The ER is not the Answer

First, a symptom update: The bleeding slowed, but I’m still spotting. The baby is definitely still in there, and I have every hope that it’s still alive. I will have to wait and see. I haven’t called the doc (or ha. rushed to the ER), but I plan to call my OB tomorrow. My concern at this point is a missed miscarriage. I’ll ask to recheck my blood levels and go from there.

I’m on BabyCenter and I routinely see threads like this that rankle and anger and depress me:

Question: “I started spotting? What should I do? I’m freaking out.”

Answer: GO TO THE E.R.! That way you won’t have to worry any more!

While I can totally empathize with the original post, THE ER CAN DO NOTHING TO SAVE YOUR 8 WEEK OLD FETUS! Unless you are in extreme or highly unusual pain or your pregnancy is viable, don’t go to the effing ER. Unfortunately 25% of pregnancies will end in miscarriage. And it’s scary, and heartbreaking, and awful. But guess what else is scary/heartbreaking/awful not to mention expensive and a precious resource: our nation’s emergency rooms.

This is what will happen if you go to the ER: You rush to the ER after spotting. You sit for 3 1/2 hours while every idiot with a drug overdose and a gunshot wound waltzes in before you. Finally a nurse calls you back and takes your temp, asks the standard questions. She says, “You might be having a miscarriage.” You say: “That sucks! I demand an ultrasound!”  You wait several more hours. They give you one–after all, you look like the type with a cushy insurance plan for them to bill. All this time if you’re actually miscarrying, you’re probably seriously uncomfortable. You’re in a place with germy and scary people. You’re having to rush to the bathroom to change your pad every hour. There is nothing to occupy your mind. Finally they confirm that you are or are not having a miscarriage. $700 and a freaking day later you know little more than you would know if you waited it out, and stayed home watching 30 Rock and petting your dog.

This is what an early miscarriage is like if you stay home: you begin bleeding. That bleeding turns into something like the worst menstrual cramps you have ever had. You start passing lots of blood and large amounts of tissue. You call your doc during business hours, tell them what’s happening and they tell you that in all likelihood you’re having a miscarriage. There is nothing you can do. You spend at least a week depressed and confused and passing blood clots. At least you’re home. At least you’re comfortable and have the internet and a comfy bed and pets who love you. Eventually life sucks less.You may or may not have a checkup to ensure that the pregnancy cleaned itself out. (Obviously different types of miscarriage might require medical intervention like a D&C or medications to help the miscarriage along. I’m not talking about  those.)

I think this “need” to go to the ER is symptomatic of the fact that pregnancy is treated as a disease.  As a people we have turned over our reproductive right to doctors. I love docs and my SIL is an OB. She is awesome to have around for high risk pregnancies. But to most Americans the idea of delivering out of a hospital is perceived as marginal and weird. “Because no one knows about birthin’ no babies ‘cept doctors. Doctors will save us all.” That’s why we go to them for everything from spotting to early miscarriage to low risk delivery. Our citizenry is so uneducated about their own health it scares me. How many more women would choose the “wait it out” option if they knew what to expect? If they knew that there was nothing that medicine could do? If they knew that their bodies were equipped to handle it?

I’m guessing most.

Next post: How I was used as a pawn in the medical system. And why I’m mad I let it happen.

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2 thoughts on “The ER is not the Answer

  1. I’m relieved the bleeding has slowed. Of all the weeks to have a long weekend, however, this is the pits. I hope you can get in with your doc soon and hopefully get some answers.

    You’re right about ERs, though.

    I wish you peace and joy and the safety of both you and your baby. I’m sending out every available ounce of good will your way.

  2. Oh gosh, I’m so hoping that everything is OK for you!

    You’re totally right though, my husband is an ER doc (called ED here in Aus) and it breaks his heart to see girls come in who are 8, 10, 12 weeks pregnant with a suspected miscarriage desperate for him to do something.

    Nothing stops the worry though. We had a scan at 6 weeks, and again at 8 weeks because of bleeding. I always thought that if I made it to 12 weeks then I’d stop worrying. Didn’t happen. 36 weeks later and I’m still worried. But I do hope this little sea monkey sticks around for you 🙂

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