Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ultrasound Tech from Hell

Aside from the incredibly strained relationship and the emotional aspect of dealing with an unplanned pregnancy after years of being told it would likely never happen, I was facing a lot of physical complications as well. 

On July 5th, I left work a few hours early and went to the ER for dehydration because the morning sickness (which seemed to last all day) was preventing me from keeping down any food or fluids.  The ER doctors admitted to me then that they do not get many OB cases in the ER and the best they could do was contact the OB on call to see what his recommendation was.  There was no ultrasound because I was only a few weeks along and it was assumed that the morning sickness was the only cause for my illness.  I was given IV fluids and a prescription for Zofram, an anti-nausea medication given mostly to chemotherapy patients (& apparently pregnant women with extreme cases of morning sickness).

A week or two later I started having sharp pains in my lower back & feeling a tremendous amount of pressure in my lower abdomen. There were so many things that could cause it.  My body was preparing to carry a baby. My hips were widening. My mucus plug was forming. (Not to mention constipation that often accompanies pregnancy.) My uterus was growing. Well - the BABY was growing, or so we thought...

July 16th - Over the weekend I had experienced a lot of discomfort, to the point that I couldn't sleep. At work, I was hurting pretty badly, and sweating a little, like you do when you're in a lot of pain.  I noticed I was experiencing sharp pains in my back more frequently and the pressure in my abdomen had gotten to the point where I could barely stand the pressure from my pants or underwear because it hurt.  I had already stopped using the lap portion of my seatbelt the week before because of the pain.  Just before 5pm, I went to the restroom as I always do just before leaving work.  There was some light, watery, rusty-orange spotting when I wiped.  I KNEW that wasn't good!  My body had been telling me for DAYS something wasn't right and I had ignored it because everyone I asked, and even the books & my research, suggested it was normal to have some discomfort during the first trimester.

I went directly to the ER after work.  I was hurting so much I could barely drive myself. I contacted TJ and let him know I was there (again) but knew he had to work that night and didn't want him wasting his precious energy sitting in the ER with me. I knew he was dealing with a lot of stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness as it was. I wanted to make everything as easy on him as possible. After all, it was my ignorance that had contributed mostly to the situation to begin with.  After taking the Bee Fertile and never being told for SURE that I would never have children, I should have been more careful.  All of these things go through your head, and TJ is one of those people who is SUCH a creature of habit and so emotionally attached to his routines that this was a devastating situation for him.  I understood that. I knew how difficult it was for him to step out of his routines and his comfort zone. To ask him to jump up and run to my rescue every single time I had a little pain or some paranoid concern was unfair.  I told him to stay home, sleep, and I would keep him updated.  He had finally stopped trying to fight the situaiton and was being far more supportive than I ever thought he would be and I didn't want to strain our relationship anymore.

Blondie had some errands to run after work but came as soon as she could to be with me. She brought her little boy and he entertained us for a little while before falling asleep on the bench between us.  She brought me a 7up, which I just barely sipped at. I was hurting SO MUCH.  It seemed like I had to get up to pee about 15 times while we waited.  It took five hours total for the doctor to see me.  I saw SO MANY people come and go while I sat there waiting. I asked what was going on and they said that I had to be seen by a doctor, not a nurse practitioner or physician's assistant, and the doctor was handling a trauma so I would have to wait.  The spotting stopped in the time while I waited. 

At some point during that five-hour span, they did take me back for an ultrasound.  The technician was very rude and it seemed like she was in a hurry.  I heard what sounded like a heartbeat, which made me feel a small amount of relief, but she didn't bother explaining to me even once what the sound was or if I should feel relieved at all.  Then, she asked if anyone had ever told me I had a retroverted uterus.  I asked, "Isn't that where your uterus is tilted back? Yes. My doctor told me that years ago." Then I proceeded to explain to her that my ex-husband and I had tried for over 6 years to get pregnant and when we went to the doctor they said the primary cause of our infertility was a tilted uterus. They said the passageway from my cervix to my uterus was limited due to the degree of the tilt, which would make it very difficult for us to conceive and could cause endometriosis & PCOS.  In fact, I had gone to the doctor for pain after my period once and had to have tissue removed that couldn't pass during my period.  The U/S tech didn't mention that anything looked wrong or even make me believe in any way that I should be concerned.  In fact, she didn't say much of anything at all.

They finally placed me in an exam room around 8pm but the doctor was still in Trauma.  They said they wanted to make me as comfortable as possible. I wondered why the hell they couldn't have "made me comfortable" about three hours prior.  Blondie came back with me at first, but her little boy was so tired and grouchy.  I told her to take him home and get him settled for the night. She said she would try to get him to bathe and go straight to bed so she could come back, that maybe her mom could watch him.  I was still reassured by the "heartbeat" I had heard earlier and told her I was sure it would be fine and I would keep her updated.

Around 8:30pm, I received a text message from EH's adopted daughter, SJ.  It said, "I hate you hore."  I was lying in the ER in extreme pain, terrified that I was losing my baby.  My heart dropped out of my chest. I didn't know what to do. I texted back "Who is this and who do you think you're talking to?"  I received no response so I called my ex-MIL (EH's mom - We'll call her Milly) and told her about it. She explained that SJ had left her phone at a store near EH's work a few days prior when she had gone shopping with her other grandmother and EH had stopped to pick it up on his way to work one day.  SJ wasn't at EH's house but her phone probably was.  Milly said she would figure out what was going on. I explained to her what I was going through, which made her even more angry about the text.  Milly and I have remained very close through the divorce. In fact, she and I are now proably closer than she is with EH.  She was pissed that while I was lying in an ER fearful of losing my child and in excruciating pain, I had to put up with childish crap like this.  She said she would handle it.

Around 10pm, the doctor finally came in.  He was really beating around the bush at first and then I realized he hadn't spoken to the U/S tech yet or seen the pictures.  He wasn't even aware I had already had an U/S! Just as he was telling me this, the U/S tech walked by. She stopped and said, "I did her U/S already, a few hours ago.  As far as I could tell, it looked like the sac was empty and there was a cyst or some anomaly near her left ovary. I figured it was a tubal pregnancy."

*************WARNING! EXTREME PROFANITY WILL INSUE IN 3... 2.... **************


I instantly started FREAKING OUT.  Tears flowed uncontrollably. I sat straight up out of the bed and screamed "WHAT?"  I was absolutely beside myself. Every terrible thought, every worry, every paranoia I had felt from Day One was flooding my mind all at once.  The doctor took one look at me, grabbed the U/S tech's arm, and said, "Come with me".  Just like that, I was ALONE.  I sat there feeling as if I would die right there.   My heart was leaping out of my chest. Tears were pouring from my eyes and running down my neck and chest. My chest heaved up and down rapidly. I can't even describe in words how I felt.  You would have to have experienced that kind of shock and panic to even begin to understand it.  I sat there for a moment and then began texting Blondie and TJ explaining what I had heard.  I just kept saying "I don't KNOW! They left me here, alone. No one will tell me what's going on."  Finally, Blondie & TJ both convinced me to step out into the hall and find someone.  I stepped out from behind the curtain and there was no one in the hallway. I looked to the end of the hall near the registration office and saw my nurse standing there with two other women.  I stepped toward them and felt like I might faint. I stopped, looked up, and with all the strength I had in me, I yelled, "I need to talk to someone RIGHT NOW!"

I can't explain what was going through my mind or how I was feeling.  It's like I was watching a movie or having a dream. It was extremely surreal & yet VERY real at the same time.  The emotional pain was too much. If I had been capable of thinking I might have found a way to kill myself right at that moment, but I couldn't even really remember how to walk back to the exam room. The nurse ran over to me & nearly picked me up to get me back into bed.  She sat me down, squatted down to me, put her hands on my shoulders, and said, "Stay right here. I'll get someone."  A few seconds later, a woman I recognized from the registration desk came in.  She introduced herself (I don't remember her name) and told me Cindy (the nurse) was looking for my doctor.  The woman looked to be in her 60's, though I suspect she may have been a bit younger.  She explained to me that she and her husband tried for years and never had any babies.  She said a lot of other things too, but none of it really meant shit to me while I sat there.  All I could think was "Why did they do that? Why did that tech say that in front of me? Where did they go?"  These three thoughts kept swirling in my head.  I kept looking beyond the curtain for my doctor's face, or a glimpse of the U/S tech while that lady kept rambling on about how "everything happens for a reason" and lamenting about her sister's three miscarriages.  Not to be insensitive, but I really didn't give two shits about her or her sister.

Finally, another woman from registration came in to "relieve" Chatty Cathy.  Instead of sitting across the room from me as she had, she sat next to me on the bed and asked, "Is it okay if I give you a hug?"  I nodded.  When she hugged me, for some reason, it reminded me of my mother. I just lost it. I began crying uncontrollably.  Tears literally poured in a continuous stream down my face and onto her shoulder.  I couldn't control the deep moan that came from the pit of my stomach, as if it was coming from my womb.  I continued to weap, moan, and convulse for what seemed like hours (though I'm certain it was only about 10 minutes) while she held me.  Then, Cindy walked through the curtain and I instantly became still.  Like a deer staring into headlights, I sat up and stared at Cindy with begging eyes and an aching heart.  All of my senses instantly became fine-tuned to only what was going on in that room. 

The woman sitting next to me stood and patted me on the shoulder. Cindy looked at me with eyes full of pity & took the woman's place sitting next to me.  She said, "I know it's hard but you need to try to stay calm.  These ultrasound techs don't know everything. Even the doctors don't know everything.  You need to see an OB that can tell you exactly what's going on before you go getting all upset like this." 

She rubbed my sweaty back and put her arm around me.  I sat there, staring aT the floor and shaking my head. Then, I looked up at her and asked, "Why did she say that in front of me? Why would she do that?"  She looked at me as if she didn't understand. I explained what the U/S tech had said.

Cindy became angry.  "Are you serious? That's exactly what she said?  What was her name? Was it Andrea?"  I couldn't remember the tech's name. She hadn't given it to me and I couldn't remember what her tag said.  Cindy made a fist and pushed it down into the mattress of the bed. "What a bitch!  She ought to know better than to say something like that in front of a patient.  I'm gonna go find the call list and see who's on call for ER ultrasound tonight.  I'm gonna find out who that little bitch is and give her a piece of my mind!"  She jerked as if she was going to get up but then looked at me and said, "But for now I'll stay here with you until the doctor gets back or someone comes to be with you.  Is your sister coming back?"

I shook my head, "No. I don't have anyone to call."  I didn't bother explaining that Blondie was not my sisterd. I thought if I were admitted they would let her come visit if they believed she was my sister.

Cindy's eyes saddened. "The father?"

"He's at work and can't leave. He'll lose his job."

"I see...  Then I will just stay right here with you.  Give me a just sec."  She stepped out for a few moments. When she returned, she was carrying a box of tissues and a cup of ice water.  "I'll have the other nurse keep an eye on everyone else until Dr. Corky comes back."

The doctor was the same one I had when I had been there July 5th for dehydration. He explained (again) that the ER doesn't see many OB cases.  He had put in a call to a "friend" who worked with the same women's health group I was scheduled to see for my first "baby doctor" appointment in just two days.  He said this friend of his was the best in the area and even specializes in slow embryonic growth.  He said not to pay any attention to what the U/S tech had said, she was an "idiot" and he would "deal with her later". He handed me a piece of paper. "I've been on the phone with a friend of mine.  Doctor C is the best.  He's a good doctor. He'll take good care of you.  Call his office first thing in the morning and get an appointment for Wednesday.  He said he will see you no charge until your insurance kicks in and they'll just back bill your insurance.  In the meantime, he wants you take Progesterone."  He handed me a prescription.  "It'll help build up your sac and protect the baby. All hope is not lost.  These ER ultrasound techs don't do this every day. Doctor C's people do. They'll be able to tell you exactly what's going on.  In the meantime, you're on bedrest until you see Doctor C and try to stay calm."

If TJ weren't Atheist I would believe he had prayed for this, like he had cursed this upon me.  When he texted me back after I told him what happened, he only focused on making sure I was okay.  He didn't ask about the baby.  He asked what kind of pain I was in, if there was anyone there with me, and what they were doing for me.  The problem with TJ is, he's too smart to have faith in anything other than what he KNOWS, and the truth is, we didn't know shit from applesauce.


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