Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Day of Firsts

January 31, 2011 was host to a myriad of "firsts" for me.  None especially desirable, but interesting in that cold, analytical way.  First a miscarriage, not unexpected since we had found out two weeks ago at an ultrasound that our baby died, but a rather bleak first in the physical proceedings.  It was also my first time of blacking out repeatedly, my first ambulance ride, my first out-cold anesthesia, my first surgery, and my first multi-day recovery in bed.

 I think most people have their first ambulance ride as kids or when their elderly, not usually as a healthy twenty-five-year-old fully conscious.  The situation was such that my blood pressure was dangerously low and I needed to go to the hospital, but I couldn't sit up without blacking out, so I couldn't ride in a car.  Hence the need for an ambulance bed, which, by the way, was surprisingly comfortable.  The EMT's were very nice and made some funny cracks as they loaded me up and drove to the hospital.  I'm sure it was an easy call for them, not having to actually do much work or carry a heavy person.  They covered me in lots of sheets and a very heavy plasticky blanket and then strapped me in for the ride.  It felt very strange to be wheeled and carried around.  The nice thing is, when you go though ER on a stretcher, you don't have to do much waiting or asking.  They just put you where you need to go.  So ambulance rides aren't so bad.

Once at the hospital, there was the obligatory gown and plastic id jewelry.  The i.v. of lots of fluid.  And the questions, oh the questions.  I almost wished I'd arrived unconscious and somebody else had to answer all those questions!  Once was bad enough, but every new nurse, doctor, or aide asked me the same ones. Yes! I'm allergic to penicillin.  No! No medical history.  My name? Amy Gaetano!  My birthday! MAY 13 1985!!!  Don't you people write this stuff down??

But then came the determination from the gruff ob that examined me that I needed the D&C surgery and they could be ready for that in as soon as half an hour.  We had already scheduled one for the upcoming Friday (it was Monday), so I felt emotionally prepared for it, in that utterly exhausted, do what you will with me, sort of way.  At least we knew for sure the baby had died as the miscarriage was mostly completed on its own earlier that night.   We waited.  I don't really remember what I did.  Maybe I dozed?  I think I sent a few text messages.  Matt would probably remember.

Then they wheeled me off to yet another room, I guess it was the pre-op room where they asked me the same questions and gave me another iv filled with something clear that was supposed to put me to sleep. I didn't quite believe it.  I thought I'd have a warning or be getting sleepy or something.  But I felt pretty clear-headed as I took out my contacts and got another delightfully warm blanket from the nurse.  They have these microwave things that they take blankets out of for patients, it's like getting a blanket right out of the dryer.  Wonderful invention.  Bravo.

Then the nurses in blue wheeled me off to the O.R. and some pretty, young nurse asked me to get on another table.  I did and I remember the bright lights and the unimpressive room pretty clearly.  And then, all of a sudden, I remember nothing.  I woke up from a nice sleep in a recovery room that looked very similar to the pre-op room.  In fact, I wasn't quite sure I'd ever left.  I felt the same.  I wasn't in any pain, no parts were missing, and I could move my limbs just fine.  Was this before or after?  As I came to--and you might not know that without my contacts, I can barely see, although from practice I'm pretty good at distinguishing hazy forms--I determined that it must be over and I was in post-op.  No one was asking me questions and I was left to be half-asleep as I wished.  It was rather pleasant, actually.  My first surgery wasn't so bad.

Then we were on the go again, I'm not sure who gave the signal, but it was time to move me to another place.  Wheeling the litter, as they called it, down the maze of hallways and on a few elevators, I arrived in a recovery area where another nurse, who looked like my Aunt Kiki, took charge of me.  Matt showed up in a few minutes and we were left for an hour or so to recover and discharge.  I was a bit sleepy, but not loopy or funny, to my surprise.  After being disentangled from the various cords, I was able to get up a bit and move around, a definite improvement from earlier that morning.  About five hours after arriving at the hospital, we were allowed to go home.

While being pushed to the car in a wheel chair, we passed a couple brining home their first baby.  The father was proudly video-taping the mother in the wheel chair, baby in her lap.  It was a very sad moment to be leaving the hospital, feeling as if I'd done all the work of a labor, and having no joy to show for it.  But I was no less happy for them and their first joy.  I thought back on our first trip home from the hospital with Dominic and chuckled to myself that this new father would soon be making the slowest, most cautious drive of his life to bring his precious, fragile child home.  Our joys were waiting for us at home and in our future.  And we take comfort in knowing that God is holding us in His wings and that little Francis Jerome is watching us from Jesus' arms.


  1. Friends, our hearts break with yours for your sweet baby. We are keeping you all in our prayers. Truly.

  2. Oh you made me cry, Amy. Thank God for those joys at home, in our future, and in Heaven! Prayers for you all.

  3. Except for your OB, sounds like class acts all around ;)

    As far as I'm concerned, there are two types of people who provide critical care: Those who like the idea of what they do ("I'm an ER nurse", "I'm a trauma doc") and those who really like people - and stumbled on a good outlet for that sentiment (calling? ;)

    From what I've seen in my short time in medicine, the later somehow find a way to suppress all of their personal emotions/anxiety/stress when dealing with someone who is critically ill - performing all their tasks while still interacting with patients and family as a human. Sounds like you got to see some good people doing that!!

    I'm sorry for your loss, but your child is in a better place, so I mourn for you and Matt, not him :) I will pray for you both, I know He will see you through!

    Continue to recover! Later I encourage you to send an email/comment card to the medics/ER staff/OR staff who took care of you with some of the thoughts you listed above. It may not seem all that meaningful, but it turns out a sentence or two, the hug of a child, a visit from someone who has recovered can carry you through a whole week of dealing with the abusive, self-destructive, disrespectful, and wholly unhuman scum that comprises a big slice of what we do ;)