Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cut here and here and remember to insert a camera there

Four weeks ago my body went limp as the anesthetic coursed it's way through, "veins you can drive a train down."  The specialist surgeon slid a scalpel into my tummy button and continued creating another incision into the flesh above and to the left of my pubic line.  Physical scars were revisited as my body went through another hysteroscopy and laparoscopy procedure.  I was lying in theatre back in the UK.  Ironically (as smack in the face ironic) the gentle and charming surgeon/consultant carrying out the intricate work was from Lira, Northern Uganda. 


Six months back what niggled as a normal UTI gradually became something more serious.  I had a pain in my lower abdomen which I sort of ignored, though it didn't ignore me.  After more tablets I convinced myself everything was back to normal.  Normal doesn't show itself with gradual stabbing pains, cramps, tender areas full of heat and a swollen stomach tight with hurt (I still surprise myself by how easily I pretend things are fine when they are clearly not - self preservation?) and finally I snapped.  I picked up the phone, dialled numbers, made appointments and whizzed through to Kampala to nip the whole damn episode straight in the bud. 

I needed answers, but my PAP result came back negative.  The pain in my tender abdomen continued to rise and fall like a wave of fire.  I went back for another appointment and gave my symptoms.  Based on my history I knew that the prognosis was unlikely to be reassuring and it was with my head in my hands I accepted the news that I possibly had pelvic inflammatory disease.  Swish, swish, swish went the mop across the floor as I walked slowly into the chaos of Kampala's streets.  I pushed open the door of the building next door and in the dark corridor slid into the brittle plastic chair waiting for my name to be called.

We stood together in the small room and she held me quietly. I last saw her 3.5 years ago when she gave Chris and I the desperate news that I had miscarried at 9 weeks.  Six months before that she had spoken on the phone describing to the Doctor that my waters had broken and we didn't have much time.  We lost our daughter a week after that call.  I reminded her of such sadness, but her face broke into a smile of such enormity when I told her of Leo that I wanted to cry.  The ultrasound was thorough and as she directed the wand over my bloated stomach the pocket of infected fluid fizzed on the screen. 

A prescribed course of strong anti-biotics eventually eased the pain and my stomach gradually began to deflate.  In a dramatic twist of bad luck 12 days later I bled heavily.  Unable to walk tall I stumbled around, chasing after Leo with one arm slung across my middle, holding my stomach, warding off the pain.  I returned to the clinic and this time around the scan showed I had suffered a ruptured ovarian cyst.  It waved, raw looking, straight back at me and there was nothing to be done except ride it out.  Ride it out I did like a pissed, cross, angry and completely sore cowboy and it was then Leo and I hatched a plan.

Hello England!  Leo and I boarded a plane with one of my best friends and her daughter to holiday in the UK for a month.  We'd spoken about it earlier in the summer but due to work commitments and life in general it wasn't a sure thing.  A few months later and we made it happen, arriving just as the incredible Olympics were coming to a close and the nation was buoyant and beautiful.  We landed in London and zoomed through to Suffolk where for 4 weeks Leo and I drank in every single second of family and friend life.  During that time I casually visited my GP to discuss my recent health issues and it was then the light went out.

Days later I sat opposite the specialist, wrapped my arms around my knees and cried.  Leo was with my mum, Chris had arrived in the country moments earlier for the last bit of holiday and the words hysteroscopy and laparoscopy were being directed at me with such seriousness I wanted to dissolve like aspirin.  The specialist touched my arm and said it was necessary and that based on my history this procedure would answer many questions.  Within a week I was lying on a table in a nasty looking hospital gown offering my hand to a masked nurse and trying to answer her daft question about.....I have no idea what. 

Befuddled I came out of the anesthetic and unexpectedly saw the face my sister's nursing friend.  She spoke quietly, told me I was in the recovery room and that I was OK, everything had gone well.  She then switched into professional mode, checking my pulse and carrying out a million other tests before I fell deeply asleep.  Hours later Chris and I held our breath as the surgeon sat describing the internal procedures he had carried out.  He spoke with utter professionalism and sincere trust shone through his dark eyes.  He showed us photographs of my ovaries, my uterus, my scars and other fleshy things that looked positively disgusting. 

"The infection you had has cleared.  The burst cyst has healed.  The dye we injected flowed easily through your tubes. Your ovaries are normal and free moving and your uterus is absolutely clear and fine and will hold another baby.  We know based on your last positive pregnancy and c-section that you were advised not to fall pregnant again, but in my professional opinion and based on the facts we have that is no longer a cause for concern."

At that moment I might have fainted.


We did so many brilliant things in the UK and were spoilt rotten by wonderful friends and family who made ridiculous amounts of time for us.  Leo adored the 360 degree change in things to do - he played, ran, giggled, hung with mates, fought, slid on slides, swung on swings and ate more than his eyes could handle.  Chris and I gathered our thoughts and are still floating at a cross-roads of where do we go from here.  Leo is more than we could ever have wished for - do we dare try for another baby, another sibling for our mini Viking?

The procedure carried out on my body was to give me the green light of health, and that's what I got.  Anything more is a bonus.  But who the hell knows, most days I'm just thankful for what I have.  And 4 years down the line that's a bucket load more than I ever dared hope possible.

For everyone I love this says it all


Amelia said...

I have goosebumps! WOW!!

anymommy said...

Incredible, my sweet friend. Sometimes miracles really do happen. Hoping for only good things, love, laughter and light, however you move forward!!