Thursday, January 27, 2011

Third ER Trip in Two Months

The title says it all, but here it is again in case you missed all the excitement:  I had yet another trip to the ER yesterday.  That brings the final count to three ER trips in less than two months for one pregnancy.  I should add that I have only once before been in an ER in my entire 35-years.

I can also say that I've had my first ride in an ambulance.  For the record, I don't recommend it.  It's not that the paramedics weren't great because I couldn't have asked for better first responders.  It's that I was in so much agony that I actually felt the need to get an ambulance to deliver me to the hospital.  I could not have made it by riding shotgun in my hubby's car.  I couldn't even sit up or stand, let alone walk to a car.

So what happened?  Here's the story with all the gory details.  There isn't really any gore though so don't be afraid to continue reading.

I began to bleed a little late Tuesday evening.  I'll spare you the sexy details, but let's just say that it probably wasn't too smart to ignore certain restrictions that I ignored.  The bleeding never increased and it was only enough to justify wearing a liner so it wasn't a big deal.

I woke up yesterday with more back pain than what I've been experiencing for the last several days.  Along with the back pain came stomach cramps.  Since I'm the Queen of Denial, I figured that something I'd eaten was proving difficult to digest. 

I packed up the kiddo and went to a park playdate with friends for a few hours.  My back really started to bother me while we were at the park, but I tried to keep my mind off the pain by chatting with friends and having a good laugh over our kids splishing and splashing in puddles.  At some point, maybe around noon, I noticed that the cramps were getting stronger.  Still wasn't enough pain to worry about though.

My son and I arrived home around 1:30 yesterday afternoon.  I realized that I was experiencing fairly strong pain once I'd left my friends and lost my distractions.  It wasn't enough to want to take anything for pain management, but it definitely was getting my attention.  I put my son down for a nap and I went to lie down on my own bed because I just wasn't feeling well. 

I don't suffer menstrual cramps and I have never experienced labor.  If you have felt labor, you probably know what was happening.  I sure as heck did not.

I had a D&C scheduled for today, but my body had other plans and finally started the process to begin to release the baby. Everything I've read and heard indicates that a completed miscarriage feels like strong menstrual pain. That sounds perfectly acceptable, right?  The problem is that I don't suffer from period pain (I just bleed a lot and often) so I was TOTALLY UNPREPARED for how quickly the pain went from 0 to 60 and just how painful it can be.  No wonder some women are totally crippled by their cycles!  Those of you who suffer painful periods have my complete sympathy.

I started a text-a-thon with a couple of friends; one who has had a natural miscarriage at the same gestational point and one who is a natural childbirth instructor.  Both offered much-needed support and fantastically wonderful advice on how to manage the pain and what to expect.  Since I was supposed to have the D&C today, I couldn't really take anything so I had to rely upon natural pain relief methods and distraction.

I was quiet so as not to wake my son, but I asked my husband home around 3:00 because the pain was clearly intensifying and I knew that I could not handle caring for my son while trying to handle this event.  I tried to remember to stay hydrated with water and even ate an egg sandwich that my husband thoughtfully prepared for me when he arrived home. 

Things were fine, relatively speaking, until around 4:00 or so.  That's when I began to dry-heave and felt like I might have diarrhea.   I contacted my OB around 4:40 and he responded to my message within five minutes.  I think he's the best physician I have ever had; he's certainly the kindest and most responsive.  He indicated that everything sounded normal, but that I should feel free to take Tylenol or the Norco, which is Vicodin w/ Tylenol (weird name, huh?), that I picked up at the pharmacy the day before.

Those of you who know me surely know that I do not take pills for no reason.  I think there is some value in letting pain run it's course.  I was trying every single suggestion for natural pain relief and I can say that distraction only goes so far.  I first found myself whimpering through the cramping and, as they intensified, I ended up moaning into my pillow while trying to relax. 

I took one Norco at 5:00 and it afforded me about 90 minutes of reasonable pain relief.  It did not remove the pain by any stretch, but it did make it somewhat more bearable for a period of time.  There reached a point where all I could think about was the pain and when it would hit again.  The contractions (if you will) brought me to my knees if I was standing or made me writhe around on my bed if I was lying down.  I figured this was normal and tried to muster on. 

Then I began violently shaking and vomiting.  That was followed by cold sweats and then hot sweats.  I wasn't merely trembling, I was SHAKING.  I was shaking so badly that I could no longer stand or sit up on my own.  I became lightheaded and the room began spinning more than once.  I've never fainted before and I suppose this is when I began to feel frightened that something was really going wrong with this miscarriage.

I screamed out for my husband to help me.  I felt like my insides were trying to get to the outside and I was sitting on the toilet to hasten the process.  Besides a tremendous amount of vomit, nothing happened.  Nothing.  There was some sticky, almost mucousy, blood and several small clots.  That was it.

I suddenly felt better wondered aloud if it was over.  My husband looked and reported that there was nothing in the toilet.  My reprieve lasted probably less than a minute and I became violently ill all over again.  There was nothing in my digestive system at this point, but I continued to vomit up stomach acid that burned all the way out my throat and even out through my nose.  I started crying and begging for help.

My husband wanted to drive me to the hospital, but I could not handle the idea of the drive (even though it's like 3 miles from our house) or the eons-long wait to be treated.  He suggested an ambulance and I brushed off the idea.  He continued to carry/drag me back and forth from the bed to the toilet. 

The only thing that appeared to be happening was that I began to freak out more and more with each contraction.  I thought that I was only moaning through the pain, but my husband told me later that I was crying out loudly enough (screaming really) that I frightened our son.  I regret that I couldn't keep better control and that I caused my little boy so much distress.  I had no idea that I was having such a massive freak-out and wish now that I'd gone to the hospital when my husband first suggested the idea.

It finally got so bad that we called an ambulance (waaah-mbulance was more like it) to take me to the hospital. I think I had every single awful and uncomfortable symptom: back pain, major contracting, vomiting, diarrhea, cold sweats, hot sweats, weakness, lightheadedness, hyperventilation - basically if it's gross or sucky, it happened. The paramedics (I learned later that the FD showed up too) were at my house in what seemed like only a minute.  My blood pressure was high and I was over-oxygenated because I had apparently been hyperventilating for an extended period of time.

They were all incredibly helpful, but the paramedic who looked like Dr. Drew was really helpful at getting me to calm the heck down.  He must have repeated that my panic was only serving to increase the pain at least 1,001 times.  When my eyes wildly darted around, he'd remind me to look at him and take low and slow breaths.  When I'd clench up, he'd remind me to take control of my body and try to relax.  When I began crying about the pain, he'd ask me to tell him about the happiest place I've been.  No, the happiest place on Earth wasn't Disneyland.  It was a quiet beach on Kauai and I kept trying to visualize a palm tree.

I lost my pants at some point so I was wheeled out of my house wearing a blanket from the ambulance.  I'm not ashamed of my body, but I would have misgivings about six strange men seeing me nude from the waist down with my legs flailing this way and that.  As I memorably said on one occasion, I just wouldn't do split beaver shots these days.  You know, I did not care about modesty at that point.  I remained unconcerned about my lack of clothing until I was getting ready to be discharged from the hospital.

So they took me to the ER and, I guess since I arrived in an ambulance, I jumped the line of people in the waiting room.  Hubs told me the waiting room was PACKED when he got there so I'm thankful that I didn't have to wait for treatment.  I don't know what that privilege is going to cost, but that's one bill I will happily pay without complaint because it was worth it.  Okay, okay, my husband will happily pay it!

I was immediately ushered into a private ER room and I was surrounded by nurses and a doctor.  They inexplicably changed out the IV that I was given in the ambulance (why, I have no idea?), but I was happy they did so since they also began to administer IV pain meds.

I'll point out again that I do not usually bother with taking any medication for pain.  Hubby thinks it's because I'm being a martyr, but whatever.  The first hit of IV drugs did nothing to ease my pain.  They followed up with another dose around ten minutes later.  Between that and the Benadryl to help me sleep (as if, right?) I definitely felt my pain and anxiety ease up a bit.  Hubby tells me that I got high as a kite and was totally loopy from that point on.

The ER doctor performed a pelvic exam and, unbelievably, my baby still wasn't coming out.  I thought for sure it was nearly over, but it wasn't even close.  He sent a gynecologist down and she verified that this was nowhere near completion so she slated me to get a D&C.  Even though I'd vomited out my stomach contents, I had to wait for six hours to pass since I'd eaten the dang egg sandwich. 

Here's a funny side note because you know I have to find something funny in all of this.  I was totally inappropriate with the gynecologist and my hubby tells me that I was practically flirting with her.  I kept complimenting her pretty blue eyes and going on & on about how lovely I found her eyes.  I'm sure that ER staff appreciates when a kind and appreciative patient comes through instead of a bitchy and belligerent one, but damn I'm a weirdo! Alternately, reasons like these are why I don't take drugs! haha

The doubly funny thing is that I'm not even particularly fond of blue eyes, but show me a set of baby browns and I'm all over it.  Yes, I'm aware that my hubs has green eyes.  What can I say?  Eyes just don't matter that much in the grand scheme of things, do they?

I ultimately ended up with at least four (but I think the final tally was six) doses of IV pain meds, but I STILL FELT THE DAMN CONTRACTIONS!  They were nowhere near as painful, but I still felt them and there was still slight pain associated with them.  I guess they were pretty strong or I'm just a big puss.  Maybe a little of both.

I finally passed out before going to the OR.  I hadn't even been hit with the general anaesthesia yet.  I woke up in recovery and asked when I could expect to have the procedure.  They nurses told me it was already over and everything went perfectly fine.  I couldn't believe it.  I had a complete absence of pain - emotionally and physically. It was the easiest recovery from general that I've ever had and I credit the recovery nurses for keeping me calm and focused. After reflecting on it a little, this is also the first time that I went under while still wearing my contacts so I actually could see my surroundings when I came to.  Perhaps that helped keep my anxiety at bay too.

There was talk that they might keep me overnight for observation.  I wasn't too keen on that idea once my husband told me how upset our son was before I left and after I was gone.  I really wanted to be here when he woke up in the morning so he could see that I was okay and everything was going to be okay.  I'm thankful that I didn't lose much in the way of blood and was able to urinate easily once I was permitted to consume liquids so they determined that I could go home.  As always, it's a hurry up and wait game to get discharged from a hospital.  I arrived back home at around 3:00 am. 

So how am I doing?  I'm doing good.  And that's not just trying to be positive; I really am okay.  I went through a lot of emotional pain just waiting for it to happen and, once I had the lack of heartbeat confirmed over and over again, I felt a sense of peace for the first time since I learned of my baby's death. Oddly enough, I feel perfectly fine from a physical and emotional standpoint for the first time in nearly three-weeks.

The playground is shut down for six-weeks, I can't drive for two weeks (WTF?!), and I have a bunch of lifting and rest restrictions, but I feel so damn good right now physically and emotionally that I can't get too worked up about it.  I guess I'm finally ready to accept/acknowledge what has happened and begin the healing process of this grief journey.

I went to a damn dark place once the pain meds kicked it at the ER and hubs tells me that I told him I was sure I was dying. I thought it at the house, but certainly wasn't going to verbalize it and jinx myself. I even told him that I wanted him to find a good wife and mother for our son.  He told me to stop it and I guess I replied that that's just what I do.  Uh, what exactly did I mean?  Brood about death?  That's creepy!

I also clearly informed him that I will never, never, never take the wait and see approach again.  The emotional cost was too high and I simply couldn't pay the physical price.  Additionally, I let him know that labor pains (if they can even be called that this early on) were immensely over-rated.  Everyone thinks they're a comedian when they're a little loaded, eh?

Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes.  It was, simply put, the single most frightening and painful thing that I've ever experienced. I've had four impacted wisdom teeth removed at once and I've had a c-section that left me feeling like I was hit by a bus, but those were NOTHING compared to how much I was suffering before I finally went to the hospital and received treatment.  Thank goodness for modern medicine!


  1. I have been there, and I am sorry that it happened to you this way. My body decided to rid itself of a baby back in 1998 or 99. I was hemorrhaging though, and I didn't know it. My mom came over and drove my husband, my ex now, to the hospital and I was bleeding everywhere. I couldn't even get off of the toilet in the waiting room because there was so much blood. I got into an ER room and the nurse went inside me with a pair of forceps and took the baby out. Then the bleeding stopped. They gave me some morphine for the pain. Yes, it was very nice medicine! I too, then had to have a DNC a few hours later. I hated the whole experience. I didn't have as bad of a reaction as you did. But I did have a lot of pain, so much pain I couldn't stop crying. I was in and out of consciousness too.

    I am sorry that you had to go through this.

  2. Oh gosh, Heather, that sounds so traumatic! I can't imagine how painful and frightening that experience was for you. I'm sorry you went through it too. . .here's to our wonderful babes here and in Heaven.