Dear rest of the world (USA, I’m looking at you): Public health care is the best idea ever.
Yesterday CJ and I spent seven hours at hospital (in the past, I’ve waited longer than that in the waiting room, which is the down side of a triage system – the sicker people get treated first – but pregnant women are always a priority) getting looked after by a doctor and two nurses. The only thing we paid for was food.
We wandered through the usual labyrinthine passageways to get to emergency, where I was assessed almost immediately. Since both of the antenatal (“antenatal” meaning “while pregnant”) triage beds were free, another pregnant woman and I were wheeled up to that department.
That’s right: I said wheeled. Awesome.
I settled into the bed with CJ on a chair beside me (we’d brought two books each – I read “Soulless” by Gail Carriger, not realising that CJ was deliberately watching my face during the naughty bits).
The main doctor and nurse gathered more information, and basically pooh-poohed my pleas for a feeding tube (I was so nauseous I could barely drink water, and so nauseous/phobic of food that even a picture or mention of food made me feel ill). They prescribed counselling (which, sorry, has been tapped out long ago in my case – but of course I’ll attempt it again anyway) and maxolon.
Maxolon is a tiny, foul-tasting pill with the exciting side-effect that if you take too much you get lockjaw and (this is the exciting part) your head turns itself to the side. Somewhat offputting to those not in the know!
Unsurprisingly, it is somewhat more effective than over-the-counter ginger pills. In about half an hour the idea of food was appealing once more (and the idea of a food tube shoved down my throat somewhat less so) and I began eating for the first time that day.
For the first time in weeks, my body didn’t immediately punish me for eating (not for about an hour). Hurrah!
At around that time, I gave the first of what turned out to be four different urine samples. The nurse tested it, and came back in at once to tell me I had heaps of very large ketones. “Ketones” is pronounced “key-tones”, and sounds rather like a sweet jazz notation. Sadly, they actually indicate dehydration.
I was put on a drip and monitored for another few hours. The drip was awesome. I liked having a painless plug in my arm – even if it is utterly nuts to put water (or whatever it was) into my veins. How does THAT work? Over time, I got better at shifting position without kinking the tube, and at peeing in a cup after dragging the five-wheeled IV stand into the bathroom with me.
As far as I can remember, I’ve never actually been in a hospital bed before. I’ve had stitches, but no broken bones. I’ve had food poisoning every time I go to Indonesia, but it never occurred to me to go to hospital (even when one bout – ah, Bali, how consistent you are – lasted three and a half months).
So, here’s a photo commemorating my first hospital bed:
As CJ keeps saying, “You know we can buy you new socks ANYTIME you like, right?”
Rather sadly, socks and I just don’t get on. These are the only socks I have that can cover a reasonable amount of leg without cutting off circulation (I have begun making forays into diabetic-approved socks, which are much better than the norm, but still not that great).
So that was our hospital visit! I’m still nauseous for nine out of ten waking hours, and I still dread meals (even with Captain Maxolon on my side, I feel sick soon after eating), but for the moment I can manage. One week down. . . five weeks of crippling nausea to go.
Sidebar – if any of you says any of the following, I will hunt you down and kill you:
Every pregnant woman gets ill, dear.
When I was pregnant, I didn’t have time to be sick – so I wasn’t.
Try [random cure], it will solve everything.
Oh, when *I* was pregnant I was SO sick that I. . . .
Oh yes. . . there was one more thing.
The doctor did an ultrasound – mostly, I think, just because they can.
The amniotic sac inside me was a clear circle, and on one side our little baby was a blurry dot perhaps a centimetre across. It flickered to its own beat – the beating of a brand new heart.
Ever since the ultrasound, CJ pauses every so often mid-conversation, reaches across to touch my hand or shoulder or belly, and says, “Heartbeat!”