There is a side effect of pregnancy that had never occurred to me before this week. When you are pregnant, for some odd reason you cannot be given powerful drugs to make you feel better. IF drugs aside, I am generally not the type to take a medication for every ailment. Ever since the 2-year numb snatch debacle of my early 20s thanks to some potent anti-depressants, I'm a bit wary of medicine, even if its primary goal is to make the bad stuff go away.
This enlightenment has happened thanks to a nasty infected cyst that appeared on my back about a month ago. I made regular GP appointments to sort it out, as the beast soon became inflamed, grew to about 6cm in diameter, and prevented me from moving in certain ways or laying flat on my back. Two week-long courses of antibiotics later, and the cyst remained angry and painful. I went to the GP again on Monday, hoping they would lance the fucker/burn it off/stab it with a butter knife, or undertake any measures possible to remove it. The GP lifted my shirt, recoiled in horror, then demanded that I have something done about it that very day. Thinking that they would drain it there in then, I felt much relief. That is, until he said, "Yeah...that's a bit beyond this office's remit. I'm going to call the hospital, and you'll need to go right to their A&E (Accident and Emergency, in Yankspeak, ER)."
Phone calls were made, letters scribbled in the illegible scratch that doctors are particularly fond of, and I headed to the A&E. After much waiting in a number of different rooms and being prodded by a handful of doctors and nurses at varying intervals , I was given a bed in the Surgical Ward about 6 hours after my arrival. At this point, I was thinking that this shit was getting a bit serious. Why would I need a bed if they were just going to drain it? Prior to all the waiting, I anticipated being back at my desk at work by 3pm. Oh, you silly, silly, stupid girl.
The main talks given to me by the people in the know ranged from draining it, which wouldn't require any anesthetic, to excising it under a general. I was with them for all of the options until the fateful words were uttered regarding the general - May increase risk of miscarriage. I explained to the main surgeon, Dr Asshead, that I wasn't keen on anything that put Enid at risk. It's a sensitive topic for any woman to ponder, let alone an IFer who has just finally released a massive exhale of relief at emerging seemingly unscathed from the perilous first trimester. The last thing I wanted was to leap back into that zone, which Dr Asshead did not appear to comprehend. Dr Asshead, in fact, was far too casual about the whole miscarriage issue, repeating often that it was just a "small risk". I calmly told Dr Asshead that though I understood this, it wasn't good enough. After Dr Asshead left in a huff at my rebuking of his general anesthetic idea, I cried for 45 minutes at the thought that this decision even had to be made. The Dude had to keep handing me tissues while the old crone in the bed opposite mine stared at me, deciding that was the time to start having a morbid fascination with my misery.
After even more waiting, Dr Asshead came back to say that he could try and do the procedure under a local, but he might not be able to get the entire cyst removed. He pushed again for the general, I said my piece again, there was awkward silence, and then he said in a huff, "Fine. Just sign the consent form for the local. I will warn you though, as we're going to attempt to excise it and we typically do that under a general, it will be very painful." I was wheeled into the operating theatre, where there was a team of about 12 people waiting. I think the last thing a scared person needs to see before being operated on is a group that large for something you thought was not supposed to be a big deal.
Dr Asshead told me to prepare for a small prick while he injected the local, and no, despite wanting to I didn't make any jibes about how I hear that all the time. He said the sensation was akin to being stung by a small bee. For a fleeting moment I thought that yes, it was sort of like a small bee sting. That was soon followed by the most excruciating, swear-inducing pain I have ever felt. Rather than a cute little honeybee with one stinger, my bee had suddenly morphed into a Great Dane-sized killer bee with 100 stingers, climbing into my infected cyst and having an epileptic fit. I stared at the woman whose job it was to pat my hair and tell me how brave I was being, though I desperately wanted to punch her in her cute pixie head and call her a stupid, elfin motherfucker for not warning me that hey...this shit is going to hurt like hell.
The agony continued to the point that I felt as if I was going to throw up. I could feel Asshead carving into the cyst, squeezing it, then carving again. I could feel the scalpel scraping under my skin and coming a bit too close for comfort to my spine. My entire body was tensed as much as it could be, and through my gritted teeth I was trying to continue the conversation Pixie Head and her cohorts were trying to have to keep my mind off things. I have always viewed myself as having quite a high tolerance of pain, but now I think that either this was the ultimate test, or I am just a big pansy after all.
After a few reassurances that it was almost done, the only thought I could muster aside from wishing death on everyone around me was that I hoped that in life I am not confronted with many things as painful as that procedure. Childbirth was of course what came to mind immediately, and I thought that if it is more painful than having a huge cyst excised from your back under a local anesthetic, the kid is just going to have to deal with living in the placenta forever.
Once I was back in my bed, I couldn't stop crying. I wasn't in too much pain, but the residual emotion of having been in so much pain was raw. The Dude was freaking out, thinking that it must have all gone horribly wrong and after a half an hour of sobbing and snotting, I was able to tell him that there was no way I could ever accurately put into words how agonising the procedure was. I tried not to think how effortless it all would have been had I been sedated, though I know that is a decision I couldn't have made without living in fear even more than I already am. One of the nurses, clearly a comedian, told me that she could give me some painkillers post-op. I perked up a bit at the thought of being able to move without wincing, when she looked at my chart and said, "Oops. Haha. You're pregnant. Nevermind." Haha indeed.
I'm back at home now, having spent a total of 24 hours in the hospital. I have to get my dressings changed by a nurse once a day, and it seems I now have a fairly deep cavity in my back that I hope will heal normally. Despite trying to convey the gravity of the situation to my family and dear husband, I am now subject to jokes about storing change in the cavity, and receiving emails entitled "This one's for the cavity".
To ease our minds, we whipped out the doppler last night to ensure that Enid was not adversely affected by her host's recent intense emotional and physical pain. She responded with a resounding, powerful heartbeat right away, reassuring us for at least another day that we're still in this. Once I was confident that Enid was still around, I told The Dude that this kid better be a fucking dream, making me go without sedation when getting a hole carved into my back. It almost makes me want to take pictures of the carnage, so that if Enid is ever an asshole, I can wave cavity pictures at him/her and shout about how my love for him/her surmounted my desire to be in as little pain as possible. Now that's parenting.