Sunday, January 27, 2013

Real, Cruel, Beautiful & True

Thursday 17th is captured in my mind like a series of badly taken photos that are blurry at the edges but sharply in focus.  I hung on a wire that day between the space of here and now, there and then. 

On our way to the hospital we were pulled over by the traffic police.  It was 6am and dark.  They showed us a speed gun indicating Chris had been travelling a wicked 79kmph.  They asked to see his driver's license.  As he fumbled around in the car's plastic consul he whispered something about having left it on the back of the sofa.  Bang.  A second offence.  I rested my head against the slightly open window and breathed in the tropical morning air.  Chris explained we were in a hurry and he would pay the fine that afternoon, only could someone write it quickly because we had to reach the hospital and we were late.  How to slow up a group of bored Ugandan traffic cops from reverse to stationary?  Advise in no uncertain terms to hurry the hell up.  They told us to wait....and wait....and wait.  Moments later Chris slammed his foot on the accelerator and we disappeared like wild dogs into the early morning dawn.  Fine-less no less.

At the hospital I was asked to repeat my medical history and they took a sample of blood to check my blood type.  I had explained I knew my blood type, it was on my notes, but the charge nurse wanted to make sure.  To add insult to injury I asked if they had a clean blood bank on site - of course they didn't.  Shortly after the blood was taken a tall and nervous looking male nurse requested that I sit in a small room close to the waiting area and as he pulled equipment and gloves from a drawer I cautiously asked what he was doing?  About to place a cannula into the back of my hand.  I asked him not to, suggesting that it wasn't necessary until I was due to go into theatre, but he was adamant.  It was his job.  The fiasco that ensued had him stabbing the cannula repeatedly into the back of my left hand - I have veins you can drive trucks down - and not only did he miss, he spectacularly messed up.  I cringed as my hand was jerkily held aloft and asked him to stop.  He told me to sit quietly so I shouted NO, put my head between my knees and seconds later crashed to the floor unconscious.

My eyes blinked open.  Chris and two nurses lifted me onto a bed and a second cannula was stuck into my undamaged right hand.  My left hand curled tightly shut with pain and I winced as sticking tape was placed over my opposite hand to hold the cannula in place. I slowly rotated my wrist and noticed the needle point of the cannula poking up from under the surface of my skin.  I groaned and asked Chris to drive me home.  I was taken by wheel chair into a lift and we travelled to the floor above and into a room that overlooked the hospital car park. We waited in silence and Chris read the paper.  A nurse appeared with a gown and as I removed my clothes to don the dark green sack the cannula got caught in my shirt sleeve.  Chris picked my hand free and I angrily spoke about the awfulness of the moment; the mockery, the irony, the ridiculousness and the overriding sadness that was washing across me.  A hard knot of fear began to release itself - I was looking down from above and it all felt wrong.  I thought of Leo and his birth and I thought of Ella and of what we had lost and as I lay back on the metal bed and my glasses were removed I cried very softly into my raised, yet bent and bruised arm.

I remember they made me wait in theatre for Dr Busingye to arrive from a C-section delivery.  I remember a young nurse wiping away my tears that wouldn't stop with a scratchy tissue.  I remember someone hunched over at my side attempting to attach the imposing stirrups to the side of the bed.  I remember thinking this is all a dreadful joke and why the fuck am I in theatre completely aware, alert and scared instead of waiting outside for my turn.  I remember seeing Dr Busingye before they placed the syringe of knock-out sleep into the back of my hand.  I remember he was masked, but spoke softly about the procedure he was ready to perform on my uterus.  I remember thinking you did the same thing for me nearly 4 years ago so don't mess it up. I don't remember falling into nothing.  I remember waking up and a nurse pulling a wooden stick from my mouth.  I remember Chris being there moments later.  I remember feeling numb to pain and full of emptiness.  I remember walking to the toilet and being amazed at how there was nothing to show for my loss apart from small drops of blood.  I remember eating a packet of haribo.

Soon Busingye was talking to us and saying it went well.  Yes there's still minimal scarring on the far lower wall of my uterus, but otherwise it's clean.  I raised myself onto my elbows and asked what he thought our future chances were.  Was it a risk to try falling surprisingly pregnant again?  He said every day he gets into his car is a risk.  Another woman had a D&C that morning but she suffered with high blood pressure and there were complications and in his opinion he wouldn't advise her to risk falling pregnant again.  But me?  You're fine.  But I am an old hand at this kind of talk.  I know I'm a risk.  My age is a risk.  My fertility is a risk.  My emotions are a risk.  My history makes me a risk and my future could be put at risk.  Risk schmisk.  We travelled home at speed that afternoon - a finger to every traffic cop on the roadside - and as I stumbled across the garden to reach Leo he smiled his chipped tooth grin and shouted, 'ello mummy'. 

Trying to put it all into context later that night was too much and I flipped out, as did Chris.  My heart hurt, my uterus was empty, blood and tears dripped silently.  An unexpected dream broken, hope lost and life captured as we live it - real, cruel, beautiful and true.


When the nurse discharged me that afternoon she took my right hand in hers and carefully peeled back the sticky tape holding the cannula in place.  The area was already purple with bruising and the vein raised.  'Oooh' she said, 'this is going to hurt, your hand is very hairy'.

The bearded lady lives on. 


Amelia said...

I could barely breathe reading this. Sending strength and love. I'm so sorry.

anymommy said...

Awfulness, GG. Hold both of those boys tight. Unexpected broken dreams are the worst, I know. I'm holding on for us to share Sangria in Portugal. Love you.