Friday, 16 March 2018

In my shoes

I was inspired to write this piece because of the brave and harrowing tales that have come out of late, on the Facebook page In Her Shoes. This is a marvelous page, and the perfect way for those who don’t understand the complexities of the 8th Amendment to see how it has affected everyday Irish women. When you’ve never been in a situation yourself, it might be difficult to grasp others stories -especially when each case is so different to the next. It’s also hard to understand how the 8th amendment effects far more than abortion laws and has had detrimental results on the health and lives of wanted pregnancies, and the women involved. 
For those who wish to learn, In Her Shoes highlights these stories perfectly.
If you live in Co. Louth and have a story to tell, please contact Dundalk4 Choice and we will write it up on our page.

CW: Miscarriage, foetal tissue, trauma. 

“I can’t detect the heart beat” -A dreaded sentence. It still hits me in the face.

I was 23 and pregnant -unplanned but I knew I didn’t want to have an abortion. I had been using contraception, but these things happen. Shortly after we found out I broke things off with my boyfriend as I didn’t see a future with him anyway, and decided to go it alone. It was going to be tough, but I knew it would be the best thing to do for me and my future child.

My first appointment went normally, the nurses were nice, and I filled in the usual forms. I looked a lot younger than my actual age and I was very aware of this, it’s always been something that has worked against me. As there was a query over gestational ageing I was sent for a scan. I think I had missed at least two periods, but was unsure if more. The doctor had guessed I was about 10 weeks along.

Going for the scan by myself everything happened so quickly. “I can’t detect the heart beat” was all that was said at first, that sentence ringing in my ears and hanging in the air for what seemed like an eternity. As utterly devastating as that moment was, I knew there was no hope. I knew I was far enough along for a heartbeat to be detected. They estimated the foetus to be around 8 weeks or so, meaning the pregnancy had ceased about two weeks prior to my scan. I waited, shocked, to hear about how they would go about a D&C. But it was not mentioned. Instead they hurriedly tried to tell me “there’s still hope as you aren’t bleeding”, and “we just have to wait and see, but there’s nothing we can do”. I was confused, even more confused and lost than I had been at hearing the news I had miscarried. What did they mean, was the scanner broken? Even still, they knew the growth should have been more than 8 weeks along…

Monday, 19 February 2018

Health update - Upright MRI 2018

Hi everyone, thanks for stopping by! Here goes with all the boring health updates. Starting firstly with the obvious, the important London stuff including upright MRI.

At the start of the month myself and Bicky set off for London for the upright MRI and to meet with an experienced physiotherapist there. We booked three nights in the hotel, knowing that travel is very difficult, tiring and painful. And from what I had heard the upright MRI is no picnic (plenty of rest needed afterwards -not travel). Flexing the neck triggers the symptoms we are there to investigate in the first place.

I spasmed, jerked and gagged during the long and slow scans. But all in all I did pretty well and was quite proud of myself. It wasn’t pleasant, to say the least, but the staff were lovely and understanding. Afterwards I vomited, the gag reflex was just too much, but that was after the fact so I’m not counting that, haha.


The next morning I met with the physio, and what an experience! I don’t think I’ve ever had such a comprehensive and educational appointment. I learned so many interesting things about how my body works. The lovely physio didn’t have my MRI results, which the consultant had hoped she would by then. But by simply feeling my spine and areas of my body, she was able to tell me a lot about what was happening under my skin.


Feeling along my spine as I moved my head to the sides, backwards and forwards, she was able to tell me that only part of my cervical spine was assisting in this movement -unlike with the average person, who moves parts of both their C spine and their thoracic spine. My T spine is locked and will not move on its own, causing pain to the overworked C spine. She pointed out that our bodies are quite amazing, in that if they can’t do something in the normal way, they will endeavor to find a way – even if that way is injuring us -“Your body will find a way to make that movement if it can”. So interesting. 
Image by Freepik
This explains one of my longest running symptoms and major causes of pain. As a child I called it “spine freeze” but this is NOT a medical term, merely a childish way of trying to explain to doctors what was happening to my body. On lying down my spine would seize entirely, although more so focused at neck and mid back areas. I could barely move, and any tiny movement felt like my spine was about to snap. It was like one, long unflexing pole. It was both terrifying and agonising in equal amounts when I was a child. I still experience this phenomenon but only a few times a month.  Sometimes I feel what I call twitches when standing/ sitting, but I can unlock these. Unlike when I’m lying down and I just have to wait it out. While still scary, the lesser frequency has helped, as does age -I suppose I got somewhat used to it.