Three Wise Men
I wasn’t going to go for my annual gynecological check up this year. I’ve had a complete hysterectomy and didn’t see the point. Most of us dread this awkward and uncomfortable visit. I changed my mind, and had one of the best times in a doctor’s office ever.
This group of gynecologists/obtetricians was there through my struggles with infertility, pregnancy loss, and a brush with death when I was 35 and six months pregnant. My appointment was with Dr. B., but I was able to say hello and catch up with the other two doctors, too.
I first saw Dr. B. when I was 25 and thought I was unexpectedly pregnant. I was married and decided to stop taking birth control pills since I had been taking them since I was 16. I wasn’t ready to have a baby. I had only been married 2 years.
The pregnancy didn’t progress past 6 weeks. It was a very early miscarriage with no treatment necessary.
After this happened a second time I became anxious about my child bearing ability and questioned whether postponing having a baby was a good idea.
Next, I deliberately stopped using birth control and hoped to have a viable pregnancy.
I did become pregnant but started bleeding again at 6 weeks. This time Dr. B. needed to do a D&C to complete the process. Now he had some concerns about why this happened three times. It isn’t unusual for pregnancies to terminate on their own during the first trimester. It is often nature’s way of preventing birth defects.
Test after test revealed a condition called a septate uterus which means there is a wall of tissue separating the uterus into two sections. It is thought this is not a fertile ground in which a pregnancy can develop normally.
I went for surgery to correct this. The follow up images looked like the pre op images. Dr. B. was perplexed.
No one ever figured out why I was not able to conceive after doing so by accident three times, but that was what happened. After a year of trying, it was time for more tests.
My husband was diagnosed with a testicular hydrocele that was thought to be behind a less than ideal sperm count and motility. He had surgery to correct it. The results were good, but still no pregnancy.
We finally decided to try intrauterine insemination along with fertility drugs for me to increase our chances for conception. The first three courses failed.
The fourth and final month of treatment resulted in a pregnancy. We were on pins and needles until the end of the first trimester when we breathed a sigh of relief.
I saw Dr. B. monthly for routine office visits. Sometimes I saw Dr. H. or Dr. L. so they would be familiar with me should they eventually be the ones to deliver my baby. I hoped it would be Dr. B. because I had known him so long and we had been through so much trying to succeed in making this delivery possible.
It was through a random luck of the draw that Dr. B. was on call when I went into labor. I labored for more than 12 hours at home before going to the hospital where I spent another 24 hours in labor with Dr. B. checking in on my progress. He was also glad he had been the on call doctor for my case.
He ordered the epidural when I had enough pain. We spent 2 hours and 45 minutes trying to push that baby out. He was considering a C-section.
But nature prevailed and I was delivered of a healthy, 7 lb. 13 oz. baby boy.
I became pregnant again in the usual way with no outside help when my first baby was 15 months old. After all that trouble, we decided waiting too long might be a bad idea.
I saw the same group of doctors for my early pre natal care.
Everything was routine until I woke up on Valentine’s Day unable to move my left side with an excruciating headache.
I had a severe cerebral hemorrhage. I was 26 weeks pregnant. My son was 22 months old.
Dr. L., the oldest member of my obstetrical team, scrubbed in for the brain surgery I needed to save my life. He was there in the event a C section became necessary to save the baby if I didn’t survive the operation.
The surgery was a success. The neurosurgeon stopped the bleeding which left unchecked would have killed both me and the baby. Death is the more common outcome of a cerebral hemorrhage.
The damage that was already done to my brain by the bleeding rendered my left side completely paralyzed. My baby was due in 6 weeks and I had a two year old at home with his father.
The plan was to deliver the baby via C section when enough time had passed for his lungs to sufficiently develop in utero. 26 weeks was too early.
So, we waited. I was confined to bed, unable to move half my body. I threw up daily and wasn’t able to do anything other than do so on myself and my bed.
Throughout this miserable time, Dr. H. visited my bedside almost nightly to do nothing other than hold my hand and talk to me. He stayed for hours at a time after he had finished working long shifts. It was a great comfort.
I never had the C section. Labor began at 34 weeks and didn’t respond to medicine given to arrest it. It progressed naturally and I delivered the baby normally while I was still completely hemiplegic. This time it was Dr. H. on call.
I delivered a healthy 5 lb. 6 oz. baby boy with nurses helping push on my paralyzed left side.
I have seen Dr. B. for routine health checks most of the twenty years since I had the stroke. He did my hysterectomy in 2009 that was needed because of fibroid tumors.
I saw Dr. L. for a consult about a large tumor in 2017. He referred me to a gynecological oncology surgeon who removed my ovaries and the benign tumor.
My sons are now 20 and 22 years old. I am 56.
I had an appointment with Dr. B. yesterday for a routine well visit. I am now being treated more like an old lady with concerns about thinning vaginal tissue along with thinning bones.
When I saw Dr. H. in the office, I yelled a big hello as he is always thrilled to see me and hear how I’m doing. He gives me a big hug and kiss.
When I stepped out in the hall after my exam, I saw him again and gave him another big hug. “Again?” he said.
“Of course,” I said. “I will never forget what you did for me all those years ago”
I told him I very much appreciated what he did. I knew he had young kids at home at the time and was working hard and staying with me at night was extraordinary.
“I didn’t do anything,” he said. “That’s just who I am as a person.”
He said, “Yeah, that really sucked” as if he could hardly believe it had actually happened.
“Yes, it really sucked, but it could have sucked a lot worse and I know that.”
“It still sucks sometimes.”
Dr. H. told me I have a great attitude.
“How’s your family?” the conversation took a mundane turn when we saw Dr. L. walk down the hall. He is now 78 years old and still works 3 days per week. I asked Dr. H. to get him for me. I wanted to tell him about my mother who has known Dr. L. since he was young.
He turned to listen to me tell him my mother’s name and that she was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer at age 83, did chemo, had surgery and has been in remission for a year. She is now 85. He was thrilled to hear this good news.
The appointment I almost didn’t make turned into a warm nostalgic visit with three fine doctors who were there for some of the most momentous occasions in my life.