Have you ever have one of those moments where it feels as though you have floated out of your body and you are observing yourself from above? The last time this happened to me I was laying on the ground, in a pool of my own blood, hysterically refusing an ambulance.
I was speaking to a lady I had called through the 111 NHS non-emergency number. I told her I would definitely be well enough to get a taxi to the walk-in centre. Desperately trying to reassure her that I only called because I didn’t want to be wasting anyone’s time because the NHS budget is stretched so much. I went into great detail about how there are so many more urgent matters, and thanked her for her time. She transferred me through to a doctor and explained that if I didn’t arrive at the walk in centre within two hours, an ambulance would be called for me. The doctor I spoke to explained their concern and I admitted defeat and accepted I would have to go to the walk in centre. It was at this point I lost consciousness again.
When I woke up, I got myself together, cleaned myself up and got myself into a taxi. The wait in the walk in centre was about 2 hours, and during this time I used the bathroom countless times due to how heavily I was bleeding. I was called through to see a doctor who asked me a selection of questions, took my blood pressure, weighed me and then sent me through for an Electrocardiogram (a simple test that can be used to check your heart’s rhythm and electrical activity) Now as someone who lost her father to a sudden heart attack less than two months before, being sent for this test without context was fucking terrifying. But I whipped off my bra like a showgirl, they covered me in little stickers, I bled all over their chair, and was called back into the doctors office. He called through to the main hospital and gave me a letter of referral. I was to report to ward 23, he wished me luck and that was the end of it.
The taxi ride to the main hospital in rush hour traffic was agonising. I was desperately trying to google what type of ward I was being sent to. Turns out it was emergency gynaecology. Fan-fucking-tastic. At least it wasn’t my heart. And then came the slow and painful five hour wait to be seen by a gynaecologist.
To give a little context, I have suffered with endometriosis (a chronic condition where tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb is found outside the womb) and polycystic ovary syndrome (a condition that affects how a person’s ovaries work) – heavy bleeding was something I was not unfamiliar with. In fact it is something that had impacted almost every aspect of my life for seventeen years. Both are chronic conditions with very limited treatments and very little information is known about them. Even by medical professionals. I was diagnosed when I was much younger, but was just told I was fat and that I didn’t bleed as much as I thought I did. It was explained that it’s probably psychological and that I should just get on with my life. Maybe have a baby as that can reduce the symptoms. It’s at this point you should imagine my highly unimpressed face. I have seen countless doctors over the past seventeen years. Some of the cruellest people I have ever met have been in doctors surgeries. So to say I had lost faith in the health service for this particular condition would be quite the understatement. However, since my father passed away at the end of September, my symptoms and pain had increased severely. I had been bleeding constantly for over a hundred days. Again, this is not something I was unfamiliar with. But the blood loss had become so severe my body was going into shock and I was on the brink of needing a blood transfusion. So I admitted defeat.
I was called through to the nurse shortly after arriving at the ward. I described my symptoms and apologised if I was wasting her time. She stroked my back and told me I was in safe hands. She gave me extra pads and offered to make me a cup of tea. She was so warm and kind in a day full of wretchedness.
After waiting in the hospital alone for several hours I contacted my mother. Now, my mother is a wonderful character. She raised me to be absolutely fearless and is the most compassionate human being I have ever encountered. She is also one of the few people who will decipher my messages, as I’m not one to ask for help, so took my lack of objection to her company to mean I needed it. And to be honest I absolutely did. It was a long night, but would have been so much longer without her hand to hold.
I was finally called through to see a gynaecologist. Upon request of the nurse I got naked from the waist down – the most naked you can be. Got on my back, knees wide apart, bleeding everywhere and he opens his mouth to introduce himself and say “Let’s check on baby”. I explained he may be looking for a long time if that is what he was after. He became quite short and explained he had a long night and asked me to reconfirm every detail I had been through with medical professionals that day, no hint of an apology. He asked me to get dressed, like I would have just decided to stay half naked, and sent me to a bed on the ward. So I sat there, still bleeding. Another hour and a half passed. A nurse came and told me he has been called for an emergency Cesarean. She explained my bloods came back just under the limit of needing a blood transfusion so I could wait for the transfusion which they recommended or have an appointment with a specialist made and she would prescribe some tablets to stop the bleeding. I was tired and humiliated so took the tablets and we were on our way. Discharged with a diagnosis of significant menorrhagia (abnormally heavy bleeding at menstruation).
The whole experience was degrading. I was doubted almost constantly. I felt as though I had wasted everyone’s time and I just wanted to sleep for a week. But it was done, and at least now I had some tablets to stop the bleeding. Mother dearest also took me to Tescos for a midnight car picnic as I had not had chance to eat all day. It’s the little victories.