Ectopic-ness: Day 1

The Greek origin of the word ectopic means “out of place”.

This is part of my story of the ectopic pregnancy I had a year ago.  If you want to learn more about ectopic or tubal pregnancies, I find this website, Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, to be most helpful.  If there’s any possibility that you may be pregnant and you start experiencing pain in your lower abdomen that gets worse, see a doctor immediately as it could be life-threatening.  And it’s preferable that you don’t drive yourself like I did since many women feel light-headed and some even faint!


April 9, 2013

Another regular afternoon and I bend over to pick up another seemingly endless toy from the floor.

“Ouch!!”

The left side of my lower abdomen pierced with a sudden pain.

That’s weird.

I walk back to the bedroom to put away the toy and didn’t feel any pain. So what do I do? I test the pain to see if it’s only when I crouch down.

Yep, that hurts!

I bend over at the waist.

That kinda hurts too.

I repeat all sorts of similar movements, twisting, bending and squeezing. Just add that to my other pains today! My breasts were already super tender since the day before. The thought quickly passed through my mind if the pain was associated to my impending ovulation. Pregnancy had already been ruled out as impossible. But other than this quick thought, I didn’t give it any more attention. The boys need me to play with them and make their lunch and I was trying to gather enough motivation to finish my household chores, prepare dinner and get ready for grocery shopping without having a nervous breakdown.  The rest of the day included a nap to escape reality (or have I really worn myself out already?), a literal cry for help to my understanding hubby, and a 2 hour grocery shopping trip. I finally came home a bit before the boys’ bedtime, exhausted but determined to finish out the day “properly”.

With the boys tucked into their cozy beds for the night and the end of a day fast approaching, I now had a few quiet moments to notice that something’s wrong. That pain came back. Or was it always there since this afternoon, hushed away by the busy-ness? I do my awkward dance again to investigate the source of my pain. The pain is more intense when I move certain ways but not others but it is constant, unfriendly pain even without any weird poses. The pain is inconsistent and now I’m confused and worried. I’m good at worrying.

There is something definitely wrong with me!

I head to the computer and start the symptom checker on the Mayo Clinic’s website. It’s my favorite “what’s wrong with me?” place.

I start with, Abdominal Pain.

The computer asks, Pain is?  Possible answers include, Acute, or began suddenly; Cramping; Progressive, or worsens over time; Sharp; Steady.

I really just want to check yes to all of the choices because the pain seems to be all of them at some point.

The computer asks, Pain Located in?  I answer, Lower abdomen.

The rest I leave blank because it didn’t seem to fit so I get tons of results of possible horrible conditions that may be causing my pain. In my anxiety and pain, I try to quickly go over the summary of each one but none of them seem to identify my situation which intensifies my frustration. I go to webMD to see if I get something else that may explain what’s happening to my body. I get a ton more conditions to go through and though I normally like research, I’m getting more antsy about finishing to get rid of the worsening pain. In my mind, I settle that I might have a digestive problem. I do have family medical history to back me up on that but I wasn’t convinced. Ectopic pregnancy seems to fit but I kept pushing it out of my mind because that would mean I’m pregnant.

I can’t be pregnant! I just had a period last week! But my breasts have been aching too…

I do some more googling. How common is it to be pregnant and still have a period? Not very common at all. How common is it to get breast tenderness before ovulation? Somewhat common. How common is getting breast tenderness before ovulation when you haven’t had it before? No solid answers.

I keep shooting questions to Google about my pain but in the back of my mind, the ectopic pregnancy consideration is there. In the midst of my speed typing and reading, I realize I have an unused pregnancy test from when my period was late a while back. I quickly Google my next question. How many weeks pregnant do you realize you have an ectopic pregnancy? The consensus is 6. That’s enough time for a test to work.  I was very doubtful that I was pregnant but it kept nagging at me so I needed to get rid of it.

If the test comes back negative, I’m not having an ectopic.

I try to be real careful about doing the pregnancy test right. When I tested while pregnant with my second child, I thought the test was negative but later that day, I realized there was a very faint second line meaning a positive. I didn’t want to make that mistake again.

The pregnancy test was definitely negative.  So what’s wrong with me?  Now, the pain has worsened and I’m starting to consider going to the ER.

I can’t afford more bills!

I decided to call the after hours nurse. I’m pretty sure they can figure out what’s wrong with me.  But which doctor should I call? The OBGYN or the primary doctor?  I decide on my primary doctor since I’m definitely not pregnant. After several questions, where I try to be as cordial as I can though I’ve been bending doubled over in pain a few times, the nurse sounds as confused as I am. Now I’m getting a bit angry. Aren’t these people supposed to know what’s going on? She finally decided to give me some general pain advice. Take a hot bath. Raise your feet. Try to rest. Take some ibuprofen. If the pain is constant for the next 2 hours, call back.

I follow her advice. I fill up the tub with only the hot water on. I turn down the lights to set a relaxing ambiance. I get all of my regular bath stuff ready and I’m shaking.

It must be nerves. I’ll feel better if I can only get myself to relax.

I get in but can’t seem to get comfortable. I’m trying really hard to relax and though the pain has lessened, it’s still there. Now my water is cold. I ramble to myself how I hate the hot water situation in the house. Never is hot enough when I need it. Never lasts long when it is. And when my husband asks how my bath was, I complain the water was cold.

“Well, you have been in there for an hour,” he replies.

“Really?!”

I can’t believe how quickly the time passed! My pain is still there though not as sharp as it was earlier and I think that I might be getting better. I decide to get into pajamas and try to go to sleep. It is almost 10pm.

If I still have the pain when I wake up, I’ll go to the doctor.

But I can’t fall asleep. The pain is keeping me up and too soon, it’s getting worse. I get out of my blanket and start getting ready. I’m not going to take the time to call that stupid nurse again, she’ll just tell me to go to the ER anyway. I had to stop a few times to try to deal with the pain. I’m thinking my husband might have to drive me there. I take some deep breaths and the pain becomes more manageable.

I can do hard things. I can drive myself. No need to wake up my mother-in-law or wake up the kids at this time of night.

My husband suddenly gets concerned when he realizes I’m leaving.

“You’re going to the ER?” he asks.

“Yep. I’m still having some bad pain and that nurse will just tell me to go.”

“Well if you end up having surgery or something you should go to Cox since our insurance pays more there,” he states nonchalantly.

Surgery? Yikes! 

“How will I find you? What if something happens there and I can’t get a hold of you?” he’s sounding a little more concerned.

“You know where I’m going. I’ll just make sure to tell my nurse to call you if something does happen and I can’t call you,” I say confidently.

“OK. Be careful.”

As I drive in the still darkness, I have peace come over me. I’m nervous about what’s wrong or the really bad pain coming back while I’m driving but I have the sense that things will be ok. I’m doing the right thing.

I’ve never been to Cox before. I am a very healthy person. The only time I’ve needed to come to the hospital for myself is to deliver my 3 sons. Things like this never happen to me. I’m still nervous as I cautiously park the car, making sure I’m in the right lot. I’m nervous about going through the right doors. Why do hospitals have a million entrances? Beside the slightly unnatural nervousness, I feel safe and at peace knowing I’ll get help soon.

When I walk through the doors and to the desk that I assume I need to check in at (though the sign says Guest Services like I’m going to a resort not a hospital), I decide to be as pleasant as possible. I’m normally pleasant but with my current condition, I had to make a decision to be such. I have learned over the years that you get better service if you’re easy to help. I smile and exchange niceties with the registration lady. I do the same with the nurse and he takes some quick vital signs. I rate my pain at a 6. I get a few wrist accessories and told at some point I need to give a urine sample. Let him know if my pain worsens.

Now I wait. I’m hopeful that my wait won’t be too long since the waiting room doesn’t have many “guests”. I try to settle in. Check my email. Check my blog reader. Check facebook. My phone is almost dead. I look around for plugs but the only one I find is being used by another guest.

That’s ok. I brought Harry with me.

I’m in the middle of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I try to read but now my pain is getting worse. I fidget in my seat. It all feels wrong. The big group beside me talking loudly is grating my nerves. I can’t wait for them to leave. I’m sure they feel the same. The pain gets even worse. I get up and walk around. I try to distract myself by paying close attention to the other guests. There’s an old man in a wheelchair. He’s by himself. He looks like he’s always alone. His gray beard hangs over his chin and looks unbrushed. Wisps of thin hair fly out of his black baseball hat. He looks like he came in his pajamas too. But he’s been wearing those sweatpants longer than I have been wearing mine, if the stains and dirt tell the story. He tries to move by pushing on one foot. He makes a few loud unintelligible noises. I feel sorry for him.

The walking isn’t helping. I go back to my seat and kneel on the floor with my forehead pressed on the vinyl bench. I decide I don’t care how I look to the other guests. I’m in pain. I’m trying to make it better. And we are in the ER. I’m sure there’s been worse things than a grown woman kneeling on the tile floor in pain. I try to focus on breathing, on the voices around me, on praying that I’ll be seen soon. I wish someone would see me while I’m in this much pain. If I wait longer, I may not have any pain at all and the doctors will say there’s nothing wrong and send me home with nothing but anger and a bill.

There’s something wrong!  I go through the conditions I looked up earlier in my mind.

Ectopic pregnancy fits the best but I’m not pregnant!

I feel like I might throw up soon in front of all these guests and I’ll still have to wait. I force myself through the pain to walk to guest services. A different nurse is there. I notice large cups.

“Are those cups for throwing up in?” I smile.

“Yes,” as he hands me one.

“The other nurse told me to tell him if my pain goes up. Can you jump me up to a 9 please?” I’m still smiling.

“Sure.”

He doesn’t write anything or ask my name. I hesitate a moment about to ask if he’s going to do these things but I decide I would rather vomit at my seat.  If I pass out from pain, I’ll know who to blame when I wake up.

If I wake up.

I’m shaking again. 

Am I going to throw up or not? I hate this.

My shaking finally stopped. I never threw up. More good news! The couple using the only plug is gone and I move to their spot. My pain has gone down a lot too but I’m not going to take the time to tell guest services that. I continue reading my book and the only time I look up is to watch that lonely old man make the best fuss he can, only to be talked sternly from the guest services staff. I bet he doesn’t feel like a guest either.  I’m starting to think I should get up and leave my urine sample.

I’ll go after I finish a chapter. 

I go back to Harry. A different younger nurse calls my name. She takes a blood sample and asks me if I left a urine sample yet.

“I’m planning on doing that right now,” I say.

After earning another bracelet, I stop by guest services for urine sample instructions. I go into the bathroom and it looks nice and new but it stinks. There are only 3 stalls. I look in the first one and it’s dirty and full of toilet paper.

Gross.

The second has a sign posted on the door saying it’s out of service. The third looks fine but when I try to close the door behind me, it won’t lock.

Seriously? Isn’t this building brand new? And they don’t even have clean working bathrooms! What have they been doing with all the money they scam off sick people?

I sullenly go back to the first dirty stall. Yeah, there’s paper all over but I don’t see anything worse than that so I’m a bit relieved. I pull down my pants and now I’m scared. There’s bright red blood.


1 in every 80 pregnancies are ectopic.

Symptoms can vary from person to person just like in a regular pregnancy.  Click here for some common ectopic pregnancy symptoms.  My only common ectopic symptom was one sided abdominal pain though I did start bleeding in the ER.

My shaking and nausea was from the intensity of the pain I was experiencing which can happen with other types of pain not associated with ectopic pregnancies.

At home pregnancy test results are unreliable due to the fluctuation of the HCG hormone (which is what the tests detect) in ectopic occurrences.

The sense of peace I had from making the right decision while driving to the hospital is one way the Holy Ghost comforts and helps us.

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