OK a warning here first – unlike most of my posts this one is extremely personal and rather graphic. But I need to write this, and well, it is a Swedish experience. It’s long.
So this was a post I didn’t expect to write. I had expected to tell you all about my pregnancy a few weeks ago. But for some reason or other I always found something else to write about. And now here I am. So here is some insight into medical care in Sweden and, well, my personal sphere.
It started on Thursday. I had a bit of spotting red blood. I had a bit with my last pregnancy due to burst blood vessel. It stopped as soon as it started. I thought nothing of it. On Friday morning, it happened again. This time I called the midwife, because I had a big business trip planned for Sunday-Monday and I wanted to make sure nothing was wrong and I could travel without concerns. The midwife said it was normal. The bleeding stopped at noon.
Saturday morning it started again. And this time it kept going. We spent the day with family and it was nice to have the distraction, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And worrying about my upcoming trip. If something was going to happen with this pregnancy I wanted to be at home.
I started getting nervous as the bleeding increased and I made the Swede leave early so I could call the hospital.
My biggest issue with Swedish medicine since I moved here are the gatekeepers. The people you call at the hospital who tell you whether or not you can go in or not. I mean, yes you can always go to the emergency room, but you are supposed to call and get a special time unless it is an actual serious emergency. This time was no different. They told me it wasn’t an emergency, since it was only mild bleeding, they wanted me to wait until Monday. I mentioned I might be out of town on Monday and that was my concern. In the past I have threatened the gatekeepers (I will just go to the ER, I’ve told them, and that is stupid. Give me a time) or I have played super nice (please could I just maybe have a quick time), but this time I cried. And it was totally authentic. I was scared.
Come in, she finally said. But she also said ‘The doctor hates just doing checks during emergency hours, so you might have a long wait.’
I didn’t care. I needed to know what was going on.
I got to the gynecological emergency room at 5 pm. At 6:20 they told me the doctors would be switching shifts and it might be awhile. At 6:40 the nurses ran out saying there was an emergency surgery and it would be at least 2 hours. I went home and had dinner.
I came back at 8:30. There was a woman there with twins two weeks old. The grandmother mother told me she was raising them on her own. The woman was called ahead of me, and I was glad. She needed it more than me. As they left the waiting room the grandmother turned to me and said ‘Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you hoped.’ I had the feeling that if my life were a TV show, this would be the name of the current episode. I suddenly realized there was a good chance I was going to be getting bad news.
At 10:00 pm they called me into a patient room and said the doctor would see me soon. I waited for 20 minutes in this room before they called and said that the doctor got called away on another emergency. It would be awhile.
Did I mention they only had one doctor on duty?
I sat in the waiting room and watched a terrible but distracting TV show. The Suits. Oh it was everything I hate in a TV show. Too many lawyers. Too many men. Pretty, vapid but supposedly intelligent women. Bleh. But it distracted me.
At 10:45 the nurse came out and said they had another emergency surgery, but the doctor was going to try to run upstairs in-between surgeries and look at me. If she didn’t arrive in 30 minutes it would probably be another two hours.
Thankfully the doctor arrived at 11:00pm and did the ultrasound.
I knew immediately by the look on her face.
‘Unfortunately, I am not looking at a normal 11 week pregnancy,’ she said. ‘This pregnancy ended weeks ago. ‘
But I had known this already. Strangely, I would say I knew this the moment the grandmother of the twins spoke to me.
I asked her about the trip, she said it was within Sweden and I could go to a hospital anywhere. I might be bleeding lightly for awhile or it could start to get heavier. I could come in on Tuesday and get some pills, Cytotec, to start things along. She didn’t advise against going. We talked a bit about the pills and I said fine. We made plans for me to pick them up.
The whole thing took about 15 minutes. I even cracked a poor joke about being able to at least have a drink.
When I got outside I had just missed the bus (note: the swede was home with little Swede) so I walked home. I needed the air and I was in shock.
I didn’t know what to do. Should I go on my business trip? Should I risk canceling and losing one of my most exciting clients for my new company? To be continued…..