I heart the NHS

Past 24 hours – total head-fuck. Total. Head. Fuck.

I had the morning off (was supposed to be writing case-study), and decided midday was as good a time as any to have a shower. I was washing my hair, no doubt humming and generally demonstrating text-book insouciance, as required by narrative imperative, when I looked down.

There was red blood running down my leg.

It no doubt says something very interesting about human nature that I nevertheless finished rinsing my hair and got dressed before calling the ACU. No one answered the phone, so I left a message and then called H on the other phone to, well, weep silently at him, really. I wasn’t bleeding very heavily, but it was fresh, and definitely NOT spotting, and suddenly the aching and twinges I had been feeling in my right side, and had dismissed as the vagaries of Queen Satsuma, assumed a meaning so ominous I think my heart stopped.

Nice Lady Wand Monkey had clearly been at lunch, and called back shortly before 2, and to my horror, agreed that this sounded rather serious and I should go straight to the nearest A&E and say unto them ‘possible ectopic’.

I called H again, sobbing and for some freaky reason apologising, and begged him to come down to the hospital too and meet me there. And then I went and caught the bus, got off at the wrong stop in my flusterment, and ended up walking down the high street through crowds and crowds of push-chairs and bellies, and the blood kept trickling out of me. And as I walked, I thought that Pikaia was dead, or never had been, and was taking the one-and-only tube with her/him. Sunshine, and babies, and me, red-eyed, in the middle of it all.

To give you an idea of just how utterly panicked I was, my heart-rate was 135, and the triage nurse whisked me off into the Resuscitation Room for an ECG, me protesting that it was just because I was freaked out, and H trailing behind with all the bags and coats and being made to wait in the corridor like a pack-horse outside a saloon. In Resuscitation, in the next cubicle, some poor bastard was being worked over by ten paramedics, and then there was me, stripping to the waist without even thinking about it in front of the (male) triage nurse and letting him stick stickers all over my boobs, and feeling a complete fraud, especially when two doctors rushed into our cubicle shouting ‘what is it? Chest pain?’ and had to be shooed away again. The nurse was very terse and quiet, but in a good way – he squeezed my hand and patted it while waiting for the trace, and seeing it was normal, gently encouraged me not to freak out quite that much. He led me and my pack horse back to triage, took the rest of my history – I promise I wasn’t crying or flailing about but what with the heart-rate the immortal word ‘distraught’ appears on my records – and then, oh bless the dear man, told me he understood how important this was, as he and his wife had done IVF. No reason on earth to share that, but he wanted me to know he understood.

There was a bit of a wait to be admitted to Acute Gynaecology, so H and I sat in the A&E waiting room, half-watching a detective drama on the telly, and not-staring at the other patients, and trying to read magazines. H even went off on a shopping expedition to get me a bottle of water (which I was then too distracted to drink much of). I was still bleeding red, and pretty much convinced everything had gone to hell in a hand-cart, but having H there and knowing there were doctors all over the place did calm me down from jaw-clenched silence to frantic irrelevant babbling (I am a natural babbler. Anyone can tell you how unnatural silence is to me and what a deep sign of anxst it is).

Finally we were sent up to Acute Gynaecology. I am glad H was listening, because I simply couldn’t remember a single direction after the initial ‘take the second left.’ H led me through the maze of corridors and covered passage-ways (me babbling about how nice the hospital gardens were, look! Ornamental alliums!) and we were met by the consultant, who was very surprised we’d walked, as apparantly my heart-rate suggested wheel-chairs, which somehow made me feel more fraudulent than ever, as I am as neurotic as a race-horse (without the physique) and clearly react to stress in full-out ‘must run from tigers! Must climb trees! Must fight with fists!’ mode and now this is worrying everyone…

After a pause in which the nurse was unearthed from wherever she had got to, I was led behind the curtain for the all-important ultrasound, half-undressed, and look! Stirrups! I’ve never used stirrups before! And damn me, but they’re uncomfortable. The consultant got down to scanning me, and H came in and stood at my feet (what a view for a husband, his bleeding wife being probed by a condom-covered rod in the hands of a complete stranger. I notice he kept his eyes fixed on the screen).

And he said, ‘I can see an intra-uterine pregnancy’, and I half-sobbed, half-laughed… briefly, because sobbing shakes one rather and shaking with a dildo-cam in place is awkward. The relief that is was not ectopic was down-right painful, like pins-and-needles after your foot has gone to sleep.

However, the consultant couldn’t get a good look at the pregnancy. My uterus seemed full of static, or tin-foil shreds, like a stealth bomber radar disruptor. He wanted to see a yolk-sac, and the image was just too blurred. In the end, he decided we’d have to call in the Super-Sonographer. I got to take my feet off the stirrups and relax the growing cramp in my thighs, and H got to stand there, and we waited while the nurse hunted for Super-Sonographer and the consultant was relentlessly pestered by page, and had to keep phoning people to explain he was with an emergency.

Super-Sonographer was adorable, pretty, dainty, soft-spoken, and kind. I managed to get myself more comfortably into the beastly stirrups this time, and she tried a great many possible and even a few impossible angles to get a good look at my uterine contents. And eventually she and the consultant agreed that there was a yolk-sac, and that the gestational sac looked good and ‘like a doughnut’ – this is apparantly also good but I do wonder if I hallucinated it. At 24 days-post-ovulation, the fetal pole would be minute, and therefore no one was particularly bothered that what with the tin-foil no one could see it, though Super-Sonographer thought she saw a sort of, no, maybe not. The entire thing, invisible possible-Pikaia, carry-cot, play-pen, catering facilites and all, was 7.7mm across. So, so tiny. And yet, for an ‘adjusted due to ovulating on day 17’ 5wk2d pregnancy, on target.

And then the consultant and the Super-Sonographer spent several minutes examining and discussing my haematoma. It was well away from the gestational sac (I say well away. Scale is everything. It was less than an inch from the gestational sac) and neatly pooled over my very very closed cervix. I was warned that I may bleed for another few days, either as spotting or even in gushes, as it made its way out. And it didn’t appear to be emananting from the sac. Unexplained bleed. Dear God. I – I – I just – I – ohhhh, Lord.

As for Satsuma, she was quietly but proudly bearing a corpus luteum and otherwise looking completely normal. As was the fallopian tube.

None of this is a guarantee that everything will carry on being fine. I have another scan next week, when they’ll expect to see a foetal pole and possibly even a heart-beat, and where I’ll pray and beg to see them – did I ever mention I was an atheist? But meanwhile the rush of pure, sugary, relief that filled H and I as we walked slowly home in the sunshine bounced us into phoning family and telling them.

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley


11 responses to “I heart the NHS

  • thalia

    OMG. What a day. So very relieved to hear that all seems fine. Can you get a referral to an EPU so that you can get scanned on a good machine – maybe next week sometime so you can see the heartbeat?

    Sounds like you held it together remarkably well. No, I’m serious.

  • Sol

    Good grief! I agree – I think you were remarkable calm under the circs.

    Fate does seem determinted to put you through the wringer on this, but I am so so very very happy for the positive outcome.

    I hope you are having a well deserved and stress free rest today.

  • Heather

    I was stressing just reading that, I can’t imagine how stressful it must have been to go through it!

    I’m glad the little one is doing well. So VERY glad!

  • Pamela Jeanne

    Geez, I was hyperventilating and feeling my heart rate quicken just reading along this absolutely terrifying series of events. So very glad the scan showed the bleeding problem separate from Pikaia. Rest easy and take good care…

  • geohde


    Very relieved that things seem okay…..


  • Rita

    OMG. That is very scary. Hope you are ok. and Hubby too.

  • deanna

    I’m nearly hyperventilating for you…..What a horrible, scary, very horrible experience! *hugs!!!!*

    I’m so relieved that your little sweetie is doing great—right on schedule and unassociated with the blood weirdness. Here’s hoping that disappears FAST! (and never comes back!)

  • Robyn

    Your last line, a favourite of my Scots-born Dad, has hauled me out of lurkdom! Glad you’re both relieved at the end of the day and that Pikaia is working on booting out that totally unwanted and unnecessary co-resident of her new digs. Wishing you less of the ganging aft agley.

  • Jackie

    oh dear, i’m so glad to read that everything is ok. i will anxiously await your scan results of next week. take good care of yourself in the meantime!

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  • Eliza

    Dammit I’m trying to sleep but was just going to do some NCLM commenting and I DO love your writing style. I myself am an irascible victim of constant medical procedures, but across the pond, so it’s kind of fascinating in a sick way to read about how it works over there…

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