Saturday, January 12, 2008

A scary time

This post is about Mommy, one Angelina still has, thankfully. Perhaps that's a bit melodramatic but I was sure scared. I decided to write this here as a warning, should anyone have similar symptoms, don't hesitate to be an advocate for yourself. Medical professionals aren't always right.

We returned to the US on New Year's Eve and I went to the ER on New Years Day following 3 weeks of bleeding and a couple of days of cramping. I had a positive pg test and though I figured I was miscarrying, I was concerned about an ectopic as this was a lot different than the last miscarriage. The nurse in the ER made me feel like an idiot for even going and said "It's not ectopic, it would hurt more. We don't have an OBGYN here so you have to follow up elsewhere anyway." Ok, I knew that but I was hoping maybe you could verify it wasn't ectopic as today's a holiday and the OB's office is closed. They did a sonogram. 5 hours later the nurse comes in and says "you're out of here." about explaining what's up? "Oh yeah, you have an HCG 165, so you were pregnant but no intrauterine pregnancy so you're miscarrying. Bye." Frederic left for London the next day.

I scheduled a follow up with my new OB the following week. On Thursday night (1/3) I had major cramping again. On Friday morning they said to go ahead and come in that day. The OB reviewed the report from the ER (but not the actual sonogram) and took the time to explain to me why he wasn't sure if it was ectopic but didn't rule it out. He did recommend a blood test  and said we'd do another sono if the HCG levels rose. I felt relieved after the explanation as it made sense, except I was still cramping.

Saturday I was in pain all day but by evening it was letting up. I thought the miscarriage was finally running its course. Then at midnight it hit me like a ton of bricks - massive, sharp, burning pain at one point, then spreading out. I have a very high pain tolerance but this had me doubled over. I couldn't stand, I couldn't lie down, all I could do was kneel hunched over. I was in tears. I finally called Frederic in England, just because I needed a sympathetic voice. By about 2:30am he convinced me to go to the ER. Problem was Angelina. So he contacted our friends Ann and Garth and they came over at 3am to take care of Angelina while I went to the ER.

After 2 hours I saw the triage nurse who said "They already did a sono, they're not going to see anything more. You can wait 5 more hours if you want though they won't find anything wrong." After another hour, no sleep in 24 hours, totally worn out and realizing I'll be there all day and they likely wouldn't even bother with another sonogram, and the pain was letting up, I decided to come home without being seen at all. Meanwhile Fredo had been debating flying back, I told him not to, as apparently 'nothing was wrong.'

Monday the OB called to say my HCG levels had risen, and I should come in for another blood test. I told them about the weekend cramping so they scheduled me for a sonogram on Thursday. The pain had remained dull and constant. On Wednesday I was feeling a bit dizzy. I took Angelina to her doctor's appt, then went into work about noon. I thought I was light headed because I hadn't had lunch. I'd also had a pain in my neck/shoulder since the night before. I knew those were both signs of ectopic pregnancy but had convinced myself it was all in my head. As the dizziness got worse,I debated calling the OB or waiting one more day til my scheduled appt.

Being a researcher, I had done my research. Many medical professionals hate when patients say "I read..." Well, I knew the symptoms and had read that ectopics occur in ~ 1 in 2000 pregnancies, and ~9-13% are fatal, most following a trip to the ER where the woman was diagnosed with a miscarriage. I really didn't want to be part of that 9-13%.

When one of my staff asked "Are you alright?" I realized I looked as bad as I felt, and called the OB who told me to come in right away. I called our neighbor to pick up Angelina from daycare, knowing I'd be late.

Sure enough, my BP was ~70/50. I run low anyway, but this was very low. They did a sonogram and it was glaringly obvious there was a mass in the tube. I was no longer in limbo and he set up a surgery for an hour later. No waiting. It was urgent. I called Frederic who was now in France, asked Angela to take Angelina overnight, and made a bunch of other calls while the OB walked me over to the hospital. Though friends offered to come over, there wasn't time, so I went into surgery alone. I was ok until they began prep, and I got massive pains again. The OB was calm, but I heard him tell the nurses to 'hurry up, it may be rupturing now.'

Luckily the tube didn't rupture, I made it thru surgery just fine, I've got a couple of weeks of recovery but all is well. Frederic made it back by Thursday evening, and I was discharged on Friday. I think my OB did everything right, but I am frustrated both with the ER staff and with myself for not fighting harder. I knew something was wrong, but I let myself fall prey to medical staff who just couldn't be bothered.

Moral of the story, if you've made it this far: listen to your body, listen to your gut instincts. Medical professionals aren't omniscient. Good ones recognize that and will work to help solve the problem (as my OB did), the few bad ones out there write you off. Either way, you have to be your own advocate.

On the positive side, Angelina had a blast staying with our neighbors. I don't think she missed me at all.


Monica said...

That is incredibly frightening!!! I'm so glad you are ok. Why does this crap happen when the husband is across the world???

Cherise said...

Yeah, that didn't make it easy. Although what really convinced me to call my OB on Wed afternoon was that if something happened that night, I was alone with Angelina and it'd be worse then. I might otherwise have waited if I didn't have that pressure, and been faced with another ER trip or a rupture and not making it in time.

Monica said...

That's true. That would be a scary thought, to know that Angelina was depending on you and that you might be unable to care for her/yourself if you didn't get help. I'm glad it all worked out, finally, and you weren't seriously hurt.

Marcy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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