If you haven’t read Part 1 of the hospitalization already, you can here.
As soon as the decision was made to send me to the University of Washington Medical Center, my room was filled with people prepping me to fly. I had new IVs put in, an ultrasound, given Ativan to calm my nerves, blood drawn, and a catheter put in. I asked for something to eat since I hadn’t had much lunch. They brought me applesauce, crackers, and juice. I tried to eat as much as I could and asked for water for the ambulance ride. Because we had to wait for the plane, I was being sent to Missoula who had platelets and blood I could use while I waited.
During all this, I had horrible cramps and went to the bathroom. When I went, I passed a huge clot, probably the size of half my fist. I called in Dr. Camden to look at it, and she said it would be ok.
I was taken to the ambulance and I said bye to Dan who was going to meet me in Missoula, then come back to pack bags for Seattle. I was in and out of sleep on the ambulance. I was hoping the paramedics would talk to me, but they weren’t as friendly as I had hoped.
When I got to Missoula I visited by multiple OBs. They gave me two bags of platelets and one bag of red blood cells to help my body fight the infection. One of the OBs told Dan and I to expect the worst when it came to the pregnancy. We were aghast, who says that?!? Especially to someone as sick as I was and as worried as Dan was. They refused to let me eat or drink anything in the case that I needed to be taken straight into surgery at UW. They gave me more Ativan and nausea medicine. I told Dan to go home, it was almost 11pm and he needed to drive home safely, pack, and get sleep. I don’t remember much after Dan left. I slept through the transport to the Missoula airport and being put on the plane. I woke up during the flight because I was so hot and my back hurt. I wanted to roll over, but I could only roll to the left side, which put me inches from the face of one of the paramedics so I rolled back on my back. The next thing I know, I was surrounded by a bunch of doctors. I had slept through landing in Seattle and being transported by ambulance to UW.
Since I was now in septic shock, this is all I can recall. I thought I was holding my best friend’s hand when they put a PICC line in me. I have a fear of people touching my neck, and I just remember screaming and panicking. I thought they cut my neck open, and I tried to move but hands held me down yelling at me not to move.
I remember seeing my best friend through the glass window. I picked up my hand to wave to her, and she waved back. I remember waking up and she was on the couch, and my friends had come and were delivering her coffee. I remember a bunch of doctors showing up in my room that morning to visit me. I remember seeing my father-in-law sitting on a chair near the end of my bed. I know I had an ultrasound in my room, and then another in a room down the hall. I know I was harassing the ICU nurse to please let me have a real glass of water and something to eat. I still might have needed surgery so they were only giving my ice chips. So I would let the ice chips melt then take gulps of water. I know friends showed up after work, and I was very animated but I don’t remember what we talked about.
This is what happened according to my best friend. She and Dan had been up texting all night, waiting to see when my plane left and Dan watched in on FlightAware. She arrived at UW at 4am and was sent to the ICU where I was being taken. She wasn’t allowed in the room when I first arrived so she waited in the waiting room, and also watched from the changing room attached to my ICU room. The doctors did an ultrasound and other tests on me, then they let us sleep.
That morning they ran more tests on me to try and find the source of infection and check on the baby. They gave me the correct antibiotics which helped me bounce back quickly. I also had a low lying placenta which was going to make the cone biopsy impossible. Instead I was going to have to start an every 3 week chemo treatment. I also had subchorionic hematoma, which meant that I had bleeding between my placenta and uterus. This we would learn, would be the cause of my infection.
Because I recovered from sepsis quickly, I was taken to the regular oncology floor, under care of the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFA) team. They were keeping me in the hospital until they had a 5 day culture that was negative for the infection. This would hopefully mean discharge on Wednesday.
During this time my parents came and we were trying to figure out plans for staying in Seattle and doing chemo. I wanted to try and stay with friends, my mom wanted to stay with me the whole time, but we still had 6 months to go before the baby came. It was a stressful time for all of us. We argued over dumb things, but I know my parents were just worried about me, and I didn’t want them to be worried.
Sunday night I woke up to the most painful cramps. I called a nurse and asked for medicine. I couldn’t breathe and I was in tears. I held onto Dan’s hand every time a cramp came. The pain medicine finally kicked in, and that morning I passed a clot the size of my first. I was scared about what was happening to the baby. The resident OB came up and did an ultrasound and we saw our baby for what would be the last time.
Tuesday during our daily OB visit, the resident was unable to find the heartbeat. We went down to the OB clinic where we were giving an ultrasound on an old machine that couldn’t find it. And then taken to a room with an expensive machine that told us the truth. I knew it before they told me. This had been my biggest fear, and at 16 weeks we had lost our baby. The heartbeat was there on Monday, but not on Tuesday. I had lost all my amniotic fluid and our baby in the process.
I shut down completely. I refused to let anyone visit me but my best friend. I didn’t talk to anyone. My best friend told everyone and took care of everything. She brought ice cream and comfort. I was put on oxycodone which helped with the pain, physically and mentally. I had a d&c scheduled for Thursday and I was released on Friday. We flew home on Saturday with my mom.
It had been 4 weeks since I discovered I had cancer. The weeks seemed to crawl. I cannot imagine how life had been if I had stayed pregnant and going through cancer treatment. Even now, when I should be in the beginning of third trimester, I can’t imagine how stressed out and scared I would be. I know I would be scared that everything was hurting the baby. After having sepsis and given countless medications, platelet and blood transfusions, antibiotic after antibiotic, chemo, and who knows what else, I can’t imagine having a healthy baby. Dr. Cheng actually spoke with us on the Monday before the miscarriage about the high possibility of the baby being born early. 24 weeks was the earliest the baby could come out and the baby would still not be fully formed. She said our baby would never be active as the lack of development would hinder that. Who knows what other developmental issues would happen.
I had been told that this would be my only pregnancy, and that I would require a radical hysterectomy either right after my c-section delivery, or if I had had a miscarriage. The doctors changed their mind and told me they would still go through with a cone biopsy and hope that that would take care of the cancer. If the margins came back negative, then we would have a chance to have another baby naturally. I held onto this hope for the 4 weeks until the cone biopsy.
Knowing what we know now, I’m hoping that we are able to have a baby through gestational carrier and we can give that baby the world. I’ll never forget the one I carried inside of me, and I get by everyday by thinking that our baby’s soul with continue in our next one.