in which i discuss my trip to the ER

Disclaimer: I don’t generally do disclaimers. I figure, people take me as I am or they don’t take me. But this post probably isn’t for people with weak stomachs and / or who don’t want to hear about my uterus and other girlie parts.

I had a rough night last night. I was up every hour and a half, then down to every hour. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep.

Now, for as long as I’ve been menstruating, since I was 13, I’ve always had heavy periods, and I’ve always been irregular. As in to the tune of never knowing when my period was going to start, just that at some point in the month it might come. And when it’s over, it might start again a week or two later. Or whenever it got around to it. And maybe I’d flow like Niagara Falls for ten days, or I’d flow like a tiny creek for two days. I just never knew. Completely ridiculous.

After I had Thomas (at 20) and Tayler (at 22), it all just got worse.

In all honesty, they got worse after I had Thomas, and I begged my OB/GYN to give me a hysterectomy. But he refused. As it worked, out, I had to beg, borrow, and plead just to get my tubes tied – and to boot, I had to go back two months after he was born and have it done in out-patient surgery. (Keep in mind this was in rural Kentucky in mid-1991. I didn’t have many options.)

I think I started going to Planned Parenthood in 2002, at least that date seems about right. Although my tubes were tied, I went on a very low-dose birth control pill because I was showing signs of uterine fibroids. A year later, I went back off the pill because it ran my blood pressure into stroke levels even though it had made me semi-regular and took away most of my pain.

And life continued on. I bled like a river, and eventually my pain came back. I still contend it feels like early labor. Women like to tell other women they’ll forget what that pain feels like. I very much beg to differ. I’ve never been one of those girls or women who ‘took to my bed’ and was all ‘woe is me’ whenever my period came around. To me, those women just behaved in such a way as they thought they were supposed to act once a month. But then the pain got worse. And the throwing up and the (very bad) diarrhea started. All I wanted to do during my period was sleep. Just lay down and sleep and tell the rest of the world to fuck off (at least for a week). Except that sleep was interrupted with tampon changes, and I won’t go into the rest, but I did sleep when I could.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a long time know that I’ve had some kind of sodium problem coupled with an iron issue since I was five and that I don’t know what that problem is. Some (most?) of you also know that when I was testing to give Thomas a kidney (can you believe that was four years ago!?) that I told my testing medical team this, and the doctor, who was testing me for everything under the stars anyway, paid special attention to that. But he couldn’t find anything. Even so, he believed me. He said, “If you say you have trouble with salt and iron gives you trouble, then I believe you. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

Life, and time, marched on. Thomas had his transplant without me (August 20, 2007), and meanwhile I started tracking my periods on My Monthly Cycles. During that Summer, I started having chronic migraines, but we all attributed them to stress because Thomas was, at that point, very much dying. My pain worsened, so not only did I ‘take to my bed’ sick, I took to it crying. I’m not somebody who cries from pain and never have been. Then I started having ‘period migraines’.

And I noticed around this time last year that I had become regular. Go figure. Almost every twenty-five days for five days, like clockwork. With the pain, the migraines, the Niagara Falls, the diarrhea, and the vomitting, and everything else.I became even more regular as the year progressed. I also realized that I was bleeding way more at night that I did during the day. Preston and I talked about that, and we decided that I had been like that for a very long time. I looked online and talked to some people and found out that this isn’t normal. Apparently you’re supposed to slow down and change only once or twice, if at all, overnight.

Then the Fall came. September was normal. The 4th through the 8th, then the 30th through October 4th. I started again October 24th and went three days. In November, I started on the 16th and went four days. Christmas came and went, and I started again on December 30th. By then, I just knew something was out of whack. I hadn’t felt ‘quite right’ all month. ‘Out of sorts’.

On December 11th, we had Apex Day at Joseph-Beth. When Sizemore and I first arrived, and I was putting my things away on the bench behind the panel table, I looked out at the lake and saw a heron. Herons always signal change in my life. If I see one in flight, even greater change. If I see two (or two in flight), even more so. Usually I see these birds just briefly. They tend to hang around long enough to let me know they know I’ve seen them, then they go downstream or whatever. But this guy, he was there for an hour – every time I looked out the window. I began to wonder if he had grown stuck to the ice. Only he swapped which leg he was standing on now and then, and if I didn’t know better, I’d still swear he looked over his shoulder to see if I was watching! I had known right away, “There’s my omen,” but I had to wonder after the time passed what on earth was going on this time.

(this isn’t him, but isn’t he pretty?)

So then comes December 30th. I woke up in a puddle. Nothing unusual. Seriously. This is normal for me. I hauled myself into the bathroom and showered, did what I needed to do, and went back to bed. I hung in there until I realized that I was still bleeding on the 11th. I called Preston’s mother and screamed for help – because she’s been there; she started going through it while Preston and I were still living there. So we talked, and I felt better. On the 14th I slowed down to a trickle, and by the time I went to bed that night I had stopped.

I woke up in another puddle on the 18th and ran to the bathroom and just stood in the shower. Pouring. It finally slowed down enough that I could put in a tampon, shower, and go back to bed. And I stopped again on the 19th.

I talked to Preston’s mom again, and we said we’d just see what happened. Although I did promise her that I would go to the ER if anything weird cropped up.

Well, weird happened, starting yesterday. Well, more technically the 27th. That’s when I started again. But I thought by then, going by December and looking at my calendar on MMC, I figured it was time for my regular period and didn’t think a whole lot about it. Yesterday afternoon, I was in so much pain I hated myself. Over the last year, though, this had become normal. All I wanted to do was curl up, sleep, and cry. Or die. Either or. I just hurt and wanted it to be over. I had a ‘blow out’ while I was doing my Saturday morning laundry. Thankfully, it happened just as I was folding the last of the clothes and was on my way home anyway. I just skedaddled up the parking lot and ran like mad into my bedroom.

This is no way to live, and I have to wonder how on earth women work jobs outside the home like this. Ugh.

As the day progressed, I started changing my tampon either every hour or every 90 minutes. It varied. I spent a lot of yesterday running to the bathroom. Literally running to the bathroom so I didn’t flood all over myself and the house. I grew afraid of coughing or sneezing, as you can imagine.

Which brings me back around to sleeping last night. I’m still not sure how I managed any at all, but I did. By 6am, I was rushing to the bathroom every 45 minutes. By 9am, I decided to get up and shower and make breakfast since I wasn’t really sleeping anyway. I continued to rush to the bathroom every 45 minutes to the hour. And at 2pm, I came in and told Preston that I thought it was time to go to UK. We called a friend to drive us down because we were worried about taking the bus on such an adventure. We said we’d either bus or cab home.

I had already packed my purse and was ready to go, and had been most of the day, but I had to wait for Preston to shower before we could leave. I had packed two notebooks, three ink pens, my mp3 player, my headphones, my Kindle, the charging cables for both my phone and my Kindle, and extra tampons and pantyliners (although the way I’ve been bleeding, I’ve been using small pads – and I hate pads) – and a sheet of paper detailing my periods over the last year which I had compiled after breakfast. Preston was worried I wasn’t taking enough tampons with me, and I told him we were going to be in an emergency room; there’d be plenty of pads on hand and not to worry. Besides, I expected to spend a lot of time naked and bleeding, which I did, but I get ahead of myself.

At UK, they give you a nice folder full of information about the new hospital, and so on and so forth, and since I’d read it all before (I’d been there in October with Thomas when he strained his shoulder), I decided to put it into my purse. As I put it in, I gave myself a paper cut. Preston said this was priceless. There I was reading a Kindle and gave myself a paper cut on a file folder. I had to go to registration and ask for a band-aid.

They finally took us back to a room, and I talked to the doctor – with Preston’s help, and I’m glad he was with me, because he remembers my medical history better than I do; I’m the one who has to write everything down and take copious notes along with me. He made notes, was concerned, sent the nurse in for blood work, and went away. The nurse drew two tubes of blood and had me give a urine sample. Because this is UK, and the first thing they always check is to make sure a female isn’t pregnant. The doctor ordered a transabdominal ultrasound as well as a transvaginal ultrasound. Of course I had to pee to give the urine sample, and you have to have a full bladder to receive a transabdominal ultrasound. But I figured, I’m a woman and by the time they would come to get me for the ultrasounds, I’d be full and ready to go again. And I was. While I was having my ultrasounds, the nurse told me that my urine sample had been too dilute and she needed to draw another vial of blood to do the pregnancy test with. No biggie.

One of my doctors was Brian Adkins. Honestly, I think he came in to find out if we were related. We’re not. His family is all from Ashland. We didn’t look a thing alike, either. But he was a sweetheart. A great doctor.

The biggest thing that worried me was the transvaginal ultrasound given how much I was bleeding. The nurse and the technician both told me not to panic; they do this all the time, blah blah blah. And we got to talking about Thomas’ kidney transplant and how cool it is to sit and watch and listen to the yearly ultrasound of his transplant. That calmed me down believe it or not. But of course the place looked like a massacre by the time we got done, and I stood up (thankfully with a thick towel between my legs – I felt hilarious running down the hall to the restroom to clean up and change!).

Back in the ER room, a male nurse came in to draw the other vial of blood. We decided to go with the back of my right hand. And he’s left handed. So hilarity ensued. Well, then, we finally got everything together, and either he or I moved, and the butterfly popped out of my hand. Blood went everywhere. I had no idea I was capable of bleeding like that. It was awesome. We got me under control, and he went after my left hand. I’m bruised, but I’m okay. The original butterfly from the first blood draw in my upper right arm looks like somebody bit me. No, it really does!

After all of this, I had to have a pelvic exam. Fun times! After the ultrasound, I hadn’t put a tampon back in because I knew the exam was coming and had on just a pad. I knew I was getting ready to make a mess. While we were waiting, I turned the TV on and flipped it to Syfy to see what was on. The 2004 remake of Day of the Dead. So we’re sitting here watching this when the doctor and the nurse came in for my exam. Preston said, “Honey, you may want to turn the zombie movie off while they do your pelvic.” He really did – I tweeted it.

I’ve had two children. Pelvic exams haven’t embarrassed me for a very long time. This one caused me anxiety, though, because of the mess I knew I was going to make. And I did make a mess. Preston asked the nurse for a biohazard bag to carry my panties home in. And yeah. Blood went everywhere. Even before the exam. Even worse afterward. I got to take another bath in another sink (just like after my ultrasound).

After everything, the doctor came in and said everything looked great. He gave me a clean bill of health. He said, though, with my age and the way I’m bleeding and since I don’t plan on having any more children, that he very highly recommended a hysterectomy. I almost tap danced on the gurney.

And yes, people, before any of you start going on about how sorry you are to hear this news, please don’t be. This is probably the best news I’ve gotten since I picked up the telephone to hear Kathy telling me Thomas had a kidney waiting on him in Cincinnati. Remember, I begged them to take everything out while I was open during my c-section when I had Tayler. So this is the best news I could have gotten. I’m not sorry. I just want all of this to be over. I was finished having children 20 years ago.

The doctor looked shocked, but Preston and I explained, and he had to agree with me, everything taken into consideration and given how things were at that moment. He gave me a prescription for Provera, gave me the number for UK Gynecology, told me to come back if anything got worse (and / or if I started feeling dizzy, weak, nauseous, etc, etc), and sent me home.

Preston and I caught the Nicholasville Road bus to downtown and transferred onto the last (it’s Sunday, and LexTran runs weird on Sundays) Tates Creek bus home. We would have cabbed, but we wanted to make sure I have money to get to and from Kroger tomorrow and that I’m able to pick up my prescription.

Neither of us had had anything to eat since breakfast and were starving. Preston went out with friends since I was home safe and sound and took a sandwich and a soda along with him. I fried myself two big fat cheeseburgers and asked Thomas for permission to pop open his can of barbeque Pringles, and he and I watched the end of Jeff Dunham on Comedy Central; sadly, I got home too late to see my favorite. Walt. I adore Walt. But I did get to see Jalapeño on a Stick. I called Preston’s mom and gave her the news, and we talked about everything for a little while. Being a mother, she called me back half an hour later, and we talked about everything for a little while longer.

Now I’m just sitting here trying to figure out how in the world I’m going to sleep tonight (aside with a lot of prayer and my two beach towels (and happy I have my own bathroom!). I’ve got to get up and bus around to Kroger and put my prescription in to fill. Thankfully, it’s Monday, so the buses are running every half hour. I will wait around at Kroger (doing gods know what), pick up my prescription – and if I can remember to, I’ll drop off my Prozac and Trazadone prescriptions so I can pick them up when I shop Friday), and bus back home. Then I’ll probably sleep some more. Or try to. I also have a handful of telephone calls to make. Where I’m not insured, UK gave me a business card with a telephone number to call where they can help me with today’s bill. I also have to call Paragon Women’s, where I happened to have made an appointment to see a gynecologist the Monday following my birthday next month, to see if they can handle what I’m needing done. If not, I will stay with UK and call their gynecology department and go from there.

I’m tagging this post only as “daily” because a lot of things have to happen before everything else happens, and I don’t want to jump the gun creating a tag I might just have to change later.

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Author: Mari Adkins

Appalachian gothic fiction writer - my works reflect a love of literature flavored by the darkness and magic residing in these ancient mountains. In my spare time, I'm a Simmer, I tumbl, I journal, but I always have a very strange sense of humor. I have lived away from the mountains and lived deep in the mountains. I currently live in Central Kentucky with my lifepartner and his cat. The mountains, their culture, their superstitions, their particular magics, will always be in my blood.