Writing Workshop – Fear

I was 20 weeks pregnant with my first child, I knew this day had been coming for the last 5 weeks.   This operation had been planned with military precision, the consultant surgeon and my obstetrician had discussed it  more times that they would care to remember and we had been assured that this was our only option.

You see I was pretty ill with complication caused by issues with my gall blader and it had got to the point that for my safety and the safety of my unborn child, that this operation was necessary.  A cholecystectomy.  I would be home the following day if all went well.

20 weeks was the optimal time, the baby would still be small enough not to obscure the operation, but big enough to survive the anesthetic.

It was decided by the team that they would operate in the private hospital using my Private Health Care and if any complications arose I would be transferred.  We hadn’t told anyone that this was happening, we didn’t want to worry them.  My colleagues at work had no idea I was pregnant, as I had been so sick with Hyper Empysis that I had lost so much weight.  It turns out they all thought I had cancer.

November 5 2004, I went in to the hospital and was taken straight up to a private room, asked to get in to a gown and to pop some stockings on.  I was feeling more nauseous than before, as I had been nil by mouth since midnight and not had my anti-emetic.

Me and my husband sat on the edge of the bed holding hands, pushing our thumbs tight together, as we always do when we are stressed and offering each other our own sign of support.

5 minutes later a lady brought in a tray of tea for my husband and also talked though the menu, they even served wine! and then the Surgeon came in to see me with the obstetrician.  Both were so reassuring, again going over the horrific risks involved, but assuring me that this was the safest option for both me and my unborn child.   We actually felt pretty confident at this stage.  They both told me that I would be going down to theatre in the next 10 minutes and I was the only one on the list this morning.  So I just had the Anesthetist to see.

We went back to watching This Morning till he arrived.  In walked this very tall man, who instead of be reassuring, was obnoxious, rude, arrogant (now I don’t have any issues with arrogant doctor’s, the good ones tend to be very self-assured) and a downright horrible man.  It became clear that he hadn’t read my file, he didn’t realise I was pregnant and by trying to cover this embarrassment, he told me that the anesthetic would kill my unborn child.  I was crying so much by this stage that one of the nursing staff must have called the surgeon back, who walked straight in to the room to see the Anesthetist verbally abusing me and my husband’s decision.

Thankfully the surgeon asked the anesthetist to step outside and discuss this with him and we were left with a nurse and by obstetrician, who tried in vain to prevent me from crying and crying.  I was almost hyperventilating by this time.  We knew that there were risks involved, but had been assured that they would all be made as minimal as possible.

15 minutes later the surgeon returned, this time with a Consultant Anesthetist who was also in the hospital that day and he sat down and told us that he would be using a different anesthetic and also that the main risk to me and my child was the medication they give to wake you up, so that this wouldn’t be given.  He was gentle, very concise and explained everything to us about 4 times.    In fact me walked with me and by husband to the theatre all the while reassuring me, but the damage had been done.

I lay on the bed, still sobbing staring at the light on the ceiling and holding on to my wonderful husbands hand, thumbs still pressing together and I didn’t want to let go, I didn’t want him to leave the room, I didn’t want the operation to start.  I was petrified.  I didn’t want to be alive if my child couldn’t be too.   slowly my husband withdrew his hand and kissed me wiping away the tears.   The anesthetist and the nurse put a cannula in my arm and then asked me to count down from 10, I remember getting to 7 before drifting to the peaceful nothingness that is general anesthetic.

The next thing I remember is waking up head raised, legs raised and the surgeon next to me telling me all had gone really well and that they were just waiting for an ultrasound person to arrive and reassure me that all was well with our baby.  I was still sobbing from before the operation, my lips has merged with my face as I had been crying so much.

That day we got to see that our baby was a boy, you couldn’t miss his penis, the sobbing became tears of joy at the realisation that we were going to have a son.  A baby, a real life bundle of joy.

We were then wheeled back to my room, where there was tea and toast waiting for me.  Not just a mug of tea, oh no a proper pot of tea and a china tea-cup and saucer.  I have never enjoyed a cup of tea, as much as that first one.  I was tired, sore and still with my legs in the air as they tried to raise my blood pressure, but I was overjoyed and oh so relieved that everything was over.

We named our boy that afternoon after my dad and 3 out of 4 of our Grandfathers.  He became real to both of us, no longer a hope, but a real possibility.

It was my first real taste of motherhood, of being totally responsible for someone other than myself.  I felt the fear that day, unfortunately not for the last time.  I felt the fear and we survived, had the operation not taken place we later found out we probably wouldn’t have.  My gallbladder was in a very, very bad way and the pathology wasn’t great.

8 comments so far

  1. itsasmallworldafterallfamily on

    Wow, what a story. Very glad it had a happy ending.

  2. bumbling on

    I really shouldn’t have read this post at my desk at work. Oh, the tears!

    I’m so glad everything turned out OK. I have experienced a similar Anesthetist when my mum was undergoing breast cancer surgery. She was scared of the anesthetic. He was supposed to calm her down. Instead he told her that her smoking had caused her cancer, and that she must have had a cigarette this morning as he could smell it on her – it was all her fault. There leaves one crying grandma, facing surgery.

    Yes, she shouldn’t have smoked, but there is a time and a place…

  3. christinemosler on

    Oh goodness, what a story. Powerfully written, a real tear jerker. Well done for surviving, for coping. I hope writing it down helped, I usually find it cathartic.

  4. Linsay on

    Wow, what a story. You have put it into words perfectly. I’m so glad that everything worked out ok in the end.

    I’ve tagged you over at mine – http://www.midsummermoon.co.uk/2010/04/15/sunshine-award-whats-in-your-handbag/
    Hope you take part if you haven’t all ready.

  5. 1 Husband, 2 Kids on

    God, what a thing to go through, I can’t imagine how those last few minutes before going to sleep must have felt. I can sympathise a little with stupid medical men though, I had to go back into hospital 5 weeks after Son was born as they’d left behind part of the placenta. I was haemorrhaging and needed an emergency D&C, delayed only by the doctors debating whether the bleeding or the operation was most dangerous and whether or not I’d need a hysterectomy. At times like that, you like to think they have things under control, that there is only one ‘right’ answer, not that they’re squabbling amongst themselves.

  6. bookworm on

    Wow, what a horrible man to terrify you like that.
    Glad everything ended well!

  7. Beta Dad on

    As soon as I read the first line, I knew this would be tough to read. I can’t imagine how terrifying that must have been. It’s hard to believe how boneheaded some doctors can be.

  8. whatshappeningatmyhouse on

    So glad it all ended up OK. I too have had an issue with a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE anaesthetist. So bad that I jumped off the operating table and ran away as he approached me with the syringe of anaesthetic. But that’s another story!

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