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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

My Brilliant Life

30 August 2011
When Jon Ronson was invited to submit a raffle prize to auction at his school reunion, he put together a package that he called "My Brilliant Life".  It included copies of all of his best selling books, and a note left for him by Nick Hornby (I think), which said something along the lines of 'sorry I missed you'.  It was to prove to the school bullies that his life was so great, so much better than theirs.  I love that package.

I realise that is also how I treat my blog, for the majority of posts.  When I can bear to look through the archives, I am struck by what I have left out.  How lonely I often was in Edinburgh, for example, or how much pain I was the year I was ill in Dublin.  I wonder now, if I had been blogging regularly at the end of last year, would I have gone into much detail about my operation and slow recovery?  I imagine that I would, but would probably have tried to put a positive spin on it, end on a joke and a picture of a jack russell.

I know that the Misery Lit genre of writing was very popular at one time.  Stories of people's miserable childhoods, from Angela's Ashes to the countless child sexual abuse memoirs, to anything written by Katie Price, people seem to find entertainment in reading about terrible deprivation, misery and suffering.  I don't understand why.  I have never, and will never, read those books.  I had started a project to read all of the Booker prize winning novels, but had to stop after reading about 10 in a row.  Holy Xenu, they are all miserable.  If your main character doesn't miscarry, divorce, lose all their limbs and/or drown their own child within the first 20 pages of your book, you are not going to win the Booker prize.  I couldn't take it.

Don't get me wrong, I love a bit of misery.  My favourite book in the whole wild world is Dave Egger's And You Shall Know Our Velocity, which begins and ends with the death of the main character, but it also screams JOY and LIFE.  I don't understand why people would choose to read accounts of other people's misery, save only for the realisation that their own lives, in comparison, aren't so bad.

But I don't want to make this a miserable blog.  I want to make it about My Brilliant Life: my perfect, entertaining, silly dog; my wonderful, understanding, occasionally idiotic husband; my challenging, rewarding, interesting career; my prize-winning (I can dream) cherry tomatoes.

So it's suddenly very hard to keep updating this blog, when so soon after I had decided to start it all up again, I go and lose a second much wanted pregnancy.  I don't know how much I want to write about it here.  It's not just my pain, it's my husband's pain.  And I'm still so early in my recovery and it's all still so raw and painful and emotional and devastating and downright unfair.  And that's not how I want people looking in to see my brilliant life.

So I may take a moment to step back and assess what I'm doing here.  I'm going home to Ireland for cuddles soon, so will post when I get back.  Probably with many photos of My Brilliant Holiday and My Brilliant Family.

In the meantime: My Brilliant Dog.

Wednesday morning

24 August 2011

One of the best things about being at home and sick: lie ins with the dog.


Round Two

22 August 2011

"To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness." - Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest.

Anyone who follows my twitter account may have noticed over the weekend that I was in hospital.  It's the second time I've been in hospital in the last eight months.  It's the second time I've had emergency abdominal surgery in the last eight months.  It's the second time I've had an ectopic pregnancy in the last eight months.

I'm not going to give too much of a talk on ectopic pregnancies.  There are lots of good websites out there.  http://www.ectopic.org.uk/ is a very good one.  Their forums are particularly good if you're looking for support, or a place to go to release the mental when you feel you've been mental enough around your friends and family.  I just want to give some context to what happened to me.

Only 1% of all pregnancies are ectopic.  Of that 1%, 97% of those occur in the fallopian tube.  That's what happened to me in December.  The fertilised egg got lost on its journey to the womb, lodged at the neck of my right tube, started to grow, became a foetus and at six weeks reached a size that my body could no longer tolerate, causing a rupture and two litres of blood to flood into my abdomen, almost killing me.

Recovering from the operation, I was told repeatedly, first by the surgeon, then the nurses, then my GP, then various website forums, my friends, my family, everyone - this will not happen again.

The chances of it happening again are, in fact, increased if you've already had one ectopic.  They shoot up from 1% to a 10% chance.  That means (and if you're good at maths you'll have noticed this already) there's a 90% chance the next pregnancy will be in the right place.

90%.  I'll take those odds.

I took those odds.

You'll remember I mentioned above, of all ectopic pregnancies, 97% occur in the fallopian tube.  So, when at four and a half weeks pregnant I started bleeding again on Wednesday night, I also started to panic.  I asked my GP for a referral to the early pregnancy unit.  The EPU refused to see me.  There is a ridiculous idea held in the medical community that ectopic pregnancies cannot be seen and will not cause harm before you are six weeks pregnant.  

This.  Is.  Not.  True.

It took me one panic attack, one bout of sobbing down the phone at a receptionist and one emergency appointment with the GP to convince them to refer me to the gynaecology registrar at Brighton Hospital.  Then, after five hours of blood tests, three unspeakable (and one unlubricated) internal tests and two intravaginal scans, they finally acknowledged that this fucking pregnancy was also fucking ectopic.

And brilliantly, it turned out, not even in the fucking tube.

No, my second embryo was sneakier than the first.  It suctioned right on to the ovaries.  Do you know the chances, statistically, of that happening is EQUAL TO WINNING THE LOTTERY?

They operated within 24 hours of finding it, this time a less invasive method than slicing my abdomen clean in half.  There was, thankfully, no internal damage, and they only thing they removed this time was the pregnancy.  The ovary appears to be unharmed (although time will tell if that is true) and I only lost 200ml of blood this time, rather than the full 2 litres.  I'm currently at home, walking slowly, taking pain killers and trying to get my head around the fact that first a foetus and then an embryo tried to kill me in the last eight months.

I feel like Lois Griffin.  I'm terrified about getting pregnant again.  What if it's successful, gets to the womb, grows into an actual human person?  What would it do then?

L11, Brighton County Hospital

21 August 2011

I took these photos early on Saturday morning, while pacing the corridors trying to get rid of cramps caused by the air that they pump into you when performing abdominal surgery.  This is done so that they can see clearer into the area they're working on, so they don't accidentally cause damage to the bowel or major blood vessels.  I'm all for being careful.  I just think, if you're going to inflate, you really should deflate again before closing up.  That's my top tip to any surgeons reading.





Corridor, 6am.





In Emergency, Break Glass.




Two By Two, Hands Of Blue.