Fun stuff to read while I get stabbed in the neck

April 1, 2013 | 64 comments

I finally talked to the doctor who’s going to do The Insane-O Vein Procedure. Here’s how that went:

Doctor: Tell me a bit about your history with clotting.

Me: [I tell him about my genetic clotting disorder (Factor II, homozygous), how it’s exacerbated by pregnancy, how I had a deep vein thrombosis in 2006, how I’m nine months pregnant, and how I’m currently recovering from bilateral pulmonary embolisms that occurred while I was taking preventative blood thinners.]

: [Whistles under his breath.]

: [Have an ominous feeling about how the rest of this conversation is going to go.]

: Wow, this is a complicated case.

: [Ominous feeling confirmed.] [Though it’s mixed with smug satisfaction that the doctor who is actually doing the procedure is not saying that it’s “no big deal.”]

: Normally we insert the filter through your leg. However, since you’re pregnant, we’ll want to go in through your neck.

: [Falls off chair.]

: Don’t worry, we won’t need general anesthesia. I’ll make an incision in your neck, insert the catheter and the filter, and take it down to a spot right by your heart — while you’re awake.

: [Twitching. Losing consciousness.]

: We probably can’t get it low enough to protect everything, but at least we’ll be able to cover the lungs and heart. If you throw a clot, worst case scenario is that you experience kidney failure.

: [Everything going black now…]

: Anyway, we’ll just have to see how it goes. I’ve never done this procedure on a pregnant woman before.

: [Startled back to consciousness by visceral terror.]

: We’ll want to be sure to get the filter in a place where the baby won’t put pressure on it, since if that happens the filter could perforate the vein.

: [Trying to remember recipe for a strong Cosmopolitan. I know you’re not supposed to drink during pregnancy, but it may be time for the baby to take one for the team.]

And here was I, whining about the ol’ through-the-leg method. I throw my head back in maniacal laughter as I recall those blissful days of innocence, back when I thought I’d merely have to have snakey robot things carrying sharp metal objects threaded up to the vein near my heart through my thigh and not through a hole in MY FREAKING NECK. On the plus side, having a scar on my neck is a big step forward in my only mildly stalkerish obsession with Grace’s blog. (Oh, you say you’re a Camp Patton fan? Do you have a matching scar on your neck? Yeah. I didn’t think so.)

The fun will occur on Wednesday, which will give me three days to recover before the fun continues with early hospital admission on Sunday so that I can be stabbed with needles every couple of hours around the clock (as opposed to the relaxation of being at home, where I only stab myself with needles twice a day). Then Monday the 8th I get stabbed with more needles. Oh, and I think there’s something about some baby coming that day too. I have so resigned myself to this life of robot-tubes and sharp metal objects that I sometimes forget that there’s a purpose to any of it.

I’ve arranged with our priests to get the Anointing of the Sick before all of this begins. I think I’ll refer to the sacrament by its alternate name, Last Rites, since that term has an appropriately ominous and dramatic flair to it.

While I’m busy with all of that, enjoy these great links:

* * * * *

Fabulous Finds

– Check out this neat list of how to say the Paschal greeting (Christ is Risen!/He is Risen Indeed!) in over 70 different languages.

– The must-read story of an amazing family who stayed strong in faith and hope despite unimaginable obstacles.

The 25 least-visited countries in the world. (via New Advent)

– I love this tradition of choosing a secret Bible verse for each child, praying it for them all year long, then revealing which verses you prayed for them on Easter.

– Dorian has a funny and touching post about what she has learned from Pope Emeritus Benedict. I especially love the list of how she would react to the media’s coverage of Pope Francis if she were BVXI.

Insect head transplants WHAT???!!!

– A wonderfully creative way to add another room to a small house by utilizing vertical space.

– I’ll be in the hospital, so you’ll have to pick up my slack in promoting the April 8th Day of Exodus, in which abortion clinic workers who are ready to leave their jobs but need assistance are encouraged to finally make the leap.

– My favorite new-to-me blogger, Matt Walsh, has a short but profound post about Easter. (This is perhaps not the best juxtaposition, but I would remiss if I didn’t note that I discovered Mr. Walsh through his masterpiece post called “Les Miserables taught me how to hate again“, which had me laughing until I cried.)

– A surprisingly moving reflection: Love means never having to say you’re sorry about explosive diarrhea.

* * * * *

See you Friday! I expect to be back in action in time to host 7 Quick Takes, because nothing — not even a scalpel to the neck — comes between me and my meme-hosting duties.


  1. Laura

    Wow! My prayers are with you this week that all goes well. God Bless.

  2. Sara

    You’ll be in my prayers this week! Don’t forget that Monday, April 8 is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception this year—so it will be a great day to have a baby!

    • Margo

      The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is always on December 8th…when did it get moved to April?

      • Bobby Bambino

        I think Sara means the feast of the Annunciation is April 8 this year. A wonderful day indeed to have a baby.

    • Sara

      Early morning commenting and emailing is obviously a bad idea for me! 🙂 Annunciation. Duh.

  3. mary

    I’m going to be praying for you. a lot. a lot a lot.

  4. Ana Hahn

    well, i will stop my whining over my pending dental appointment this morning and offer every single gum injection up for you. i know that means nothing, but it’s happening all the same.

    so many prayers your way.

  5. Barbara

    Blessings to you and yours. As someone not very confident in the medical profession, I understand your fear! Our 7 yo just had her tonsils out, and I prayed these last days, “Please don’t let her die!” Which, in hindsight, might have been a tad dramatic.

  6. Christine

    Jen, I have Holy Hour Wednesday from 3-4 EDT. It’s for you this week.

    And concentrate on the great guilt trips you can lay on the kids when they ask about the scar! You have the luck of a visible one, as opposed to my scar into my vena cava, which is covered up 99.7% of the time. Much harder for me to guilt up my kids. 😉

    Seriously, you’ve been in my prayers & you’ll get all Holy Hour bennies that day, plus my Mass Wednesday night. Love you!

    • Adrienne

      You are bad! Guilt trips pre-planned!

      • Christine the Soccer Mom

        Hey, if you can’t use it for guilt trips, what fun is that? Catholics specialize in guilt. 😉

  7. Cam

    Oh my goodness! Prayers!

    I think I would have shouted “okay, I don’t ‘need’ general anesthesia, but can I please have it!!!!” But I’m really over dramatic about needles… there was an incident involving fainting during a tb test in high school…

    We’ll definitely be praying for you here!

  8. Josee Turner

    You’ll be in our family prayers all week!

  9. jen

    There’s an Orthodox Christian website that indexes the Paschal Greeting in 250 langauges, The Pascha Polyglotta.

  10. Colleen Martin

    I love how you are able to write all this with a sense of humor! I am praying for all the doctor’s hands and your peace as you go through all of this. Can’t wait to see that bouncing baby boy at the end, with a cosmo in your hand 🙂

  11. Christine the Soccer Mom

    @Margo: I think she meant the Feast of the Annunciation. That was moved because its always celebrated on the first Monday after the Octave if it has fallen within Lent.

    • Will

      To be technical, the feast is moved if it falls during Holy Week or the Octave of Easter. If March 25th is a regular Lenten day, it is observed as usual. It’s my birthday as well, so this year I decided to move the party to this week rather than do it during Holy Week.

      And wow, I’m praying for you, Jennifer. That procedure sounds harrowing.

  12. Adrienne

    Your pain and distress should not be making me laugh out loud. Stop it! (Not to mention I should be working but had to take time to read this when I saw it come my way.)

    May the Lord keep you under his wing. We will all be thinking of you I am sure.

  13. Joy

    Wow!! Shuddering… And praying, as I have been for you!

  14. Deborah White

    I will be praying for you.

  15. Meika

    HOLY SH*T. Prayers commencing.

  16. Liz

    Jen, I will be praying for you and baby all week. I will make a couple speical visits to Adoration for you as well. Hang in there and know you are loved. The gates of heaven will be flooded with prayers for you. God bless!

  17. Sonya

    Jen – Praying for you! I am always so inspired by your posts. I do have one big question, though – how on earth do you find all of the “fabulous finds” links? They are always amazing, super random and places on the Internet that I have never, ever heard of – and I thought my Internet travels were pretty diverse! Any tips on finding the good stuff?

  18. Anne McD

    Oh, my. “We’ll see how this goes?” I usually reserve that for things like an uncertainty of paint color. I’ll keep you in my prayers that all goes smootly, sucessfully, and undramatically. But just dramatic enough that you can write an awesome followup post on it. 🙂

  19. claudette

    Dear Jen, I found your blog very recently through the nunblog and have been following you since. I will offer up my daily mass for you throughout this week and the next. God Bless you and your beautiful family.

  20. Christie @ Everything to Someone

    All of my difficulties (which pale in comparison) offered up to you this week, Jen. You’ll be buffeted by graces. <3

  21. KJL

    I’ll be asking St. Gianna to intercede for you, my dear! This sounds incredibly scary, but I know the Lord will bring you through it!

    And when you get out of all this, I say cosmos are in order!

  22. Valerie

    Wow Jennifer! I’m so sorry that you have to endure all of that. Jesus sure is showering the “kisses” on you, isn’t he? I’ll be praying for you this week, and I am so excited for you to have your little one to hold next week! At a time like this, redemptive suffering is the ONLY thing that would allow me to even survive without rolling up into a catatonic state. God bless you and your beautiful family!

  23. Sara

    Maybe just cycle through these pictures:

    Prayers for you and your family, many of them!

  24. Cathy K

    If it’s any comfort, my 90-year-old mother-in-law had the same procedure (filter inserted thru the neck) and hasn’t had any problems at all.

  25. Bonnie

    So now, of course, you are officially freaking me out! I wonder, how do doctors come up with these procedures? Can you just see a bunch of guys sitting around a conference table in white coats, looking at an overhead, going, “Well, we could always go in through the neck, here,” (making a big red X on the outline drawing of a human body) “then snake it down to the aorta,” (drawing a snaking line through the chest) “and put it here.” (another big red X). Gruesome! Do they ever realize they seem like Frankensteins? And some doctors need a class in “How Not To Think Outloud In Front of Your Patients.” “Wow, this is a complicated case.” (No Sh-t. I happen to like life. Try to remember that while you’re doing this.) “Oh, I’ve never done this on a pregnant woman before.” (Huge confidence builder there, buster!) What ever happened to, “This may seem very scary but don’t worry, you should be fine. You’re in good hands.”? Seriously, though, this does seem to be some sort of a test of faith for you, and I pray God will give you peace and tranquility, and will watch over and guide the doctors in all they do. God bless.

  26. Rebecca Fletcher

    After reading the details of your procedure…I don’t want to live in this world anymore.

  27. oni

    you’ll be in my prayers!
    i had the same procedure while i was 6months pregnant with my 6th child. it’s just that mine was inserted thru the leg/groin area. i was wide awake when they did it. i even watch the procedure on screen! i saw how it went inside. although it doesn’t hurt, i just felt it when the tube/catheter is inside and they’re doing the procedure. that thing inside me felt like i need to burp. (the real feeling of needing to burp!) they need to open a vein in my heart as it is getting smaller. apparently, i had rheumatic heart fever when i was small, and that causes the problem i had right now (mitral valve stenosis).

    that was almost 5 year ago! and that baby insie me is about to start school soon, and to top it up, i had another baby who is now 3 years old!

    God is watching…
    preying for you!

  28. Jenna@CaIllHerHappy

    I am equally lame (and by that I mean cool) because before you even mentioned Grace I thought, “Oh! They will have matching scars!”

    Anywayyyyy, you are still in my prayers for a swift, painless and an easy redemptive suffering experience.

  29. elizabethe

    so many prayers for you Jen. You are a real witness for openness to life and the church’s teachings on marriage and contraception. Thank you. Thank you for going through this all so publicly. God bless you.

  30. Connecticut Catholic Corner

    Oh you poor dear! I cringed and laughed at your doctors visit and plans to be “stabbed in the neck”. Praying all goes well and you (somehow) find a way to be calm and get through it. God bless!

    Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

  31. Sydney

    This is terribly frightening and awesome! I thought it was hilarious what you did with the neck scar dealy. You are taking it to the next level with the Grace-fangirl thing. I approve.

    • Sydney

      PS – Prayers and fasting for you.

  32. Judy

    Prayers from Alabama! A little bit of humor goes a long way. Keep smiling and know that God has you in the palm of His hand! I will be praying daily for you. Mary, take over!

  33. jenn

    Wow! Happy Easter! Will be keeping you and your family in prayer.

  34. Mr Joseph G Mulvihill

    So…anything exciting planned for the next week or two? I’ll keep you in my prayers!

  35. Sharon

    What can anyone say, except you are hilarious and we will be seriously praying for you. Looking forward to the post-procedure update. And to seeing pics of that new little baby!

  36. Shannon Deitz

    Praying for you! Adding you to our parish prayer list as well. Praying to Mary consistently through the ‘scary stuff’ helps.

  37. Cordelia

    The dialog with the doctor is absolutely classic! Once you are finally delivered of this baby AND your book is on the bestseller list – you’ll have to start on a sequel! It’s not like you’ll be lacking material, now is it?

  38. Ashley

    God bless you, Jen. You will be in my prayers.

  39. Mary S.

    Jen –

    Prayers for you from a fellow Lovenox mama! I’ll offer up my two shots on Wednesday for you and a safe, successful procedure. Quick question (maybe I missed it somewhere else): Why do they have to do this while you’re pregnant…why can’t they wait until you’ve delivered? God bless!

  40. Julie

    Am I the only one who thought, “Please let her be making an April Fool’s Joke!?” But I’ll be praying regardless!

  41. Jen G

    Best wishes for a safe and successful procedure, Jen! Ever since you posted about your pulmonary emboli, I’ve been saying St. Michael’s prayer for you daily.

  42. Tracy

    Dear Jennifer,

    I have put out a request for prayer for your procedure on Wednesday. I have several priests and hundreds of people on my listing. I can’t imagine what you’re going through. May God be with you in this stressful time.

  43. Olivia

    You are in my and my husband’s prayers, Jen! Along with the rest of your family (especially that little one you are carrying). Is there a patron saint of vein procedures? I will look that up and pray to them. 🙂

    God bless!

  44. Laura Pearl

    Oh my gosh, that must have been a rough doctor’s appointment. Before I had kids, I had surgery on my bladder in order to ensure that I would have healthy pregnancies. It was elective surgery, but without it I may have suffered kidney damage–and I knew I wanted lots of babies, so I decided to go for it. At the pre-surgical consult, the anesthesiologist was listing the different risks and casually informed me, “Some people get put to sleep and never wake up.” (My surgeon kindly postponed the procedure until I got over my little freak-out!)

    You’ve gotta love these doctors who don’t know how to sugar-coat things!

    You are an inspiration to me (I love that your humor is unflagging, even in the toughest situations), and I’ll keep you in my prayers. God bless you and your baby.

  45. Kristin

    Praying for you and the baby and making a special trip to Adoration for you, Jennifer. With the amount of prayers you’re going to be getting, God is going to start following your blog!

  46. Jennifer G.

    I’m sure you have addressed this, but I can’t seem to find it…why do you have to have this procedure before the baby is born?

    • Jennifer G.

      OH and prayers for you and baby!! You are earning some major time out of Purgatory! 😉

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Good question. It’s because they’re worried that they never did find the source of the clots that went to my lungs in January, and so they’re concerned that there could be hidden clots that would move during labor and postpartum. The filter keeps them from going to my lungs.

  47. Scott Alt

    Wow…continued prayers for you and the baby. So glad to see you’re keeping your sense of humor through all this. God’s blessings.

  48. Mary Ellen

    We are praying for you.

  49. Laura M


  50. Sarah

    Long-time lurker here. My mom is an RN. I just told her about your situation. She actually finished my sentences for me, “Oh yes, she’s having blah, blah, blah done… ” She said, “It’s not a painful procedure. They usually just use local anesthesia to make a very small incision. There’s no need for anything beyond the local.” Is there any way they can reconsider using local? (I know your frustration… when I was pregnant I needed a scary mole removed and my dermatologist refused due to fear of using local anesthesia. But the thing is, it’s used all.the.time safely. I even had local for dental work while pregnant – of course, my dermatologist didn’t care about that so I spent the rest of my pregnancy convinced I would die of skin cancer). Anyway… all that say… *supposedly* this procedure really isn’t bad? I hope that brings some comfort. Praying for you!

  51. Elizabeth

    Jennifer, for what little it’s worth, I’ve assisted at a number of similar vascular surgeries as a med student or junior doctor. Generally, the patients were awake. And remember, most heart catheterisations are done with the patients awake or just lightly sedated. Amazingly to me, the procedures I’ve seen just didn’t appear to be that painful. Your veins don’t actually have much in the way of nerves. So, if it were me, yes, I’d prefer to have some Valium or equivalent to settle my anxiety because it is such an intimidating thing to go through. Again for what little it’s worth, I wouldn’t want anything stronger even if I weren’t pregnant, as it would slow down the recovery process.

    As you know, so many of us are wishing you and your family well, and praying for you. It sounds as though you have a great team looking out for you and your baby boy.

  52. Barbara

    My father-in-law just had that procedure but they went in through the chest. Make sure they stitch it. On lovenox it won’t clot. He bled all day while they tried glue and strips and finally stitched it.

    I recently became a member of the anti-coagulant drugs for life club. It’s like being a ticking time bomb. No one wants to touch you. Swollen arthritic knee? Sorry you’re on blood thinkers, can’t scope you. At least my first colonoscopy is on hold!

    Praying for you! Since you’ll be awake, you can grab hold of a very sensitive part on the radiologist’s body and tell him you won’t hurt him if he doesn’t hurt you. 😉

  53. Tiffani

    I had that very procedure, while 7 weeks pregnant, in order to receive plasma exchange during a severe episode of Guillian-Barre Syndrome. It wasn’t fun, but I survived. My veins cross just below my neck, so I ended up having to have the catheter put in my leg after all. It turned out fine, but I had a punctured lung because the surgeons did not do an X-Ray before attempting to insert the catheter in my neck. If they had done one, they would have seen my crossed veins, which, I guess, usually are parallel. Just make sure you’re getting an ultrasound or x-ray of the area beforehand. It is usually a very basic procedure. You are always in my prayers, Jennifer. I absolutely feel and understand your stress. You’ll be fine, though. You will:)

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