Daily Archives: August 29, 2013

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.

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