I was working at the fabric store, a job I loved, though I spent too much of my paycheck on fabric. The store manager, Diana, was there with me. I was the closing manager and we were preparing for the shift change and getting breaks done so she could go home. This was back in the olden days when women were required to wear skirts or dresses and pantyhose to work, even if it was a job that required lifting and stocking. I was only 27; I wore mini-skirts and penny-loafers.
I’d been feeling very tired and run down for days; I was looking forward to my break and dreading the slow hours until close. When I got in the break room, I took my lunch out and sat down but I was just too tired to eat. I laid my head down on the table but my spectacles kept squishing my ears. I took off my specs and thought to myself, “I should sit down on the floor; it’ll probably be more comfortable than this stupid chair.”
I woke up with Diana kneeling beside me in the break room. She was on the phone with Dan and said she’d been trying to wake me up for several minutes. I hadn’t returned from my break and Diana had come back to see if I’d lost track of time and found me passed out on the break room floor. Dan came and got me. He had to lift me into his truck because I was just. So. Tired. I told him to take me home because I was tired and he asked if I was sure. I was.
We got to the stop sign where you turned right to get to our house and Dan asked again if I was all right. I told him again I was tired and wanted to go home. Dan turned left and took me to the emergency room. He told me later he looked at me and I looked like a ghost and he became frightened. He carried me into the ER, even as I protested that I wasn’t helpless and could walk on my own. We got into the exam room and the nurse started asking me questions and I was just so tired, Dan was providing most of the answers. She asked when my last period was and Dan paused, counting. When he gave his answer, my nurse called for another nurse and began undressing me by reaching up under my skirt and pulling down my hose. It frightened me: I could tell she was very worried. She asked Dan to help and they got me into a gown and laying down in a bed.
Dan left to go get Nick and Monica taken care of, saying he’d be back as soon as he could. I could hear the nurse on the phone outside my curtained cubicle, arguing with the doctor, who seemed uninterested in coming to see me. I fell asleep and woke up when they were transferring me to a room outside of the ER. My nurse said she thought I was suffering an ectopic pregnancy, which could lead to internal bleeding, but my blood pressure was unchanged and the doctor wasn’t coming to examine me. She was having me admitted so I could have overnight observation and they’d reassess in the morning.
An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilized egg implants and grows outside the uterus, most often in a fallopian tube. An ectopic pregnancy cannot be carried to term; the embryo cannot survive outside the uterus. If the egg implants in a fallopian tube, it will cause the tube to rupture and life-threatening internal bleeding will begin. There is no way to save the embryo, and if left untreated, an ectopic pregnancy can end with the death of the mother too.
Dan came back to the hospital and told me the kids were at Tonia’s and she was coming by later when Mike got home to watch them. Joyce and Tonia came and sat with me for a while and when visiting hours were over, Joyce said she’d be back in the morning since both Tonia and Dan had to work. In the morning, the doctor still hadn’t come to check on me. An orderly brought me breakfast so I had some eggs and toast and horrible hospital coffee. After breakfast was taken away, a large, heavy, unkempt man in a blue shirt came into my room and started pulling my blankets away.
I grabbed the blankets back and held them in both fists. “Who the hell are you? What are you doing?”
It was the doctor, a person I’d never seen before. He called me ‘young lady,’ identified himself, and said he needed to do an internal exam to find out what was wrong, if I’d calm down and let him. I asked if he thought maybe he should lead with the introduction and intent before yanking down a stranger’s blankets. Joyce told us both to calm down so we could find out what was wrong. She watched him perform the exam, but I was beyond caring. I just wanted out of here.
Dr. Rude decided I was in fact very likely having an ectopic pregnancy and he wanted to open me up and check things out. Joyce went to call Dan and tell him to come and I was rolled down the hall to surgery. My hair was coiled into a cap and an IV was started. The anesthesiologist came in to do the pre surgery interview. He asked if I’d eaten anything that morning and when I told him I’d had eggs, toast, and coffee, he dropped his clipboard on my legs and started shouting. He said I’d known I was having surgery and I’d been told not to eat. Now they’d have to reschedule.
I was furious. I told him I HADN’T known I was having surgery and when a hospital employee had given me food, I’d eaten it. I told him to STOP yelling at me; I’d been in the hospital since yesterday afternoon and no one had looked in on me and no one had told me what the hell was going on and fuck this shit. I’m out of here. I sat up in bed, yanked my blankets off my legs, and tried to get down off the gurney. Someone took my shoulders and tried to lay me back down and I started kicking and punching and screaming. And then I was unconscious.
I could hear a woman shouting. My eyes were closed and I was very tired. I tried to go back to sleep but the woman wouldn’t stop shouting. Somebody needed to shut her up. I woke up again and the woman was still shouting and then I realized it was me.
When I had started fighting, I’d been given something in my IV that put me to sleep. Apparently when I started to wake up, I was ready to continue fighting so I woke up shouting. To this day, when an anesthesiologist tries to ease me under for surgery, I start fighting. I’ve learned to warn the hospital workers that I fight. Now they mostly don’t tell me when they start the drip. I used to wake up fighting too, but nowadays, I just try not to wake up until I have everyone good and scared I’m never coming back.
While I was out, Dr. Fat And Sweaty had done the exploratory surgery and found that I had indeed suffered an ectopic pregnancy which had implanted in one of my fallopian tubes and grown until it burst the tube, probably what caused me to pass out at work. Since then I had been bleeding internally. Both fallopian tubes had to be removed. Dr. Don’t Tell Anyone I Ignored This Patient While She was Bleeding Internally For Almost A Full Day wanted to remove my uterus and ovaries as well. He went out to the waiting room to get Joyce’s permission and she asked Dan what to do.
Dan asked Dr. Let’s Just Start Removing Female Organs if I would die if they didn’t remove the uterus and ovaries and was told no, but I might die if I got pregnant again. Dan asked how I could get pregnant without fallopian tubes and was told another ectopic pregnancy would occur. Dan promised to not have sex with me again until I woke up and could make the decision on my own. Dan saved my insides.
While I was recovering, Dr. I Need To Have My Way At All Costs tried to talk me into going back into surgery and having my uterus and ovaries removed. I told him I needed time to recover and think it over. I’m happy to report I kept them for another 20 years.
When I got out of the hospital Dan and I went down to the courthouse and got married.