I’ve enjoyed an outpouring of love and support this last week since my dear husband and bandmate let everyone know via social media that I’d been suddenly and unexpectedly hospitalized. I’ve seen friends I haven’t seen in years and people have been helping to make sure I’m fed, cared for and taken wherever I need to go or looked after. I am so grateful and appreciative of how many wonderful and caring people I know who will take time out of their personal lives to help.
I wanted to share my story of what happened. In order to tell the story I have to first skip back to the beginning of 2013; Mykel had just had successful surgery for a tumor in his carotid artery, a genetic condition. The discovery of this tumor in the fall of 2012 and his subsequent illness came at the end of a summer full of tense uncertainty about the future of our band, Kill Matilda. With his illness things seemed to go even further down the crapshoot; it was looking like we would never get our shit together again. Who knew when we would be able to get back to the project we’d devoted so much of our lives to? We were both depressed. I was working a full-time job, something unusual for me (because we were usually on tour or moving around), and I found that I barely had time for anything other than eating, sleeping, going to work and caring for Mykel, who wasn’t able to work. He was also very depressed because he could barely move around, was always tired and dizzy. It was a bad, and very boring, time.
Fast forward to post-surgery for Mykel; the beginning of last year. Nothing was going on with our band, our future was uncertain, but we knew that we were healthy and we had money. We decided that I would go off birth control and that maybe it was the right time to try and have a family. Things didn’t work out. The first few months I excitedly bought pregnancy test after pregnancy test, we talked about how we’d tell our families. My pregnancy tests became a graveyard of empty pregnancy test boxes under the sink. Seriously, I must have bought like fifty over the course of three or four months. We thought maybe it would happen by mother’s day and that we’d tell our moms as a present. No go. Time passed, nothing happened. We stopped waiting.
Things picked up with our band again and we focused our energies on writing and recording. Our drummer came back from a trip to Australia, we spent about 15 hours a week in the jam space writing and practicing. I left my job to focus on Kill Matilda and working more in the music industry booking tours. We didn’t talk about how I wasn’t on birth control, but my period always came and reminded me. I got really sensitive to seeing posts from friends and people that I knew who became pregnant. In a fit of jealousy I unfriended an acquaintance who posted a happy status about how she’d conceived “only one month after going off birth control!”. Later I felt guilty and re-friended. I’m not usually such a jerk.
Fast-forward to last week and a sudden stabbing pain in my belly. I ate a lot of cheese pizza yesterday, I’m probably having indigestion. I took a bath. I couldn’t sit still. Laying down hurt. Within an hour we were at the hospital, I could barely walk. I was crying. We sat in the waiting room after receiving triage and checking in when suddenly I went into shock. First it was just about the pain (which now felt like someone had punched me in the stomach), but then I felt I was about to throw up or pass out, or both. My whole body went limp, my arms and hands felt really loose. My face felt WEIRD. My skin felt super… aware, then hot, then sweating, then freezing. I heard a ringing in my ears and I couldn’t move. I tried to call out for help but Mykel said later I was barely whispering. He said about 15 more minutes passed by before I got a bed but I don’t remember; all I remember was slouching over my seat and him asking me if I could sit up, and I had to muster all my energy to say, “no I can’t, I can’t move.”
They told me in the ER that I probably had a burst ovarian cyst, which would hurt, but wasn’t dangerous. They would probably send me home and bring me back for an ultrasound the next day. Then the nurse poked her head in the door, looked at the doctor and said “your preg test is posi.” He looked at her with a weird little smile on his face and then looked at me.
“You did not seriously just open this door and tell me, LIKE THAT, that I’m pregnant?” I said to the nurse. So then there was that – suddenly, without warning in the ER, I got confirmation that my body finally did this thing I’d been trying to get it to do for a full year. I wanted to smile and laugh but I was in too much pain. Mykel got the news (he’d stepped out for a coffee) and we tried to remind ourselves not to get too excited yet. They said that since I was pregnant they’d probably do an ultrasound right away.
The pain got so bad I couldn’t lay on my back. The weirdest part was that I had stabbing pains in my right rib cage, my right lung. I wanted to breathe deep to ease the clenching stabbing pains I felt in my abdomen but it was like there was an elastic band around the bottom of my ribs keeping me from breathing. They did a mini-ultrasound in the room before taking me for a bigger one. The ultrasound tech left my door open, I overheard her saying to someone else that I was in a lot of pain, I needed morphine, and that she strongly suspected I had an ectopic pregnancy.
An ectopic pregnancy is when the pregnancy implants in the fallopian tube or somewhere else it isn’t supposed to go. It’s never viable and can sometimes be taken care of via an oral pill which causes the body to miscarry. Sometimes your body will miscarry naturally. When they took me for the big ultrasound I could barely get through it, I was hurting so bad. All the pain was now in my ribs, shoulders and lungs. I couldn’t lay on my back, it was like laying on a knife.
They told me that my tube had ruptured and that I was bleeding internally. This meant I couldn’t have a pill because without surgery to repair the damaged tube I’d keep bleeding. Ectopic pregnancy is the leading cause of pregnancy-related death for women because of this risk of rupture. The rupture doesn’t happen to everyone but when it does it’s a medical emergency. I later found out that the pain I’d been experiencing in my ribs and shoulders was due to internal bleeding, because the blood was tracking up my abdominal cavity when I laid flat. The reason I couldn’t breathe deep was because my diaphragm was being irritated by blood. I said, “are you sure you can’t like, scoop it it out and put it where it’s supposed to be? are you sure it can’t be saved?”
They came in and told me that I’d be going into surgery very soon, within an hour or two. I called my mom. I was scared. I was really scared that I might not make it out of the hospital that night. It wasn’t a very risky surgery but hearing that you’re bleeding internally is a pretty scary reality. I’d gone from normal, to pregnant, to needing a surgically-necessary abortion, to bleeding internally in a life-threatening way in a number of hours. I had to take out all my piercings because they were going to cauterize the tube.
When I woke up from surgery I felt a million times better. The incisions were quite small and I had very little pain (compared to what I’d been feeling!). They told me that I’d lost about 25% of my blood. My hemoglobin was at 90 (they give you a blood transfusion at 70). They had told Mykel that they were ready with 2 transfusions for me. They took out a big chunk, but not all, of my fallopian tube. The rest is quite hazy but the risk for a woman to have an ectopic pregnancy after having had one jumps from 1 in 90 to 1 in 10. They don’t know what state the other tube is in; they suspect that mine was weakened due to some kind of pelvic inflammation from a long time ago.
There will be tests. I have to get a blood test every week for the next little while to make sure my pregnancy hormone levels go back down to normal. When I’m healed I’ll have to get a kind of CT scan to see what state the other tube is in. If it’s no good there’ll be another surgery to reattach what’s left of the fallopian tube on the damaged side. They recommend against trying to get pregnant for awhile. If things are damaged, there is a whole new reality to face. Tests, procedures, maybe drugs, payments. I don’t even know. The thought that the act of having a baby would be more difficult than simply just wanting to and trying to never crossed my mind. I’ve always been so careful with myself. I went through a day of hormones falling; I walked around the house screaming and punching things. I was really angry. No need to really stress out before we know anything but can’t help but worry and feel a little cheated.
Next up; I had to rest. I lost a lot of blood and it showed; even walking up stairs made me lose my breath. We have a show on Friday. How do I get my shit together before then? Cancelling the gig never even crossed my mind. Dave can play; I asked Marcus to take care of arranging practices without me. I’ll try to squeeze one in before the show. Sleep rest rest sleep. It’s been a week. We’re only playing a 20 minute set. I went to rehearsal; if I stand still and play and sing I sweat but I can do it. The incisions are healed, there’s no pain and no reason I can’t. Many people go back to work within a week of having this surgery.
So listen up; there won’t be any babies for a little while. I don’t want to worry, and I have bigger fish to fry right now. I have been, and always will be, obsessed with making music and performing. We’re planning a tour. When we had nothing in our lives, when we felt settled, we badly wanted to start a family. We still do. But not on tour, not while we’re experiencing so much success and doing something so amazing. It’s not logical and it’s not fair to a baby, for sure. Maybe we can make it work in the future. But I also can’t handle the fact that I can’t plan it. Can I pull off touring, being in a band, having a kid? I think I can but only if I can plan and know when things will happen. Without control over my reproductive abilities, without knowing what kind of laborious medical processes are (very likely) now going to be involved, I can’t do it. Too many unknowns. And my heart aches. A lot. To think that this given is no longer a given isn’t easy and I know I don’t need to feel ripped off but I do. I’m still having a few cramps and pains and I’m still low energy – about 2 hours of doing anything is all I can handle.
Why do I feel this surge of success and this renewed sense of commitment to this project.
#1 – The amazing attention of Garth Richardson. Although this man has produced so many amazing albums and we’re not the only band getting some attention and love, he took the extra steps to personally engineer our new album, which is something he has not done in like, 10 years or something. That makes me feel very, very special.
#2 – our re-release. We will be doing a re-release of I Want Revenge this spring, retitled “#punk#zombie#rocknroll”. With the release I will be releasing a short Kill Matilda comic I’ve been working on, very exciting… I hope you all like it. We’ll tour cross-Canada with our rerelease to drum up some attention and excitement for the album we did with Garth, which will be out later this year.
#3- We have been working hard to produce some music videos for the rerelease and things are coming together. We’re excited to announce that Cariboo beer has been behind us 110% helping us get this video together and sponsoring us. We are excited to work with them and promote them. I’m a Prince George girl and I’m happy to rep my hometown brewery hard.
I have a guitar, I have a microphone.
One week out of my hospital bed I will meet you onstage.
I’ll see you motherfuckers on Friday.
This is what I’ve got to hold onto and it’s plenty good.