Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why The Doc Told my Daughters to Stay off the Pill

I missed half of August, and I'm not happy about it.  This was supposed to be the last summer that all the kids were home together.  Two are in college, and Libby's in grad school AND getting married (MARRIED!!!) next June, so this was it.  And I ended up in the hospital.

So, I have this peri-menopausal hemorrhage thing going on, and with around half my blood gone, I get to the ER, white as a ghost.  The first thing they do is take my blood pressure.  My normally low BP is nearly undetectable, my pulse racing.  They take some blood for tests.  Like I hadn't lost enough already.  And...Huh.  I need more tests...ultrasound.  Oh, and this is a teaching hospital, so every intern in the place is jammed into the tiny closet of a sono room to watch.  Great.  Hey!  Look!  Call in Dr. Soandso!  Wow!  Students frantically take notes; residents consult and nod.  A voice from "upstairs" says he's seen enough.  I was being broadcast to another floor.  Was there no right to privacy?  Ha!

Diagnosis?  Pft.  Fibroid.  Whatever, I thought.  Just. Fix. Me.

I got 4 units of blood, an EKG, and a neat list of options, some surgical, some chemical.  I've had three c-sections and thought abdominal surgery should be a last resort.  I opted for a hormonal solution.  Bad move.  Badbadbad.  (After all was said and done, The Doc admitted that my aversion towards The Pill was reasonable.)

Well, to be fair, the estrogen (basically a birth control pill overload) did stop the bleeding, and I went home.  Unfortunately, within 36 hours, it stopped the blood flowing in my leg, too.  Yep.  Just like the warning label says:  DVT.  Back in the ER, a nice ultrasound technician confirmed it.  I was pretty sure I'd never walk again, unassisted, and began shopping online (I had my Samsung tablet with me) for a fancy cane.  That's how bad it was.

Since I was now a difficult-to-deal-with case--both bleeding and clotting--they recommended I get an IVC filter.  Well, that's the coolest thing.  They put a squid-like contraption in my inferior vena cava to catch any clot that might try to escape my leg and get to my important bits (heart, lungs, brain).  And I got to watch the procedure on an x-ray monitor while chatting with the surgeon about violin lessons.  It was a nice break from medical chatter.

Back in a hospital room...Heparin made my leg feel better!  They offered me morphine, but I refused.  Please--all I could think of was Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird reading to me (as he read to poor Mrs. Dubose) to take my mind off my inevitable addiction.  No morphine for me.  I'll endure...with Percacet, an opiate with a lower addiction rate.  And just one dose, thanks.

And the hemorrhage recommenced as anticipated.  Now what?  Lasers, electricity, general anesthesia!  The Doc took me off heparin long enough to do an ablation.  It sounds just as gruesome as it is.  But, hey, if successful, it would stop the bleeding without additional hormones, and hormones and I were no longer on good terms.  Best of all, because of the bleeding, The Doc and her associate would have to do the procedure blind and simply hope it worked.  And it worked perfectly.  Oh, and I got two more units of blood.

Do you give blood?  You should.

The next day The Doc met Libby and Annika, and yelled at them to never go on The Pill.   The Doc has the voice of Edie Falco, and Libby thought it was like being scolded by Nurse Jackie (not for kids).  Husband and I laughed, and The Doc explained patiently (and a bit pedantically) how teens will just go off to PP without telling us and go on The Pill, and that it can be dangerous, and that a girl died at 18 from a pulmonary embolism...Both young women assured The Doc that they would not take The Pill.  What a relief.  ;)

I asked for no visitors, but thanks to those who ignored my wishes.  Dear Annette, who was about the hospital for her own reasons, entered the ward disguised as a bag of organic grapes from Trader Joe's.  I am forever grateful for her fruit and conversation.  And Ellen...well, there's nothing like a visit from a nurse who deals with something entirely different, and can just chat as a friend.  And thanks to those who respected my wishes, too.  I really didn't want to be seen outside my natural habitat.  To all of my virtual visitors--those who posted jokes, stayed up late to chat, or offered prayers publicly or anonymously, and those who sent cards and treats or graciously offered time or rides or whatever--I am forever in your debt.  Thank you all.

I've been home for a couple of weeks now, on a common blood thinner and trying to adjust my diet to accommodate balancing the dosages.  I feel much better, walk nearly perfectly well (without a cane), and can enjoy the rest of the summer with my "only" child, Paul.  But I was around to say goodbye to Trip who drove himself to TAC, and to drive Annika to Sewanee.  Tomorrow I help Libby move into her first apartment, thanks be to God.


Ana Braga-Henebry said...

Thanks for sharing your ordeal, and so glad you are now well! One of my favorite things to tell doctors: I'v never taken one bc pill. It sorts of disarms them.

Stef said...

wow, MacBeth! that sounds horrendous. i'm so glad you're okay now. thanks for writing this. i hope you don't mind, i'm sharing. we're 60+ years from the Pill and they keep finding new folks (young women) to deceive.

MacBeth Derham said...

Stef, share away!

Ana, I got that reaction, and another funny reaction when I mentioned NFP (when necessary)--truly priceless.

Lilac Hill said...

I am sorry you had to endure such a medical train wreck. I am glad you are on the mend. Viv

Faith said...

Yikes! Glad you are better. I had the whole hemorrhage/ablation thing too. Ablations are better than hysterectomies.

That's so ironic about the doctor and the Pill. How unPC that doctor is! Doesn't he know it is your right as a woman to get it free??? (sarcasm off).

Anyway, blessings to you as you recover.

Willa said...

MacBeth! What a scary story -- so glad it ended well. I think you could get this published if you wanted to! Shocking and funny and makes a provocative point, all at the same time.