Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Our Loss Part 2

Read Part 1 HERE. {WARNING: a single medical photo of internal organs is included in this post.}

It was decided that I would have surgery. Immediate surgery. The doctors had me, I was checked into the hospital, they had done blood work, I had not had food since 3 pm, I was stable... they weren't going to let me leave. Trust me, I asked.

I was alone. It was past 11:00 at night. Ryan was at home with the kids and I had taken our only vehicle to the hospital. There were people I could have called to have them watch my kids and bring my husband to the base, but I didn't think it would be necessary. My kids were sleeping and I didn't want them to wake up in a strange place or wake up to not having mommy OR daddy around. Also, I would be asleep for the surgery and then sleeping in recovery... I didn't need Ryan to stay up all night watching me sleep when he also needed rest. I would be going home the next day. I told him to stay at home with the children.

I had support, but for now... I was alone.

At this time I called my mom. My family had no idea what was happening. With my sister being so close to having her first child, Ryan and I originally agreed we wouldn't share our pregnancy news until around the 4th of July, after the first trimester. Then when we were facing uncertainty of what this pregnancy was, we didn't want to tell people until we had more information. Now I was facing a surgery... it was time to inform family and get prayer.

I am thankful for my doctors. They were all very kind and understanding. Earlier in the week I had really made my peace about this pregnancy: if it was a molar pregnancy I was aware that there was no baby and never was a chance of a baby, but the fear of cancer was worrisome. If it was a miscarriage I was sad to have lost a baby but the relief to my health was there. With this ectopic pregnancy I was sad that, in my opinion, there was a baby... but it had no chance to form and actually develop. As far along as I was in the pregnancy, the baby was not developing. There was no heartbeat. There never would be one. It wasn't turning into a baby because it didn't have the resources to become one... and in the end if nothing was done I could end up seriously hurt. As somebody who is pro-life, this was a difficult situation to wrap my mind around.

The surgery would be laparoscopic, an incision in the belly button and two additional, smaller incisions slightly lower and on either side, closer to the hip bones.

My doctors told me they were both "conservative" and if there was any chance to save the pregnancy or if they get in there and find a viable pregnancy they would do all they could. I was also to undergo a D and C which she explained they leave for last just in case there is a viable pregnancy.

Things started moving quickly. The anesthesiologist came to talk with me about being put under completely. After his interview with me he was happy and told me I was the dream patient, easy, and he was looking forward to a smooth sedation. I talked with the surgical nurse who was friendly and warm. He was also surprised and pleased about my medical history. Apparently I'm not common to what they usually get: I'm not on any medications, I have no illnesses or diseases, no strange medical history, no past surgeries -- I'm healthy.

I will also add that everybody I came in contact with was warm and kind and showed some emotion on my loss.

About this time is was past midnight. It was now Monday. They took me away to the operating room.

We were all chatting casually. The OB student was somewhat excited because this would be his first time being present for a procedure of this sort. I remember the table and the room... but not much else.

My foggy recalls begin after waking up in pain and all I could say was "ow. ow. ow. ow." and somehow I answered affirmatively that I did hurt and I did have cramping... then nothing. There are 2 things I remember saying in my drugged up state. I remember being transferred to my hospital room bed and looking at the clock and asking if it was the correct time (I think it was 4 in the morning). They said yes and my response was "this day sucks!" and snickering was their reply. Later on I recall a nurse coming in to check vitals (I'm assuming it was a nurse and that's what he or she was doing) and all I remember saying is, "I'm not really mean. I'm... I'm really very nice."

Later in the morning the doctor came by and talked about my procedure, which went well. They believe they were able to entirely remove the ectopic; they did not have to take my fallopian tube nor my ovary. Everything went perfectly textbook, which is what they like to see.

They kept me on percocet while at the hospital so I really just slept the whole time. I nearly passed out on the first trip back from the bathroom so then I was put on a "fall watch" with a shiny orange bracelet. Apparently I was having a hard time getting my blood pressure back up. The nurses said I was a fun patient because I didn't get into my bed like the old people they usually have to help... I was much easier and could do most of the work myself.

Once I was cleared to leave, my friend Allyssa brought Ryan to the hospital and took the kids to her place. I was sent away with some lovely drugs and told to rest. I basically lived in my bed for 3 days on vicodin. Ryan did amazing, having to be a full time dad and part time caretaker of me. Overall he was so supportive and helpful during such a hard time. The kids were also very good. I did show them my "owies" and they were very gentle to me and wanted to be sure I was okay.

I did venture out on Wednesday to the kids' school for their end of year concert and Will's little graduation ceremony. As soon as we got back home I slept for a few hours. It wore me out.

Thursday I was even better and ventured out again. It was the farewell day at the kids' school where they say goodbye to their teachers and all that jazz. I took it easy and even stayed awake for awhile after returning home.

By the time the movers arrived (a week after surgery) I was nearly back to myself... just had to take things easy.

For weeks after the surgery I could not wear normal clothes. I lived in sweatpants and yoga pants. Even now occasionally jeans will rub on the incision site in my belly button and cause discomfort.

Anyway, I had a follow up the week after my surgery. The doctor told me, again, everything went smoothly and I was text book. In fact I was told that I have beautiful anatomy inside and was the perfect teaching tool. When I asked about the student who was in on the surgery, she said he enjoyed the procedure. I know that may sound weird to people, but I also agree that the human body is amazing and interesting. Back when I took anatomy and physiology I was just intrigued by all the things inside a body.

My doctor gave me the internal photo images from the surgery. I think they are fascinating... and in a way it is the only picture of my child that will never be.

At the follow up appointment I was told (again) I was on specific restrictions for 4-6 weeks. She reinforced the directive we were not to attempt to get pregnant for 3 months. Pathology report came back all clean. And also my HGC levels had gone down a lot, but they weren't under 5. She said once we arrived at Lackland I needed to see the OB there for additional followup. I was given my ops report since that (for some stupid reason) does not get transferred in their computer system.

Well, I did get into the clinic at our new base and they did their little triage thing to me and stuck me in a room. I had a resident (or maybe a student) come to talk with me over my case and then he realizes -- I already had the surgery! He told me at first he was excited, thinking he'd get to scrub in on a procedure only to discover it was done and I just needed follow up. We talked through my case, my HGC levels still were not below 5, and I was to stay on some restrictions until I hit the 6 week post surgery mark. My incisions sites were examined and I was told that they were healing beautifully. I never saw the actual OB. He basically told the resident and nurses that I should take a pregnancy test in a week and as long as it was negative I should be fine.

Eventually I did get around to taking that test... and it was negative. I guess that means my HGC levels are now below 5 and I'm in the clear??

So this ends the saga. It was a crappy life event but we've come out on the other side. My risks for an ectopic pregnancy again are now higher since I have experienced one, but the outlook for a normal, healthy pregnancy in the future is good.

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