Tuesday, December 04, 2012

A Royal Mess

I'm pretty sure that everyone knows that the Duke and Duchess are expecting their first child. How exciting, a royal baby!

But then I realized that I'm going to be subjected to an absolute societal obsession with the bump, the maternity clothes, the expensive prenatal pilates and holistic treatments, the OMG doesn't her hair look fabulous (as if we don't get enough of that already), the speculation on names, the OMG doesn't she look flawless she hasn't gained any weight! , the sex of the baby, the birth, the Christening, the royal nursery, the education….on and on and on until oh, approximately forever.

It makes me feel kinda sick and I'm just not quite sure I can deal with it.

Apparently it's all making Katherine quite sick as well, as we learned that she's been hospitalized with hyperemesis gravidarum, which as you all probably know, is a terrible terrible variety of morning sickness in which you hurl your guts out all the time, can become dehydrated and lose weight. Even your own saliva can send you running for the toilet. If you're lucky, the symptoms should ease by week 20. If not, you could be sick until the baby comes out, and maybe even a bit after.

It's really horrible. I know, I had it. I'm so glad the Duchess is getting the treatment she needs. She fortunately has resources available to her that allow her to be treated by the finest physicians in the land in only the best of hospitals (private, of course). Other new mothers, like myself, aren't so lucky. The subject seems to keep popping up in Twitter conversations I've been having lately, but 140 characters just hasn't been enough to even begin talking about our dealings with the NHS.

It started when when I got pregnant, well, I guess after my first awkward conversation with the GP about whether it was "planned" and how I "felt about it" and whether I wanted to "keep the pregnancy" and how "we really must sort out your contraception next time".  After all that, when I first mentioned to the midwives that I was feeling inordinately sick, they actually laughed at me and said, "Love, if we had the cure for morning sickness we wouldn't be working here. Try eating some crackers". As if I hadn't thought of that before. Unfortunately they made me puke. But so did everything and nothing, and I continued to throw up blood and bile all over everything until about halfway through my pregnancy. 

At one point I called the doctor, who told me that I should see the midwife, but I insisted on being seen. He then told me he couldn't diagnose HG because he couldn't confirm if I had lost 5% of my body weight since the midwives neglected to weigh me (and they didn't, ever, for my whole pregnancy). He also said he couldn't recommend any medication, which I thought was odd since as a non-health professional I can think of at least three anti emetics off the top of my head.

Then I had to fight for my ultrasound. You see, when you are granted a non-GP appointment, they notify you by letter, telling you when and where to show up. My letter came when I was in the US for Christmas, and the appointment came and went without my knowledge.  The hospital was reluctant to reschedule me.

Then I got kicked off of the midwives' service altogether because we moved and no longer lived in the correct post code. We had to re-apply to be admitted to a new doctor's office in the correct zip code; in the mean time I missed 3 appointments with the midwife. Of course, once we were admitted to the doctor's service and I finally turned up for my way overdue midwifery appointment, I was scolded for neglecting my prenatal healthcare. Go figure.

I had a normal delivery in July. However, the midwife who did the post-labor "clean up" (ahem stitches) forgot a few bits. When I complained of soreness at my 12 week post labor check,  the GP confirmed that I had an unresolved birth injury and referred me to the hospital OB/GYN team. I'm still waiting to see them.

I was also been waiting for treatment for postpartum depression, but again missed my appointment letter because I was out of town and was summarily discharged from their service. They offered to re-list me for treatment at the end of the list without having to see my GP for another referral (another 18 week wait), but then the lady on the phone said "oh, but I see you were referred for self help. Would you like me to mail you the pamphlets?" I'm sorry, but why do I need a referral and to suffer a four month + wait for DIY worksheets? Couldn't I just order a book from Amazon or something?

And then there was the tongue tie. Oh, the tongue tie. To keep a long story short, every health care professional we saw for our baby girl's first 3 weeks of life kicked the can down the road on who was supposed to help us. We finally got a referral to have our little girl's tongue tie fixed, only to be told that there was a SIX WEEK WAIT. Friends, a six week wait is completely unacceptable when your child is STARVING. The poor little thing lost so much weight that she was hospitalized, and you're telling me I need to wait SIX WEEKS to have a cheap and simple procedure completed so she can EAT?! That is shameful. I was so enraged that I spent the afternoon on the phone hunting down a private physician who would see us. I finally found one. Two days, £100 and a 100 mile road trip later, our baby could nurse.

I really wish that this sort of thing was the exception and not the rule, but I'm afraid it doesn't seem to be. A friend of mine was diagnosed with PPD; she waited 5 months for treatment and still suffers because she was only allotted six appointments and was then discharged. One of my in-laws waited six months to have his skin cancer treated. Another family member is desperately mentally ill. He is practically debilitated. He has never seen the same doctor twice. None of his physicians can agree on a diagnosis or medication. He has been bounced back and forth for over two years with no improvement and no steady course of treatment.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but there has to be something better than this right royal mess.


  1. Wow. You're right, Twitter did not do justice to how horrible this is.

  2. How awful. :( I'd heard bad things about the NHS before and sadly this seems to be par for the course. It makes me quite worried for what will happen to the quality of health care here in the US once "Obamacare" is implemented.

    1. Yeah, it's not great. I worry too about the future in the US...it just seems like they're plowing full steam ahead toward European-style everything even though Europe is in major meltdown mode as we speak. Pray pray and pray I guess. I'm just throwing all my eggs in the Our-Lady-won't-abandon-us basket.

  3. I hope you don't mind, but i shared this on Google+.