Apologies it a bit of a read but we found it hard to keep short so please persevere.
I have decided to take part in a deeply personal challenge this year in partnership with The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust. I will be walking, jogging (definitely no running, ha-ha), cycling, swimming, skipping, hopscotching - anything really - 1000 KM over the next 12 months to raise money for the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust. The EPT1000 is a chance for me to raise awareness and to show women and men they are not alone.
This is my story:
I'm 36 and have two beautiful children and 1 little angel who I lost to my ruptured ectopic pregnancy on 7th December 2011. I'd been doing overtime at work and on the journey home I started with a pain in stomach, on the left side; just a dull constant ache. I was immediately uncomfortable, once home I ran and bath as thought that would ease it. For a brief second I considered that it could be an ectopic pregnancy (I'd only recently watched an episode of Grey's Anatomy where one of the main characters had one) but then I quickly pushed it out of my head as I wasn't pregnant.
I went to bed as normal just thinking it was trapped wind, not having the best night but did manage to sleep. In the morning I felt worse, now with a piercing sharp pain in my shoulder region, every time I took a breath it was like a stabbing pain. Told Dan (my hubby) I wouldn't be going to work as wanted to go to the doctors when they opened at 8am, he was reluctant to leave me but I assured him I'd be ok and would ring my mum to come take me to the doctors. Eventually got through to the doctors and the earliest appointment I could get was 11.00 am, I took it and waited for my mum to arrive.
I caught my reflection in the mirror on my hallway and I was as white as a ghost, remember my lips were almost blue in colour. Still I just thought to myself it will be nothing, at worst appendicitis. My mum arrived and was concerned, she decided to take me early to the doctors and whilst she went for the car I passed out as when she came in I'd fallen on my beloved Christmas tree and was trying to get up. The journey there was horrendous, every jolt and bump in the road killed despite my mums best efforts to drive steady.
In the GP Surgery I managed to make it to the desk before I collapsed again, this time I couldn't get up. The staff were brilliant, a Nurse had seen me on the way in and called for a Doctor to clear a room. The paramedics were called, they were the first responder ones but when they checked me over they called for the rapid response ambulance to come as needed to get to hospital immediately. They tried to administer morphine but my body was shutting down so couldn't get any in me, I could only use gas and air which did very little for my pain.
I live in Huddersfield but the medical care I required was in Halifax at Calderdale Royal Hospital, I wouldn't have survived the journey to Halifax so was blue lighted to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and the Surgeons were brought over to Huddersfield to treat me. I was taken to Resus, again the staff were brill. It was here I learned I was pregnant with my first child and then subsequently told that I would lose my much wanted baby because it meant I was suffering a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, at 11.30am my life changed forever. I got to see Dan for literally 5 minutes as my poor mum couldn't work out how to unlock my Iphone so when I eventually asked for him she said she didn't know how to unlock my phone, bloody technology eh. I unlocked it and she rang him, he just made it. I got to kiss him and say I love you before being taken to surgery.
This resulted in salpingectomy surgery where I lost my left fallopian tube and needed blood transfusions as lost 2 litres of blood. I was extremely lucky to survive by all accounts.
Unfortunately I learnt about the EPT later down my recovery a year or so after. It was the loneliest time of my life, because I didn't make it to Calderdale Hospital I was put on a general women's Ward and didn't get to speak to the surgeons who operated on me as they had gone back to Calderdale. The staff on the Ward only had access to my notes so couldn't tell me much. There weren't any leaflets or information on ectopic pregnancies so for a week in Hospital I knew very little what happened to me or why this happened, I wanted lots of answers to so many questions.
My physical recovery was about 6-8 weeks but was told it would take a year to feel 100%. My scar was every shade of bruising you could imagine, it was a shock to see how much bruising there was, my lower abdomen, my groin and even the tops of my thighs. It just highlighted how quickly the surgeons had to work to save my life.
My mental recovery was far longer and if I'm honest I'm still not over it 5 years later, the worst part of it was knowing you had a healthy pregnancy but it was just growing in the wrong place and there was nothing you could do or change about it. I wasn't an at risk person for an ectopic pregnancy and no one could guarantee that it wouldn't happen again.
For a long time I didn't talk about it as it was too painful, I was angry and if I'm honest still am and even became jealous of women who were pregnant. On my return to work one of our team leaders was expecting and I felt such anger and jealousy, it really took me by surprise as I would normally be happy for them but all I thought was why does she get to have a healthy pregnancy and I didn't. Why did I have to lose my baby and very nearly my life? I didn't like who I was becoming, I felt I had no one to talk to about it. I didn't talk to Dan as it was too painful for him, his journey was witnessing his wife nearly die and losing his first baby in our first year of marriage. He felt guilty too as he left me to go to work but how was he to know what was happening to me.
I decided to see if there was any support groups to help me deal with how I was feeling and once I'd searched online I came across the EPT and they directed me to lots of information and to private groups on social media, I got to read other people's stories, journeys and once I plucked up the courage I started to chat with other women. I could rant or pour my heart out to these complete strangers who knew what you were going through and they would understand.
It was such a relief to be understood and to know how you are feeling is perfectly normal and it wouldn't be like this forever. I just wish I'd known about the EPT at the time of my ectopic pregnancy as I would have had more support when I so desperately needed it especially emotionally.
My husbands story:
My perspective as Kat's husband during this time will hopefully be a useful insight in to the feelings and experiences of those closest to survivors of ectopic pregnancies.
I could tell Kat wasn't well the night before but i fully trusted that she knew how she was feeling better than me. I had no idea what the pains could be and how to help. I naively suggested a bath! A doctors appointment was being made in the morning and her mum was going to take her. That made me feel a little bit more comfortable.
The next morning when I said goodbye to go to work her lips were completely white and she looked weak. I will never get this image out of my head and that I just went to work rather than taking her to hospital is the biggest mistake I have ever made.
I knew what time the appointment was so at work I waited about half an hour until ringing Kat to find out what was wrong. There was no answer so I waited 10 mins to ring again but there was still no answer. I was getting concerned and just wanted to know that if the she was still in the appointment or any news at all. I kept ringing repeatedly but still no answer. By know I was getting frantic as it must have been an hour without being able to speak or be called back.
Eventually Kat rang my phone, there was no speech for a couple of seconds and I heard beeping. I knew this was bad. I knew that beeping was some kind of heart monitor or other equipment and then her mum said they were at hospital in resus and that she had an ectopic pregnancy. I hung up and legged it to the car which was parked a few minutes walk away from my office. I drove like a maniac to get to hospital which would take normally 30 minutes to get to, parked on the main road rather than fighting for parking space and sprinted in to A&E. I banged on the glass divider at reception and yelled "Kat Murphy ectopic pregnancy this morning". A very calm receptionist who clearly knew more than me about how serious this was quickly walked me through the waiting area and through some doors to Kat. She was on a bed surrounded by about 8 people all in different coloured scrubs who were preparing her and themselves for surgery. Kat said to me "Dan I was pregnant and have lost the baby". I automatically replied with "It's OK, I love you" and then she wheeled into surgery.
I was walked in to this tiny room to wait for the surgery to be over and that then I was on my own. I had a lot to think about but all I wanted to do was beat the hell out of this bin in the corner of the room. I got angry and was swearing, shouting and punched the wall a few times. I noticed a security camera in the top corner and stopped everything as I didn't want to be thrown out of hospital when Kat needed me most. I was joined by her parents and we cried. I was trying to get my head around being a dad, then not being one and then being a widower in my mid twenties. I just stared at the window in the door assuming that every person walked by was going to come in and tell me horrible news.
After about an hour and a half a nurse or doctor came in to tell us that the surgery was successful, how much blood she lost and that we could go up to the ward she would be staying on and wait there. I was feeling numb, I didn't think anything apart from wanting to see Kat. I didn't know what an ectopic pregnancy was, why this meant Kat was in emergency surgery and that I felt incredibly guilty and upset that I didn't bring her to hospital the night before.
Whilst waiting at the ward for an eternity I was asked if I was her husband and would I like to come down to recovery to see her. I obviously said yes and came to see Kat with blood stains all over her and tonnes of equipment hooked up to her. She kept on drifting in and out of consciousness making talking to her pointless. Also, a nurse kept on taking readings and checking her scar so I had to leave them alone a few times. I asked the nurse questions about what had happened and why. I kept on calling it 'eptopic'. I knew so little that I didn't even know how the word was spelt. I followed her up to the ward and waited by her side as long possible before going home. I don't know whether I had the choice to stay all night with her which I also feel ashamed about. I know when I left hospital there was not a single person about and that the way out is a very long corridor. I felt completely alone and started to take in everything that happened whilst walking out. I cannot and will not walk along this corridor on my own now anytime we go to hospital. I associate it with leaving my wife alone, losing a child and not knowing whether Kat was alive.
I'd informed my family about what was happening and despite being asked "is there anything we can do?" I just went home and sat on our bed trying to feel any of the many feelings or process my thoughts but I felt numb and useless. I drank a whole bottle of whisky to just get wasted, try to have some feelings come out through being drunk and to use it to sleep. It did none of this as it might as well have been water.
By no means was the worst over as the recovery has just as much an emotional and mental element as there is physical. Due to the surgery being rushed bruising around the scar was immense and it put Kat out of action with trying to use her body as usual. I ended up helping her on and off the toilet, got her dressed, walked her up and down stairs, in and out of chairs, bed, car etc.
It took along time for the physical recovery to be completed however the trauma was still in our heads but in different ways. I didn't go through this by feeling any of the pain, all I could do was watch and be useless witness. I couldn't help anything get better and despite always saying this to Kat being told just keep doing what I'm doing and being there still doesn't help me to give help to her.
I refer to this as something that has happened and how I felt then but I still am struggling with it now. Rather than helping myself with how to process my feelings I've only focussed on helping Kat. I don't talk to anybody about it and so nobody knows that this happened. I feel like it is a very personal time in my life and isn't something that should be advertised. I can only assume that because it didn't happen to me and that I didn't take Kat to hospital earlier that I feel I'm to blame and I don't accept that just being there for her is a form of helping.
Some facts about Ectopic Pregnancies:
This is a life threatening condition, it occurs when a pregnancy develop outside of the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tube. The pregnancy cannot be saved.
1 in 80-90 pregnancies is an ectopic pregnancy
5 women die each year from this condition
Surgery has an impact on a woman's fertility, usually decreasing it by 50% or more
Signs & Symptoms:
One sided lower abdominal pain
Light vaginal bleeding (6-8 weeks after last period)
Shoulder tip pain caused by bleeding into the abdomen under the diaphragm. The bleeding irritates the diaphragm and is experienced as shoulder pain
Signs of shock
Dizziness, light headedness, or fainting(syncope) caused by internal bleeding
The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust are not funded by the government and rely on public donations to provide awareness, information, support, education and fundraising ideas/events. This does not just affect women. Men should be aware of the condition, and the emotional affects on both themselves and their loved ones as it is not just the Mum who has lost a baby; the Dad has too.
For more information please visit www.ectopic.org.uk
The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust
Ectopic Pregnancy is a common, life threatening condition that is the leading cause of death in early pregnancy. It affects 1 in 80 pregnancies in the UK and women ...
I also want to raise awareness for blood donation too as I really wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the amazing people who donate blood. I used to be a blood donor but since having several transfusions I can no longer donate so try to promoate awareness where I can.
For more information please visit www.blood.co.uk
Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page.
Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving - they'll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they'll send your money directly to the charity. So it's the most efficient way to donate - saving time and cutting costs for the charity.