I love my son with everything I have. He is my most precious gift. It wasn’t always like that. A young girl, and a young girl’s mistake … the last time I saw my boyfriend was the day I told him I was three months’ pregnant. And I resented my unborn child. I resented my pregnancy. When it came time to give birth, I’m ashamed that I did not want this child.
The birth was uncomplicated, and staff at Dr Yusuf Dadoo Hospital in Krugersdorp were kind and caring. In time I learned to love Calvin, my son.
Four years later, I began experiencing pain on the right side of my abdomen for about two weeks. It was after work one evening that I began vomiting blood. My sister took me to Dr Yusuf Dadoo hospital where they told us they don’t take patients after 8 at night and we should go to Leratong hospital. After filling out forms it was about 10pm when I was taken into Casualty. By this time, I could not move the pain was so bad and I experienced blurred vision. A gynaecologist was called to look at me but this doctor only arrived at 6:30am when she was knocking off. I was told there was nothing wrong with me except I was pregnant, and she was sending me home.
I did not know I was pregnant or that I was in the third month. I lay in Casualty unable to move when a youngish male doctor who was walking past spoke to me. He said I looked too pale to go home, I must be loosing blood. Although I had no menstrual bleeding, I had vomited blood. He found a wheelchair and took me to do a sonar.
He showed me on the screen there were black blobs in my womb and he suggested it was probably blood. He asked gently if I knew I was pregnant. The first I had known was when the nursing staff told me the night before. He showed me there was a serious problem. I had an ectopic pregnancy in my right fallopian tube. The only solution was to operate and remove both the baby and the fallopian tube.
After signing forms, I was sent to a ward to wait for 8 hours with no food or water so they could do the operation. They wheeled me to theatre where a passing doctor looked at me and said, ‘You’ll be lucky to still be alive in an hour’s time.’
Scared, alone and in terrible pain, that was the last thing I needed to hear!
I was taken back to a ward and slept for the night, although I was still in pain. At 5am the next morning, a matron came in shouting for all the patients to wake up. She threatened us all that if we didn’t go and bath, the doctor would not give us medication. I could not have got up, I was in so much pain. The matron became more aggressive, telling me it was my own fault for not preventing the pregnancy and I had to get up.
Luckily for me, another kinder nurse saw what was going on, and she gave me a bed bath. When the doctor came at 9 that morning, he gave me pain medication and ordered a blood transfusion. After the transfusion I was nauseous and could not eat lunch – and the same aggressive matron from the morning shouted at me for not eating.
Later that day the doctor came at 3pm. He explained what had happened and told me the baby was gone. He was only able to save one, and I was saved at the expense of my unborn child. The full horror of what had happened finally hit me and I spent most of the day crying.
The next morning, I managed to get out of bed to go to the bathroom. Although I was in terrible pain, I was not given any medication. When the doctor came at 11am, I was told I would not be able to have any more children and that I could go home.
My sister Francina fetched me, but I was in such pain I couldn’t go back to work. I went to my mum so she could help me recover. After two days, the cut from the operation swelled up so I went to the local clinic. They told me they didn’t know my history, I must go to the hospital where I had the op. After spending three weeks at my mum’s house, I went home but still in a lot of pain.
My employer was not very sympathetic, but when the cut started bleeding again, he did take me to the doctor. This doctor said I should have bed rest for two weeks. My employer told me I should carry on working or I could leave and loose my job. Although I wanted to go back to Leratong, I couldn’t and had no option but to keep on working.
I learned over the next two months to work while in pain. I was slower and not able to lift anything heavy. And I experienced the absolute disregard of my employer. Eventually, feeling a bit stronger, I realised I had a choice to find something better, so I quit my job.
My experience in hospital had showed me that while there were horrible nurses and doctors, there were also some who really cared. I learned that and saw that at any time of my life, I could always look for the people who did care instead of being badly treated by those who couldn’t care.