Codeine’s wonderful. I take it, I go to sleep, I don’t have to talk to my mother on the phone.
And later I shall write a letter to the NHS in green ink. With multiple exclamation marks.
For those of you who really don’t want to hear anything more at all about miscarriages and surgery and horrible shit like that, for whatever reason, here is your stop. It’s not safe further down the page. Seriously. OK? Take care now.
Things started Badly. For a start, I hadn’t had a thing, not a single thing, to eat or drink from 6:30 am onwards. I had to go back to the Early Pregnancy Unit for the preliminary ‘yes/ no/ maybe/ what is that’ scan. We were told to arrive at about ten am. Strike one – the place was heaving by ten and we had to wait for an hour to be seen. Not that I mind the hour’s wait, as such – that’s not too bad for an NHS emergency service. But we were waiting in the combined waiting area for the EPU, Acute Gynaecology, the Antenatal Clinic, and some clinic specialising in ghastly venous ulcers and ankles like cantaloupes. Exactly like cantaloupes. H and I sat there for an hour as beautiful pregnant bellies shuttled past in droves, accompanied by all the other kids, and some had dozens of other kids, and husbands and grandmas and aunts and excited extended families and there were toy tricycles and pushchairs and irate toddlers and angelic babies everywhere and then a woman sat her enormous belly down right in front of us, literally within inches of our knees, to read stories to her horde of sons. So I leapt up in the manner of the freshly electrocuted and vanished into the toilet. Oh, yes, and one toilet had no light-bulbs and the other had no paper and would you believe a queue for the third? and yes, an elderly lady with exploding leg disease assumed I was pregnant too and tried to make sweet and jolly conversation with me about it. I went and sat back down somewhere else. Whereapon a proud father carrying his doe-eyed infant sat down next to us and played happily with said infant and talked proudly to his pregnant wife. If you’ll all cover your ears for one minute…
Strike two – I am very surprised I did not murder the EPU receptionist. A large part of me still wants to march back down there right now, drag her out into the middle of the waiting room and beat her to death with her own clip-board. Fine, so I had to fill in the stupid forms again. Even the stupid bloody assumption-making form that wanted to know where I was planning to give birth and who my midwife was. The form that did not have a tick-box for ‘having a sodding miscarriage, actually’, along-side ‘pregnancy confirmation’ and ‘dating scan’, so I had to write that in under ‘other’ myself (I don’t think I used the word ‘sodding’. I hope I didn’t use the word ‘sodding’). Anyway. the receptionist insisted on handing me this form, in that sullen, bordering-on-rude, fuck-off-and-let-me-finish-my-tea way that people paid to deal with the distraught and suffering are carefully trained in, and then wanted to know why I was there. I said, in that special clear loud polite voice of the quietly furious Englishwoman, ‘I am having a miscarriage.’
‘OK,’ she said. ‘How many weeks pregnant are you?’
Luckily I got to hand my form back to the other receptionist, who was actually pretending to be human.
And then, eventually, while I was wandering about trying to find a loo to get into, my name was called. And I have decided that I don’t really mind the nurses and sonographers being cheerful, as long as they are also being friendly and kind. As there were three people in the scanning room, the sonographer, a spare nurse, and the sonographer’s student, the friendliness was filling up the air-space like helium – wheeee! This is fine! I can do this! And H held my hand, and the sonographer gave her student a lesson in intra-uterine structures, and that is why I know exactly what was going on in there. Also, she was exceedingly thorough and tried to get multiple angles, so I was effectively being beaten about the cervix with a blunt instrument, and the buoyant clouds of friendliness made that OK too. When they had finished exploring and had left me to get dressed behind the curtains, I went and looked at the screen, and because of the descriptions the sonographer was giving, I too could work it out. There it was, the gestational sac, about a centimetre across, but collapsed into an oblong, and containing only a yolk sac. And behind, a dark bubble almost twice the size of it, the sub-chorionic haematoma. I had a good long look. Staring an ugly fact good and hard in the face is a coping strategy of mine.
After that, everything reverted to farce, but much kinder farce. A deeply sweet nurse tried to get me booked in for day surgery. This involved taking blood, weight, height, blood-pressure, and filling in another huge great form. I was now under the care of Acute Gynaecology, and Acute Gynaecology was all out of rooms. So I did half the form in the corridor, and then was lead to another corridor where a little old lady in a wheel-chair had to be carefully removed from smack in front of the scales and the yard-stick so I could be weighed and measured. Then we were led to another room – ironically the very one where we had that first False Hope scan, and just as the nurse came in with the tray of needles and phials we were interrupted by the consultant/ surgeon, who was there to explain the procedure to me; which in itself was farcical because when I called the EPU last week, they’d told me they only did D&Cs, but when I read the leaflets they had given me it said ERPC, and then the sonographer said I would be booked in for a D&C, and explained all about curettes, and now the surgeon was very firmly telling me she would be doing and ERPC and how did I feel about the risk of having my uterus perforated with an evacuation needle? And all I could think about was tea.
I don’t know how H felt about all this. He was trailing behind me carrying my bag and cardigan and presenting his spare hand for holding purposes when required. I do know he liked the surgeon and thought she explained everything very clearly. I know I didn’t have any questions, which is a good sign, as I am usually Mistress Questiony McDemander. I signed the consent form.
Then the surgeon politely threw us out of the consulting room so she could get on with examining patients, and I ended up having my blood taken in the nurses tea-room, complete with nurse eating cheese sandwiches and phoning her every relative in one corner and giant sliding pile of glossy magazines for me to rest my forearm on in the other. I had my blood pressure taken in yet another corridor, this time sitting opposite bored pregnant mother ignoring small hellion on tricycle and controlling pregnant mother taking issue with small child playing with the leaflets, under a dozen posters for breast-feeding and quitting smoking during pregnancy, and in ear-shot of a television playing wall-to-wall advertisments for nappies and baby-milk and ‘new mummy advice’. Funnily enough, my blood pressure was a little high, and my pulse was all galloping horses escaping from sabre-toothed mummy-bears. And we filled in some more of War and Peace in paperback, subtitled my ‘Day Surgery Care Path’.
And then we waited, while the nurses rounded up a few more women to measure. And then the sweetest nurse led us women, and our assorted partners and relatives, in crocodile, out into the main corridor, along that, out into the open air, along the road, round the corner, into another building, and marooned us in another waiting room. But this one had comfortable chairs. Lots of comfortable chairs. Which is why Woman With Annoying Family plunked herself down next to us, so I got to share my personal space with the vision of her partner’s underpants right down to the under-bum-cheek protruding from his ragged shorts. Also, he wore a silly hat, kept crossing his legs so his trainer was absolutely in my personal space, and was probably perfectly sweet really, but I do not see why any of us need to be that close to another person’s near-naked arse, at any time, ever, and if a person will insist on inflicting his Calvin Kleins on me without being introduced, he really can’t expect me to not despise him utterly.
I’ve just seen how long this is getting, and how late it is getting. Do you mind if I finish recounting every painful detail tomorrow?