I went back to work at the end of August. Everything was going fine. The kids were adjusting well to their new schedule, pre-school started, the leaves began to turn.
My only complaint during this time was a personal one - and many of my local friends and close family heard about it. For months I had felt like something was off with my body. I described it as feeling pregnant. Crabby, bloated, constipated, tired. Over the summer I began tracking my cycles - trying to figure out what was going on. My google history would tell the tale of a woman researching perimenopause, hypothyroidism, adrenal stress and hormonal imbalances.
In July I even took a pregnancy test, despite having an IUD. It was negative and I decided not to waste money on more tests, unless I was really late. My August cycle arrived on time and seemed pretty regular. And then it came again, one day in September. And it just kept going. My lower back hurt. I felt old and achy. Was this just middle age? Being 35?
Around day 15 of my period I decided to see my Dr. (because bleeding this long can't be normal). My appointment was on September 30th, day 20 of what I refer to as The Longest Period Ever.
I brought with all the important dates, cycles starts and stops, the day I took the pregnancy test, anything I thought could be pertinent to this never ending cycle. We talked about hormones and thyroid activity. She ordered labs to test my thyroid. I opted to have my IUD removed, just in case it was causing the extra long cycle. She was reluctant 'since it was working' but removed it anyways because I wanted her to. I asked 'what's next? what if this doesn't stop?' She said that if it doesn't stop in another few days, or if my next cycle is still bizarre, she would refer me to the resident OB/GYN for further testing.
I left with no answers but at least hopeful something would turn up with the thyroid test. By day 23, my period had stopped and the tests came back normal. And I recorded 'really bad cramp on left side' on day 22 in my calendar. I attributed that to possible ovulation pain. I figured that my period would start again just as it should on day 28.
On October 8th (day 26 of that cycle) I started to have cramping pain at work. I ended up leaving my pants unbuttoned to give my bloated abdomen some more room. I drove the hour home at 6pm, got the kids to bed, took ibuprofen and curled into a ball on my bed. I awoke several times that night with painful cramps. I thought 'WOW this is the worst pre-menstual cramping I can ever remember'. I wondered if all my cycles from here on out were to be so painful. The alarm went off at 5am Wednesday morning. I woke up and took Pamprin. None of my pants fit. I pulled on a pair of maternity pants. I walked around slightly hunched over to accommodate the waves of cramping. June woke up and at one point she kicked my belly while I was holding her and it was like I received a prize fighter's punch.
Tom told me to go to the ER. I was hesitant. They'd probably tell me it was nothing. My sister says I'm a baby when it comes to pain. As I grabbed my purse and head out to my car, I decided to call my Mom. Moms always have the best advice. As soon as I heard her voice I started crying, 'Mom, something is really wrong. I've got cramps so bad I can barely stand straight'. She told me to go in RIGHT NOW.
And I did.
I cried the whole 8 blocks to the ER, wondering what was wrong with me. Ovarian cyst? Endometriosis? I KNEW that it had something to do with my woman parts. The ER staff took my vitals and had me give a urine sample. They administered morphine - it didn't do a damn thing. I just kept holding my gut and rocking and swearing. 'Oh shit' escaped every time another wave would pass. I described it as painful as labor - the same feeling I had when I'd be dilated to a 4 or 5 and under inducement meds. They gave me a dose of Toradol and it took the edge off.
No one was more surprised than I when the Dr. came back to tell me I was pregnant. Another 'Oh shit' escaped. And then the pace picked up. Ectopic pregnancy was suspected. An ultrasound was ordered immediately. The nurses were wonderful and supportive.
My ultrasounds (both external and trans vaginal) were so hazy from all the fluid in my abdomen (which was actually blood) that they couldn't determine if the pregnancy was in a tube or not. Or maybe the pregnancy was so young that it didn't show up in my uterus yet. After consulting with the OB, I was informed that I would be prepped for emergency exploratory surgery. He said that he would not do anything via my uterus, just in case there was a viable pregnancy there. He would try a laparoscopy and only do a laparotomy if necessary.
I passed out as the nurses drew more blood for an HCG test. My hemoglobin level was dropping and so was my blood pressure. As the operating Dr. came to talk to me one last time about what was going on I could barely keep my eyes open. They wheeled me into the OR, slid me onto the table and forced me to lay flat, at which point I sat up in the worst pain EVER. Apparently there is a galley that runs up your right side, and when your abdomen fills with air or blood or whatever, the excess goes wherever it can fit - up that side to your shoulder. Two nurses were trying to hold me down while another was pushing a mask on my face and telling me to breath. Those were probably the most traumatic moments. I shudder as I think about it. Luckily the anesthetic worked fast and I was out cold quickly.
My first memory after surgery is in my hospital room. I was tired and sore and disoriented; I thought it was all a dream. The pain, the pregnancy, the ER visit. It was surreal.
I had two incisions. One from the laparoscopy near my belly button and one larger incision from the laparotomy. 17 staples across my lower abdomen. They told me my left fallopian tube had burst and had to be removed. I had lost quite a bit of blood and received 2 units (unsure of size) the next day. The hospital kept me three nights.
Since I've been home recovering and unable to do much of anything, I've been researching ectopic pregnancies. An IUD increases your chance of an ectopic pregnancy, maybe. There are conflicting reports. Most ruptured tubes happen around 6-10 weeks, with an average of 8 weeks gestation. HCG blood levels have little correlation to how far along you are with these types of pregnancies. All the gunk and debris they removed from me was sent out for pathology. I have a follow-up appointment today. Maybe they will be able to tell with certainty how far along I was. I'm not even sure why it matters, but I feel like I need to know. It would certainly explain all the weird things going on for the past few months. Or maybe I just want to know about this little baby that never had a chance.
Well I think that's enough for now. I'll save the post-laparotomy recovery entry for another day.