Ignoring the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy cost me a Fallopian tube

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Maggie Athridge
By: Evil ErinCC BY 2.0

One Saturday night I was just suddenly extremely sore in my lower abdomen — because of some historical gastrointestinal issues I assumed it was just a really bad case of bloat. Then it went on for the entire week. I made some drastic diet choices. I cut out dairy and anything with bubbles or that's known to cause gas at all. I consulted Dr. Google and tried every ridiculous thing I found in forum posts or on Web MD. Meanwhile my husband got more worried by the day and gently urged (read: tried to load me in the car while I was sleeping) me to go to the doctor or the emergency room. I was so sure it was something benign that I refused to listen to reason.

It was at the point where I was considering buying antibiotics from a fish store, something I had seen on an episode of Doomsday Preppers, that I finally agreed to make an appointment with my doctor. As these things go the doctor couldn't see me for a week and I didn't press it because I was sure this wasn't a big deal.

So I kept toughing it out and I was at work a few days later standing up and addressing my staffers when the pain was suddenly unbearable — I could barely walk I was doubled over. I know now that this is probably when my Fallopian tube ruptured. So I did what any reasonable person would do (NOT) and finished the meeting and sat back down at my desk and popped a few Tylenol. It took the edge off and I could stand so IM'd my husband and told him that I was going to go to the Emergency Room on my way home and that I'd call him if he needed to meet me.

Luckily, my husband is more reasonable than I am and immediately left to meet me at the ER, which is a good thing because the wait was pretty short. They had an IV in me and I was laying in a hospital bed when a nurse came in and announced that we were pregnant. We had that moment of surprise and elation and then the doctor came in and explained to us that the pain could be one of two things. If the pregnancy had implanted normally it could be a ruptured cyst (The Good One) or it could be an ectopic pregnancy (The Bad One). A series of blood tests and ultrasounds followed.

I think I knew it was The Bad One when the ultrasound tech called her boss in and they did the ultrasound a second time and got really quiet. A little while later a surgical OBGYN came in and explained that I did have an ectopic pregnancy and would need surgery to remove it. It was a bit of a whirlwind after that signing forms, trying to sleep a little, getting IV's and then being wheeled into surgery that morning. At most follow up appointments after the surgery the doctor explained to me that had I tried to "walk it off" any longer I could have ruptured my uterus or bled to death. She also told me that she'd never had a patient that went two full weeks in pain before they sought professional medical help. I've always liked being an anomaly, but this doesn't seem good.

By: Hey Paul StudiosCC BY 2.0

Going forward my husband and I obviously have some talking, accepting and moving on to do. More importantly I have to learn to listen to my body better and know its limits, until then I've agreed to go to the ER when I start considering medical treatment from Pet Smart or if I've spent more than two days consulting Dr. Google on a regular basis.

Losing The Zygote has been difficult, but I think the blow was softened because it was only part of our reality for about a half an hour. This whole situation actually does have some positives — I know now that it is possible for me to get pregnant. And according to the doctors losing a Fallopian tube doesn't have a huge negative effect on fertility so we probably will get to start a family once I'm medically cleared for extra-curricular activities again.

I try to look at life like a book, and this isn't the end of our story; it's just the sad part at the beginning that the protagonists have to get through before they get their happy ending.

  1. I'm so sorry for your loss. I've had two miscarriages myself, though not ectopics. It is difficult to know in early pregnancy (or all of pregnancy, I imagine) what is a "normal, just suck it up" pain/cramp/gas/whathaveyou and what is a "go to the ER" symptom.

    So did you actually lose your tube? The title says "almost" but your entry made it sound as though it was removed. I was only born with one fallopian tube, and I do like hearing about how it isn't supposed to affect fertility that much! My doctors have told me the same thing and, indeed, I have seemed to conceive relatively easily.

  2. Don't beat yourself up about not listening to your body– how could you know? Anyway, I almost died from internal hemmorrage after a ruptured ectopic– and that was AFTER I'd sought early diagnosis and treatment (methotrexate). Ectopics are no joke. Glad you are ok.

  3. I lost a Fallopian tube in 1993 due to an ectopic also. I now have 2 beautiful kids ages 16 and 13. It only took about 8 months to get pregnant the first time and 3months the second time once we started "trying". Good luck to you!

  4. I also lost a Fallopian tube to an ectopic pregnancy in 2011, I had ignored the pain chalking up to stress as we moved several hundred miles and started new jobs. Then one night my husband took advantage of my sleepy state and convinced me to go to the ER, where I had emergency surgery.

    It was very traumatic for us, but this March we did get the excitement of a positive pregnancy test that is developing perfectly. All naturally and with one tube! Good luck to you ladies, just know that it is indeed possible. Thank you for this story, it really rings true.

  5. I think that in addition to being a regular warning about ectopic pregnancies, this could also be a warning to anyone to be very conscientious about health problems. One of my friends ignored some pains in her stomach until, like you, she forced herself to go to the ER. Less than a month later, she'd been diagnosed with advanced colon cancer; a few months after that, she died.

    The lesson I learned is to always listen to your body, be pro-active about things that are wrong, and be skeptical about wanting to pass medical problems off as things you can power through.

    • If you are the person I think you are, yes I miss Kielle…. She was the reason I forced my husband to the ER when he had kidney stones.

  6. I'm so sorry for your loss. I've had two miscarriages – one of which was an ectopic pregnancy. It's so incredibly painful both emotionally AND physically.

    I do have two healthy kiddos, one born after both my losses & I wish the same for you.

  7. It cost me a fallopian tube and a blood transfusion. For me, it started out feeling like the worst period cramps ever but only on one side. Then it felt more like you described, which was like food poisoning and bloat mixed together. I almost didn't go to the hospital, too, but my husband convinced me. I did know I was pregnant and the nurse at the front desk told me I was "having a miscarriage" and "the only thing to do is go home and wait it out." If I had listened to her I would have died. I had already bled into my abdomen so much that I needed a blood transfusion. The reason for the bloating and stomach-bug feeling was the reaction of my insides to the blood pooling. I would have gone to sleep thinking it would make me feel better and then just bled internally all night.

    Moral of the story: don't let anyone turn you away if you have a gut feeling that something is wrong. I had gone to Dr. Google, too, and read about ectopic pregnancy and that was what kept me in the waiting room that night… I had a gut feeling that something really dangerous was happening.

  8. thank you for the humor in this story- "I've agreed to go to the ER when I start considering medical treatment from Pet Smart"

    hilarious.

  9. I'm so sorry for your loss.
    And Ow I wish this article was here half a year earlier….

    I do very relate to your story. Last September I had an ectopic pregnancy as well. Just like you I also waited very long before going to a doctor.
    For me because I thought it was a miscarriage (I started bleeding in my 6th week of pregnancy, without any pains or physical discomfort). I wanted to wait for myself what happened and believed my body could take care of it.
    Thankfully I had a very good midwife who insisted to get my blood checked for HCG multiple times. The tests showed my hormones going up instead of going down; what should happen after a miscarriage. So I was sent to the ER and rushed into surgery without knowing what they would discover in surgery. (they couldn't see anything inside our outside my uterus with a sonogram.)
    During surgery my fallopian tube turned out to be severely ruptured and 'leaking' blood into my stomach. No one could believe that I didn't suffer from severe pain.

    I felt totally betrayed by my own body; Why didn't gave it any signs!
    What I thought was a miscarriage turned out to be a ectopic pregnancy with the lost of a fallopian tube.

    After surgery I let my body and mind heal. My mental healing took (and still takes) a lot longer. Me, being a very matter of fact person found it very difficult to deal with everything that happened. I was surprised by my own vulnerability.

    After 3 months we started trying again, the whole: "lets see what happens" and hoping for "a happy little accident" was completely gone.
    But here I am today; 3 months pregnant and slowly starting to realize that I can start to trust my body again.

    Thank you for your story and all the best for you!

  10. I had a similar experience.. I had pains but nothing too serious at first, I knew I was 10 weeks pregnant and thought it was relatively normal. Then one morning, I woke up, made my 1 year old some food and then all of a sudden I had the most terrible pain on the right side of my abdomen. It eventually crawled up my stomach and into my chest. I called my husband and we ended up at Urgent Care.. I told them all my symptoms; I could hardly walk and it was getting hard to breathe.. but they told me it was gastro problems probably due to pregnancy.. so we ran some errands and eventually I told my husband we HAD to go the the emergency room. That's when I basically blacked out and only remember hazy moments until I was in the ER. After an ultrasound confirmed that my tube had burst, they rushed me to surgery to have it removed.

    It felt different that a miscarriage for me, because I just knew there was no way to save it.. I knew what had happened, there was no mystery. It still hurts but in a different way. I got pregnant 6 months later and after the initial fear and blood tests, I had a healthy baby girl 4 months ago. I'm not too spiritual or religious but I can't imagine not having this little one in my life, and she's only here because another baby isn't.

  11. I too had an ectopic pregnancy; I was in pain for about 3 weeks before breaking down and going to the ER.
    I had no idea I was pregnant, I thought it was another cyst or blood clot needing to be removed, as my periods even at 39 were so bad.
    After a full check up, it was declared I was pregnant.
    I was in shock, I had an 10 1/2yr. and here I was I'd just gotten divorced a year earlier and I was in this new relationship, did I really want to be pregnant? But I knew I could be a single mom, I'd done it before and knew I could do it again. So I'd decided to be happy.
    Then they do they ultrasound and my heart breaks, not only as it an ectopic pregnancy, but if it were a normal pregnancy the baby wouldn't have survived, it's skull wasn't completely formed.
    But somehow miracles, among miracles 7 months later I had full-term (don't ask) healthy baby boy!!!
    And this time I had NO clue I was pregnant… Not until 30 weeks…
    So yes… Miracles Do Happen…

  12. Texas has just voted to make it so insurance can no longer cover ectopic pregancies. HB214. I cannot even imagine having to pay a 30K hospital bill after such a terrifying and heart-breaking experience. My MIL almost died after an ectopic pregnancy when my DH was 2, and if insurance hadn't covered it they would have had to declare bankruptcy on top of everything else.

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