Monday, January 13, 2014

Longest. Miscarriage. Ever.

I used to be a runner.  In the past, I have ran three half marathons and a sprint triathalon, along with numerous 5k and 10k races.  When we began trying to get pregnant my GYN told me to cut back on my running as my cycles were sometimes off  while I was training .   I stopped running as much, and between that and all the hormones, I put on a fair amount of weight.  Upon learning I wouldn't be able to carry a baby one of the first things I decided to do was run a 15k. I asked Jason to run it with me.   I figured it would be a good way to start shedding some of the weight.  Unlike becoming pregnant,  I  also felt this was finally a goal we could set and actually achieve.  Or so I thought.

Training was going okay for a while, but then I started having a nagging knee pain. I tried to run on the treadmill, but ended up listening to my body and just doing weights instead.  For any LA fitness members out there who heard about someone leaving the gym on a stretcher on January 2nd, that was me. It wasn’t due to runners knee, though I wish that was the case.   It was one of the scariest, most mortifying experiences of my life.

I was doing bicep curls when suddenly I felt like I was peeing in my pants. It was odd because I
never had the sensation that I needed to pee but I felt wetness in my workout pants. I began walking towards the bathroom and suddenly it felt like it was dripping all down my legs, so I made a mad dash to the locker room. Once in the bathroom I realized it was not urine but instead, bright red blood. Buckets of it. It was gushing from me, the likes of which I’d never seen before. The entire toilet was filled with blood. If I had not already had a D&C, I would have assumed this was my body miscarrying the fetus. However, I had a D&C two weeks prior and had only been lightly spotting every since. Panicking, I called my doctor. The nurse instructed me to go to the ER. I stood up thinking I would call my husband and have him meet me there, only to realize that there was no way I could leave the bathroom stall in my current condition as I was GUSHING blood. Like a faucet. Attempts at wrapping toilet paper up to catch the blood were in vain as the blood soaked the toilet paper in seconds. At this point I began sobbing. I took a blood-filled picture of the toilet and texted it to my husband, then called him in tears. He had a hard time understanding me as I tried to explain that I was bleeding and needed to go to the ER. I sent a second picture of the toilet and he immediately left work to come get me, staying on the phone with me all the while. I was in full panic mode by this point and just kept crying “I don’t’ know what to do".  Thankfully, some kind girl overheard my conversation and asked if I was okay. Through my sobs, I told her that I wasn’t and asked if she could find me some pads. Meanwhile, Jason was telling me I needed to call an ambulance. I told him that I didn’t want to do that. In my head, I was worried about the expense of an ambulance and mostly, just not wanting to be wheeled out of the gym on a stretcher. A few minutes later, that decision was made for me as two female LA fitness employees came in and told me they were calling an ambulance because I was hemorroghing. The girl came back with a full box of pads and some Kleenex (she had gone to CVS- how sweet is that?) and the LA Fitness employees told me that the paramedics said I needed to be lying down. They helped me out of the bathroom and we waited for the paramedics to arrive.  All the while, I was still hoping Jason would get there first so he could take me to the ER.

Soon after, the paramedics arrived and began taking my vitals (they were fine) and asked me how I was feeling ( I never felt any pain- I was just really scared and embarrassed). I had them talk to Jason, who was almost at the gym. The paramedic told Jason that I needed to go to the hospital and asked him to meet us at the ER. They put me on that dreaded stretcher and I covered my face with a sheet, hoping no one would see me as they wheeled me out of the gym. In an attempt to calm me, the lead paramedic shared that he and his wife had lost a baby at six months but she was fine now. He told me , “I know you’re worried about whether you’ll be able to carry another baby”. I told him I wasn't worried about that as we already knew that we needed a surrogate. Then he said, “Well you’re probably worried you will need a hysterectomy”. To which I replied, “No, I’m worried I’m going to die!” He assured me that wouldn’t happen on his watch.

 It’s a good thing I wasn’t truly at risk of dying because the ambulance driver apparently missed a turn. I realized this when I looked out the window after we had been driving for a while and saw that we were clear on the other end of town, way past the hospital. Jason arrived at the ER a full half hour ahead of us.  When the ER doctor finally examined me she removed a large blood clot. Once the clot was removed the bleeding subsided. After an ultrasound and another examination from my own OB/GYN, they determined they weren’t quite sure what was happening but felt there may have been a tiny “retained product of conception” that was missed during my D&C. Since my vitals and bloodwork were all okay and the bleeding had nearly stopped, they sent me home on meds to help stop the bleeding.  However, I couldn't really go home in my soiled gym clothes so I had to go leave in the hospital gown.  This is what a hot mess I looked like when I got home. 

Even my cat was scared. My friend Dave told me I look like one of those "Utah Sister Wives".  Sadly, I have to agree.

In the week that followed, I had a few smaller bleeding episodes that seemed to stop once a quarter-sized clot was released. One of these episodes happened during my follow-up visit with my GYN on Tuesday. She didn’t seem too alarmed and asked me to follow up with her on Friday. Before I could do that, on Thursday (one week after the initial episode) I began hemorrhaging again. This time, thankfully I was at home. Jason had just left for work but I called him and he turned around immediately. I knew I needed to lay down so I got in the tub, figuring that would be the easiest to clean. At first, I was just gushing blood but soon huge clots came out. Pancake sized clots. It was horrible. Jason came home to what looked like a murder scene. He began running around trying to get old towels to catch the blood so we could get to the doctor (she told us at the ER to come to her office if it happened again) While this time wasn’t quite as scary as before because we knew what was happening, physically I felt worse. I was lightheaded and nauseated and even vomited.  At one point, I felt so bad that I even thought about having Jason call an ambulance. That thought passed, along with the nausea. The bleeding finally subsided and we made our way to the doctor. My GYN was still unsure what was going on but felt it was important to do another D&C. This one was done in her office with out being put under. It was excruciating. Thankfully, it was over in about 10 minutes. They did some more bloodwork and this time, it came back abnormal. I had lost so much blood this past week that I am now officially anemic! Apparently the low end of normal is 11.5 and my red blood count is 8.9. I wasn’t sure what that meant but found out pretty quickly: frequent headaches, shortness of breath and heart palpitations when doing any sort of activity (like climbing stairs, but even when taking out the garbage) I figured I would bounce right back once the bleeding stopped but apparently it takes a long time for red blood cells to replenish (120 days) so it will likely be a good month before I am feeling back to normal. So much for the 15k I was planning on running!

While I'm bummed I won't be able to run the race in two weeks,  I am grateful it wasn't something more serious.  I also think this experience has helped me get over my desire to be pregnant- I definitely don't want to go through that again! It's just more confirmation that something is not right within my uterus.  Someday soon I hope we find a better uterus to help us create our family!

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