Acronyms and how hospitals work

When you start getting intimately (and I do mean intimately) involved with the NHS, you need to learn a new language of acronyms. And you need to start to get used to not being offended or upset by some of them (ERPC – Evacuation and Removal of the Products of Conception).

I was about to find out about the EPU (Early Pregnancy Unit). After a weekend of little tiny bits of pink spotting (which I described as bleeding at the time… little did I know), I decided to call NHS direct (old version).

The thing about NHS Direct (and I want to point out that they’ve always been very nice when I’ve called) is that as soon as you say the word ‘pregnant’, all roads and flow charts lead to A&E. As far as the script is concerned, when it comes to babies, children and pregnant women, they’d rather be safe than sorry (and rightly so).  Throw in to the equation the twinges of an old shoulder injury, and it’s Red Alert, because shoulder tip pain is one of the signs of an ectopic pregnancy. Very serious, potentially. The problem is, there’s usually nothing that anyone can do in cases of suspected early miscarriage. So, unless you are pumping out volumes of blood or severely cramping (actually, even if this is what’s happening), you can expect to spend a very long time in A&E if you follow the advice of NHS Direct.

So, off we set for our local A&E. We wanted to beat the rush. We see the triage nurse. They don’t deal with early pregnancy there, so we sit in a cubicle for a couple of hours and then they put me in wheelchair, then in to an ambulance and drive me to another hospital to see if they know what to do with me 20 miles up the road. My husband follows on in the car. I’d never been in an ambulance before. How exciting!

This was going to be a very long day.

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