Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cramps + Infertility = Endemetriosis Part 2

I didn’t get pregnant. I couldn’t understand why. The little town we lived in, just inland on the south Oregon coast, had three doctors. All were aged. When I asked about my inability to get pregnant they all said I just needed to relax. Yeah, right.

One evening after dinner, we had been married for about 2½ years; the cramps came on hard and furious. I asked Scott to take me to the emergency room in the closest hospital about 20 minutes away. By the time we got there I was in such pain I could hardly walk.

The admitting clerk put me into a wheelchair and took me down to the ER. A nurse came in to check me out before calling the doctor. (Way back when, small community hospitals did not have anyone staffing the ER. Rather, a floor nurse would be ‘on call’ for the ER and the doctor ‘on call’ would come in only if needed.) Almost as soon as she began to take my information, I told her I had to vomit. She handed me an emesis basin. I handed it back. She gave me a huge, battered tub. I used it.

By the time the doctor arrived I was beginning to swoon. I couldn’t keep the room from spinning and I was ‘dry heaving.’ Once up in the stirrups and examined, he had the nurse give me a shot of pain killer and something to stop the vomiting.

Afterwards, when I could finally focus, he explained that I was just having exceptionally bad cramps and needed to have narcotic pain relievers around for the pain. I asked if I had had a miscarriage, since the pain was so intense so quickly. He said, “No, it is just cramping. Come see me week after next.” I saw this, just out of medical school, doctor a couple of times before we moved back home to the Willamette Valley.

Once home again, I went back to the clinic where I had been going since before birth. A new set of doctors were available. I preferred a couple of younger doctors who seemed to be quite thoughtful and helpful. But, again they didn’t really treat me for the cramps, other than more codeine. Nor did they ever address my desire for children.

In the meantime we had just celebrated our 9th anniversary. We had applied to the state to adopt the year before. Then I broke my arm. I contacted the social worker nearly every week; I never heard back from her. We were anxious and getting upset. Finally, she called to say she didn’t have a child for us but please, please be patient. I t had been over a year now and we were getting restless.

Because I couldn’t get into the clinic to see anyone when I really needed to, I called a new doctor in town. He could see right then. I liked his manner and concern over my non-reproductive problem so I started seeing him for my primary doctor.

I told this new doctor about me cramps and again more codeine. Believe me I was really beginning to get desperate about the pain. My periods were no longer regular. I had always had ‘heavy’ periods but now they were gushing and completely unpredictable.

We were able to have a private adoption. Our new baby arrived in mid-April 1980. I ignored my problems and doted on her.

In ’83 we took a family trip to Anaheim. While at the Movieland Wax Museum, Selene needed to use the restroom. While in the restroom I noticed I had begun my period and was covered in blood. We went back to the motel where I showered and changed. Luckily I had some codeine with me. I used two extra absorbent tampons and an extra absorbent pad while we toured Knott’s Berry Farm. I changed the tampons twice during our visit. The next day, I was so wacked out on codeine I just followed Scott and Selene and tried not to act like a drunk.

In 1984 a GYN-OB moved to town. I had never seen a gynecologist before. For 10 years I had been trying to find one in Salem but they were never taking new patients that weren’t pregnant. I would explain I was having severe cramping and bleeding with each period and get told my primary care physician had to refer me but they had no openings anyway.

I don’t remember whether it was my primary doctor or the GYN who sent me in for an ultrasound. The tech called in the radiologist to do the ultrasound as she was having problems. The doctor found my right ovary where my uterus should have been. My uterus was clear over on the left side of my body with the left ovary twisted up behind it.

I do remember seeing this new doctor and telling, in detail my problems. He scheduled a laparoscopy. When I woke from the anesthesia the nurse called the doctor to come in from his office. He told me I had severe endometriosis. And with the flopped over uterus, which would require reconstructive surgery I had less than a 10% chance of conceiving. This was due to the scarring from the tumors and cysts.

I cried. The doctor gave me something that knocked me out. During the laparoscopy there had been a problem and he had to leave the air running to keep my abdomen inflated. That extra gas would bump up against my diaphragm and cause extreme pain. I went home later in the evening and lay on the couch for several days until the air had been absorbed by my blood and gut. I was not the most pleasant person to be around while I expelled that extra gas.

Sorry to leave this on such an 'airy' note.  Tune in tomorrow for what happened after the laparoscopy.

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