Monday, 3 November 2008

The P List - Medically Speaking



32 weeks in, what a blessing, especially when one considers I didn't think we'd both make it this far!

I was convinced that if the hyperemesis didn't kill me, surely the antibodies would get you! Yet here you are, hiccupping away behind my navel and using my bladder as your stress ball (much to my annoyance).

We've had a tough time haven't we little one? And although we're not home free yet, (still so many weeks to go!), now seems as good a time as any to look back at what we've overcome and are enduring together.




1. Hyperemesis Gravidarum


Nonstop vomiting, constant nausea, rapid weight loss and severe motion sickness from 5 weeks. Some improvement at week 23, vomiting less frequent by week 30, starting to gain weight. Lost 1.5 stones in first 10 weeks. Stabilized with anti-emetic medication. Regained pre-pregnancy weight by week 28. Can keep down small breakfast (for a few hours anyway) and one other meal per day.

Impact: 6 weeks off work on bed rest; no long train/car journeys (at least not without sick bag), fear of roundabouts and speed humps hahha. Limited menu choices for what I can eat without vomitting; severe restriction on the frequency of meals per day.
Verdict: Overcome the worst but still ongoing.
Risk Factor: Low for baby; High for me (due to weight loss and dehydration)
HRHs Verdict: "How did someone so grossed out by vomit end up with someone so vomity?" and "Get off me, you're too heavy" (after previously complaining I was getting all hard and ribsy).
More Info: http://www.hyperemesis.org.ukhttp://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=20639746974&id=509646542&index=4


2. Anti-K Red Cell Antibodies


The enduring consequence of a blood transfusion received after 1st pregnancy. Other causes include incompatibility with partner’s blood group but that’s not us – this is just the result of pure medical ‘error’. Diagnosed at 11 weeks. Must walk with medical warning card: never leave home without it! Risk of maternal blood cells attacking baby and causing severe anaemia, leading to Haemolytic disease of the newborn. Being monitored closely via fortnightly blood tests leave me looking like a heroin addict.

Impact: Won't know til Baby is born.
Verdict: Ongoing, dealing with it as blood results come in.
Risk Factor: High for baby; Low for me.
HRHs Verdict:: “Well I knew you didn’t get it from me!”
More Info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemolytic_disease_of_the_newborn,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemolytic_disease_of_the_newborn_(anti-Rhc)



3. Irritable Uterus


From week 20, I started having PAINFUL contractions... and no I don't mean Braxton Hicks, I mean some honest-to-goodness real life PAINFUL contractions. These were irregular and lasted for 1 or 2 mins, interspersed with the 'normal' painless Braxton Hicks type tightenings. On average 8-10 times a day - sometimes much more, but definitely no less. Took a while to get the medical staff to take me seriously (they brushed me off saying my pain threshold must be low... stupse), ended up in hospital at 24 weeks with threatened premature labour! A few episodes of contracts coming <5 mins apart for just over an hour, before dropping back to irregular pattern. Some improvement since 30 weeks possibly due to increased hydration (less vomiting) and more rest (working from home).

Impact: Ongoing pain, concern re: preterm labour; hospital stay.
Verdict: Ongoing, but I’ve learned techniques to stop the contractions crippling me!
Risk Factor: Medium for baby (risk of premature labour); Low for me.
HRHs Verdict:: “Sumting always wrong wid you!”
More Info: http://www.irritable-uterus.com/http://www.babyzone.com/pregnancy/health_wellness/complications/article/contractions-irritable-uterus

4. Blackouts, Fatigue and Breathlessness (Anaemia, Low Blood Pressure)


From Week 28, extreme dizziness and breathlessness; feeling faint… leading to pixelated vision and blackouts. Must walk slowly (or not at all); must rest frequently (or stay in bed), must lie down on landing for 5-10 mins after walking up stairs (otherwise will topple back down them). Diagnosed with anaemia which when coupled with pre-existing hypotension and large (long) baby crushing my diaphragm means my brain is receiving about 1/3rd the amount it needs and sometimes can’t cope. A good old faint will bring my head in line with my heart and make it easier to pump blood to it – thus restoring equilibrium and averting crisis. (Thanks to nice new doctor for that explanation).

Impact: Bumps and bruises from falls; breathlessness, fatigue, lapses in concentration; couldn't drive for a while.
Verdict: Under control (Overcome?) through medication.
Risk Factor: Medium for baby (risk of injury when I fall, post-natal anemia, preterm labour); Medium for me (risk of injury when I fall, preterm labour).
HRH's Verdict:: “I think you’d better bring forward your maternity leave…”
More Info: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=33157236974&id=509646542&index=1http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/diseases/facts/anaemiapregnancy.htm


And on the bright side...


We're still here, both of us, still fighting, still holding on, and to be honest I am well proud of that!

Also - despite missing the first sitting of my exams (because of all of the above), I passed both modules of my MSc this year - one with a 1st and the other with a high 2.1 (if only I could have concentrated for a lil bit longer lol).

I'm proud of this too because during both exams I had to take loo breaks and Baby Boy thought that it would be a good time to practice the moonwalk which make it ridiculously hard to concentrate! Yay Team Lily!


Wednesday, 1 October 2008

A New Enemy on The Battlefield

So, having driven back the Hyperemesis Monster far enough for me to be able to eat at least one real meal a day; and having warded off several attempts by the Premie Demon to send me into premature labour, I figured I was on the home stretch (2 months to go).

Yes, I still vomit, yes, I still feel ill, yes, I still get really painful contractions at inopportune times, but Baby Boy has continued to grow and more importantly - continued to stay INSIDE and so in that respect I've been on the winning side.

So who comes along to lick me when I'm down and try to get me to concede all the ground I've taken this far? The Anaemic Army, with reinforcements from the Low Blood Pressure mercenaries. Their combined attack (along with giant baby in my tiny body) have combined to severely reduce the amount of oxygen reaching my brain - hence the blackouts and the breathless and the general misery of the past 2 weeks.

I eat - I can't breathe
I walk - I can't breathe
I lie down - I can't breathe

I stand in a queue - I faint
I push the lawnmower - I faint
I sweep the room - I faint
I squat to pull out a weed/pick up a pen - I faint

HRH says they should just roll me about in a wheelbarrow til the baby comes.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Sometimes I Shock Myself!


So, with the advent of pregnancy and the onset of my battle with hyperemesis gravidarum - my updates on the war against tallerism have dried up... until now.

Since my last series of posts, we've moved house and now live a 7 min walk away from a station that takes me directly to work within 20 mins (thus enabling me to return to the office). It was on said train that this incident occured.

After quietly watching the minutes tick by on my watch, we finally arrived at my stop. Surprisingly enough, it seemed as though half the train wanted to get off at this stop. I took a quick look at my exits (equidistant) and chose the one I thought had a shorter queue.

A couple minutes later - with commuters still pouring off the train (noone had managed to board yet), the driver sounded the alarm to indicate the train was about to depart. Amazing how a steady 'peep peep peep peep' can inspire such animal reactions in 'normal' people.

A wave of panic spread through the carriages, heralded by groans and moans, as people spilled out onto the platform... there was trampling and squishing and pushing... ahead of me there was a female tallerist, another woman and a couple of men struggling to make it through the closing doors. My impaired speed (re: awkward shape and added weight) was no match for the electronics in those doors... I was not gonna make it off...

I don't know what came over me, I swear, but that wave of panic gripped me. There was no way I could stay on this train a second longer - I needed to puke, I needed fresh air, I needed my freedom...

Without realising what I was doing, I made a jump for the door: in one olympic bound I leapt into the air, landing nimbly on Lady Tallerist's back while she elbowed her way through the door - carrying me safely with her.

Once on the platform, I deftly slid off her back and planted my feet firmly on the ground as the train pulled away.

Amidst the throngs of disgruntled commuters packed along the platform, realisation sunk in... I had just jumped on a total stranger's back in order to get off the train. I had ridden someone like a camel!

I quickly looked around, Lady Tallerist was looking around in bewilderment rubbing her back. I'm guessing she was trying to figure out what had happened to her... was it the crowd pressing against her back or had someone ridden her out?

Without thinking I said : 'Thanks!' and rubbed my belly... she looked even more confused... I figured now was as good a time as any to disappear (before she figured out what I was thanking her for). I ducked between two tallerists and let the crowd take me out of the station.

Top side, I thought about what I'd done and how it must have looked. A petite pregnant woman jumping on a woman's back in order to get out a train in time.

I hang my head in shame (while laughing all the same).

Sometimes I shock myself.

yee-hah

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Blooming Awful!

I wrote this on another blog space in June 2008, but since I'm deleting that account, I'm copying it here. I can't believe I made it through this... I'd forgotten how horrid it was!

"18 June 2008 at 23:43
So, so many people have asked me why I haven't blogged my pregnancy. Aren't I excited? I write about so many other things - why not this?

Well the truth is, it hasn't been blooming marvellous at all.

I have a condition/illness called HYPEREMESIS GRAVIDARUM. Its a rare illness associated with pregnancy that causes constant severe nausea and vomiting. No, it isn't morning sickness so don't ask me that again. If you've had it - you know how debilitating it can me and you know I am not exaggerating or making up it.

It doesn't just happen in the morning. It doesn't just 'stop' after 12 weeks like 'normal' morning sickness. It isn't kept at bay by ginger or crackers or whatever home remedy or old wives tale you've heard works for morning sickness. You need DRUGS. Strong ones. Anti-emetics that stop you vomiting (but don't stop you feeling like you need to vomit)!

How bad is it? I spend most of my day knackered, exhausted from puking, my throat is sore... sometimes I have sharp pain behind my navel from where I've wrenched my stomach muscles from vomiting so much. I have headaches. I am constantly hungry - but I can't eat cos I feel so ill/I just vomit after I eat - what a waste.

It started at 5 weeks. I started vomiting on my trains to and from work. I thought I had gastro or an ear infection. Eventually pregnancy was confirmed: yay I thought - not knowing what torment was in store.

The train thing was just the beginning; I started having SEVERE motion sickness. I couldn't get to work; I couldn't go over speed humps or around roundabouts or turn corners in any car without puking or having the overwhelming urge to puke. 7 times out of 10 I'd have to swallow my vomit so I wouldn't soil my clothes and car - I'd dive into the house to chuck up. By week 7 I could no longer leave the house.

I lay in bed and vomited into what would become my closest friend. Mr Grey (the mop bucket) and when he was out of commission (being soaked in bleach by the faithful husband), there was Mrs Plastic Bag and Mrs Empty Container... and if I couldn't grab those in time - then Mr Carpet got it in the face.

How do I explain to you how bad it is? Movement is my enemy. At its peak, you cannot touch me or the bed, even the motion of my husband (HRH) getting in and out of bed or my daughter sitting down on the mattress next to me to wipe my forehead would set off a fit of vomiting. So many times I screamed and yelled at them to keep still/go away/ stop bouncing... I was/am a right dragon! God only knows how and why they still love me... sometimes I wonder if they'll bundle me up in my sleep and throw me over those famous white cliffs...

Before I got the drugs, I would wake up in the middle of the night to vomit. I slept propped up to avoid the bile rising back up into my throat. Actually - I still have to sleep with my head high...

I was (and often still am) soooooo miserable!

I can't eat. Or rather - I am severely limited in what I can eat and how much. These past 2 weeks I have been surviving on fruit. Small plums and nectarines. Maybe 2 or 3 a day or a handful of cherries. That's usually it. Oh and maybe later on I can have a small bowful of rice or 10 chips (I can never swallow more than 10 and keep it down). Anything more comes right back up. Half a cup of soup usually stays down... Did I mention I am usually hungry?

Happily I can drink water again. Before week 12, water was disgusting to me. However, soda water (which was disgusting to me before) stayed down one weekend when I was seriously dehydrated. I can't stand it now.

One week I survived on dialyte. Another time I could only nibble pieces of lettuce. I can no longer drink tea (any kind). Ginger DOES NOT WORK.

I was thinking about food the other (always hungry but cant keep food down) and I started listing all the things I could no longer eat: bran bread, malted bread; seeded bread; shredded wheat, weetabix; fruit n fibre; special K - okay most cereals except porridge; sugar! I can't eat anything with sugar in it - even half a teaspoon is too sweet and results in vomit; chicken korma, curry; pizza (although that's an odd one because one night I did have a craving for it and it stayed down - thanks babe); milk, fruit juice of any kind (too sweet), roti. lasagne... that's just SOME stuff, otherwise I'll be here all night.

Some days half a slice of toasted white bread stays down... other days you can forget it. Rice pudding stays down most days and porridge (sometimes) but you can get bored of eating/trying to eat the same bland food day after day but of course, I shouldn't moan cos if nothing stayed down ever - I'd be hospitalised.

Yes, I've had several trips to A&E to be rehydrated but I have been lucky, unlike other women with this condition, I haven't had to be hospitalised. And my employers have been patient and supportive, I was dead to them for 5 weeks with this illness and since then I've had to work from home since I still can't get the trains! I am grateful for the grace I've been given.

I think the hardest bit of all this is people not understanding what the hell I'm going through. I am not exaggerating how bad it is - in fact I've left loads out cos I can't sit here all night.

I'm fed up of people saying:'oh it'll be over soon. 12 weeks right?' ... HELLOOOOOOO - I am 4 months pregnant - that's 16 weeks, it aint over yet. And guess what? It could go on for as long as I am pregnant. I can totally understand why some women with this condition cannot carry their children to term - as I said before though, I thank God that I've had the grace and strength to continue - but I don't think I could do this again - so this is my last child.

I'm fed up of people saying: 'have you tried ginger?', 'eat crackers', 'try dry toast' - what do you think I've been doing? They don't work.

I really hate when people hear I'm at home and think I'm larking about or putting it on. Its not as simple as mind over matter. tell that to the gentleman whose shoes I barfed over on the train last time I tried that willpower thing.

On the bright side - aint nothing wrong wid the baby. Hyperemesis Gravidarum affects the mother not the child - the baby feeds off whatever mummy can keep down and whatever reserves she's had stored up before she got ill. Mummy's the one in misery.

So far I have dropped from just under 8.5 stone (pre- pregnancy) to 7.5 stone.

Thanks girls for understanding. Thanks to all my prayer partners for your support.

Hopefully this gives you all a bit more insight, for those of you who'd like to know more: try
http://www.hyperemesis.org.uk or
http://www.helpher.org.

There's also this NBC video report: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGOqqbBCWg8&feature=related

Thanks for listening.

One xx

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