Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The great fall of 2010, part 1

(This happened a few days after we moved to the new house. I waited to post until I had arrived in the U.S. and my mom could see that I am fine)

It all started with my grand idea of carrying just one more load of stuff up to the master bedroom before I went to bed. I knew I shouldn’t do it, could have asked for help, etc, etc. No, no, just one more pile of stuff. With both hands full, I started up the final staircase to our room when I tripped. Unfortunately I couldn’t drop anything in time, so no hands to break the fall. My full weight and force hit the edge of the stair, right on my abdomen. I was upset with myself for doing something stupid, that was 100% preventable, and quickly realized that a trip to the ER was the best thing to do. Particularly since ALL of the 20+ pregnancy books I own state that after any fall or jarring motion, a trip to the doctor/ hospital/ emergency room is in order. Unfortunately the health care providers I dealt with that night disagreed.

We arrived at the maternity hospital around 8:45pm and upon checking in, were told to go to the Fetal Assessment Unit, which is also the emergency department after normal hours. After sitting in the waiting area for several minutes, my usually, over the top, patient husband asked me if they knew why we were there and started to get up. I jumped up, walked to the desk, and politely explained the situation. I was then told that we had to wait like everyone else. The midwife on duty asked if I’d felt the baby move since the fall, I had not. Then she sat back and said “Welcome”, as if she were welcoming us to the spa. I was getting angrier by the second.

After several more minutes in the waiting area, the midwife appeared and took us back to the smallest exam room I’ve ever seen. She didn’t have my chart (which I had handed over upon arriving in the unit) and again asked if I had felt the baby move. No. She then had the nerve to ask what I wanted her to do. I calmly told her that I understood that the baby is well-protected, but I would appreciate it if she would check for a heartbeat, then an ultrasound to look at the fluid level and placenta. You would have thought I’d asked her to solve all of the world’s problems. I also requested that she call my doctor, which completely stumped her. I explained that he might want to know that one of his high-risk, “private” patients is in the hospital. The midwife said that the doctor on call would decide if she would call my doctor or not, when she “finally” saw me. She then left in a huff to find a Doppler. Now, I’m not one to panic and don’t get easily excited, but while she was gone, I all but insisted my husband find me a flight out of the country that night (as if that were possible). I was done dealing with the substandard health care and laid back attitudes in that department. As he was on the phone, the midwife returned and snapped at him to get off, as the phone would interfere with the Doppler; I didn’t have the energy to correct her. She was able to find the heartbeat, then asked me to give a urine sample, and off she went. I’m not an invalid, but at 31 weeks pregnant, she could have at least offered to help me off the exam table, especially since I had been lying down for 30+ minutes by that point.

When I returned from the restroom, a nurse stopped by with a fetal monitor to do a non-stress test. Progress, I thought. She strapped on the sensors, explained the machine and different colored lights to my husband, and disappeared. For the next 45 minutes we were left alone. The baby’s heartbeat would often disappear from the monitor, leading my husband to rearrange the sensors; not a peep from the staff.

Eventually the nurse returned and asked about Anti-D (Rhogam). Again, progress; at least they’d finally looked at my chart, saw that I am O-neg, and would need another dose of Anti-D. The nurse said that they would take blood, but I would need to return the following day for the shot. WHAT??? She asked if I was “happy with that?” Err, NO. Why would I be happy about making a second trip for the sole purpose of receiving an injection that EVERYONE knew I needed. Wouldn’t it be easier to just give me the shot while I was already there. Well of course not, because “that’s not how we do it”. She asked several more times if I was happy. I finally explained that we had just moved and that the next day was completely booked with appointments and workers (close to impossible to reschedule). She then had the nerve to ask me what was more important. Clearly my health and the baby’s health are paramount, but that certainly wasn’t the attitude we had received for the past several hours, so no, I was not happy that I had to cancel my day to return for a shot that they could have just as easily given to me that night.

Finally (2 ½ hours after we arrived) the doctor appeared, chart in hand. She was pleased with the non-stress test and offered to do an ultrasound. The midwife had also returned and took blood. Just what I wanted, Ms. Bad Attitude drawing my blood. For whatever reason though, she’d had a complete change of attitude. Perhaps she had read my chart, perhaps it was a divine intervention, who knows. She was cordial and professional, minus not cleaning the draw site with anything. As we left the room, my husband pointed out that my urine sample was sitting on the lid to the garbage bin. Huh, glad it was so important to get a urine sample. Yes, there was a lot of eye-rolling that night, and interesting discussions on what we have to look forward to in the U.S. due to the new health care bill (Another post, another time).

Bloods taken, we then moved to another room for the ultrasound. The doctor began by cooing over what a cute baby we have and pointing out her nose, chin, etc. While I appreciate the attempt, what I was most interested in was the fluid level and state of the placenta. Fortunately, everything was fine. The doctor left for several minutes, then returned to tell me that she had just spoken to my doctor. Yeah, I’m sure he was thrilled to be called at 11:45pm for an update on a patient that had arrived almost three hours before. She said that he was pleased with what had been done, that I didn’t need to be admitted overnight (thank goodness), that I should follow up the next day for the Anti-D injection, and that he would see me at my already scheduled appointment in a few days.

Around midnight it was finally time to go. I was told that my chart would be waiting for me the following day in the outpatient unit and that I should return around 1pm. As if it would be that easy....


  1. What a scary, frustrating story. So glad you are ok.

  2. Oh my goodness! What a nightmare! Is that the caliber of health care that we'll have to deal with now that the gov't will be in charge?! I'm glad you and the baby are okay!