Note: This blog contains very personal and detailed information from our family. For many people things like this are kept “in-house”. And while we understand that the traumatic events that occurred can easily be kept from the public light, my wife and I both feel it is important to share this story as it can be a lesson learned for others. If our story can help even one other person, then we are completely comfortable sharing this. Perhaps we are a little too rationale for our own good sometimes, but it sort of just seems selfish to keep things like this to ourselves. If we had been even remotely familiar with what we were about to go through, we may have saved ourselves a lot of pain and suffering.
Sunday Night July 2
A couple of months ago I wrote here about playing through pain and the problems that can be created by always being the one to suck it up when you should probably get checked out. Well, today reinforced that narrative, and also proved that I do not always adhere to even my own advice. This is not about me, however. Nope, this is about my wife. Today my wife ended up in the hospital, and by all accounts, was nearly two-three hours too late getting there. As we discovered, she had an Ectopic Pregnancy. If you are not familiar with this term, don’t worry. I had never heard of it either until about 630 this morning. What this means is that the baby is growing outside the uterus. In Lehman’s terms, Bad JuJu.
Amber had been complaining about abdominal pain since Friday. The pain only progressed. Mixed in with a side of loss of appetite, dizziness and being lightheaded, this abdominal pain was trying to tell us something. Naturally, we kind of tried to explain this all away. My wife chalked it up to it being that time of the month. The extra pain being attributed to the unreliable nature of a woman’s menstrual cycle following the birth of the first child. The pain would come and go throughout the day on Saturday, causing her to be stuck in bed for much of the morning. This after a terrible night’s sleep where her abdominal pain kept her up much of the night. She was able to move around in the afternoon, however, so we just kept thinking the pain would go away eventually. When Amber saw that our dog had a wound around her mouth, she insisted we took her to the vet to get it checked out. In hindsight, we both realized that we probably should have put my wife’s health before the dog’s. I mean, Roxy wasn’t even complaining about her wound. The drive back from the vet produced more pain for Amber, and immediately after eating dinner she went down for the count on the bed. She had trouble standing up, even just sitting up. She had managed to go to the bathroom, but once there, almost blacked out. Once I helped her out of there, she laid on the floor for a while before her next move. She was sweating quite a bit, yet her temperature was 96.7. But she has always been a cold-blooded ice box so the low temp wasn’t worrisome.
By now most of you are probably screaming “Go to the damned Hospital!” which makes perfect sense. But I am also willing to bet a majority of you also would not have gone either. In this family, the standard “Let’s see how it plays out” is a common theme. We don’t like to create a fuss unless it is absolutely necessary. Things hadn’t reached critical mass yet. She was able to get back in bed. Sleep always helps. Except she could not sleep. I slept wonderfully, as our daughter had taken it upon herself to sleep through the night in her own crib. But by 330am I was awake, hearing my wife groan and grimace in immense discomfor. The cold sweats were still there, the severe abdominal pressure was now constant, and when I turned on the lights she had turned quite pale. I didn’t want to alarm her while she was already in this pain, so I didn’t tell her how ghastly she looked. I thought it might just freak her out more. We hemmed and hawed about our next move, once again trying not to go the nuclear route and call 911. I mean, what if it really is nothing? What if it was all in her head? She has had a history of migraines so the bothersome head was not an unusual symptom for her. We were both thinking these things. I mean, if you are calling 911 you sure as hell better be dying. Hahaha, funny you should bring that up.
We wizened up and called 911. Once they got her to the hospital they discovered what we had not known: she was pregnant. And the baby was inside the Fallopian tube, thus we have an Ectopic pregnancy. Not only that, but it was ruptured and there were vast amounts of fluid outside her uterus. This fluid turned out to be blood. And the vast amounts turned out to be four pints. So since Friday my wife was internally bleeding, losing four pints of blood. To put that in perspective, at about a loss of 5-6 pints of blood we are talking about possible cardiac arrest or death. What is scary is that before she got to the hospital all her vitals were normal. Blood pressure and heart rates were steady. However, once they determined that it was an Ectopic pregnancy and they needed to remove the problem, my wife suddenly started changing. Her blood pressure immediately dropped as did her heart rate. She was already pale yet she went almost white. Fairly quickly they got her vitals back up but they needed to go fast and get her into OR. A blood transfusion was a possibility. They may have to cut her open in order to do all this.
All this shit sounds scary. And it is scary as hell. We’ve never experienced anything like this. We didn’t even know she was pregnant. They thought she was about 6 weeks along, and considering she had had a menstrual cycle within that 6 week period, we felt pretty confident that she was not pregnant. But as the magnanimous Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park said: “Life finds a way.” And it did. Until it didn’t. Unfortunately, fate was not with this pregnancy as for some reason the egg never made it out of the Fallopian tube. It eventually ran out of room to grow and started giving my wife these problems. It got so stressed in there with the bleeding that it actually twisted the tube severely, which was causing the immense discomfort my wife was experiencing. The loss of blood was causing her dizziness and fatigue. The even scarier part is that had she not experienced this dizziness, we probably never would have called 911, and instead she could have continued to bleed internally without us knowing. Worse, her vitals were good until we got to the hospital, where they had begun to plummet. So even two hours hesitation on our part, there would have been no one there at home to stabilize her.
In the end, the doctors had to remove one of her Fallopian tubes, and replace the blood that she lost. The pregnancy was lost, but my wife was healthy and that was the only thing that mattered. Crisis adverted. Hell, they did all this with just a couple tiny incisions. Modern medicine is incredible. She gets to spend a night in the hospital for safe measures, hopefully a good night sleep without a toddler jumping up and down on her ovaries (which she actually did on Friday, resulting in lots of screaming from both mother and child). But I did learn a few things, which I pass onto you: 1. My wife is tougher than I ever would be. I may have been a Green Beret and endured all sorts of physical abuse at the hands of the military, but my wife went to work for half a week while bleeding on the inside without complaining. She not just went to work but did what she always does and kicked ass at work, because she is a champ. My wife was losing enough blood to possibly kill her and she was busting her ass in a high intensity, high stress job. If I get a cough I tap out for the day. My wife just earned my SF tab. 2. Don’t be a dumbass. Should go without saying, but of course we all know that most of us are dumbasses and ignore all the signs that point to an emergency. When things don’t feel right, do the smart thing and go find the right people to make them feel right.
Tuesday July 4
So I wrote a lot of this post on Sunday night. Here it is Tuesday and we learned a few more things. Never go home the same day as surgery. She stayed the night and when she woke up Monday and tried to walk, she was seeing stars. Turns out her hemoglobin count was low and she needed another blood transfusion. So she spent Monday afternoon getting two more pints of blood. Fortunately after this she was well enough to head home. So thankfully she stayed overnight. It seems moreso than ever that hospitals all too flippantly suggest that patients go home same day, you know, if you want to. I was not about to have my wife come home after the day she had. If something were to happen I am not much use to her here. So staying overnight was the correct decision and it paid off. And now she is home recovering, leaving the past few days in the rearview mirror, and leaving us to wonder “Did that really just happen?”.
Back to Sunday night
This post is full of very personal information about what we went through over the last 24-48 hours. But it’s important to highlight it because so many people don’t pay attention or just don’t know. If we had known my wife was pregnant, we would not have hesitated and gone straight to the Docs. But because we didn’t know, we tried everything we could think of to write it off as something it wasn’t. There are plenty of people who have no idea what an Ectopic Pregnancy. Well if you didn’t know, now you do. And the symptoms I described my wife having are pretty much exactly what one will experience. It’s a more common occurrence than I would have expected, and it’s relatively safe for the mothers. Most go on to have another normal pregnancy. But if you ignore the signs, depending on how bad things are, you can do some serious damage. If we had continued to ignore what my wife was going through, there is a very real chance that she would have bled out internally so much that there was no going back. Our own stubbornness would have been to blame, and that’s a really shitty reason for letting a loved one get hurt.
A very long day is drawing to an end. I am exhausted beyond belief but also relieved and grateful. I hope people read this and take stock of what it is I am trying to relay. If I had not just dialed 911 it very nearly could have been a fatal mistake. It is not hyperbole or exaggeration. So please just be aware. Stay alert, stay alive. And don’t be a dumbass. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.