Monday, February 20, 2017

Where I've Been

This is going to be a bit of a tough post for me to write. I've been gone for what feels like forever. I've done some drawing, some posting, but I've overall been absent from the art world, social media, and all kinds of other things. So, where have I been?

Well, to start with, in 2014 I went through a early second trimester miscarriage with twins and traumatic treatment at the hands of an OB/GYN during one of the three emergency room visits during the 2 days it took to completely resolve the miscarriage and the complications from it. Emotionally, I was upset (and that's putting it lightly). Physically, I felt violated. I found out a year later that I could have taken the doctor to court for assault and battery, but I didn't know that at the time. I did call to complain, but was told that my story did not match what the doctor charted (big surprise), and they were going to go with what was in the chart. This is a very brief summary of those events. Women's health has always been something that is very important to me. There's a lot of talk about abortion rights and birth control and what not, but my focus is more on the other side of that coin. Women have few options and are often mistreated by the medical industry during the prenatal period and labor process. I'm not even going to talk about the general lack of postpartum support in our country because that could be a whole post in and of itself. My experience in 2014 pushed me to start training as a midwife. In my state (North Carolina), the only legal way to practice as a midwife is as a licensed Certified Nurse Midwife under the charge of a doctor. This meant going back to school becoming a licensed RN, getting a bachelors in Nursing, and a masters degree in Midwifery--seven years of school all told. Ok. I was fine with that.

Later that year, I started school working on prerequisites for nursing. The next year, I got into the ADN program at my local community college (this would have gotten the RN stage completed). That ate a ton of my time. I struggled to manage school, which took up easily 60 hours a week and I wasn't even full time, and my family. Needless to say, there was no time for art or any of the fun things I enjoyed doing. I was working for something that was very near and dear to my heart, so I felt it was worth it. This accounts for a huge chunk of where I've been.

You'll note the verb tense I used to describe my program--"would have gotten." In September I found out I was pregnant again. I was excited. I love my family, and I love my kids, and I was thrilled that we might have another child. That was not going to happen though. At an appointment the end of October, we found out there was no longer a heartbeat. She (yes, this would have been a sister for little Sophie) had seemed so healthy. We even had genetic testing done and everything came back fine, even though it wasn't. I was devastated. At the time, I went ahead and took a medical withdrawal from school because I needed time emotionally and there was a chance of repeat complications. Jump ahead to November. There were complications. I hemorrhaged. I lost 2/3 of my blood volume in about 3 hours. I am here now to write about this because I have an amazing OBGYN who is respectful and listens. We'd been in communication through her practice's website, so she knew what was going on. She was able to meet me at the hospital and start the surgery to fix the problem without the usual testing that has to be run. If I'd waited the 2-3 hours necessary for the testing, I probably would have died. My doctor is living proof that not all doctors in the birth industry are awful. Anyways. Once surgery was over, I went home within an hour. At the time we weren't aware of exactly how much blood I'd lost. I was able to get myself up and dressed, and was able to communicate coherently, so we knew my hemoglobin was low, but it didn't seem that bad.

So, yeah. We were wrong. Some of this was on  me, and I accept that. I told my doctor I did not want a transfusion or any other intervention unless I really needed it. Based on how I felt, she felt safe sending me home. Fast forward to about 36 hours later. I was back in the emergency room. I had experienced a couple of instances of severe chest pain during the day, and that night my OB's office told me to go back in to check on things. They checked hemoglobin and found out how low it was--turns out it was at a level where I shouldn't have been able to walk; they expected me to be barely conscious or not conscious. Except, I was conscious, talking, and walking around. Anyways, the chest pain was related to a mild-to-moderate level heart attack triggered by the extremely low blood volume and the strain that put on the heart. How bad was it? I don't think it was that bad now based on what information I've been able to glean from the cardiologist office, but they've been less than helpful with that. Anyways, this led to a period of hospitalization while they tried to figure out what exactly had happened and what needed to be done by it. Many thanks to those of you on Twitter who responded to my request for some fun, happy shows to watch while stuck there. Those days were miserable. I felt well enough after the transfusion (that was ordered as soon as the hemoglobin number came in) that it was really hard to sit there in bed.

Moving on, I went home with very little information and no clear idea of what had actually happened (I was not happy about that--there are a lot of things that I am unhappy about regarding that experience related to problems I have seen in the medical industry as both a patient and a nursing student). Things have been on the mend, minus a hiccup because of a severely nasty reaction to one of the medications they put me on. I am completely off the meds they put me on now, and things seem to be going okay. Blood volume is still low, but it is improving--it takes time to rebuild that volume. I think it should be back to normal in a few more months. Recovery is slow though because of the strain the incident caused on my heart. I have to be careful because it's super easy for my heart rate to get too high thanks to the low blood volume. When I say easy, I'm talking walking up one flight of stairs, switching laundry from the washer to the drier, doing dishes... all of those things will send my heart rate through the ceiling now. This is why I said in my post on Magfest I had to be really careful about my activity. Going outside was a thing because I'm not supposed to be out at all in anything under 40 because of how blood vessels respond to the cold, and it was in the teens. I may  have ignored that order one day, and I felt it later that day. Needless to say, I did not push that point again that weekend.

On the plus side, I'm back. I have more time for art now, since I'm still moderately restricted on activities, and I'm not in school anymore. Anyways, if there are days where I miss posting, or if things move a little more slowly (than I'd like)... it's related to all this medical stuff. Recovery is taking time. I have to be patient with it, and I hope my followers will be patient with me too. I'm looking forward to being "normal" by summer. I plan on applying for lots of conventions for the fall/winter 2017/2018. I've applied to Animazement this year, and I hope I get in. I'm going to be spending my recovery time preparing lots of new things for my table. I'm excited about what's coming. There have been a lot of crazy things in my life, but I'm not going to let them stop me.

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