My art… keeps me sane.

Hiya, Gentle Readers. How have you been? I have been tired. Unbelievably tired. You know when you have ‘flu, and the first day after the fever breaks, you feel so much better, so you get out of bed and have a shower, and by the time you’re rinsing your hair you’re weeping with exhaustion? Like that.

Truthfully, I have been better than that for the past couple of days, but was busy feeling numb and reading fantasy novels.

State-of-May: Apart from The Tired? My leg has been getting noticeably better day by day. I can stand and walk for longer, and the pain is less hellacious and more of a dull ache. My pulse is still too fast for a resting pulse, and coffee makes it so much worse, but I no longer get completely breathless just climbing a flight of stairs. Cute Ute the Despoiler has finally stopped bleeding scarlet and is just spotting in a grouchy sort of way. She is also doing her trademark aching thing she always does for two Goddamn weeks after a period. I hate her and want a hysterectomy, but that’s our basic standard relationship. My belly is covered with vivid 50 pence-sized bruises from the Fragmin jabs, and I may have to violate the innocent virgin flesh of my outer thighs soon, as it is recommended one does not inject too close to an existing bruise. I have finally had a Dead Baby dream, of unprecedented David Lynch-style unpleasantness, so thanks for that, Subconscious.


I meant to tell you about the CT scan I had on the 28th of August, back when we were hanging around the emergency departments of the local hospital, waiting to find out why in heck I couldn’t breathe and talk at the same time. So! At about 9pm the doctor finished fucking with my veins and sent H and I down the corridor to the CT department to sit in the corridor there for a bit. It being summer, I had bare legs and was wearing sandals, so by now my feet were freezing cold. As well as being two different sizes. A technician appeared after a few minutes and sent me off to change into a hospital gown in a cubicle in a corridor full of men of all ages talking earnestly and loudlyabout testicular cancer. I shuffled painfully back past them clutching the back of my gown shut, colder than ever.

The technician then led me into a positively Arctic room, containing a narrow bed on a set of rails poked through a gigantic metal and white plastic doughnut of a thing. He briskly went through the ‘who are you, what is your date of birth?’ rigmarole and ended with ‘is there any chance you might be pregnant?’

‘No, none at all,’ I said.
‘Are you sure? Because this machine uses X-rays and we inject you with radioactive contrast dye and we need you to sign this disclaimer.’
‘I’m absolutely sure.’
‘How can you be so sure?’ he asked, briskly.
‘Because I had a miscarriage last week.’

The technician went a little pale, and became, suddenly, much less brisk and more tender.

I lay down on the bed, and the technician injected something, saline I suppose, into my hard-won cannula to check it was working. It stung, and I winced, and he said something about that being good, as it showed it was working. Then he got me to put my arms over my head, so they poked out the other end of the doughnut. I could not see what he was doing, but there was Fiddling With Cannula Again. He came back round to pat my elbow and tell me that the bed would move in and out of the machine a few times. There would be two injections of dye. I might feel odd hot sensations in my face and abdomen, and taste a metallic taste. Oh, and I might feel as if I’d wet myself. It was only a sensation, and I wasn’t to worry. And then he went off to the little booth. What the fuck?

The great metal and plastic torus over my head began to whirr and click, and you could see a conglomeration of machine parts through the transparent ring start spinning. A very loud voice told me the first injection was about to start. What they didn’t warn me of was that it would HURT LIKE FUCK. I managed to lie still and hold my breath when told to but tears sprang to my eyes. I mean seriously, technician dude, with all the other warnings, a ‘this will hurt like fuck’ would’ve been appreciated. And yes, I did indeed feel a sudden hot rush exactly as if someone had tipped a cup of hot tea onto my crotch. And yea verily, it was weird. And metal in my mouth, and warm flushes in my belly. And the machine roared and whirred and I was motored deeper into it and was beginning to expect the Universe to suddenly blur and tilt and vanish as I shot through a wormhole or something. Just as the pain in my hand was beginning to fade, they warned me the second injection was about to happen, and again the savage burn, and the hot tea in the groin and the swimming sensation.

I have no idea how long it all lasted, but I doubt it was longer than ten minutes. The technician came out to gently liberate me from the dye pump – I saw the size of the syringes and crikey they were big. No wonder that hurt. My hand veins are small and irritable at the best of times, and did I mention I was cold? – and help me sit up. I was despite warnings still slightly surprised to find that I had not in fact pissed myself. He told me to go back to the Clinical Decisions Unit and they’d send the scans along when they’d processed them. These were the scans that showed a large pulmonary embolism, straddling the pulmonary artery just where it splits into two branches, one for each lung.

And when we got back to the CDU my cannula leaked bloodily all over the floor. Hurrah!

To return to yesterday. Yesterday I had been booked in to have an echocardiogram, to check whether last week’s shenanigans had done any damage to my heart. The chances of permanent damage are not high, before you all panic, but, you know, best to check.

H and I ambitiously took the bus, as my leg was so much better. From the bus-stop to the correct part of the enormous hospital is about a 500 yard walk, and I managed it with only one stop to sit for a few minutes. Admittedly, my leg spasmed at the last yard and I needed another urgent sit-down, but I managed it, and I did not get too breathless to talk or so tachycardic I noticed, so yay!

Of course, when we got there, they’d cancelled my appointment. Because when it was made I was an inpatient and the twat who did the discharging on the computer was a twat. I can say this with impunity because the extremely sweet receptionist in cardiology leapt to his feet and rushed into the back offices to sort it out, and came back overflowing with apologies because obviously the appointment should not have been cancelled and he’d see at once what he could do and off he rushed again and five minutes later my appointment had been reinstated and the poor chap,was apologising to me all over again because there’d be a wait and did we want to go get a tea or coffee? I thanked him and said I could see they were busy (waiting room quite full) and we didn’t mind the wait at all, at which point he looked so relieved he nearly popped and pressing his palms together, bowed to me right there in the waiting room. From which I can only assume people had been being dicks to him all morning. And then H went and got me a (decaff, obvs.) cappuccino and I settled down happily with my book for an hour.

The echocardiogram itself was no biggy. I stripped to the waist (tits ahoy!) and lay down on a couch next to that familiar creature, an ultrasound machine. The sonographer lady, poker-faced but perfectly pleasant, attached electrodes to my collarbones and right side, and then had me roll onto my left side ‘for a better view of the heart’. She then jellied up a probe and pressed it to my breast-bone, leaning comfortably over my waist. She also scanned my heart from just under my left breast, which was less comfortable, as she kept digging the probe into breast-flesh to get a better view, and this went on for some time. I got to hear my own heart beating from various angles. From some, it sounded weirdly sloshy and gloingy, like someone playing in a tin bath. It also sounded a little fast to me. I’d never really considered what my resting pulse actually is before. I know I am not very fit, so it won’t be particularly slow, but constantly in the 90s? Reaching the 100s? Me no like. Poker-face said nothing, beyond asking me to roll onto my back again so she could probe around under my ribs for a while and then explore matters via my supra-sternal notch. I did get to see my heart on the monitor, and I can assure you it is a busy little organ and has four chambers and it goes woosha woosha and/or thuddity thuddity and/or slosh-gloing slosh-gloing depending on the angle, but more I cannot tell you. Poker-face handed me lots of paper towels to de-slime my torso with, informed me my consultant would be in touch about results, and once I’d dressed, ushered me firmly out of her domain.

I don’t see the consultant for another week. Ho hum.

I can see why technicians don’t want to discuss tests with patients. The technician doesn’t have the full picture and can’t know if they’re seeing anything clinically significant or not, and it’s rotten to make them responsible for dealing with bad news situations, and anyway, the patient may well get hold of the wrong end of the stick and without all the other information the consultant has it may well be the wrong stick altogether. But it’s fucking frustrating for us. ‘Not knowing’ is a thing I have enormo-huge issues with at the best of times. The whole ‘it’s probably fine’ thing does nothing for me. It never did, and given the quite dramatically inventive ways I manage to fall off the Medical Norm charts, it never bloody will, because in my case ‘probably’ so often means ‘muahahahaha’.

And H! H has actually gone to work today. He has been getting by on a mixture of compassionate leave and working-from-home, and luckily there haven’t been any big or urgent projects to deal with, so he has actually been at my side since the miscarriage proper. We have both been very subdued and not very talkative, H mostly sublimating his feelings in making me tea and buying me all my favourite chocolate bars. It occurs to me that at this rate I am going to turn into crated veal, and the Chocolate Needs To Stop, heart-rending sentence that that is. Poor H. He looks so sad and tired, all the time.

22 responses to “My art… keeps me sane.

  • Dr Spouse

    Pffffffft…. Not much more to say! But the time for chocolate is now. The time for strenuous walks and salad is not now.

  • Lilian

    Technicians never tell you things, in my experience. Well, apart from the ones who test pacemakers who sort of have to, really. Argh! to the cannula for CT scan – you may be unsurprised to learn that I also had a bad time with such a thing. I fussed and wailed if I remember rightly, so you did much better than me. Also, bless the lovely cardiology receptionist.

  • Lilian


    So sorry you’ve had to go through all this. It is definitely time for chocolate, and copious amounts of it.

  • bionicbrooklynite

    I, too, understand why techs aren’t supposed to say anything, but it is a maddening system. When I Am Queen, all appointments involving procedures of that kind will be IMMEDIATELY, as in, no time to wipe the goop off, followed by chats with relevant people who are allowed to talk about results. (And I will forever love the u/s tech at the terrible OB office, who broke that rule all the time, did extra cervical length checks on the sly, and was in general, the only decent human in the place.)

    I am glad things seem to be improving, though lord, they have too far to go for my liking. And I am glad you and H have been able to spend this awful time quietly together, which is as it should be, for both of you. Xoxo

  • sheila

    Indeed Dr Spouse – the time for chocolate is most definitely now. Screw everything else for a few weeks. By the way, for how long did the GP sign you off? Also interested to hear what Dr George said when you feel up to it. Big hugs and even more chocolate wishes to you and H at such an incredibly sad time.

  • Robyn

    Should I send more Passionfruit Chocolate? Just say the word.

  • a

    That first scan sounds very unpleasant. But at least you got (moderately) quick results. Waiting for results is the most annoying thing ever. Boo! Hiss!

    It is probably good for H to go back to work. Then he can get back into a routine, and then maybe go see a counselor for all that sublimating.

    Carry on with the numbness and fantasy novels…

  • Twangy

    Dear May, good lord above, what an experience. No wonder you are knackered to the very ends of the earth. SO good to hear the DVT symptoms are diminishing. GOD.

    Sort of relatedly, I don’t know how I feel about the increasing mechanisation of medicine, having just read a rather alarming wiki on CT scans. Brr. So dehumanising and painful! Radioactive dye? On the other hand, if it works, has to be good, I suppose. I thoroughly approve of that, clearly.

    Look after yourself. I know I keep saying this. And you are. But do. Fantasy novels or anything you like are an excellent idea. Sending you good thoughts. And hugs.

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    ‘… pressing his palms together, bowed to me right there in the waiting room…’ I am DELIGHTED to learn that, finally, someone in the NHS treats you EXACTLY how you deserve to be treated!

    Crated veal. Gosh. We don’t want that. But we want chocolate! *wibbles*

    There is no weariness quite like this part. The next foot seems awfully HARD to put in front of the other. Hardhardhard. Because there’s no clear sunny place to walk TO, that’s the absolute bugger of it.

  • heartsick

    I’ve been a technician in a hospital setting before (I did brain ultrasounds on stroke patients) – doctors always told me NOT to convey any results to the patients or families. Basically because it’s their job, and they’re the ones with the knowledge to interpret the results in the context of the patient’s case, and I might tell them the wrong thing and get everybody all upset. Even giving good news could be crushing if the MD came back later with a worrying finding.

    Having been on the other end myself, I know it’s pretty frustrating though. And I had the exact same experience on the lung CT – very very weird.

  • Emily Erin

    I love what you did with the title re: Scanners! However, I am sad that it seems that, upon further investigation, you experienced the beginning of a scanner takeover in the ‘veins hurt like hell’ part of your CT scan. Fortunately, your head did not explode (although I’d completely understand if it did, given the utter shittiness of the past few weeks).

    I agree that chocolate is the only appropriate recourse at this juncture– salads, excercise and all other manner of healthy things can wait, IMHO. Read fantasy books and heal as much as you can. I wish that I had any pull at all within the universe; then I’d bend it to my will and make it stop F-ing with you and H and go ahead and give you a darned baby already!

    So sorry about the facebook pictures of kidlets going to school– it always is a bit difficult, especially when you have a spirit child who would have been with them.

    Hugs all around, and no exploding heads, please.

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    I think there is a movie I haven’t seen that I need to have seen to understand…!

  • Quiet Dreams

    I don’t really blog anymore, but I read some blogs still religiously. Yours is one. I’ve been checking by every day (or more than once a day)–don’t really trust the reader–in the last month or so.

    Just want to tell you that someone across the pond who doesn’t know you at all, except for what you write here thinks of you and H often and is sending out lots of love to the two of you. Wish I could make you both a dinner (to drop off of course, I wouldn’t make you have to socialize yet) or some cookies or something.

    No platitudes or anything. (Wouldn’t it be great if those actually did something?) Just thought I would finally stop lurking and pat your arm and tell you I’m thinking of you and H.

  • Melissa

    What an odyssey you have endured! Continue to think of you often!

  • L.

    Melissa thought of the phrase I wish I had. It really does sound like an odyssey. Trying to remember if Ulysses had any fun adventures in among the monsters.

    • Melissa

      “Fun”…well, about as much fun as May is having, I suppose!

      Miss your posts May! I may or may not be stalking twitter during these pauses, just to make sure you’re okay!

  • sheila

    Miss you May and hope you’re ok.

  • Aphra Behn

    My word. What you have been through and are going through is Not OK. I am sorry that I keep wandering off into a different part of the forest. But *hug*. Gentle gentle *hug*. And chocolate.

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