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  • 1. A baby?
    2. The day before christmas
    3. Christmas in an ambulance
    4. Dilation, curettage and a call to action
    5. Surgery
    6. Share your stories!

    Disclaimer: I will get back to edit and proof read this story later on. For now, I just wanted to get it out there.
  • 1. A baby?
    We had been trying to have a baby for a while. We almost got it last spring, but it didn’t end well. http://cowbird.com/story/20937/No_Heartbeat/
    Neither did it this time. On December 14, our little family moved into our first own house. A bit of a snowstorm that day. The nights and weekends were filled with unpacking, assembly, unfolding of boxes and figuring out how to cook on the stove. I didn’t pay much attention to myself. I thought it was just my period, and that it meant that we would have to try for a baby again.
  • 2. The day before christmas
    On December 23, we were trying to make it a home to celebrate christmas in. I was mounting brackets for curtain rods. Suddenly I felt a pain in my stomach, I sat down for a minute, hoping it would pass. It sort of did. I picked up the cordless drill (my new one, a beloved one), and carried on. It didn’t feel right, though.

    Me and Folke made a batch of gingerbread dough, which is really the best part of making gingerbread. Then Folke and Emil went out to ride the toboggan in the snow. I was going to continue working with the cordless drill, when the pain came back. I sat down but it didn’t help. I felt I should try go to the bathroom, but it didn’t help. The pain got worse and I staggered to bed, and could do nothing but lie there, shaking from pain, with a cold sweat soaking the bed. My dog was lying next to me, guarding, comforting. The heavy pain stuck to me for more than an hour, mabye two. When Emil and Folke got home, It wasn’t as bad as before. I asked Folke to come lie down next to me, and explained that I had a stomach ache.

    Emil told me I looked dangerously pale, and that I should go to the hospital. I called the care inguiries instead, where I waited for 20 minute. I dozed off a couple of times. Folke cuddling up against me. After being disconnected for some reason, I only wanted to sleep. I wanted it so badly, as the pain subsided, and I drifted off.

    Emil stopped me. ”Don’t go to sleep, It could be dangerous. I’ll call you a cab, so you can go to the hospital”, he said. I was really angry with him. For not letting me sleep. At the moment, I thought everything would be all right, if I only could sleep. Instead I was soon in a taxi, heading to the ER. I met nurses, an emergency physician, who sent me to the gynecological department, as a routine procedure. ”We do that with all women in fertile age” he told me. At the moment I found it a bit to a fault, but that was before I became ivolved. That was before i knew that this happens to women all the fucking time.
    The gynecological emergency department was as big as the regular ER, with as many waiting patients, but with less staff. The only physician that worked there was busy at the department for raped women, next door. The nurses told us that these cases took hours, because of the need to document evidence properly. After more than two hours, she was finished, and came to take care of the gynecological emergencies. The other seven women in the waiting room – some bleeding, some crying, some lying down in the corridor outside – had to wait a little longer, because I was first priority.

    The physician was beautyful in that way almost only eastern european women can be. She examined me, said that there was a big lump of some kind, near my ovary on the right side.
    She called for a nurse, and I sat at the visitor side of her desk as she talked to the nurse. ”I don’t understant why they didn’t take a pregnancy test at the ER”, she said to the nurse. ”But they did” said the nurse, ”only it was negative”. From their conversation, I guessed that the test they took at the gynecological department had been positive. I asked. They apologized and said, ”yes, it was positive”, and then continued talking to each other.

    Even after being filled in, I didn’t know much more. The preganacy test was positive. There was a lump visible by ultrasound. There was pain. It could be a cyst. Or an extrauterine pregnancy. She sent me home and told me to come back on Christmas Day. I was happy to go home. I shopped for christmas dinner stuff on my way home. The christmas spirit was gone, in our house, as I got back.
  • 3.
    Christmas Eve is the day we celebrate christmas in Sweden, on December 24. Folke woke up early. ”Take a picture of me and Igelkottis” he said.
  • We sat in the living room as Folke explained to me: ”Santa Claus is coming later, and he is going to put all my gifts under the tree…” As he pointed to it, he saw them. The gifts, wrapped in shiny paper. ”SANTA’S BEEN HERE ALREADY!” he cried out.

    There was no stopping him, we let him open the presents quite early. They were all open by lunch.
  • He is playing with the new toys. ”If you want to be part of the team, come stand here next to us, the three cars is telling the horse. (As I write this down, I realize why he kind of got stuck playing ”the team and the horse” for the rest of the week. It was what he was playing when the pain set in).
  • 3. Christmas in an ambulance
    The pain starts again. I stumble up to bed, thinking it will pass. It doesn’t. After twenty minutes, The situation is so bad that I have to call an ambulance. I explain my symptoms, but I can hardly speak. They send one, and I call to Emil, who is trying to keep Folke busy and happy in the next room. He packs a bag, the ambulance comes right away (they aborted another pick up to get me, which I kept on apologizing about all the way to the hospital).
  • I felt so lonely as I got there, and I can only guess how Folke must have felt when the ambulance picked mom up in the middle of christmas celebrations. He is four years old, and the anticipations he had this year was tremendous.

    I was being examined several times again by two different physicians. They said I should be in a lot of pain, because I had lots of blood and fluid in the abdomen. It looked very much like a solar eclipse, I thought, but they believed it to be an oviduct that had bursted from an extrauterine pregnancy, or a ruptured cyste, or something else. And a lump. But they don’t know exaktly where. There might be surgery. Or chemo. Or nothing. And what they do is they send me home with a supply of morphine, and tell me to come back the next day.
  • I take a cab home, that proves to be a scam cab. Sweden has a deragulated taxi system, which means that the rates can be whatever the hell they want to be. And some use this system to put signs on their cars that look identical to major taxi companies, and park outside the hospital on christmas eve, and wait for someone to scam with insane rates. Today it turned out to be me.

    In Sweden, the most imortant thing to do on christmas, next to drinking, eating and opening presents, is watching Disney on TV. It’s the christmas special show ”From All of Us to All f You”, hosted by Jiminy Cricket, Mickey Mouse and Tinkerbell. Almost half the poulation watches this, every year from 1959. I got home to see the last fifteen minutes together with Folke. We had christmas dinner, and then, Folke and me played ”the team and the horse” for hours. This seemed both logical and funt o me, since I was on morphine the whole evening.
  • 4. Dilation, curettage and a call to action

    On Christmas Day, I leave early. I have my own bed at the hospital now, and a plastic bracelet with my name on. A locker to put my things in, and a key. I’m scheduled for dilation and curettage. For diagnostic reasons. I meet the physiscian who is going to be treating me. And the nurses. Then I wait for many hours. Then I meet the anesthetist, and some other nurses, and I’m gone. A few hours later, I’m going home again.

    As I spend many hours in my hospital bad that day, I update on Facebook about what I’m going through, and what’s happening. Soon my status update commentary, FB-inbox, mailbox and phone is filled with messages. Not as I expected – people just wishing me good luck. But instead women, many women, firends of mine, telling me: I’ve been through this too. Some several times. Some while going through expensive IV-treatments to have a baby. Some that almost died. Some that almost died from lack of treatment. Especially one friend: Sara Olausson, a creator of graphic novels and cartoons, has a dramatic stoty to tell, about how she almost died, just lying around for hours in the hospital corridor, after having arrived in an ambulance. Not getting treatment. She had been going in an out of the hospital a lot of times, for weeks, with an extrauterine pregnancy, and in great pain. The doctors had not treated it, she was instead told to wait it out. Mabye it will fix itself. But it didn’t. It almost never does.

    To wait and see, that was one of the options the doctor had given me. As the messages keep coming in, from all different kinds of female freinds, I start to look at my whole situation in a different way. Only with one of these friends had I known about her experiences when they occured. I realize that we don’t talk about this. As Sara explained, with the words of a ” another artist, Nina Hemmingsson: in this place (a gynecoligists reception) there are two things that we don’t mention: death and the ”front bottoms”.
    I remember the over-filled waiting room at the gynecological department. I remembered the different women sitting there waiting at all hours of the day. I read up. I learned that two to three percent of all prengnancys end this way. Thats just an enormous amount. If a woman is prengnant in an average of, say four times per life, including miscarriages and abortions, someweher between eight to twelve percent of all women have been though this. But we don’t talk about it. And we don’t always get treated. And sometimes, we die from internal bleedings. ”Yes, we are afraid of this all the time” said one of the nurses, as I talked to her about it. I seemed I was in the middle of an event that took place all every days, with a secret guestlist, that you weren’t supposed to mention to the outerworld, even when it turned out to be lethal.
  • 5. Surgery

    Boxing Day, I’m going back to do some tests. I lay around for a few hours, reading, waiting for the doctor. We set up a plan of action.

    And I am determined. Thanks to the voices of so many different women I know.
    I opt for surgery. There will be no waiting and seeing. No dying.
    I get to go home over night.

    The next morning, I’m back. Though my window, I se the chimney of the power plant next to where I live, on the horizon. I wait all day for surgery, but when It's finally time, I don't feel ready at all. When all bits and pieces and needles, and the mask and the stuff they wrap around different body parts are in place, I can't speak because of the mask. I'm about to be sedated, and I start crying. Because I'm afraid to die, and I'm around strangers. A nurse sees my tears, and gently strikes my arm.

    When I wake up, I'm in tremendous pain. The nurse gives me all the extra drugs she can, and she says I'm on morphine, and that it will be better soon. It doesn't get any better. I'm no whimp, but this, this is more than I can bear. I know within me that there is only one thing that can help me now. I call the nurse. I say: "Can you please hold my hand?" She says: "Hold your hand?" I say: "Yes, I think it might help me handle the pain". So she grabbed my hand, around the tubes and needles. And it helped.
  • I have to stay at the hospital for the night. Folke comes to visit me. He is excited at first, but when he sees me, with the stuff in my arms, and the shape I'm in, he gets sad and upset. He takes back the to teddy bears that he gave me to keep me company at the hospital. They don't want to be here, he says.
  • 6. Share your stories!

    The next day, I leave my stained hospital bed. I'm thinking that It's nice to be back in real life. I'm thinking I'll get stronger. I'm thinking of different crazy plans to make me feel like I have a normal life (two dinner parties hosted within the next few days for example. Very nice, but really a bit over ambitious). But most of all I'm thinking of two things:

    ONE: That Folke really got his christmas ruined. How I feel like I broke his heart. How he got stuck playing "the team and the horse" for days, and days and days.

    TWO: That we really need to talk more openly about diseases and conditions that involves the female body parts. It would be a relief for those who are sick and need to talk about it, and for their relatives, and it would help raise awareness, so that there can be an end to overcrowded waiting rooms and nurses scared to lose their patients because of inaction. Endometriosis and extrauterine pregnancy are two common conditions that kills women. I want to learn more about this, and other conditions.

    Please share your stories!
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