Loss, Healing and Life
Loss, Healing and Life
‘Yay!!! I can see two pink lines. Come in, come in and see,’ Priya said excitedly, pulling Ajay’s hand and ushering him inside the washroom.
‘Okay, so tell me which is the correct one?’ he asked in a puzzled manner while rubbing his sleepy eyes.
‘Look, this is the one which we have to concentrate upon,’ she said pointing at the first pink line which had formed. 'The other pink line is called control.’
‘So, what can we interpret?’ he asked, still confused.
‘That means, it is a positive test for pregnancy,’ she said and clicked a picture of the kit with her phone.
‘Woah!!’ he said while nudging her to put that stick down and keep the phone away. She immediately followed suit and washed her hands.
He held her hand and suddenly made her twirl right there and held her in a tight embrace. Soon, they were snuggled up cozily under the blanket, wide awake at the crack of dawn, staring into each other’s eyes and smiling wondering what the next course of action would be.
‘We have a flight to catch in just a few hours Pri, let’s sleep now,’ he said, folding his arms around her, forcing her to sleep.
‘I don’t know whether to feel excited or nervous? I want to just go meet the doctor. Please take me home right now,’ Pri said.
‘Come on, just try to get some sleep, and then we will be on our way home soon. It is just a matter of a few hours,’ Ajay said assuring her.
Time flew fast and they were home in less than 8 hours. The moment they sat in the cab, the first thing Ajay did was to book an appointment with the gynaecologist for the evening. Half an hour after the drive from the airport Priya started choking and coughing. Her throat was itching and she felt an irritating sensation to cough each time but there was no sputum coming out. She coughed so much that she could barely breathe or talk. Ajay thought that she would have choked herself while popping in peanuts as the skin can sometimes get stuck to the throat and cause such irritation. He offered her warm water but that too didn’t help. They closed the windows of the car and asked the driver to switch on the A.C in order to avoid the pollution from worsening her condition. Priya was feeling restless inside.
To make matters worse it was a bad day for the traffic leaving the airport. The vehicles had piled near the toll gate and it would easily take them 3 hours to reach the clinic. All she wanted to do was get out of the cab and run to the doctor. Finally, they were able to reach the clinic and meet the doctor before she left for the day. The gynaecologist was quite happy after seeing the picture she had taken of the positive pregnancy stick. But, she was worried about the sudden bout of cough that Priya was having. On examination, she found that her throat had red rash inside which could be indicative of a bacterial infection. So, she wanted to do an early scan to see if the sac was visible after implantation. She asked Ajay to wait outside while she took Priya into the scanning room. Ajay squeezed Priya’s hand as she pensively walked inside the scanning room with the doctor. Ajay was very restless as he waited outside for a long time. The doctor came out with Priya in another 15-20 minutes and Priya had a look on her face that Ajay couldn’t read.
‘All good, Pri?’, he asked, stopping her midway before she could reach the doctor’s chamber.
‘Don’t know, come, let’s go,’ she said hurriedly and pulled him inside.
‘Ajay, I couldn’t see the gestational sac in the scan.’
Ajay and Priya looked shocked and turned towards each other.
Seeing the quizzical look on their faces, the doctor continued, ‘You are pregnant, Priya but I am unable to see the sac implanted into your uterus. There shouldn’t be anything to worry about but I feel we should wait for another 10 days. Let’s repeat the scan and we’ll see as I feel it is too early to see a clear sac in the scan. Sometimes you can mess up your dates.’
‘Is there anything to worry about, doctor?’ Priya asked in a nervous tone.
‘No, I don’t think so but I am worried about your throat infection. I am afraid I can’t offer you any antibiotics so soon as your pregnancy is just confirmed. Try following simple steam inhalation and salt-water gargle and you’ll feel better. If you have any symptoms of severe cramps, pain, bleeding, or high fever you’ll report to me immediately,’ the gynaec said and walked out of her clinic.
Ajay and Priya were her last patients for the day. Both of them sat outside her clinic absorbing what she had said. They did not know whether to feel happy or sad. Without thinking much they went home. As soon as they prayed that everything should go well. Priya kept flipping through the comments in the scan report, trying to figure out what it meant. They did not want to reveal to their parents also until this was confirmed by the doctor. Ajay prepared a bowl of warm soup for her and they had simple khichdi for the night.
Priya was about to google search the terminologies written in the scan report when Ajay stopped her short and asked her to not do something like this as it would cause more stress and worsen her current condition. After the steam inhalation, Priya felt better and stopped coughing. She went to bed early while Ajay did the unpacking. He did not want Priya to get stressed even a bit. At around 12 AM, after completing the work in the kitchen and tidying the house Ajay went to sleep when he saw Priya sleeping calmly like a baby occupying almost three-fourth of the bed. He went to push her aside slowly when he noticed that she was burning hot. He shook her slowly and asked her to get up and immediately checked her temperature; it was 101.5 degrees F.
‘Oh, my!! I am calling the doctor Pri,’ he said, asking her to lie down again. He called the doctor and explained about the situation to her. She was also worried and immediately asked him to start on Dolo 650 as that was the only safe medication she could give first. She had also advised him to keep doing so every 5 hours and update her. Ajay didn’t sleep well at all. Priya was burning hot with high fever and he was just praying all night that she should be alright. At around 5 AM her temperature shot up to 102.5 F. He called the doctor again and this time she asked him to give it every three hours. She was very kind enough to respond to all of Ajay’s calls through the wee hours of the day. Priya’s condition was not improving at all. Her temperature soared to 104 F mid-morning and was touching 105 F when Ajay was rushing her to the clinic. She had started wheezing meanwhile but the doctor told her that the inhalers wouldn’t work much even if she took them. She needed nebulisation and hospitalisation if it continued. While they were in the car Ajay also gave her an antibiotic as per doctor’s advice. The gynaec examined her and told her that if the fever persisted and her wheeze didn’t settle, it would be of concern for the baby.
Priya was howling with sorrow as she sat in the car. Ajay was unable to console her but he acted strong, ‘Look Pri, nothing wrong has happened. If you cry like this it will worsen your condition. So please be calm and we’ll pray that you are alright soon.’
Priya tried to control her emotions but it wasn’t easy to feel normal. She was so lethargic by the time they reached home that she even couldn’t spend time to register what was happening with her. Ajay also tried to use a wet cloth pack on her forehead to get the fever down but Priya was just not feeling alright. Only by the end of the day, the fever came down a bit but her cough had not improved. Ajay was trying hard to juggle with the cooking and also looking after her. He took off from work for a week so that he could be completely by her side.
By the next day, there was some improvement in Priya’s condition. After telling the doctor about the progress Ajay felt a little eased out. Priya also looked a bit better and was able to move around a bit in the house but she wasn’t feeling normal. She had to collect some important documents from her office colleague so Ajay took her in the car halfway from their home where her colleague would come and give them to her. She informed her office team about her health condition and told them that she might take leave for a couple of weeks. When they were returning home Pri started having a severe cramp on the left side, below her stomach. It was a kind of an ache which she had never felt before. She almost winced in pain when the car was turning on the curves. When they reached home, Priya immediately went and lay flat on the bed. She was screaming as the pain was unbearable. Ajay was at his wits end seeing Priya’s suffering.
‘We will do something about this Pri. Please just hang on for a little while.’
He spoke to the gynaec and she told them to rush to the hospital immediately and she would be there in a while. It was close to 9 PM when they reached the hospital. The doctor examined Priya’s condition and did a scan immediately. They had just walked into their hospital in their pajamas. Both had just their phone and wallet with them.
The doctor had a very grim look on her face when she saw Priya’s scan images.
‘Doctor, please tell me if everything is okay? Priya asked in a pleading tone.
‘No, dear. It doesn’t look good. I can see the yolk sac, it is stuck in your tube, fallopian tube, look here.’ she said pointing at the screen.
‘So, doctor? What does that mean?’
‘It shows that the gestational sac has adhered to your fallopian tube, instead of the uterus wall and now it has started growing there. The pain you have been feeling is because of the this, look, I can see a slight rupture,’ she said and moved the probe deeply inside. It is an ectopic pregnancy Priya and I don’t feel good about this.'
‘Ahhh, Priya cried as the probe moved deeply inside, and also her heart just skipped a beat.’
‘I can see blood around the rupture. I don’t think this will sustain. We need to put you in for immediate surgery,’ the doctor said, keeping the probe down and helping Priya to get down from the bed.
Ajay was waiting outside when she took him separately and spoke to him.
‘Ajay, this seems to be a case of an ectopic pregnancy, there is a tube burst as well. The yolk sac has stuck to her fallopian tube instead of the uterus wall and the baby has no space to grow further. The rupture is the cause of the pain and I could also see minimal bleeding. We need to operate on her immediately otherwise it will be too late. She can also go into a coma if we don’t take immediate action,’ the gynaec explained in a crisp clear voice and went aside to make important calls to get the other doctors of her team on board for the surgery. The nurses were instructed within minutes and there were three nurses who had surrounded Ajay and Priya in moments.
Ajay took Priya aside and squeezed her hand tight. She looked pale and shocked. Ajay’s hand was cold and he was trembling. He gathered himself and asked Priya to hand over her phone and wallet. ‘ All that matters to me right now is that I want you healthy and alive. Anything for your life right now Pri,’ he said holding her tightly. Then he told her to go with the nurse while he would be doing the admission formalities. Priya was just not able to understand what was happening. She had no clue about what an ectopic pregnancy was and she was not even clear what was happening to her. She was admitted and immediately changed to an OT gown. Ajay came in soon along with her gynaecologist. Priya just couldn’t take this anymore.
‘My baby, doctor. I don’t want to lose my baby,’ she wailed and hot tears burst from her eyes.’
‘Look Priya, this is an emergency situation. Your tube has ruptured. If we do not operate it is a matter of your life. Unfortunately, we have to remove your fallopian tube. Dear, if you cry more your BP will fluctuate and we cannot give anaesthesia to you. It will be a simple laparoscopic surgery, hardly going to take long and the stitches will heal soon. You can walk home in just one day.’
‘What about my future pregnancy?’ Priya asked.
‘I have personally handled many cases where ectopic cases with one tube have resulted in natural conception in the future. One tube is enough for conception, yes with 50% chances but that’s a lot when I treat cases with 0% chances also. Even one fimbria is enough for the next conception. Please trust me, it will happen and you will be alright. Now, please steady yourself as we need to take you to the OT,’ the doctor said in a very reassuring and calm tone.
It helped calm the situation in the room. As Priya was wheeled to the OT with drips hanging from her arms Ajay felt his eyes clouded with tears as he watched her go. He walked up and down until the surgery was done. He saw Priya back in the recovery room where she just opened her eyes and saw him before she went back to sleep again. Ajay sat there waiting for her to be conscious again. It was almost the early hours of the morning of the next day when Priya was brought back to the room. Ajay held her hand and they both sobbed. Ajay was glad that Priya’s life was saved on time but also sad about their loss. It took weeks for Priya to recover and Ajay handled this all alone. He had to call up their respective families and tell them about this sudden shocking incident. Both parents were in shock and Priya’s parents flew in immediately.
Priya was slowly recovering from her surgery but the pain in her heart increased day by day. Passing each day was a nightmare for her. Ajay and her parents tried to keep her occupied but she was unable to divert her mind anywhere. She felt an instant attachment with the baby the day she had found she was pregnant. The doctor tried to convince her by telling her that it was just 6 weeks and she shouldn’t be too worried as her health was also coming back to normal but Priya just couldn’t get convinced. She would be talking to Ajay about something and suddenly start crying remembering the incident or wake up with a nightmare at night and start crying. Ajay hid all his unhappiness and put up a brave shoulder for her to cry on. If he became weak in front of her she would never come out of this grief. Ajay had to resume work soon but Priya was not in a state to get back to work. She took an extended leave citing reasons for recovery. Her parents had also left for their hometown after Priya’s health had recovered. They wanted Ajay and Priya to take it each day at a time They both needed time to heal their wounds. The shock was more than the wound inflicted on her.
One evening over a cup of coffee Priya sobbed to Ajay and asked, ‘Why me Ajay? Why did this happen only to me? Why did it affect us in such a harsh way? I am unable to get any answers. I have been reading a lot about it but nothing seems to be clear. My symptoms just don’t fit in,’ she added.
‘I told you not to read about all this online. We have already got an answer from the doctor and she has told you everything in detail. It just happened. Maybe it was because of the infection or something that causes the sac to stay there in the tube. Our case was unusual but tell me what can we do about it now?’ Ajay said, trying to convince Priya.
‘I am not convinced. I want a closure to this; I want my answers Ajay and for that, I will go to any extent,’ Priya said in a firm tone.
‘Do whatever it takes to make yourself feel better my dear, I am there to support you. All I care about is that your life was saved and my future is only safe if you are with me. Together we can create our future and there is hope. It will happen and my heart is filled with hope. Didn’t you hear about the various cases the doctor has attended to? I felt very positive but Pri please, I request you, please, don’t ask the- 'why me?' question again,’ Ajay said with optimism in his voice.
‘Okay,’ Priya said and fell silent. 'But...’
She was stopped short by Ajay as the next moment he hugged her tight and let her sob in her arms. He was taking in all the grief only to help her feel better.
Priya was not letting this go and it was driving her into a depressive phase. Upon the strict instructions from her doctor she had to resume work otherwise the doctor had warned Ajay that she would be slipping into depression soon. She had left doing all the normal things that she did before. Ajay coaxed her to start driving again and also forced her to cook some amazing dishes that she was an expert at. Slowly, once she went back to work she felt a little normal but these thoughts kept running in her mind.
A talk by a distant aunt about them planning a family soon and taunting Priya indirectly brought all those sad memories back to her mind. That nosy aunt had actually rubbed salt on her wounds and the repercussion was not what Ajay was prepared to take. Pri was not her usual self that day. Those sad thoughts had also made her doubt about the support system Ajay was to her. It was a day of multiple discussions and arguments that ended only in sobs and sniffles. They couldn’t do anything productive that day.
‘Look Priya, you are going down the wrong path. It has been months to that incident now and you are still stuck there. I have moved on and I am hoping for a positive future. If you can’t make the attempt to get out of this phase then at least don’t pull me with you inside this dark well. You are spiralling towards depression and if you keep searching for answers, you will not get one,’ Ajay said sternly. He had to be rude and blunt because the doctor had warned him about this phase that Priya could go into. He was told to be very supportive yet be very stern with her when it came to sad thoughts. He was unable to control himself after the outburst he had seen from Priya.
Priya stared at him in silence and walked out of the house for some fresh air. Ajay just couldn’t hold back his emotions anymore. He was done playing the part of acting normal. With a heavy heart, he sat down and waited for Priya to come home. She was definitely normal when she came home but very cold. He was searching for that warmth in her after that day. Weeks passed this way but Priya never expressed her feelings again to him. It took time but after reading a lot Priya was slowly getting back to normalcy.
It was pricking Ajay a lot, so he planned a short outing for them so that they could take steps towards healing their relationship as well. Priya agreed to it easily and was very happy during the trip. While Ajay was driving the car, Priya was busy reading up articles on ectopic pregnancy and the emotions that the woman/ couple has to go through post that. She was shocked that there was so much about it online. She was reading out to Ajay while he was driving. He told her, ‘Look Priya, we are not going there again.’
‘No, it is nothing about me going into a depressive phase but I feel there are so many women who go through this. I am not alone and my feelings are not false. What all I have gone through post the loss has been written about and well documented. There is so much scientific data on it Ajay that I am very very motivated to find out more about it,’ Priya said reassuring him.
‘Sure, go ahead but please, please, promise me you’ll not go into that phase again. I can’t handle it Pri. I don’t have the courage to. I want a good future with you. Let us hope for the best for us,’ Ajay said, feeling glad that he could see a positive outlook in Priya.
The next few days Priya spent reading many scientific articles and a lot of posts on Instagram and Facebook when she put the hashtag #ectopicpregnancy. That’s when a UK based website called ‘ Ectopic pregnancy Trust’( ETPT) popped up in her search. This trust was doing everything possible to help women who had gone through an ectopic pregnancy and also creating awareness about the priority on the mental health and well being of such women. There were many stories where women had shared their experiences. After reading and checking their website in detail, Priya was inspired to do some collaborative work with them. She, as an individual, had Ajay and her family to support her in such terrible times but there was no one for many women who would be able to get the troubled women out of the sad phase they were going through. There were psychologists and experts in the panel along with volunteers. They also organised fundraisers( charity events), marathons, meet-ups, and also counselling sessions for all the women affected by it and whoever approached them for help.
Feeling inspired, Priya wrote to them and discussed in detail about her story. She also did her background research that such things were never spoken about or discussed in India. There will be many women who would want to hide about these problems and wouldn’t gather the courage to share their feelings with anyone, as a result, those who had unsupportive families would slip into mental health problems. She proposed a plan to take the help of Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, UK, and build a similar platform for women in India. She roped in her gynaecologist first. She was very happy to see Priya back to her normal and was very much helpful in giving her data points to present to the trust back in the UK. Since Priya needed funds to get a psychologist, a counsellor, and also a data entry operator, she requested them to grant her an initial seed fund. The credentials of her gynaecologist and the interest that Priya had shown had impressed the ETPT Trust and they invited her to the UK to be a spokesperson along with her gynaecologist. Her doctor was very enthusiastic and together they presented important data about the Indian scenario. They were appreciated by thousands of women who had come to attend the meeting and also were backed by the scientists and clinicians from the UK who were on board. The seed fund was granted to set up an ‘ETPT’ Trust in India and they were sent home with encouraging words and brilliant ideas. Before returning home, Priya and her doctor also participated in the marathon organised by them as a part of a fundraiser programme.
Priya started working on setting up the trust as soon as she was back. She and Ajay took a lot of pain in finding a small office space for this trust, roped in the other doctors, and also took help from close friends to become volunteers. The gynaecologist spread in a word in her community as well so that more women could reach out to the helpline number they had started. The website and Instagram posts were a hit as soon as they were rolled out. The helpline number soon started flooding with calls from women who really wanted to seek help pertaining to counselling and also clinical opinion/evaluation. Slowly, things were falling into place and Priya was feeling highly motivated to do more for this. Her efforts were much appreciated as they also participated in a scientific conferences and spread the word. They also organised awareness programmes through Facebook live sessions so that everyone in the world could participate. After taking some help from the USF foundation they also organised a fundraiser 5km Walkathon. It garnered a lot of appreciation and Priya also wrote a column for the newspaper. Slowly, many women wanted to volunteer and whatever money they had earned was enough. Ajay had been a constant support system for Priya throughout this journey. He was very happy to see the zeal back in her and he was seeing the healed version of his Pri now.
Priya had planned a fun and awareness event for Women’s Day event online when multiple women had joined their Facebook live session that day. Post her session she was feeling very exhausted and wanted to sleep early so that she could go to work on time the next day. They ordered food for the night and Priya went to sleep early. She was woken up at 5 am with a dull ache in her stomach and a kind of nauseous feeling. She tip-toed into the bathroom without waking up Ajay and took the kit out to test. Her eyes filled with tears as she saw those two pink lines again.
‘ Ajayyyyyyyyy', she shouted and jolted him from his sleep.