Wednesday 29 October 2014

Helene's story

Look who is back!! I can't believe we didn't have a story to post for almost two years!! Sometimes as you know, life gets in the way and we are trying to add a few more posts to this blog to keep it alive and reach out to as many people as we can who may be looking for support.

Big big thank you to Helene who did write to us and told her story. See below, she is one resilient woman and while her experience is still very recent, her spirits are high. We are also delighted to read that her overall experience was very positive, maybe our work is making a difference!

What type of ectopic pregnancy did you experience?
I had an eventful year with two Ectopic Pregnancies (EP). The good thing I guess is we got pregnant twice in one year after trying for over 12 months. Both times I was 5 weeks pregnant and it was in my right tube.

What were your symptoms?
Symptoms were the same for both EPs – slight pain in my right side that just did not feel right.
In March I knew I was pregnant immediately and we were just so excited because it had taken us 15 months to get here. We have one child already and had no problems conceiving with him so it was a shock when it didn't happen straight away on our second. Two days after I took the pregnancy test I started getting pains in my right side - niggles that would come and go at first and then on the Friday they lasted all day long. I remember clearly as I was visiting my friend who had just come home with her new baby girl. I drove home and went straight to my GP who sent me up to EPU immediately. That was 5pm on a Friday evening. It took a week to diagnose it as an EP based on scans and my BetaHCG results and then we opted for Methotrexate (MTX) treatment. 
On my second EP again I knew immediately I was pregnant and within 2 days of taking a home pregnancy test I got the same pains on my right side again. I tried to ignore them for a day or so, really couldn’t believe it could happen again; but when they were constant I knew what was happening and went straight to my EPU. This time they were able to tell straight away from the scan that it was an EP and I opted for another shot of MTX. A week later I ruptured at home and ended up having emergency surgery to remove my right tube. That was on a Friday and by Sunday I had to have a transfusion as I had lost so much blood. I came home on Monday to recover. 
When you have an EP all the warnings and precautions are in place and now I know why! I ruptured at home a week after having a shot of MTX and knew immediately what was happening. It was one of the most frightening experiences of my life and one I really would not wish to repeat! 

How was your experience with the doctor? And how were you treated?
Overall my experience with the midwives in the EPU was amazing…they were so supportive and empathetic. They treated me emotionally as well as physically. Some of the doctors were the same but I found the Consultants very off hand and abrupt about the whole thing. Their knowledge of EPs, when I l look back, was phenomenal really and they laid out all my options for me.
I ended up staying in hospital for a week on two separate occasions this year and each time I cannot praise the staff highly enough. 
Before I was given MTX about 3 or 4 different doctors explained and walked us through what the procedure was and what the Do’s and Don’ts are. When I had surgery they were very supportive as well. 
I wasn’t afraid to ask lots of questions though, and my husband did as well, so we really armed ourselves with as much information as we could, and were involved with all decisions and aspects of my treatment.
On my second EP my Consultant did not feel I needed to come in for the 6 week follow up in the Gynae clinic but 2 days after I got home, my EPU phoned me to say that she had spoken with the Consultant and did not agree with that decision; she felt I needed to have the choice and in 6 weeks’ time I could have a lot of questions so I opted to go to the 6 week checkup. I was very grateful for the midwife in my EPU for thinking about me.

Can you tell us a bit about your emotions, family support, if shared etc
This is a tough one because most conversations you have about EPs are about the facts and figures and the BHCG levels and what is happening next…not many of them get to the emotional side of it all. On both EPs my parents, sisters and best friend were amazing. They stayed with me, either on phone or in person, throughout the whole experience – or at least up until I was over the 3 month waiting after the MTX. I felt very hard done-by; like the universe was punishing me for something in a past life! Silly I know but I still think that sometimes. It’s the hardest thing to get your head around and I am grateful that both my EPs were at 5 weeks and so I hadn’t formed too close a bond with my baby-to-be. I think of them both, or who they might have been, every day though and November and April will be particularly tough months for me. We are still trying to decide if we try again – it’s an extremely tough conversation to have with my husband because I know he was so scared for me on both occasions but particularly when I had the tube removed as I lost a lot of blood.  I am absolutely petrified to try again and have another EP but the alternative is worse for me – not having another baby and having to accept that decision. 
I was relieved to have my right rube removed in the end – as this was where both my EPs were so I felt better knowing it was gone and the risk reduced for a repeat performance. 
I found the Ectopic Ireland Forum a good source of information and support and my local EPU was really good – but they don’t have the time to talk to you on every visit. 

What has happened since? 

Not a lot! I had surgery 8 weeks ago and am just focusing on getting my body healthy again – I’m running a lot and trying to get physically strong. It also helps keep the head clear . We will most likely try again but this would be the last time as age is not on my side.