortnight ago and promptly vanished.

Well, I can tell you where I disappeared to, at least. Up my own arse.

Selling – as I do – cards, the run-up to Christmas is the year’s main opportunity to push a hapless fiscal peasant off the Hairy sledge as a temporary sop to the ravening taxman; consequently I have been farming Harry off nearly every day to… whoever puts up least sales resistance to acquiring him, really –  and lugging self and stock around all sorts of Christmas fairs/fayres/markets/bazaars/whatever. In fact, if it has stood still in my vicinity during the month of November, I have attempted to sell it an advent calendar.

Then I had an order for a birthday cake for a friend’s son, which I knew very well would mean giving the midnight oil a bit of stick. And then I had another order, for a baptism cake – which I said Yes to without finding out when they wanted it, and… yeah. The same day. Arsefeck.

Well, everything got done – including my back. The order book looks ok and so did the cakes, despite being created mainly between 10pm and 2am over a number of days.

I did have a pure and priceless double-take at the moment I realised I had unwittingly sat the silver baptism teddy bear smack in the middle of a pentagram.

I think ungluing the top offending white dot in question – they were perfectly aligned – and spinning the bear around 180 to face a less satanic direction was when I eventually decided wine just wasn’t cutting it and went in search of the good whisky to settle nerves/tummy/hysterical giggling.

So… I have been reading – mainly whilst bolting a hastily prepared sandwich at (entirely unwise) speed – but you’ve been tragically deprived of my scintillating pearls of commentation wisdom. waffle. Sorry ’bout that.

Which brings me obliquely to my tummy issues. My GP got so distracted by my different heart that he rather lost sight of the, well, you know, the pain, so I bent the ear of the Delightful GP Next Door instead when he made the grave social mistake of walking to our house, in the dark, through a howling storm, in order to make us a present of a pair of tickets to see Worcester Warriors at home. Because when you are an extremely nice chap and the senior partner with a large practice as well as having an entire rugby team to doctor, you thoroughly enjoy having your leisure time taken up with your neighbour’s health problems.

Anyhow, cutting to the chase, I trialled upping my dose of proton pump inhibitors to Industrial for a fortnight before stopping them completely, working on the hypothesis that the pain is either oesophageal spasms or a flourishing ulcer. I haven’t had a crawl-about-the-floor episode for three weeks, although I have been nauseous, sharply stomach-achey after food, diarrhoeay and generally Not Right. I had cut out my beloved diet coke but succumbed to a can yesterday teatime and this morning, sure enough, I faintly felt That Pain waiting in the wings. I am now suspecting Acid as te culprit.

I had thought that we might kill two birds with one stone there, as the military base guide had recommended a trunk CT scan to see what the hell else isn’t where it should be, but my GP opined that that was a hefty old dose of radiation to subject me to when everything actually appears to be working ok (although I think he and I are working on rather different given values of ‘OK’ currently), and sent me for a chest x-ray yesterday instead. Which I… kind of agree with. If it was someone else, I’d be nodding sagely and concurring that a body CT was overkill. As it’s me, I’ve taken to lying awake and Wondering. I’m pretty fucking hopeless at seeing a string and not giving it a tiiiny wee tug; I don’t know what the blithering hell is abnormal in there and it’s bugging me.

The x-ray – when the NHS gets around to interpreting it – will nail down what form of cardiac weirdness I have, but I’ve taken to thinking that the strange arrangement of veins and arteries might explain why my right uterus seemingly has such a poor blood supply. I am keen to see how my reproductive consultant takes the news that my uterine artery is probably fed from somewhere anatomically peculiar. My counsellor cannily described her as ‘from London. They do things differently there…’ And so they do: she is evidently the active-management type (we like that) and likely to order pre-laparoscopy abdominal investigations on her own account. We shall see.

This little lot’s playing on my mind, people.

And… Harry’s had a miserable cold; I’ve spent the last two nights mostly on the downstairs sofa trying to prop up and placate the poorly little sufferer, and listening to his TB-like cough, although it’s subsided today and I’m desperately hoping for a uninterrupted night. I always know when Harry is feeling horribly unwell: he’s so tetchy and miserable he swats the Calpol spoon out of the air and refuses to entertain the notion of that bloody pink stuff coming anywhere near him. When he’s feeling better – and thus, in no need of it – he swallows it like a lamb.

Yep, that’s another black eye, right enough – acquired at nursery, this time. And note that my tiny potentate has managed, despite his discomfort, to retain a vice-like grip on the remote.

He’s such a total chap.

Anyone Good At Reckoning Odds?

I usually like the drive to Hereford.

Beyond Worcester and its dizzying succession of ring-road roundabouts, is one of my favourite spots: the Malvern hills soar nearly 1400ft out of the Worcestershire plain. The road skirts the north end of the raised spine and then threads its way through the distinctly less cosy and populated Herefordshire countryside – you pass the Prancing Pony inn – to where Hereford nestles under the brooding shoulder of the Brecon Beacons, the beginning of the Welsh mountains. And, sticking with the Tolkien motif, the ‘Beacon’ terminology refers to the signal fire chain that the Welsh used to light when they saw the bloody English invading yet again. The Welsh Marches have a lively history.

You read this blog for the travel and history notes, yes?

Well, Hereford County Hospital is easy enough to find, although my Sat Nav, Tom, decided to have a complete tizwas when faced with some roundabouts that he was evidently rather older than, and responded to my torrents of abuse by attempting to send me up a one way street when I left the hospital.

When I left the hospital, officially sans gallstones, but with a back-to-front heart.  

…Yeah.

I thought that having two uteruses/uteri/wombs/whateverthefuck was probably enough anatomical abnormality for one woman. But no! My creator was evidently holding the instructions the wrong fucking way round – as well as losing track of what he’d already done and what he hadn’t.

The aorta – that’s the biiiiiiiiig Majorly and Highly Important main artery that rises up out of the top of the heart – should curve over to the left (patient’s left, remember) and down into the abdomen, like so.

The vena cava, which is the biiiiiiiiig Majorly and Highly Important main vein that brings the blood back, should run into the heart on the right hand side like so.

 

And mine… ummm… don’t.  They are completely transposed, all the way down into my abdomen. And I can’t show you a picture of that because – and you’ll never guess what – I can’t find one that shows it, apart from x-ray films, because it appears to be… rare.

(‘You’re anatomically very special!’ enthused my GP’s clerk this morning.

‘I was already special’, I snarled at him.)

‘I’m sure your heart will continue to work fine!’ consultant radiologist said. ‘Although your GP might think a closer look is a good idea, particularly taking your didelphys into account. And you need to be very careful if you ever have surgery to make sure your doctors know about it, particularly abdominal surgery.’

Ahh. You mean, the type of surgery I was supposed to have this month but put off until next year because totally BusyBusyBusy?

‘Yes.’

Oh.

Phew.

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