The day comes when they have to declare

I hopped nervously onto the scales this morning, and noted grimly that I had gained Shriek! pounds over Christmas. (There are three Imperial Groans in a Shriek, and roughly two Shrieks to the Ululation. 4 Ululations to the Shitload. I reckon a Groan = 2lbs.)

I’d half expected to gain more: my eating has been pretty profligate since *thinks* well, since Harry became poorly with ‘flu in the middle of December, I suppose. I become, under stress, a person with alarmingly embiggened food entitlement issues. As the ever-inspiring Cecily said recently, it’s easy to slip into “I deserve” behaviour. And it really is soooo, so sweet and easy when there’s festive biscuits, chocolate and cheese under your nose, morning, noon and – literally, because I spent a lot of ’em awake in December – night.

Stepping off the scales, I started furiously planning my assault on Mount Weight. Againagainagain. John has been nagging me to cancel my gym membership, as I’ve not been since I returned to part-time work back at the end of summer, and I was feeling grimly satisfied that I’d continued my haemorrhage of £30 a month for bugger all, after all. I was busily calculating how long it might take me to get back down to 13 stone (an Ululation+a Shriek away and my self-imposed maximum weight for beginning a pregnancy -or I will end up trampling on my own boobs when I walk waddle at the end of it) when it dawned on me that my reptile hindbrain is running (figuratively. Even my inner lizard feels podgy) before my higher thought processes have finished deciding whether to walk or not. Againagainagain. 

 Here’s the thing: Nice Consultant, having had a damn good rummage about in my innards, peered closely at everything, blitzed a wee bit of endometriosis on my left uterus, performed a polypectomy (benign) in my right uterus (that was the ‘synechia’ seen on scan, I expect and hope) and taken two biopsies that came back showing proliferative endometrium with no sign of atypia (the letter said atopia, mind you) has pronounced the Harry-Housed Uterus Of Doom, attached to my one decent-ish ovary, fit for purpose – and would like us ‘to try for a baby now.’

I stared miserably at her, sat in the plush surroundings of the local private hospital (as the NHS kindly gave me a surgery follow-up appointment in late March) and tried my best to explain to her why I have such deep-rooted misgivings. I am darkly convinced that the blood supply to my right uterus is borked. I’ve never, in the 25 years I’ve been suffering this shit, had a proper bleed from that uterus, pregnancy excepted; primordial brown-black gunk is all I ever get. (That thud you just heard was likely my father slamming the laptop lid shut in hasty recoil, btw.) My right-uterus pregnancy with Harry was successful only in that he survived with what appears to be very minimal brain damage. I started spotting at 9 weeks, and had increasingly heavy episodes of bleeding every few days, eventually accompanied by contractions. His heartbeat on the doppler was terrifying to listen to, because, every couple of hours (I spent a lot of time listening. A lot.) it would stutter, hiccup, and decrease from its gallop to a throttled set of slow – very, very slow – thuds. It was a while before Harry obliged me (and vindicated my slew of worried phone calls to my midwife – ‘your own abdominal sounds, I expect, dear’) by performing this particular trick in the presence of medical equipment operated by someone with an MD, but when he finally did, Consultants Were Urgently Summoned. Ultrasounds Were Ordered, Stat.

I had over 20 scans during my 33 week pregnancy with Harry, and was in and out of hospital like a fiddler’s elbow, but at no point was a cord or placental abnormality spotted, and I wish I’d had the presence of mind to ask for my placenta to be properly examined after birth. Harry gradually fell away from the growth charts, and was born with symmetrical IUGR. He became very unstable shortly after birth, required fully ventilating, and had atypical seizures accompanied by massive desaturations in NICU. He did not, evidently, manage to dodge all the bullets. But you know all this.

I blame my right uterus. I blame the crappy endometrium. I blame my faulty housing. It seems so inescapable to me that evidence indicative of a poorly oxygenated child, added to evidence indicative of a poorly oxygenated uterus, should equal CONCLUSION in the eyes of the medical world. How is it just me that thinks this?

And it is just me, you see. Everyone around me thinks I’m wrong about the uterus, and I am marooned by my fears, painted into a corner alone, bleakly conspicuous as the one who is expected to do all the bleeding if I am right and they are wrong, and it all goes totally tits. I am defensive, bewildered and afraid.

John has never shared my view of Right’s poor performance, stoutly citing the tally of my 3 miscarriages in Left. As far as he is concerned: only one uterus has produced a living baby; quod erat demonstrandum.

VIP Consultant was of the opinion, when we last spoke, that Harry’s difficulties are probably co-incidental.

In response to my expressed worries, Nice Consultant reassuringly (in manner. Not, regrettably, in effect) told me that the biopsy on Right is clear, and that it was a ‘lovely looking uterus!’ before she began talking about aspirin and heparin therapy and those bloody awful progesterone lard torpedos. I didn’t have the mental wherewithal to ask her explicitly while I was there, but I suspect that she would not countenance performing an expensive and quite major procedure – IVF – when there is no medical evidence, apart from my dark forebodings and probably-brain-damaged son, that it is required. Ethically grey, I think.

And, as John does not forget to point out, I swore I’d never have IVF again, in any case. I responded inversely to downregulatory drugs and gonadotrophins half the time, and it was the hormonal shock of chemical menopause that started my pesky heart palpitations in the first place.

 Take your life in your own hands and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame. I am under no obligation to believe either my doctors or my husband – only pressure, of an oblique and partially self-imposed sort. If I let myself, and myself alone, take this risk – because I want another child – in the face of what I believe to be great danger, then how could I avoid great bitterness and blame to myself if my child is born severely brain damaged, or dies?

And then, of course, there is the fact that I appear to have some type of auto-immune or clotting disorder, which has, thus far, declined to be identified by blood test. My first-ever pregnancy went so very, very heart-beatingly well (right up until the point where it abruptly, unfortunately and probably-chromosomally didn’t)… and all my subsequent pregnancies have been distinctly troubled affairs, a fact which I brood upon, darkly.

I am having a lot of dark-brooding type thoughts all round, in fact, because I have a lot of reasons not to have another child. The chances of my carrying a baby to term are, we know, pretty much zero. My terror of prematurity is fairly profound. We’re not rich (and surrogacy, although a logical suggestion, is not the solution for me.) John and I are both sporting a shocking amount of grey hair lately. Harry’s behaviour, although in no way his fault, often puts our relationship under strain. Coping with a newborn as challenging as Harry, as well as looking after Harry himself, would be… an utter impossibility. My forebrain backs wildly away, waving frantic *jazz hands*.

I am firmly of the opinion that when the archaeologists dig me up in a few hundred years’ time, the fancy-pants futuristic bone-mineral-density-type scan they do of my skeleton will reveal a tree-ring of complete devastation caused to my frame by sleep-deprivation, fear and stress during that time of pregnancy and early motherhood. I dread future baby sleep-deprivation to my very marrow, because prem babies generally aren’t restful. With colic, reflux, hole-in-heart, alarming apnoeic-distress episodes at EVERY nappy change due to (what, with hindsight, was fairly sodding pronounced) sensory processing disorder, and it’s unsurprising I was so battered, that, on a couple of occasions I actually hallucinated, which was interesting and un-fun.

And, when Harry was 2 or 3 months old and breastfeeding for England every two hours, my immune system fell through the floor and I came down with the most God-awful illness; flu symptoms, multiple cold sores all over my lips, tongue and up my nose, searing 40 degree temperature… I can remember, for the first and only time in my life, wanting to die. I wasn’t remotely depressed: I just felt so spectacularly wretched in my very febrile state that I thought that I was, in actual fact, really dying, and as the inevitable was happening it might as well get a move on and stop prolonging the agony. And I couldn’t even get anyone else to have Harry, because by that stage, he was disdainfully refusing a bottle. Emptying stomach=hurts=MOAR BOOB, MUMMY! It was quite a low point, and I am pretty sure I said I’d never do it again.

I am so horribly distressed. Harry would, I think, love to have a sibling and I would likely grieve that loss of his in later life as much as my own. Being an only child has its own peculiar set of benefits and penalties. But I just can’t bring myself to step off the edge, and commit. Commit to that Right Uterus of Doom – as opposed to the Left Uterus of Slightly Higher Numerical Doom But Markedly Better Blood Supply. Everytime I try to think about it seriously, I have a nasty mental wobble, feel quite sick, start sweating and hastily push the whole idea right to the back of my brain.

The back of my brain, where the podgy reptile lives. Lizard Hindbrain has, without consultation with higher authority, ordered the repro-friendly vitamins that Nice Consultant demanded, in the loveliest possible way, we both take. (I thoroughly enjoyed John’s expression when she told him she expected him to take Well Man Conception vitamins, but my smile sank out of sight when I discovered these particular vits were £10 a month. Each!)  Plus, Hindbrain also ordered some easy-dosages of the low-dose aspirin that I am supposed to be taking already, and aren’t. Hindbrain has also had a major re-arrange of the bedroom over Christmas to facilitate the path of multiple night-time trips to the ensuite. Hindbrain has even managed – and this was quite clever of it, working unsupported – to book an IUI cycle, commencing February. And today, it seems, Hindbrain is keen for me to quickly lose some weight.

I am still bewildered. I am still afraid. I have experienced 6 months of clomid, 2 IUIs, 2 IVFs, 4 miscarriages, a stressful pregnancy, a premature and dangerous birth and serious worries, first, about Harry’s survival, and later, his health – and withstood it, as people generally do when they have to, because being entirely overwhelmed by events is seldom a valid post-Victorian option. 

I know what lies behind and I know what might lie ahead. And the ground I’m standing on right now looks pretty damn comfy, thanks. But I’m 36 next month, so it’s now, really now, or… not. There’s nothing to gain by waiting. Refusing to choose is also a choice.

For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the great No. It’s clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying it,

he goes from honour to honour, strong in his conviction.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he’d still say no. Yet that no – the right no –
drags him down all his life.
CP Cavafy

Laryngitis

I appear to have lost my voice here a wee bit. Usual reasons, really. Time. Tiredness. Trepidation over what sentence might just bite me on the arse at a later date. I think about lots of posts; every day, in fact, so I am going to have a try at blogging every day this month week, and, umm… see what happens.

Of course, I’m currently parked a little on the outside of self as I’ve been swallowing opioids like sweeties, so I hope I actually remember I’ve said that by tomorrow. Following an ibuprofen stock control blip, I was left with codeine as the only pharmacological line of defence between me and and savage internecine uterine war last night. I ingested sufficient quantities to put me into a most peculiar half-doze, thoroughly discombobulated and bewildered, and yet I remained in uterine anguish, which seems quite unfair.

Harry sat up to guzzle his usual half-pint at 2am and found he had mislaid his water bottle among the burgeoning soft-toy demographic of his bed. This generated prolonged yells of protest, and an eventual room upgrade, whereupon he promptly emptied half the bottle into our bed. I was dopey, but not that dopey. Cue immediate downgrade, and more protests.

Not a bad sleeper these days, Harry does go through the odd spate of poor nights. The night before last, he turned up at the side of our bed at 4am – having become disillusioned with either the temperature, the entertainment or the view in his own room – evidently aware that it was still very much sleepy-time, as he was cuddling his bedtime co-pilot, Gromit, firmly under one arm. Which would have been monstrous cute, had it not been, you know, 4am.

He seems to have had a narrow miss with Chicken Pox – we don’t vaccinate in the UK, we suffer in Spartan spots instead – which is flourishing unhealthily in children all around us, but which I think has now passed him by. I have been wielding the torch suspiciously over his face and chest when I go to bed, and my dreams have been populated by a strange hybrid of Harry and some chap out of Star Trek that I dimly remember as being a set of ambulatory red spots. Not a good look on him.

And I’m off to bed. I have an appointment with an anaesthetist tomorrow afternoon, whom I have to convince I am thin enough to safely knock out. Consultant told me I should shrink to at least 88kg before surgery- which I have, provided I am allowed to strip entirely naked on a kind set of scales – but she has also told my GP in a (lovely) letter that I am supposed to be getting down to a BMI of 29 before she operates. I will need to remove my clothes AND cut off all my hair AND thoroughly empty my bladder PLUS lose another 12lbs of excess baggage from somewhere about my person before I can tick that particular box. There is nearly two stone less of me than there was in early spring, but there is technically still much too much of me for a 6th September surgery date. I wonder if a corset will assist my camoflage?

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Do, or Do Not. There Is No Try.

The diet goes well.

The diet goes so well that I manage to prostrate myself, smack-bang in the middle of hosting a dinner party for 12 on Saturday night.

I’ve given this some serious thought, and I think it might have been either the copious amounts of codeine I was swallowing to negate the considerable pain from the first period I have had since the miscarriage, or the fact that I’d eaten near-bugger-all for 3 days, or the fact that I’d been on my feet working hard for 36 hours interspersed with a lousy sleep, or the large, heavy meal I was half-way through troughing, or the fact that my frantic diet has evidently shrivelled my stomach down to the size of a particularly under-endowed Dik-dik scrotum, or the large glass of fizzy lemonade cut with 1/4 white wine that I had convivially sent down to keep the opiates and the Heavy Meal company, or, and this is just a wild stab in the dark, all of the above? At no point was I surprised to feel suddenly, acutely, painfully unwell, you understand; I knew I’d been a spectacularly daft twat. 

My stomach accepted the starter without a murmur

(Warwickshire asparagus spears in camembert, with beetroot jelly, wrapped in leek, based on this) and was happily half-way through the main course (Chicken stuffed with wholegrain mustard, mozzarella & cheddar, Alastair‘s (who first fed it to me) veg pie, potato dauphinoise, roast courgettes & baby tomatoes, carrots & peas) – when I received the sudden and distinct impression that Capacity Had Been Seriously Exceeded. This was a completely new experience for me. I prodded my plate listlessly, but could summon no enthusiasm at all; in fact, the unambivalent message coming up from the Dik-dik scrote was that Immediately Ceasing To Eat Forthwith would be an awfully good idea. I managed to half-heartedly heave some dessert (apple strudel, slightly-disaster-stricken-sunken profiteroles with simply the nicest & simplest chocolate sauce ever) into assorted guest bowls, before sinking into my chair with a badly-stifled whimper.

I’ve never not been able to polish off a plate of good food in my life. Ever! I now know exactly what a gastric band must feel like, and I’ve acquired a fair insight into pyloric stenosis, too. The sensation was appalling, yet I struggled womanfully to keep it all down, purely because I was becoming convinced that the effort of ejecting it might actually kill me dead, given that I was freezing cold, shaking like a leaf, and having a degree of heart arrhythmia that I would normally associate with a brutal gym session.

I am fortunate in possessing kind and competent girlfriends: I progressed from Sofa to Bed, where I cuddled a bucket just in case, shivering, occasionally groaning at a particularly vicious stomach spasm, whilst other hands cleared the table, served coffee, and located the fudge and mints. John, having missed my subdued announcement of departure, eventually noticed that his wife had disappeared some time before, and, given that it was a murder-mystery party, came on a search & retrieve upstairs. He found me bitterly and just-audibly fulminating on fizzy drinks, codeine and sugar levels, and, taking squeamish alarm at the sight of my – redundant, as it happens – bucket perched atop his pillow, backed out and retired downstairs again.

By 2am I felt tentatively certain I would live, and by 4am I felt sufficiently invested in the new day to take some cautious sips of water. By 5am, when Harry woke up for the day, I actually felt in considerably better shape than John – who had been been on the red wine, by the look of him.

Yes, the diet goes well.

And speaking of things going well, you remember that blogging awards thing you very kindly nominated me for? The MADS? Yes?

Well, you’ll note that t’badge up top now reads ‘Finalist’. I have, to my astonishment, emerged as one the five finalists for best MAD blog writer, for which I thank you all very, very much indeed. I am exceedingly and sincerely touched. Mind you, coming as it does on top of a post purely about my inability to digest a meal, I give you ample leave to erupt with uproarious, disbelieving laughter and vote for one of the other talented contenders, especially given that one of those others is a verrrry fine writer and damn good buddy of mine.

I was evidently not paying an awful lot of attention at the beginning of all this, as I now discover from the press release (a press release! To all the national and local press! Ummm. Errk!) that there is a proper awards dinner at which the winners are announced, and furthermore, I have heard a fairly solid rumour that there will be… gulp… TV cameras. The funk that the thought of the resulting publicity has sent John and I into: I will spare you; there is some urgent bloggy housekeeping in the immediate pipeline, is all. The thought of appearing on camera I have not yet let my brain examine properly, lest it recoil in horror right up its own fundament.

In short, I am absolutely delighted and grateful for all your nominations, and should you wish to vote again and propel me further forward, and tell all your friends! then… well, that’d be just grand.

And awfully nice of you.

Tell you what, just on the off-chance that feeling sorry for me’d help your voting finger, here’s a picture of the poor old wreck that is I, tonight, wearing a sinister-looking ECG heartbeat-tracker machine-thingy. It’s ferociously itchy and digs in me and I have to sleep in it.  Boo-hoo.

That do any good?!

Robin vs Priscilla, Round III

She looked as if she had been poured into her clothes and had forgotten to say ‘when!’ ~ PG Wodehouse

Yep. I’m back on my ubiquitous Robin-of-Sherwood-meets-Priscilla-Queen-of-the-Desert topic again. Concerning which there have been too many posts, I know, but until I figure out which one of you bastards made me fat how to take responsibility for my sweet tooth, then I think I’m stuck here in porky-pig land forever.

In case you’ve been lucky enough to miss my previous angst: essentially, I started life terribly thin, got chubby, got chubbier, got thin, got awful chubby, got thin very fast, stayed thin for years, met Hairy Hubby, stopped smoking, got chubby, got married, got awful chubby again, had Harry, and have been firmly parked in the 14.5 -15.5 stone region ever since. My Gynae now wants to plonk me on an operating table and furrage about my reproductive bits (I have two wombs. Yes. You read that right.) in order to get a better picture of why I am so dreadful at staying pregnant, but I also have a back-to-front heart, so there isn’t a sensible Anaesthetist in the whole of Christendom who is going to perform elective general anesthesia on a woman with wonky cardiac structure and a BMI above 35.

The Wifey, they said at the end of February, must diet.

I was, in February, 40lbs in excess of a BMI of 29.9, which I must achieve in order to have a scalpel waved in my general direction. And I want this surgery, I really do. By the time March rolled round I had joined the gym, I was focussed, I was All Set.  Then I promptly became unexpectedly pregnant – and began to miscarry almost before the pee had dried on the stick. Oddly, this put me off my weight-loss stroke a little. Then came Easter, during which I fought a broadly-ineffectual rearguard battle in my consumption of  good old Cadbury’s glass-and-a-half, which ballsed it all up even further.

Anyhoo. The weekend before last, I got on the scales and burst into anguished tears, as I’d had a reasonably – I thought! – austere week that had cruelly and unaccountably translated into a whole gained lb. I spent a few sniffling, mournful hours trawling the websites of various purveyors of weight-shifting snakeoil and the shakiest of crash diets, but in the end, the common British sense (that I never seem to quite manage to shake off. Melodrama FAIL, every time.) prevailed: I texted my good buddy, and joined her at her Fat Fighters class on Tuesday nights. It’s a sensible, achievable, diet plan, and I augmented it with 3 trips to the gym last week.

Tonight, I was Slimmer of the Week (or would have been, if it weren’t for some pettifogging rule about losing for two weeks on the trot. Bah!) and was down 4.5 lbs. I have 32lbs of my 40lbs to go. 

I have shifted 3 stone in 3 months in the past by eating sensibly and exercising my arse off, so I have optimistically set my sights on hitting a BMI of 29.9 in time for her wedding celebrations on 3rd July, with surgery hopefully to follow shortly afterwards. It means losing 4lbs a week, every week, but short of something drastic keeping me out of the gym, I don’t see why I can’t do it. If I want another baby, success is my only option. Failure’s not.

*grits teeth*

On the topic of babies: big baby had his scheduled EEG today. I was lugubriously expecting a goat rodeo, but I took the laptop and a hoarded Shaun the Sheep DVD along, which transfixed him to such an extent that he made only token helicopter-in-trouble flailings when the electrodes were attached, and proceeded to sit, relaxed and slack-jawed, whilst I watched his brain waves play out on the technician’s computer screen.

This was indescribably peculiar to see. Naturally, the readings went mad if he physically shifted position, but at one point, whilst sat perfectly still, Harry smiled slightly in amusement – and one of the traces went haywire. At this point, I started having my usual blown-totally-away-by-clever-science ‘we put a man on the moon AND we can see into people’s heads with a length of wire, funky software and a dab of conductive gel!’ type thoughts.

Awesome. Truly. Now we just have to stew until mid-June for our next Paed’s appointment to find out the result.

At which appointment, God damn and blast my wretched fucking weight, I will be thinner. I will.

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.

Admonished

Whenever the red mist descends upon me, I remember an article that Stephen Fry – a talented lad – once wrote for The Listener about losing his sock. I haven’t lost my sock – on this occasion, at least – but my personal DEFCON is fast approaching pushtheredfuckingbuttonandtohellwith’emall.

‘I am angry. I am really angry. I am so angry I can barely go to the lavatory. I am fuming. I don’t think I’ve ever been crosser. If you poured boiling jam down the back of my neck, set fire to my trousers, defecated on the back seat of my car and forced me to stare without blinking at the cartoon of myself that accompanies this article I couldn’t be more furious. Hopping mad about sums it up.’

I’ve managed to empty my bladder, but it was touch and go for a bit.

I fought my way into Coventry during the rush hour this morning for an appointment with my consultant. She gravely thanked me for sending her my back-to-front heart report, and told me that I definitely do need a laparoscopic exploration. I nodded expectantly, waiting for her to announce why she had summoned me back to her clinic instead of simply noting the whole peculiar heart-thing and rescheduling my (postponed-because-of-said cardiac-weirdness) operation.

But there was nothing of the sort forthcoming. She merely started to write out another surgery form, identical in every way to the one she wrote out last September… when she cheerfully bunged me on her laparoscopy waiting list.

I furrowed my brow. She’d forgotten – evidently – that we’ve already driven round this particular roundabout.

I had been scheduled for the knife on the 1st of February – and made that fact clear in every piece of correspondence. I had only agreed with her secretary to postpone the surgery (this was during Consultant’s extended holiday: I was the first case upon her return) because – and feel free to call me cautious – I had thought Consultant might like to be aware that my abdominal arteries and veins are probably somewhere fairly unusual. Her secretary had assured me that she had spoken to her, and simply re-scheduling the Lap was not an option: she wanted to see me in clinic. Furthermore, it has only been by utilising a judicious mixture of furious complaint and wheedling charm that I am not waiting until the end of April for today’s appointment.

I toyed with the idea of remonstrating loudly about the pitiful miscommunication, the complete waste of her time, my time, my diesel, a morning’s childcare costs, and five months of my dwindling amount of child-bearing life, but I couldn’t see much actual benefit in it. I’ve always been a firm believer in making the person cutting your belly open (whilst driving a camera up your fanny) like you as much as humanly possible.

So I sat schtum, and grimly waited to be handed another form. ‘Her list’s only a couple of months,’ I thought. ‘You can cope with that. Cool blue oceans!’ or some such shit.

She stopped scribbling away and looked up.

‘Last time you were here we spoke about your weight. (We did. She told me it would be good to lose some. I agreed. I know an anaesthetist well. I know how tricky it can be to knock out fat people safely. I am totally on board with the losing-weight-is-good concept. But I… didn’t. She hadn’t seemed quite rabid enough about it, I suppose.) Now, before I put you on my waiting list, I think we need to get your BMI down.’

‘Wh… what?’

‘Just hop on these scales, please. I’ll take a kilo off for your boots.’

They were kind scales. Even in my boots, I weighed 4lbs less than I did 3 days ago standing stark naked, having squeezed out every drop of pee I could.

She stabbed around on a BMI chart and merrily announced that I would only have to lose a stone before she would accept me for surgery. Or, to put it another way, I’d only have to lose a stone in order to return to exactly where I was last September, when I weighed exactly the same as I do now.

I’m never wearing this skirt again. It obviously does nothing for me.

‘It’s only a stone!’ she said, evidently noting that my features had clouded over. ‘But you need to get down to at least 88kg please.’

She tucked my surgery form firmly back into my folder, ignoring my outstretched paw.

‘Give (secretary) a call as soon as you lose the weight; she’ll find this form in your notes and put you on the waiting list straight away!’

I thanked her through gritted teeth, and marched out of clinic.

And came home.

And examined a BMI chart.

Her chart must have been as kind as her scales, because 88kg is still a BMI of 32 and unless I insist on using her set of scales again, I have to lose two stone, not one.

I am now a sobbing, angry, frustrated, premenstrual fat woman with a growling empty stomach.

Do Not Approach.

Hi-ho!

I was going to kick this off by comparing us all to a different dwarf  – à la Snow White – but as soon as I really began to think about it, I realised that we are actually all Grumpy and Sleepy. I leave you to apply a judgement re: Dopey, yourselves.

John is grumpy because it has been raining on his grass, and some of his tractors are poorly sick. I feel I don’t blog often enough about farming: perhaps I should bring you up to date. His current excuse for not fencing the garden or digging out the steps is haymaking and silaging. This involves, firstly, praying for dry weather, secondly, mowing dry grass (if you are pollen-sensitive, cue: Sneezy), thirdly, tedding it about while praying really hard and meaning it for more dry weather, and lastly, dashing out with your baler mere minutes ahead of the towering black cloud and driving at breakneck speed around your field. Naturally, this injudicious speed results in a bunged-up baler, so you must repeatedly crawl underneath and perform grass midwifery. Off you go again, only to hear a sinister thunk followed by a symphony of tearingly unpleasant machinery noises. The rain begins to fall faster.

If you are the wife of the owner of said machine, this is where you quietly disappear.

The core priority is to remove your stricken object back to the yard as soon as possible; you must, if you value your reputation, conceal the affliction at all costs from your farming neighbours. Apple, let me assure you, has nothing to teach UK agriculture. 

These type of mishaps can presage a lengthy spell parked in front of the workshop. Panels are removed. Exploratory surgeries are undertaken. Hands blacken further in filthy oil. The mechanised equivalent of femoral head pinning is discussed. Dog-eared parts manuals are consulted. Phone calls are made. Wives are dispatched to collect the Vital Transplant Organ.

Of course, if your yard is already populated with agricultural engineers who are repairing the tractors that you don’t actually have time to tackle yourself, then your chances of keeping the latest twist in your machinery misfortunes quiet are pretty much nil. Hubby has, I believe, one key tractor due to be broken open into two halves in order to fix an oil leak, and another yard tractor parked up sans steering ability, awaiting fettling. He came home Friday lunchtime to find that I had given Harry a toy tractor to play with that was a scale replica of a rather swish new model – a distinct improvement on any of John’s current collection. I caught him looking wistfully at the New Holland website a few minutes later (he is a diehard blue-tractor man. Speak not to him of green ones, even if they are the only company servicing the farm-mad toddler market) and sure enough, he has now announced that he wants a new one. These things can cost £50,000+ for a used one. And the farm profit is currently our only income. Yikes.

I am grumpy because I have a gynae hospital appointment tomorrow afternoon with a Mr Sorinola, as opposed to Mr Steven Olah, the other consultant gynae, or Mr Savonarola, the 15thC Dominican monk I initially confused him with. There was a time when I used to whip my undercarriage out for medical inspection with nary a qualm, but this will be the first time someone has looked – I am discounting my GP’s vain attempts  – at my cervi since about 2 hours before Harry emerged from one of them, and I have gone a bit Bashful. I’m also rather nervous about what he will be telling me.

I will be obliged to schedule a lengthy and awkward session with the the razor around my sadly uncared-for pubic area later this evening – lengthy because of the sheer level of neglect, and awkward because, despite 2 weeks of dieting savagely and exercising like a demented thing, I have only shed a measly 4lbs. Hence, I still cannot see what I’m actually doing down there.

Harry is grumpy because he has had intermittent diarrhoea for a couple of weeks which is worsening; he is being carted to the drs tomorrow. We have gone 22 months with hardly a day of nappy rash, but over the course of today his poor beleaguered bottom has gone, yet again, from delivering a turd the consistency of a housebrick, to shooting out spoonfuls of watery squits; his skin has gone from palest pink to abraded and ever so sore. He is a tough little shoot when it comes to bumps, cuts and bruises, but he’s coping badly with this.

I didn’t know my heart could wring itself into such a sad little shape until I saw him waddle towards me, knees bent, clutching his sore little bottom in waily distress. His skin has deteriorated astonishingly quickly: he was left in a dirty nappy while we were at my parents’ house early this evening – possibly for the best part of an hour, because the contents were weirdly undetectable by nose – and that has unfortunately been responsible for his skin breaking open. I have kept his nappy off since and slathered him in Bepanthen once his skin was dry- despite his violent, heart-rending struggles and hoarse shrieks – but the poor little lad kept pooing every 20 minutes and undoing my good work. Sigh.

Hopefully he will have a quiet, crap-free night and I will attempt to sneak a dry nappy onto him when I go to bed, too. Which may not be late, as the little bugger decided that 4.30 was the new 7am this morning, hence we are all Sleepy. And probably Dopey.

PS. John wants me to tell you that he is actually a Brand New dwarf called Frisky. And I am not the only one with a neglected undercarriage, hint-hint.

That is all.

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