Getting Some Answers | The Lead Up To My Hysterectomy
As you're probably aware, my birth story is a traumatic one. If you're not aware, you can read all about it here, which I highly recommend doing. You all caught up? Okay, good. Back in October, I finally got the chance to go through my notes and get some answers.
Honestly, I struggled to understand a lot of it, even with a midwife explaining various terms used. Thankfully though, the senior midwife made an appointment for me to discuss it further with a gynaecologist surgeon who was actually there and helped to save my life. But basically, I was fucked. The bleeding started pretty much straight after birth and they gave me a ton of different meds to try and stop it, and massaged my uterus. Unfortunately that didn't work, so next they tried a vaginal 'pack' which was meant to absorb and stop the bleeding. The initial plan was to leave it in for 24 hours, take it out and tah-dah! I'd be fixed. Yeah, no. Clearly that didn't work, so they used the balloon method. I can't remember the science behind this one and it actually makes me quite uncomfortable to think about so I'm just going to skip ahead.
Once they realised that wasn't working they tried a 'modified' b-lynch method; they essentially tied my uterus up into a ball to compress and stop the bleeding. Again, that didn't work. If I remember rightly (I really should have been taking notes myself) they were still pumping me full of medication. They were so desperate not to lose me.
Eventually they realised that the only option was to remove the uterus, as any other procedure was most likely to end in death. However, even after the hysterectomy that was still a worry for them. But I'll come back to that shortly.
|This drawing shows my uterus and the b-lynch method. The circles indicate where the uterus was tied.|
The main questions I've had since it happened is 1. What did they remove and 2. How much blood did I lose. Thankfully, I now have the answers to both of those questions. While I was reading up on hysterectomies I saw that sometimes they take the cervix, and other times they don't. It's then I realised that I didn't know if I still had that or not. In short; no, I don't. I literally only have my fallopian tubes and ovaries. As for my blood loss, they estimated around 16 pints of blood left my body. So yeah, what my body can hold, twice over. Thank god for blood donors.
I guess I'm just starting to realise the severity of my situation. I was told by Ash and Mum that at around 4am they were told that it was questionable whether I would survive or not. I assumed that this meant they hadn't done the hysterectomy at that point, but it turns out that they started the procedure at 2:43am but they still weren't sure whether I'd make it at 4:15am. Honestly, I thought it was a case of they did the hysterectomy and were celebrating that they'd saved me, but that wasn't the case at all. In fact I don't even know at what point the poor sods were able to relax about my situation.
I'm not sure if I feel better for knowing everything or not. I mean, I always knew that the risk of dying was there, but I didn't realise they were still worried over an hour after the procedure. I think my family are glad that I finally understand, and realise how scared they were for me. In a way it's okay for me, I "slept through it all" and just had to deal with it in the morning, whereas my family - Ash especially - had to be there at the hospital, scared for my life and trying to look after our newborn all night/morning. Obviously I still have to deal with it and will do for the rest of my life, but I didn't have to go through the horror of the situation. Admittedly I was scared when I was freezing cold and shaking before they wheeled me back into theatre but that was still easier on me than my family being scared and worried sick all night and most of the following day.
I am so, so glad that I was able to see Dr Subramanya. Hearing what happened by someone who was actually there and helped make decisions and worked on me was a. Amazing and b. Much more helpful than being read my notes by someone who wasn't there and doesn't even understand half the jargon. She was able to explain the methods used and give me information that wasn't even in my notes. I finally found out why I was bleeding. My uterus was tired from the long labour. Poor thing. I don't know how to feel about that. Yes, it was a long and difficult labour but...my uterus was literally made for that purpose. I don't know, I guess I am a little bit pissed off at my body for failing me but I'm still so grateful for the team and donors that saved my life.
I know I've mentioned it previously but in my October meeting, I was under the impression that I had lost 13 pints of blood but no, it was actually 16. Which is still less than I thought! I also found out that I had a tear at the very top of my uterus. Dr Su did admit there's a possibility that was caused by the team but because it was so high up, they didn't find it until the hysterectomy was commenced. So I guess we'll never know for sure. But I finally got my answer as to why I haemorrhaged. My uterus was tired. My uterus almost killed me because it was tired from doing it's job. I know Mum has always called me bone idle but I think that's taking the piss a bit.
When I was discussing this with my counsellor I told her that the craziest part for me is the fact that many midwives and surgeons remember my name. The situation itself is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, so obviously that's not going to be forgotten any time soon but the fact my name is remembered seven months later really gets me. She then told me that what happened to me is being used to teach other/future doctors and surgeons what to do if it were to happen again. I never even considered that. The entire thing is insane.
I'm still really grateful for the team, and blood donors that were essential to my survival. I do occasionally feel quite bitter about the hysterectomy but when the choice was that or death, I know which one I would pick. I'm also really lucky the bleeding actually started straight away. My counsellor pointed that to me. If I'd made it through recovery and got back to the ward before I started bleeding...it's just not worth thinking about. Now I just have to remember that I've been given a second chance at life (or three or four as my counsellor said) and I need to start living. I need to live my life and do the things I want to do, no matter how much it scares me.