Monday, April 28, 2008

Hopeless and helpless

I am losing my baby and there is nothing much I can do about it. I wonder if the feeling is akin to watching your kid drown slowly and you are just sitting there not doing anything? I hope no one will experience what I have gone through.

I was on call on Thursday when it happened. I was whizzing around clerking cases at about 11 pm when suddenly my waters broke. Initially I thought I'd peed in my pants. In fact, for one ridiculous moment I was thinking that maybe something really wrong has happened to my spinal cord, why else would I be peeing without any sensation of wanting to pee? Come to think of it, I'd rather it be pee than what it turned out to be.

I went to clean myself in the loo but the fluid kept trickling - it didn't smell like urine, it was clear and void of smell. Then it struck me that it could be my amniotic fluid. I rushed to the labour room to get a change of clothes and did a rough scan. It revealed that I barely had any fluid around my fetus. I had to call my colleague to look at a retained placenta and she did a scan on me. Same findings. I was only able to sleep at 4 and when I woke up at half 6, I called Abg. In between sobbing I told him what happened so he came right away. Called Ma who could barely understand what I was saying but knew instantly something was really wrong.

We went to see a specialist in Perdana, Dr Awang Nila who was very nice about it. He didn't beat around the bush when he admitted that the chances of the baby surviving is slim. I'd told myself not to cry but the tears kept coming. Abg was devastated, I know. I think he was even more excited about the impending arrival even more than I was.

So now I'm on complete bed rest and antibiotics for the rest of the week. Last time I scanned the fetal heart was still beating but the condition doesn't look good. My amniotic fluid doesn't seem to be replenishing itself. I'm no longer leaking but I suppose it's because I no longer have anything to leak.

Abg has been my pillar of strength; I suppose it'd be ridiculous if both of us had a mental breakdown. I'm just taking each day as it comes. I suppose I have been lucky; at least I had 16 weeks of experiencing something I had thought I'd never go through. Allah must have something else planned for me for only He knows best.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Still in pain but much much better..

Called Ma after suffering for three days. Initially wanted to ask if it's okay to rub oil on the tummy (dah tak makan, apa lagi, masuk angin la). She immediately membebel for leaving it for three days and made me promise to visit this mak bidan in Pasir Puteh.

So, I went today, accompanied by my Che' Ngoh. When we arrived at just before 9, already 3 people were waiting and as we waited for Mok Su to finish cooking, three other customers arrived. By the time she completed the first makcik, the compound of her house looked like a 'bekwah' (bekwah = kelantanese for kenduri) was going on.

Since the first makcik was too lethargic to walk into the room, I managed to see what Mok Su's magic was all about. Basically was she did was touch certain parts of your body and recite Quranic verses. She will then ask you to lie sideways and then perform similar acts on certain parts of your back. She will finish by patting you a few times on the back for 'pelepasan' (I think).

My turn came at about quarter to 11. She asked me what was wrong and I said I've been having really bad suprapubic pain. She touched my tummy and said 'it' had gone down too much and proceeded with whatever it is that she does. Then she told me to lie supine and in a pleased tone told me that everything is okay now - 'it' has gone up. 'It', I'm presuming is my uterus.

As skeptical as I am, I seriously did feel better afterwards. In fact, each step isn't accompanied by severe pain as it was before. Even travelling in the car wasn't as bad.

She gave me some 'air tawar' to drink at home and then proceeded to the next customer who carried a bling bling bag complete with Gucci sunglasses. People even brought babies to see her.

I'm hoping another day of rest will make me recover so that Dr Su who walks like she is in a rush all the time will be back gracing the covered walks of HTM.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The misery of being ill..

On a three-day MC and what am I doing blogging? Well, for starters, sitting is about the only position that I feel relatively pain free. Though occasionally waves of cramps do wash over the tummy and make me cringe.

Sleeping was mostly a nightmare. I kept waking up being 'lenguh' after sleeping in the right lateral position.

Walking is a pain fest with every step. As my nurses pointed out yesterday when I went to see our resident OBGYN, that I looked like someone in the pantang rather than before.

Got myself a course of antibiotics and panadol and Abg has boiled me barley to help with the presumed UTI. The pain is so bad that I'm actually considering getting myself warded....ho hum..

Monday, April 14, 2008

Worry wort me

I guess being in the medical profession doesn't really make one's pregnancy better. As I had said previously, maybe ignorance is bliss.

Many mother-to-bes are surprised when I tell them that abortions (or miscarriages if you prefer to call it that, since 'abortion' is actually a medical term, lay people usually relate abortion with unwanted pregnancies) are really quite common. I had read somewhere that 15% of pregnancies end up being miscarriages, sometimes occuring without the mother realising it. The body is somehow able to recognise severely defected genes and stop the pregnancy.

In the beginning of my own, I had worried myself out with so many possible outcomes. Perhaps I am a pessimistic, but I think I'm just being a realist. Some women will actually have a missed period and experience early pregnancy symptoms and even the UPT has turned out positive, but subsequent scans will show that the fetus has failed to develop, resulting in something we know as a blighted ovum. If the mother has not had bleeding, this is usually detected when the uterus has failed to progress size wise during antenatal check ups.

Even when the fetus has developed, at any stage of the pregnancy, can termination occur. Books say that once you are past the first trimester stage, the risk of abortion/miscarriage decrease significantly but I am still holding my breath as I have seen time and time again mothers at 15, even 17 weeks presenting with bleeding and subsequently abort.

Further on, there's the dangers of abnormally located placentas, premature labour, leaking your amniotic fluid, high blood pressure - and even if you manage to carry to term, then there's breech or abnormal lie, poor progress of labour and macam-macam lagilah!

Sigh. Worry wort me.

But, fear not, despite all that, I am keeping myself positive and taking each day as it comes. I never fail to be thankful for being able to go through this wonderful experience, whatever the outcome may be.

I'm entering week 15 tomorrow and I'm currently suffering from my first pregnancy related problems. I had travelled to KL to pay a visit to Ma. We had travelled the long way there, via Cameron Highlands but I guess the frequent stops had enabled me to stretch my legs. On the way back however, we had driven almost non stop for 5 and a half hours.

This morning, I had felt the beginnings of my discomfort but ignored it and went to work. The first part of the morning was clinic so I had mostly sat at the table. But the pain persisted, especially when I got up from the chair.

I went for a scan with my colleague and was relieved that baby is okay, in fact it was jumping happily all over the place, completely unaware of the pain I am going through. I got myself an MC and excused myself for the day. It still hurts (even more now) when I move, and even when I walk. It's like when you had pushed yourself doing sit ups and now your whole abdominal wall is sore when you laugh and try to get up from lying down? That's how it feels.

Anyhow, on my trip to KL, I broke one of the 'pantang larang's and bought myself my first baby stuff - a pair of mittens and booties and 2 caps - they were so cute and I couldn't resist myself! But I will behave and refrain from further purchases till much much later.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Mr What O'Clock

I'm sure many doctors have had encounters with patients (and their relatives) who seriously make you want to grab your hair and scream.

Seriously, I really do admire those in the service industry especially those working in the front lines of the hotel business or in shopping places like Jusco. When these people smile at you, do you ever wonder what they are really feeling/saying inside? Noting this, I always make a point not to make their lives more difficult unless they are really asking for it, like bringing me the wrong order or being rude. (and Yes, I do realise that I am working in a somewhat service business too)

Anyhow, just digressing a bit but I promise it will come to a point later - I pride myself in being able to speak English relatively well. Staying in the UK for 8 years helped too. Sometimes I find myself thinking in English and more often than not, I find myself stressing a point in English because the gist of what I am trying to say is usually lost when I say it in Malay. So, when Amani was bullied through and through for what she said a few years back, I kinda understood what she meant but pity the girl for being frank.

Anyhow, now that I'm working and living in the East Coast, I find myself speaking less and less English. Most times it's limited to giving presentations and speaking to foreign nationalities (which doesn't amount to much English anyway!) or when dealing with the so called 'educated' group.

Have you had an encounter when people used knowledge to intimidate or patronize? In some ways, over here, (I'm not sure if this happens anwhere else too) the language is used in that way.

For example, during one really busy afternoon in the casualty, I was sitting at the counter clerking a case when this lady came up and said "May I know who the doctor in charge is? My father has been waiting for a long time to get treatment." - I'm usually very 'selekehly' dressed during weekend calls and I guess relatives don't take me as a doctor. So, my MAs were silenced by this minah salleh celup and turned to me. So I said, "I would appreciate it very much if you leave your attitude outside, your father will be attended to when his time comes." The thing is, she spoke perfect malay henceforth!

Another example was when I was doing rounds with a specialist and was seeing a particularly ill case. She was an elderly nenek who is currently in deep coma due to a major stroke. So, we were still examining the lady when the girl accompanying the nenek said 'Kakak saya nak ckp dgn doktor." My specialist politely said she may call later as she hasn't finished reviewing the case. Yg I nak tergelak/marah pun ada, this girl kept shoving the mobile phone unto my specialist's face. So, my specialist got so pissed off, grabbed the phone and said "Boleh tak call kejap lagi, saya belum habis periksa pesakit lagi."

So five minutes later she called, and my specialist asked me to speak to this cucu. I spent a good two minutes explaining the nenek's condition and her poor prognosis and this girl kept asking me about transferring her nenek into ICU. I can tell that my specialist wasn't too pleased as she had already moved on to the next case and was waiting for me. So the next thing I know, the phone was in her hand and my specialist was speaking to this girl in English and one minute later everything was settled. My superior said, sometimes you have to speak in English to make people understand that you mean business.

So, anyway, Mr What O'Clock is a teacher (surprise, surprise) who came at the crack of dawn to bring his younger brother who had been involved in an accident home. My staff nurses were still passing their reports and I was the only one at the counter. Seriously, I wasn't rude to him or anything - it's just that it had been a long night and I was exhausted and people who know me know that my face is naturally sullen.

Mr What O'Clock must have taken to heart my attitude when I curtly said he could only see his brother for a while as it isn't visiting hours and the nurses are still passing their shift reports.

A few minutes later, he came to the counter and said to my nurse in his Northern slang "I want to know when doctor is going to come for morning round, I want to discuss with doctor, I want to bring my brother home back to Kedah. Can you tell me what time is doctor going to come?" At this point I had to cover my mouth to stop myself from laughing. My staff nurse pun satu, terkial2 nak jawab balik dlm English - when she said that rounds are done in the morning, cikgu pun dgn penuh confidentnya tanya "What o'clock doctor will come? Ten o'clock, okay?"

I burst out laughing after he left and chided my nurse for 'melayan' his ego trip. 'Bakpo tok ghoyak, eh, aku dok pehe la mu ghoyak gapo? Cubo kecek molek sikit..' [Kenapa tak ckp kat dia, eh, saya tak faham la awak kata apa? Cuba ckp elok2 sikit..]

I am NOT laughing at his broken/awful English but rather at his 'niat' of speaking it with us. He knew very well that there was nothing wrong with talking in Malay as my staff were 100% malay. So, apa niat dia sebenarnya? Nak show off?

I had several scathing replies, all in impeccable English to throw at him but realised that it wouldn't be worth my time and I'll probably regret it later on. If he felt better intimidating my staff nurse in front of me, so be it. But, I hope to god that you are not teaching English, wahai cikgu!