Category Archives: We are not alone

Frolicking in Limbo

Hello, Gentle Readers. Went the week well? Shall I tell you about my week? Of course I shall, it’s why I started the blog – to babble into the void, whether the void liked it or not.

Item – Last weekend I went to stay with Hairy Farmer Lady, who fed me cake in epic quantities, and then ice-cream in epic quantities, and having done that, booze in epic quantities, and then let me rant in epic quantities and took me to the theatre to boot. It was beyond awesome. And I felt, well, I felt wanted. And funny and cute, but above all wanted. Worthwhile. Worth making an effort for. Wanted. Excuse me, I must just attend to a face-leak.

Item – I don’t think H ever consciously meant to make me feel worthless and unwanted. But! People of the World! If your partner continuously complains that Behaviour X makes them feel worthless and unwanted, you have to deal with the motherfucking fact that persisting in Behaviour X sends a very distinct and hard-edged message to your partner that actually, yes, they are not as important to you as Behaviour X. It doesn’t matter if X = having a meths lab in your shed or X = just being obsessed with golf to the point where you are never available to go to Sunday lunches with the In-Laws and run interference. (Caveat, obviously, sometimes, Behaviour X is no big deal and you may feel partner is being a dick about it. Then you have to ask yourself ‘do I want to live with a dick who is less important to me than X?’). But to do something dinosaurish, and to lie to your partner about it, even though your dinosaur is making you behave in a boorish way and your partner is crying about it again, HUGE WARNING WHO’S BEING THE DICK NOW KLAXON.

Item – More limbo, in that my mother is experiencing delays in her finances, which means I am experiencing delays in my mortgage-planning, which means I am still living with H, which is a colossally awkward life experience which no doubt is vastly improving to my character and morals at the expense of my fingernails and sleep-habits.

Item – Living with H does not suck, because we are both being very adult and polite and we are both trying very hard to remember that the situation is fucking awful for both of us. Well, it does suck, but it could suck so very much more. I do remember, I must remember, that H is bearing a burden of his own and it’s galling, chafing and wearying him too.

Item – H does artistic things from time to time. I went to one of these events this week. I had been looking forward to it, you see. H came over to say hello at one point, and when he’d gone back to The Art, the person next to me said ‘oh, is he your husband? You much be so very proud of him!’. ‘Yes,’ I said. Yes. And no. And, oh God, no.

Item – I got into a bit of a panic about moving out, about not being able to move out, about renting instead for a bit, about how I couldn’t really afford to rent unless I shared, about how very much I did not want to share, about money, and was I doing the right thing? Was I? Was I? I went to see my counsellor and flailed at her for a bit. There, there, she said. Baby steps. It’s OK to take baby steps. It’s OK not to know quite what to do. It’s perfectly OK for this all to take ages and ages. If I’m more comfortable sharing living-space with H until I can sort my own place out, even if that takes months, that is OK. As it would be OK if I ran squeaking into the night carrying nothing but my laptop and spare knickers. If stability is very very important to me, that is also OK. If I am phobic about moving house at the best of times, guess what? It’s OK!

Item – Also I am strong and intelligent. It’s a thing people keep saying to me, but when my counsellor says it she means just that, rather than ‘so stop crying because you’re making me uncomfortable’ Thank you, beloved NHS, for this woman and her well-trained kindness and the fact she laughs at my jokes.

Item – I went out again this weekend (see? Frolicking!) with more people who laugh at my jokes and make me feel wanted. So there’s that. Which is good. Which is very good. There is life at the end of the tussle.

Item – And now for a quick bitching – I am baffled by the small, (very small, not you) quantity of people who have attempted to ‘comfort’ me or ‘cheer me up’ by telling me anecdotes about their own lovely children/spouses/four-bedroom houses with gardens. It’s one thing to tell me about children and spouses and houses in a spirit of ‘well, this is what is going on in my life’, because I do actually give a damn or indeed several about my friends and their offspring and belongings. But to offer up a ‘look at my adorable child! My splendid spouse gave me a present! I have walk-in closets!’ anecdote to cheer me up, when I am childless, getting divorced, and soon to be homeless does not strike me as classy.

Item – Oh, yes, Cerazette! Some kind souls have asked about Cerazette and Shark Week (or, Shark Festival Fortnight, as it insisted on becoming). I am still on said pill, I plan to stay on it until I am very elderly and menopausal. I do have a slight ‘issue’ (ho ho ho. Hee hee hee) with spotting, as it comes and goes unpredictably and hangs about for weeks, but it’s light and unobtrusive, by and large. And no periods. No burning pains in the uterus and bladder and cramps in the bowel that go on for most of the month. I’ll take the spotting, ta.


House Rules

Some people will never learn anything, for this reason, because they understand everything too soon. — Alexander Pope.

I think I ought to remind my Gentle Readers that, as I said here:

I can see you, Gentle Readers, practically bouncing on your seats in your eagerness to type ‘but what the hell happened? What did you do? What did H do? WHAT? WHAT?’ And I am going to cheerfully piss you all off by not telling. H, as furious as I am with him, as shattered as my heart is, nevertheless deserves both his privacy and the right to tell his story his way, should he ever want to tell his story.

Therefore, I would be grateful if you would all stop speculating and asking me. Please. Thank you. Your speculations would either be wildly innaccurate and therefore either silly and/or hurtful, or uncomfortably close to the knuckle, and therefore really hurtful and difficult to deal with, as I promised H his privacy on this, and I am not the sort of person who breaks promises, and it would be unworthy of you, Gentle Readers, to force me into a position where I might have to.

I am also not entirely pleased that I have to write this next bit:

When I refer to ‘dinosaurs’, as a metaphor for deal-breaking shit, I am referring to things that are immoral, wrong, cruel, bad, and possibly illegal. I am referring to things like addiction, abuse, larceny, lies, grand theft auto, and voting for UKIP. I most certainly am fucking not referring to such matters as H being gay, or bi. Being gay or bi is not, I repeat not, a dinosaur.

Say H were bi – why is bi a problem? I’m fucking bi, for fuck’s sake, and I’ve been a good and faithful partner then wife for SEVENTEEN FUCKING YEARS (and H has known I was bi since we were both 19). ‘Bi’ does not equal ‘two-timer’ or ‘sexually incontinent’, and to suggest it does is seriously not on. At all. Do not any of you ever make me have to repeat this.

Say H were gay – well, yes, it would be a tragedy for me that he could no longer keep doing heteronormativity and had to leave me. It would be fucking awful for me, because I love him. But it would not, in any way, shape or form, be a dinosaur. It is not immoral, wrong, cruel or illegal to be gay. It would suck that he felt he had to hide it even from me. It would suck that he felt pressured into living a lie. I would be very very angry with him. But it would not be a dinosaur.

Fortunately, H’s family and friends are not ridiculous bigots, quite a few of them are happily and openly gay, and if he had ever realised he was gay and decided to come out, he’d’ve been loved and accepted. So the whole ‘he’s secretly gay/bi’ is just not a thing. He isn’t, and if he were, he’d’ve been fine, and we would never be in a ‘sudden dealbreaker reveal’ situation.

I repeat, H asked me to respect his privacy and his right to his own story. I am respecting his request. I owe him, and myself, that kind of respect and self-respect. That promise is, I’m afraid, more important to me than gratifying the casual reader’s casual curiosity.


Fussbiscuiting

Yesterday, I left my dear friends in a state of mild panic, as Cute Ute decided Cerazette be damned, she was Cute Ute The Despoiler, Hear Her Roar. HFF commented on our uncanny bad luck in matters reproductive, and there were reasons… whereapon H confessed that he was a bit freaked out and had been all week.

You see, while I was staying at my Dad’s, I forgot to take my pill one night. I realised as soon as I woke up, and took it straight away, and the next one just before bed as usual, and was then back on track hurrah. When H and I finally got home, we were so pleased to have survived the Parental Oblations with only a few scratches, we fell into our own lovely bed with cries of joy and reacquainted ourselves with the boinginess of the mattress.

I think it was about then Satsuma was twinging, but she twinges at changes of diet, changes of weather, and frankly changes of underpants so I ignored her.

This past week, I have handed a cup of half-drunk tea back to H, asking which tea was it supposed to be, because it tasted weirdly metallic. I have felt sick more days than not. I have had an upset in my lower bowel. I was cheerfully putting this all down to eating stupid things I shouldn’t eat at Dad’s (the wine! There was relentless unavoidable wine! In food! I may as well have eaten the wire-wool pan-scrubber, it’d’ve been gentler on the linings).

Then the bleeding and Christing fucknuts vicious back-ache started, and as you know we all collectively freaked out. Because it would be just like Satsuma and Cute Ute to gang up on me and throw all my carefully thought-out decisions about the FET to the winds in a careless rapture of cruelty, while Bitter McTwisted kicked my head in about being a careless, careless, careless little idiot and this is why we couldn’t have nice things.

In my defence, the Cerazette leaflet suggested the pill had to be more than 12 hours late to be ineffective and this one was 8 hours late. To my horror, various frantically googled websites have suggested it need only be 3 hours late to lose effectiveness. Fuckittyfuckfuck.

So I scrabbled about on the bathroom shelves (Good Lord, the collection of empty moisturiser jars I’ve built up) and found a lone lorn remaining pregnancy test. I peed on it this morning, and it came up resolutely negative. Negatively negative with extra negative, which as you know negates the double negative and sets it back to negative again.

Um. Yes. Putting this one down to ‘hormones, they fuck with you. Even on the pill’ (as suggested by Dr Spouse (see yesterday’s post’s comments)) also Cute Ute’s absolutely vile personality.

Or it could’ve been a chemical pregnancy. Oh, who the fuck cares. Either way, it’s Not A Thing and we’re back to waiting and taking folic acid until the official spotting that signals the beginning of FET, The Maddening, in approximately three to four possibly five weeks’ time. Yes? Yes. Righty ho. Nothing to see here. I’m going to get a large drink, mind.


Parenting, UR doin’ it rong

We went to see my Dad. It was simultaneously awful and liberating.

Awful, because my Dad is still, fuck-and-alas, a galloping narcissist and if the situation isn’t all about him by heck he will make it all about him. We did have a fight. His heartfelt apology, for which I was at first so very grateful and by which I was at first so deeply moved, rapidly turned into a ‘thing’ about his self-awareness and how therefore we didn’t get to mind when he was a tiresome old arse because he always had been and always would be and because he was aware he was a tiresome old arse, it was an endearing quirk rather than brutally rude and cruel to his children, and the fact we’ve all got Serious Issues from is behaviour over the years is… Not a Thing? I guess? Because reasons?

Liberating, because my heart, which has always lagged miles and years behind my head on this, suddenly realised that there is no magic combination of saying the right thing or doing the right thing, at the right time in the right way, that will unlock Parenting Level ‘Unconditional Love’.

Awful, because there were good bits about having this man as a father – the love of words and books, the stories he used to tell, his wit, his humour, his good days when he was delightful and delighted with us – and as soon as you open yourself up to the good bits, you’ve made yourself vulnerable to the bad bits. And if you shield yourself from the bad bits, you’ve cut yourself off from the good bits. This is not a dance I can do well, or at all gracefully.

Liberating, because this is not my problem. I am not my father. There was enough balance and good example in my life to save me from this ugly inheritance, this inability to see people as people, as equals, this inability to empathise, this raging fear that someone else’s gift (brains, knowledge, money, charm) is a direct threat to him and will somehow annihilate him. And that is not me. And does not have to be me.

And then we came home again, and I went and discussed all the above with my counsellor.

It would seem that a life-time of being shamed for having the wrong sort of body/hair/eyesight/attitude/artistic talent*/height/academic aptitude/pubertal development/sized breasts/menstrual problems can leave a girl feeling profoundly inadequate. Being treated as a flaming nuisance and being repeatedly accused of hypochondria and whining every time I was ill or having a bad time with my periods left rather a tiresome selection of psychological scars. And therefore, when it came time to have a baby of my own, with a body I’d been taught was flawed (and its being flawed an act of perverse rebellion on my part), my inability to make a baby was for me a great source of shame – bitter, bitter shame and guilt. My brain knows this is fucking ridiculous. My brain always knew it was fucking ridiculous. I am quite bright, after all. My poor silly heart, which has the IQ of a golden retriever and a similar desire to love all the grownups even when they kick it, needed more time to realise that I am no more ‘flawed’ than anyone else.

All humans have issues, health problems, non-Barbie-dollness, scars, lumps, wonky bits and hormones, and are nevertheless lovely, loveable, wonderful creatures. I have just had bad luck. Not as bad as some people’s obviously. But definitely worse than other people’s. This was not because I brought it on myself, in any way. Why would I? How could I? It’s not even physiologically possible.

I cannot fathom the guilt, shame, embarrassment, and self-loathing that lead my parents to take a child with obvious health problems and frantically alternate between blaming her and insisting nothing was wrong with her rather than, say, take her to a decent gynaecologist and Get That Seen To, Because Poor Kid, It Sucks. But I know I’m not the only woman who has been shamed for having menstrual problems, fertility issues, and miscarriages. And I don’t know what is wrong with our society that this happened and keeps happening, but it needs to stop. And if you have ever tried to dismiss, down-play, shame, or judge a woman over these issues, I hope you get your pubes caught in your zipper and have to be cut free by a paramedic.

*Writing instead of drawing. Yes, my family went there.


Hello, hi, well… um. Hi.

There comes a time when chunks of the brain just shut down in the face of Too Much To Process. There’s the part that is ordering you to grieve (‘Go on then, cry. Feel awful. Cry, damn you! You lost a baby, didn’t you?’) and the part that will not go there (‘But it feels awful! I don’t want to! And there are endless CSI reruns to watch instead!’), and the part that is still being struck amidships by the whole ‘and then I nearly died’ thing, and the part that has decided the whole business is ridiculous and we should just get three cats and an Alpha Romeo Spider, and the part that is nevertheless planning a FET in January.

And – how could I forget? – the part that was dealing with H’s looming redundancy, and thereby putting on a cheerful face of unconcern and trust in a)H’s general excellence and b) the benevolence of the future [Based on what, you absolute lunatic? -- Bitter McTwisted]. In the event, H was not made redundant. It was only when he came home at the end of last week announcing he was transferring departments merely, and not being slung out on his ear by Christmas, that I realised just how bloody anxious and, frankly, angry I’d been about the whole thing; and how ready I’d been to march in there and punch H’s various bosses in the collective groin for doing this to him all over again (we had a major redundancy scare a couple of years ago as well, you see).

Which was not helped by the part that has just been told that the rent is going up 20%. Which is all very well, as it hasn’t gone up for several years and the landlord just noticed that every other comparable property in the area costs many many lots. And not at all very well, as H’s pay has been frozen for the past five years and I earn somewhere between diddly and squat. (OK, yes, as a perk I get to be ill for two months solid and not get fired. So there’s that).

We may be moving house next year.

AAAIIIEEEEE.

So, yes, a lot of Being Very Anxious While Quietly Watching Far Too Much Daytime Television was going on.

And that is why I was not writing. I did not want to sit down and look any of it in the eye. For similar reasons, I was staying away from blogs. I did not want to read another word about loss, or pregnancy, or fertility treatments, or adorable children. It was all anxiety-inducing, good news or bad, happy or sad, reminding me of what I had been through and what I had lost alternately, and I decided that actually I was well within my rights to pull the metaphorical duvet over my head and pretend to be a Scotch Egg for as long as I cared to.

By anxiety-inducing, I don’t suppose I need to explain myself to anyone who has ever suffered badly from an anxiety disorder, but to the rest of you I need to say, no. Worse than that. Much worse. It’s like poisoned.

So. I am now bored of being a Scotch Egg. Hello!

And how am I? Let me count the ways:

Item – I went back to work on a part-time basis last week. It is exhausting. I spend a lot of time, by-and-large, being tired, what with the chronic pain issues and occasional bouts of anaemia, but this is something else. I used to be tired, but I could still trot up three flights of stairs or walk two miles across the centre of town without getting out of breath. Now? Nope. Can’t walk for ten minutes without my stupid DVT-affected leg beginning to ache. I go up three flights of stairs slowly, puffing ‘I… think… I… can… I… think… I… can…’. Work is not the problem – I am on ‘limited’ duties and therefore don’t have to do anything particularly strenuous just yet. Commuting is the problem. Commuting is a fetid pile of dingo’s kidneys.

Item – Speaking of chronic pain issues, let me tell you about my new best friend in the entire Universe: Cerazette. This is a progesterone-only pill which prevents ovulation as well as thinning the uterine lining. Some women don’t care for it at all, but, Gentle Readers, I love this pill. Yes, OK, I started spotting after two weeks, and then near the end of the first packet I started bleeding and carried on doing so for two weeks solid. But it was light bleeding. Bleeding containable with regular tampons. And there were, get this, there were no cramps. I was not in pain. Not. In. Pain. I am not in pain. Cute Ute is perfectly comfortable, my bowels are regular and cheerful, and Satsuma is quiet as a wee mousie. [Ticker-tape parade, marching bands, majorettes, and a 24-gun salute].

Item – Meanwhile, after six weeks, my haematologist lowered the dose of Fragmin (these is a kind of low-weight-molecular-Heparin) I am on. I will be spending six weeks on the lower dose, and then we will double-check the clot behind my left knee has gone, and then I can stop injecting myself every evening. My belly is covered in bruises. I thought for a while there I’d found a way to prevent the bruising (as soon as you remove the needle from your flesh, press down hard on the injection site for 30 seconds with your thumb. Do not rub) but it doesn’t always work, alas. And the worst bruises leave hard lumps under the skin which are showing no inclination to go away at all. Heigh ho, fuck and alas.

Item – I do not like my compression socks. They seem a tad loose in the ankle, and they are frankly gigantic in the foot (‘Oh, just tuck it under!’ said the twatwhistle nurse who fitted them for me. This being the same nurse who wanted to know when I was due, and when I, my eyes filling with tears,said I’d actually lost the baby in August, proceeded seamlessly into her ‘Losing Weight Is Good For You!’ perky lecture). The thing is, I have stocky peasant calves and dainty little princess ankles, and I am not a 70-year-old varicose-vein sufferer. Yet. So. Point of socks, to prevent me becoming a 70-year-old varicose-vein sufferer. Onwards.

Item – Mental state: very anxious, insomniac, and sad. I see a therapist on Thursday, courtesy of the NHS. Our local hospital has a counselling service attached to the gynaecology and obstetrics wards, and I ever so qualify for its attentions, according to my GP, who insisted on referring me. Given that my attempts to find a private counsellor ended in a big fat blank because the people I contacted never got back to me, I’m taking it. Not that that stopped the counsellor having to cancel on me once because of ‘bureaucracy’, but she had warned me she might have to, and then called at once to apologise profusely and have a bit of a chat right there and then just to see how I was. (Note to self: stop being polite and cheerful to counsellors. Not helpful).


Frozen over

Hello, Gentle Readers. How are you all? I’m a lot better. Really, much much better. My leg only aches now when I stand or walk for more than five or ten minutes. I even baked a cake today, standing to do all the whisking and mixing, without needing a sit-down in the middle (though I did need a sit-down once the stupid thing was in the oven (it – the cake – looks very untidy indeed. Mary Berry would be ashamed of me)). I am easily tired, but on the plus side, I sleep like I’ve been drugged, for eight to ten hours straight every night. As a life-long insomniac, this is a treat. Ish. When I’m not having complicated and unpleasant anxiety dreams.

As for my emotional state, I am frankly a bit weird at the moment. I am pretty calm, sanguine, cheerful even, if somewhat subdued and untalkative (what do you mean you’d noticed?). I – not consciously – won’t let myself think about miscarriages or trying again or almighty fucking huge pulmonary embolisms. I can feel my thoughts skittering across the surface, like ducks on a frozen pond. I talk about these things, as and when, in a matter-of-fact way with an upper lip stiffer than boiled leather. As evidenced above by the fucking annoying anxiety dreams, there is a whole deep quagmire of grief and fright and rage under there somewhere. No doubt I will thaw and Go Mental at some point. My GP thinks so, and is rather concerned I will try to go back to work too soon and Officially Lose My Shit. I don’t know. Do you know?

Anyway, we spent a few days with my mother, and we visited Hairy Farmers, and then there was the consultation with the Haematologist, and I need to tell you all about the WTF appointment with Dr George at Riverside. I will be back. Meanwhile, I leave you with bullet points:

  • My heart, according to the echocardiogram I had in the last post, is just fine. So yay!
  • I am now on Cerazette, with the approval of Dr George, Doc Tashless the GP, and the Haematologist. Because on blood thinners and not allowed Diclofenac, Menstruating Mays Are Very Very Very Unwelcome.
  • We are benched until Christmas at the earliest. We must make sure I won’t fucking die next time I get pregnant. To which end I gave the hospital another four vials of blood to test for… things. Like Lupus. And shit like that.
  • Holy shitwhistles, the bruising from the Fragmin. My belly looks, as I mentioned on Twitter, like a bowl of stewed prunes and not much custard.
  • My family are bloody mad (and there’s a post in that too!).

Unpregnant notes

And then I remember, with a sudden slapped sensation, that I just had a miscarriage, and was supposed to be focusing on getting over that.

Item – While Cute Ute got a partial grip of the situation on Tuesday, and agreed that any more vicious cramping would just be downright bitchy on her behalf, she still hasn’t stopped bleeding. The bleeding is finally slowing down to heavy red spotting (touch wood. Where’s some wood? Quick, touch it!) only today. Yeah, guess how much I enjoyed sitting about in hospital waiting rooms and corridors with my leg on fire, my heart thrumming like a harp-string, one toilet to share with all these other people, and blood persistently, unstoppably, running out of me?

Item – I am still about five pounds up on my pre-IVF weight, but all the bloat and plumpitude around my midriff has completely gone. I no longer look in the slightest bit pregnant. Just a bit… Deflated.

Item – While I was pregnant, my normally very dry skin became almost normal on my body – I could even just shower with moisturising shower gel and not need lotion unheard-of notion! – and my face and neck became downright oily. I promptly broke out in quite impressive acne. It was infuriating and gross and I loved it, because pregnant, you guys! Within a couple of days of losing 6AA, my skin was drying up. I have a whole bunch of acne scars on my neck, collar-bones and alas temples, but they’re slowly going. I need lotion by the gallon after a shower. *sigh*

Item – I can’t tell if I’m this tired because I’m recovering from a pulmonary embolism, or I’m anaemic, or I haven’t slept well for months, or I’m miserable and shell-shocked, or, no wait, I’ve got this, all of the above. You think? I think.

Item – We have our post-IVF WTF appointment with Dr George on Tuesday. I think I may have cornered the market in WTF this month. Shall we be good, and warn Dr George beforehand by email? Yes, yes we really should. Or he’ll spend the whole appointment trying to rehinge his lower jaw.

Item – Talking to pregnant people right now makes me feel weepy and panicky. I know you, oh Gentle Readers, won’t hold this against me for a second, because ten miscarriages and near-death experiences you know? I get such a free pass, yes? But the rest of the big wide world is out there gestating happily oblivious to babies die and mothers die and holy fuck how are there any humans alive at all? and I am a stoic woman usually, but not right now not even a little. I don’t know how to leave the house or be on FuckBook or talk to family or anything. *flail flail*. Ach. This too shall pass. This, too, shall eventually pass.


At length, or, Clot me Amadeus.

Gentle Readers, I have no idea where to begin. I am at an utter loss. Because, my dears, what in the name of fuck just happened?

H, poor bewildered stressed-out lamb, gave you all an account of How We Spent Tuesday in the last post. So we left matters with me tucked into a hospital bed on the Clinical Decisions Unit, some time after midnight, and H shuffling off home to try and get some sleep.

I was woken at three in the morning by a doctor on call from Haematology. We discussed the recent miscarriage, the Clexane, the coming off Clexane, and the fact this was my tenth miscarriage, and she patted my hand, and then, apologetically, told me she needed to get an arterial blood-sample, which would mean sticking this rather large needle into that handy artery on my inner wrist. OW THE FUCK. After which, going back to sleep was kinda not happening or a while.

Allow me to digress, back-track, bitch, and discuss needles for a bit. My veins are quite small and deeply tucked into my flesh, so barely show at skin-level. That said, I have one splendidly cooperative vein in the crook of my left elbow that even an amateur can get first stab, and a fairly cooperative one in my right elbow crook. So, the first blood test, taken in A&E at 14:45, was taken from the Good Vein, and left a small bruise, oops. When I was admitted to the CDU with a definite DVT and suspected Pulmonary Embolism, they needed to take more blood, and set up a cannula for the CT scan. Because Good Vein was bruised, they tried Second Best Vein, which promptly collapsed flat and refused to release a drop. The darling sweet nurse apologised and stuck Good Vein, who promptly screamed ‘fuck you!’ and not only collapsed shut after half a vial, but then blew and left me with a bruise of shudder-inducing luridness and a blood-blister. The poor nurse patted and rubbed both my hands for minutes on end, but they insisted I had no veins at all and the blood only circulated by osmosis. So they paged for The Vein Whisperer. I kid you not, they referred to this dude as The Vein Whisperer.

He arrived very quickly, a soft-spoken shy-seeming young man, who mumbled politely at my hands and forearms for a minute, then poked a cannula into a seemingly absolutely random part of my right hand, and hit a decent vein at once, and got the two vials of blood for tests, and it didn’t really hurt. And then he sidled back into the bowels of the hospital and to my great sorrow I never saw him again.

After a vey long while, the CT scanner stopped having massive life-or-death emergencies to deal with and had time for me. The doctor now on duty needed more blood (this is standard with a DVT) and was also concerned that the little vein in my hand wouldn’t ‘take’ the dye shots for the CT scan. So she tried to find another vein. Oh, but that was unpleasant. She managed, eventually, and what a tale of ow is in that ‘eventually’, to get a needle into a vein in my right inner wrist, and get just enough out for the tests before it collapsed, and in the attempt to reposition the needle she tore the vein, and the bruise from that looks like a peacock feather. So she flushed the existing cannula and said, basically, sod it, it’ll have to do. Oh, thanks.

I’ll tell you about CT scans another time, but believe me, they are weird.

So! At 4am, all the completely demented little old ladies on the ward with me woke up confused, upset, and utterly disorientated, and started yelling, weeping, cursing (I thought I had a potty-mouth) and in one case wandering into other people’s cubicles and haranguing them. I merely got ordered to get up and take her to the shops, but she was happily telling the lady with back trauma to go hang her fucking useless self before one of the nurses corralled her. Oy. Vey. The nurses, by the way, were saints. And no more sleep for May.

And after breakfast, another nurse tried, and to everyone’s delight, succeeded in getting blood out of Second Best Vein.

H turned up at ten am, with bags under his eyes almost down to his beard, with some toiletries for me stashed in them, so I was able to have a sort of cat-bath, apply deodorant and brush my teeth and therefore feel a tad more civilised. Demented Wandering Lady promptly mistook him for her own son and alternately begged and emotionally blackmailed him to take her home, which was Awkward as Fuck, and then pulled the ‘you have fun with your bride, I’ll just wait here alone and forgotten in the dark’ card before being led away and fed tea by the nurses. Her actual son turned up later and did in fact look somewhat like H, but we decided not to harass the poor chap with the incident.

A doctor surrounded by students marched in, gave them my potted medical history (always a freaky ‘who is that poor unfortunate mortal… Oh’ moment), and told me I’d been referred to Haematology and their specialist consultant nurse would be coming to evaluate me. She also revealed, to my bewilderment and H’s total fucking horror, that the clot in my lung was not, as we thought, small, but actually really rather large, and cuntily (she did not say ‘cuntily’) positioned in the ‘saddle’ where the pulmonary artery splits into two branches, one for each lung. Which explains the constant tachycardia and breathlessness. But I’d already been given a huge shot of Fragmin the previous afternoon, and would be kept on that, so not to worry! Not unless I developed chest pain or collapsed! In which case, maybe worry! And off she went.

And then I had lunch. Which contrary to popular myth, was not inedible, though I don’t think you’re supposed to boil carrots until they dissolve.

The Haematology Nurse was lovely, and during the course of our conversation leaned forward, took my hand, and whispered that she too had no children and was trying hard. We get everywhere, we Infertiles. I hope she succeeds, because we need more nice kind clever people about the place. Anyway, she checked my pulse, BP and oxygenation rates, and then took me for a little walk (Holy crap, having a DVT can hurt. *limp limp hop ow limp*) along a few corridors and up and down a flight of stairs, and then checked again and found that though I’d stopped with that breathless nonsense from the day before (yay!) and my oxygenation was still good at 97%, my pulse was racing at 120 beats a minute, which was a bit of an overreaction. So I got another electrocardiogram. And another blood test. Buggeration. (Useful vein discovered in back of left hand, though a syringe was needed to get anything much out, which hurts *whine*).

Haematology Nurse also brought me a handful of leaflets on thrombophilia and on pregnancy with thrombophilia. The fact we were trying so hard to conceive rather concerned everyone, and so they decided not to put me on Warfarin, which is the standard treatment, but very toxic to embryos, unless Fragmin alone wasn’t helping enough. I did book myself a six-month course of Fragmin injections, however, and a set of compression stockings which I will have to wear for a large part of every day for two sodding years.

(Fragmin, like Clexane, is a low molecular weight heparin, but I am now on about four times the dose of the ‘prophylactic’ Clexane, and why yes, Virginia, it does sting and bruise about four times as much).

I was then moved to another ward, as I’d been in the CDU for the regulation 24 hours and was going to ‘breach’ any minute. I got transferred in a wheelchair, pulled backwards through the corridors, which gives a lass an unrivalled chance to stare back at the people walking along behind you in a brazen ‘well, you looked at me first’ sort of way. At the new ward, I got swabbed for MRSA, and had the usual BP/pulse/oxygenation tests, and my pulse being way high, I spent half an hour on a continuous monitor, which no one except H bothered to check. My pulse rate was rising and falling like the waves on the sea, with no particular logic, and my oxygenation rates would occasionally drop a little, just to keep H good and nervous, but I didn’t trip the alarms, so after a while I got unhitched so I could go to the loo and change into a fresh and more dignified gown, and they didn’t bother to rehitch me.

And drank a million cups of tea, because the one thing the NHS believes in fervidly is the importance of tea.

My Friend Who Knows Who She Is (hi Sol!), who actually lives near me and had offered to come over and keep me company, managed by a splendid bit of detective work to track me down and called the hospital and offered to visit me, which was jolly splendid and I said yes please. She turned up just after the Haematology Nurse turned up to drag me out for another little wander (I noticed my gown was not quite arranged at the back about five minutes into this walk. Hello everyone! I wear black knickers!). I don’t know if my heart and lungs were cheering up anyway or whether it was the pleasure of seeing my friend (who bought me BOOKS, proper good old detective and SF&F to lose oneself mindlessly in) but my pulse and oxygenation levels were more satisfactory. Didn’t stop Haematology Nurse doing another electrocardiogram, and frankly I am so utterly devoid of dignity and modesty at this point that I was happily yanking up my gown In front of everyone in a ‘hi! We’ve all got tits, right?’ sort of way without batting an eyelid. Sorry, Sol.

However, Haematology Nurse was pleased enough with the results to declare I could go home now. ‘Now’ means ‘When we can hunt down the pharmacist and sort out your bazillion Fragmin jabs and an epicly large sharps bin to take home with you’. So we had a nice chat with my friend until the end of visiting hours, and the dinner lady forced me to eat a yogurt (couldn’t face the Irish Stew and anyway I was going home soon). H, who had been in regular communication with my Mum announced she was driving up to see me so she could give us a lift home. The pharmacist turned up and I was given a carrier bag full of syringes and a sharps bucket. I changed back into actual clothes, and then they wanted the bed back, so we were sent to the ‘discharge lounge’ (bad name. Very bad name. Reconsider that name, for the love of God) to wait.

The discharge lounge was a cupboard containing six massively uncomfortable chairs, nowhere for me to put my leg up, and a gang of teenagers eating their way through the entire stock of the snack section of quite a sizeable supermarket. And H called my Mum again and discovered, as I had lovingly and from long experience predicted, that she was going to be at least another hour, hour-and-a-half, because she always bloody is, and I demanded a taxi in lordly tones. Like hell was I going to sit there aching bitterly surrounded by Doritos and clouds of Charlie Red.

Home! Home at last! And when Mum turned up, we had Chinese takeaway and a quiet chat, mostly me trying to explain that DVT and Pulmonary Embolism was not the same as the stroke my beloved grandmama died of, so could Mum stop fretting about that (I didn’t mention the possibility of heart failure bit. I thought it mightn’t help, as such). Oh, and discussing family history of various illnesses (upshot, I am a freaking freak, which we knew).

And then I went to bed and slept for ten hours straight.

And now I am going to go and do that again, with any luck. Golly, this has been a long and rambling and badly written post. I do apologise. I don’t have the energy to give it a good old edit and a bit more snap and narrative arc.


Various pinches

Item – Pain a lot better, but still bleeding merrily scarlet. Not heavily, just merrily. It’s the only merry thing about me.

Item – Given that Cute Ute is being merely content (for the moment, touch wood) with working her way through all my leftover sanitary towels, I have time and attention to devote to my feet and calves. Which went into huge almighty cramp on Wednesday (no, no idea why, really. Too much lying down glaring miserably at things? Not enough grotesque nonsense in my life?), and which I am still crippled by. I can’t really walk very well, and one ankle is downright bruised. The hell, the fuck, the what the crikey? And why both feet? And why? *looks disconsolate, rubs foot again*.

Item – I finally cried today. I had been limiting myself to having my eyes fill with tears when a nurse tells me she’s so very sorry for our loss. Poor H burst into tears and wept in my arms as soon as we got back from the clinic. I just gaze glumly, or angrily, at the middle distance, depending, and occasionally shout at particularly obtuse people on the radio or telly. But today I lay flat on my back on the bed, with tears running into my ears, sobbing because I come from a long line of revoltingly fertile women on both sides, all popping out babies by the half-dozen with not a single bloody loss between them, and yet here I am.

Item – I feel I have merely skimmed an inch or so of tears off the top of the pan to stop it boiling over. Heigh ho.

Item – Things to do this week: Go to the GP and sort out sick leave and letter to work. Sort out prescription for weaning self off Prednisolone. Phone maternity services and cancel all scans and booking appointments. Call Riverside’s counselling service for a chat – this at H’s insistence, because he can’t exactly share his own counsellor with me, and I am clearly freaked out and havering about the whole trying-again/not-trying-EVER-again/FET/fresh IVF mind-chess, coupled with the ‘You can’t seriously expect me to hang about menstruating for months for no reason’ PTSD horseshitaria (and apparently no, I can’t go on the Pill back to back while we sort it out. 38, fat, migraines with aura in presence of oestrogen). Buy shoes.

Item – My darling Gentle Readers and Lovely Twitterers, what on earth would I be doing without you?

Item – Some of my friends and family are busily ignoring me, of course, and because they are, I can’t tell if they are just extremely busy and preoccupied themselves, or, having sent me a card already a few times this past decade, are thinking: ‘To lose one baby, Ms May, can be regarded as a misfortune; to lose ten looks like carelessness.’ This last item is very whiny, I know. But this is part of loss and disaster – the friends who run out of patience, the family who are too self-conscious and awkward to want to deal with it, the huge unspoken cloud of ‘Again? Seriously? But I sympathised with all this shit already! You want more sympathy? Well, I’m sorry, but I have school uniforms to buy and the gerbil just died and don’t you know the triplets are teething and I haven’t been on a date night since 2012 and my spouse is job-hunting? Only the first three miscarriages count! After that, I’m sorry, but it’s all too fucking weird and anyway you must be used to it by now so why are you crying, FREAK?’ Or at least, that’s what Bitter McTwisted tells me. The Positive Thinking Fairy reminds me they’re very very very busy and no doubt thinking of me very warmly indeed and/or too busy to check my blog or emails or talk to other family members or ask after me or wonder why I am so sad and silent these days…


Terror. Terror is a thing (NBHHY)

Yesterday, I was paddling about on Twitter, seeing if anyone had said anything amusing lately, in a fairly serene and optimistic mood (I know. Optimism. Who’d’a thunk it?). And instead I saw the news of an eight-week scan gone tragically wrong – no heartbeat, no baby after all.

Yes. That can happen. It happened to me, once. Seeing that forlorn tweet was like falling through a trap-door. I was overwhelmed with sorrow for the woman who posted it, and empathy, and for a few minutes I could only think of her sadness and remember how bereft I had felt when Pikaia turned out to be blighted after all.

And then, of course, I panicked on my own behalf.

It’s over a week until my scan. I am five weeks and four days pregnant right now (by that slightly daft reckoning that assumes pregnancy a) begins on the first day of your period and b) your cycle is always exactly 28 days. This embryo was actually conceived three weeks and four days ago). If I had a scan now, it’d be inconclusive at best, as my embryo and his/her entire playpen are still too small to visualise as more than a tiny circle, a few millimetres across, the heart, even if it is there, too small to see beating. And I have no worrying symptoms at all. The cramps that bothered me last week have mostly naffed off, unless I walk a lot, and then they go away when I sit down and have a drink. I feel sick in the evenings. My breasts hurt. I get light-headed easily. I am not spotting at all. I, a life-long night-owl and midnight-oil-burner, am ready to clamber into bed at 10pm sharp. Nothing Bad Has Happened Yet.

And I am absolutely paralytic with anxiety.

The baby will not die because I rejoiced in its existence.

The baby will not live because I panicked and fretted and grieved over it.

I must keep telling myself that. And keep taking the medications. And wait.


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