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Third time's the charm

I went in today for more bloodwork to confirm that the second dose of misoprostol worked. I had my doubts, as I'd finally had some bleeding, but not as much as you'd expect from a real live miscarriage. (I'd sort of expected to wake up the next morning with HELTER SKELTER painted on the wall in blood.) As I waited to be taken back for the blood draw, my doctor breezed past the waiting room, saw me, wheeled back cartoon-style, and took me aside to ask me how it had gone.

I told him what had happened, and what hadn't, and he seemed nonplussed. I had no ultrasound scheduled, but before I knew it, there I was, naked from the waist down and impaled on a probe. (Hello to you, too.)

What we saw was not encouraging. The remains of the sac were still there, the same size they'd been on Monday. "Want me to just get it out?" he asked.

"God, yes," I said.

A harrowing description of my cervix being wrenched open follows. You've been warned.

I gave my blood for the hCG test, took a couple of Vioxx, and waited for them to take effect. I asked for a sheet because I was cold. "I'm not cold," said the doctor. "Are you cold?" he asked the nurse. "No," she answered. "In fact, it's kind of warm in here."

"See, the thing is," I pointed out reasonably, "you're wearing pants." A sheet was produced with alacrity.

Shortly thereafter, the doctor and nurse collected their tool kit and got down to business. Speculum: check. Cervix swabbed with iodine: check. Panic attack held valiantly at bay: check.

"Okay, first I need to see where your cervix goes," the doctor told me. "Everywhere I do," I answered. Oh, how we all did laugh. Discuss among yourselves this question: why must I try so hard to be entertaining?

"Now I'm going to attach a grasper to your cervix to open it up," he said, and I was instructed to cough. It took him three tries to get a firm grip on my recalcitrant cervix.

"Grasper," I said, when I'd caught my breath.

"Yeah," he said. "It sounds less threatening than tenaculum."

And then things stopped being funny. I was given a local anaesthetic — lidocaine, I believe — and he waited a moment for it to take effect. Then the nurse, a real sweetheart, came to stand beside me, held my hand tightly, and said, "This is going to hurt, for only about 30 seconds."

It did.

Finally the doctor said, "That's got it." He and his nurse were quick, efficient, and as gentle as they could be under the circumstances. And they did a first-rate job of not letting me see any of the implements used or the so-called products of conception. (I know I would have looked. I don't think it would have bothered me, but I can't really know.)

My uterus continued to cramp for several minutes, so I lay quietly on the table under my hard-won sheet. The nurse brought some water, which I didn't want but drank. Another nurse came to check on me in a few minutes, and assured me that I could stay as long as I needed to. In about 15 minutes I was on my way home.

I guess I can't complain. It's not like I had a co-pay or anything.