Fireballs of the Eucharist
Early in my emergency medicine training, a woman came in screaming because of severe abdominal pain. She told the nurse she suffered similar pains in the past because of “fireballs of the Eucharist,” which we interpreted as fibroids in her uterus. She said she had not had a period for three months but was sure she was not pregnant as her periods were always irregular. She was so upset by her pain that we had a hard time getting more information from her. From the way she looked, I thought she was dying from a ruptured ectopic (tubal) pregnancy or something terrible.
She said she needed to move her bowels but was unable to do so after the nurse helped her onto a bedpan. By then, we had an IV in but she was not responding to pain medicine. In fact, she seemed to be getting worse. She screamed, “Somethings coming out down there!” I slipped on gloves and slid my fingers in her vagina. What I felt puzzled me so much that I was startled and pulled my hand back. “What?” I asked myself. I put my fingers back in to reevaluate. Now I was sure. A head!
I hollered for help and, just as I had the baby delivered, the pediatrician and obstetrician arrived to take over care of the mother and the baby. The baby was probably about two months premature. However, it was pink and crying, which is very good news for a newborn. I told the lady that she had a baby and she cried, “Oh, no! I don’t want a baby!”
At the time, my wife was at about the same stage of pregnancy with a baby that we very much wanted. That made me all the sadder for the lady and the baby.