Saturday 28th November 2009
Gestation: 9 weeks, 1 day
One year ago.
Ed knocks on the door at 5am, entering quietly. Suse continues to sleep.
“The beta-HCG has dropped to 964,” he whispers.
“That’s way down,” I say excitedly. Suse stirs slightly.
“What was it?” she asks, without opening her eyes.
“Two days ago it was 1529.”
“That’s great,” I say. “That’s great.”
“The methotrexate must be working after all. And, I imagine, from what you’ve said, you probably passed it earlier tonight.”
We all look at the specimen jar on the bench. Our child, in a cup. I feel a chill up my back.
“Anyway,” says Ed, sensing the spell we’re now under, “that’s good news, I think.” We both nod.
“Hooray,” says Suse hollowly.
“Mmmm.” He pauses for a moment longer. “Given these great results,” he continues, focusing squarely on the positive, “I don’t think there’s anything for us to get too excited about. I’m happy for you to be discharged, Susan. If you’d like.”
I take a breath of anticipation, before looking across at Suse.
“You didn’t get excited when I came in bleeding from an ectopic, Ed,” Suse says pointedly. “Sorry to be a worry wart, but I’m feeling a little cautious these days. What, with the shit that’s gone down in my tubes and all.” She looks over at me. “I think I want to wait for an Obstetric opinion.”
“Okay,” I say, trying not to show my disappointment. “No worries, love. No worries at all.” I reach over to touch her hand. Still cold.
“Yes, fair call,” Ed says agreeing, “very fair call.”
He departs as quietly as he arrives. Suse falls back to sleep quickly. Meantime, I toss and turn. Every time I doze off, there is another a cleaner, another orderly, another someone. Each time they apologise, closing the doors, and I position myself on my four blankets once more. Besides – there’s that thing sitting over on the bench. It’s just a clot to everyone else. To us, it’s a pot full of emotions.
Finally, I hear a murmur of voices outside. There is a loud knock, and then the morning ward round shuffles in. Seven people stand in a semicircle, while Ed retells the story. There are official frowns and muted gesticulations. We remain mute.
“I think we should repeat the ultrasound,” is the final consensus. It’s hard to tell where the voice is coming from.
“Great,” we say. Both trying to keep our eyes open. Both not sure who to look at.
We fall back asleep. Strangely, the next three hours are quieter than those from three to six. At 11.30am, there is a knock at the door.
Sure. White with two sugars, thanks.
* * * * *
Suse is wheeled around to Radiology.
“Hi, I’m Joseph,” says the youth with a sparse Movember moustache. He twitches slightly as he leans in to shake my hand. His palm is sweaty. Not quite sure what to do with Suse, he waves awkwardly. Kind of like what he does with all women, I’m guessing.
“Now, because of the gestation, I’ll need to perform an internal examination,” he says, his voice cracking on the word ‘internal’. He clears his throat, rolling his thin shoulders forward, trying to stretch the tension from his neck.
“That’s fine,” Suse says wearily, “whatever, Joseph.”
“Okay. So, I’ll just need to get you to sign a consent form,” he says. A wise move for a man with a moustache.
Joseph prepares the probe, rolling the condom over the tip with less skill than I had at nine. He clacks away at the controls on his machine, clearly more au fait with computers than with other parts of the equipment in the room.
“So you’re up here on holidays?” he asks, trying to make light.
“Yeah, Mark was able to get a couple of days off.”
“What do you do?”
“Mark’s a doctor,” Suse says.
The sweat droplets form instantly, just at the edges of the bum fluff on his upper lip.
* * * * *
“We did well to see the ectopic,” Joseph says, wiping his forehead on completion. The probe swings around in his gloved hand, like he’s the main act at a Star Wars convention.
“So what was the final size?”
“Seventeen millimetres by twenty millimetres,” he says.
“That’s bigger, isn’t it?” Suse asks, looking at me.
“Yes,” I say quietly.
“How much bigger?”
“It was thirteen millimetres by thirteen millimetres. Four days ago.”
Her eyes go wide.
“How can that be? When the Beta-HCG was down?” The last bit she says almost wordlessly, almost winded.
“I don’t know. I don’t know.”
“It’s still growing?”
“It could just be from swelling,” Joseph adds, trying to be helpful. “We can’t actually make out what is the actual ectopic, and what is just fluid or bleeding.”
“Okay. So let me get this straight,” Suse says in her non-nonsense voice. “We can’t see what’s going on. We can’t tell whether the methotrexate has worked or not. No one can make sense of any of this.” She pauses for a moment. “But there’s one thing we can say, without any doubt. That no matter what is going on in there, I’ve got a fallopian tube which is more stretched, and more likely to have been totally ruined than it was four days ago.”
* * * * *
to be continued…