Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Slow Journey Through Hell Begins: Pregnancy #5

*Edited to add:  I should probably warn you mention that I am serious about the "Slow Journey" part, and there are about 5 more posts covering this pregnancy.  Bonus points if you make it through all of them ;-).

Before I got pregnant for the final time, I stood at my freezer, contemplating a container of Ben and Jerry's, and thinking, "There must be SOMETHING I can eat when I am pregnant and sick.  SURELY I couldn't have been so sick those other times that I couldn't have eaten some Ben and Jerry's!  I mean, REALLY;  is it even POSSIBLE to feel so bad that you can't eat ice cream?  Maybe there just wasn't any in the freezer the last couple of times I was pregnant.  SURELY I'll be able to 'choke down' (ha, ha) a pint every day, and then I'll get a decent number of calories even if I can't eat anything else!" 

This conversation with myself came back to mock me a few weeks later when I was pregnant and sick and stood at the freezer remembering my plan, but my stomach turned, and I gagged at the thought of eating even ONE BITE of my VERY FAVORITE flavor of Ben and Jerry's, or anything else, for that matter. 

I called the doctor's office the minute I found out I was pregnant, I firmly told them I needed to get in ASAP because by the time they would have scheduled the usual 12 week appointment, I would already have been sick for 6 weeks. 

I went to that appointment and told the doctor that I had HYPEREMESIS GRAVIDARUM, and I found out what I was supposed to do when I was too sick to eat or drink.  She said she would send some orders to Urgent Care so that they would know what to do with me when I came in.  THANKFULLY, she also wrote something down and gave it to me to give them when I got there because when I did go in, they could not find the orders she had sent. 

I asked her to give me the prescription for the anti-nausea medicine RIGHT THEN so I would have it when the sickness hit.  (Of course because my body hates me, the medicine didn't actually make the nausea go away;  if nausea has a scale of 1-10, and 1 is where I feel fine, and 10 is where I wish I were dead, hyperemesis puts me at about an 18, and taking the medicine and getting IV fluid brings me down to about a 14, so, yes, it helps, but it doesn't make it go away.)  Even though I had explained everything to her, and I THOUGHT she understood because she had been through the SAME THING, she still only wrote the prescription for 2 weeks worth of medicine, when my next appointment was going to be in 4 weeks!  Of course, I was so nervous and flustered at my appointment that I didn't notice this until I had left.  It was SUCH a pain to try to talk to the nurse in the office to get anything like that fixed;  I would have to call, leave a message (because she NEVER answered) and then wait until 5 or 6pm when she would call back.  It was very difficult for me to try to get the care I needed when I felt so sick, so I tried to plan as much of it as I could before I got to that point.   

June 4, 2009
I survived the TWO HOUR stupid OB orientation meeting today:  make sure you don’t drink and smoke while you’re pregnant, OK? 

June 13, 2009
If I can survive another pregnancy, you will be getting another grandchild towards the end of January =).
{Doing My Best}

June 21, 2009  (Sometimes people would ask if there was anything they could do to help...)
I need the Lord to perform a miracle on my behalf, but the answer seems to be NO/learn-patience-in-suffering again. Other than that, there seems to be nothing anyone can do.

June 23, 2009
I’m trying to hold up OK; it’s hard to not whine and complain when I feel so icky all the time, but I’m trying. I don’t feel so bad that I’m wishing for death yet, but I expect that it is coming;   just about everything I eat or drink makes me feel even sicker that I already do.
Friend C. has been here for about a week, and she’s been a GREAT help entertaining kids and cooking dinner, but she leaves tomorrow.  Husband helps as much as he can, but he has to go to work everyday, and he’s never quite able to get everything done while he’s there, so he’s stressed about that.
It hasn’t been as overwhelming this time since all of the children are older and Ian and David can do quite a bit to help Marie and Joseph, but there’s still the daily overseeing of the children and their chores and behavior and all of that sort of stuff. I think last time was the hardest because Marie was only about 14 months old when I got sick; I’m so glad that I don’t already have a baby this time!
Ugh, I’m afraid I’ve been sitting up too long typing, so I’m going to have to go.

June 25, 2009  (Someone asked if there was anything I needed.)
I think I need to go in for I.V. hydration tomorrow. Other than that, I don’t know what I need. Friend S. is taking my kids every day, and there are a couple other friends who stop by her house to take one or two of them sometimes. We have simple dinners, so Husband can take care of that pretty well, other than the fact that his job would really like him to work more like 60-80 hours a week instead of the 40 they are paying him for. The children are responsible for various chores that keep the house relatively clean. I think I need to know that I won’t have to do this again =(.  I never imagined I could ever feel that way.

The first time I went to Urgent Care for IV fluid (2-3 weeks after I found out I was pregnant), I felt miserable and was on the verge of tears (One stupid helpful doctor Physician's Assistant told me that I would know if I was dehydrated because I wouldn't be able to cry;  ummmm, NO.  I was severely dehydrated for months, but I still had tears.  If I had waited as long as he thought I should, I would have been DEAD.), and they couldn't find the orders my doctor said she would send, which did not help with the trying-not-to-cry situation!  I showed them the other paper she had given me, so they sent me to the Infusion Center, but when I did finally get my IV, they told me that, the way the doctor had written the order, I could only have one bag of fluid unless there was protein in my urine  (REALLY?  It has to get to THAT point?  We can't try preventative measures so that it doesn't go that far?), and that *I* would need to call the doctor's office to get this worked out.  At that point, I was too sick to fight for what I needed.

For our anniversary, Husband had given me a box of my VERY FAVORITE See's Candies, butterscotch squares, but I couldn't eat those either.

June 30, 2009
I am deathly nauseous EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY. If I eat or drink anything it gets even worse, so I don’t eat or drink much. As long as I lie still all day and don’t sit up, walk, or move, I can keep from gagging. I think I’m just going to have a standing appointment Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the Infusion Center to get IV fluids. I wish my doctors would have listened to me the last THREE TIMES I suffered like this; I’m starting to think it’s a miracle that I didn’t die of complications from being severely dehydrated for 14 weeks each time. I went in for my first IV on Friday, and I was already so dehydrated that they couldn’t get blood to come out of my veins until they had given me an entire bag of fluid. It’s no fun being poked, but at least there is a way for me to get the fluid I need and my insurance should pay for it.
I’m out of luck:  the last two times I’ve taken Phenergan, it made me twitch, so I’m not supposed to take that anymore.  I take Zofran (the drug they give chemo patients to help with the nausea) 3 times a day, but it only makes the nausea a little less intense.
It really is a miracle that Ian, Marie, and Joseph are as healthy as they are since I could hardly eat or drink for 14 weeks while I was pregnant with them too;  I hate that it happens so close to the beginning too, when the baby’s development is so crucial.

The head of OB at a major university, suggested that I get my gall bladder checked because there could be a connection between intense nausea and gall bladder trouble.  After doing the scan, the ultrasound tech looked VERY SURPRISED when I told her I wasn't having any pain or symptoms of gall bladder trouble, other than, possibly, the nausea.  When I was called with the results of the scan, I was told that my gall bladder was FULL of stones.  (After my surgery, the surgeon told me that there were so many stones, and some of them were so large, that he had to take the stones out before he could get my gall bladder out.)

I had my gall bladder removed, when I was about 11 weeks pregnant, DESPERATELY HOPING it would help with the nausea.  No luck.  And what a nightmare!  After the surgery, I refused the pain medication because I was already throwing up, and the pain meds would have made it worse:  I would rather feel the pain than take a chance at increasing the already unbearable nausea.  I felt terrible, mostly because of the effects of the anesthesia combined with the ever-present volcano in my stomach, and the nurses were not exactly caring helpful attentive.  I only pushed the call button when I was desperate for something, but it would be 10 or 15 minutes before anyone answered in a surly, irritated tone of voice.  Thankfully, Friend E. had come to visit so that she could take care of the kids during my surgery, so Husband was able to spend the night with me in the hospital;  I could not imagine staying there by myself!  I left as soon as I could the next morning, and rested much more comfortably at home.

At the same appointment that I asked my doctor about checking my gall bladder, I also showed him (2 different doctors at this practice) my arms which were COVERED with purple, green, and yellow bruises from all of the IV attempts and burst veins.  I had heard about PICC lines, and asked if I could have one of those so that I wouldn't have to be stabbed so many times. 

I also told him about the medication my friend with Hyperemesis had been give for her pregnancy months before, and asked if he thought that adding those medications would do any good.  So I left with prescriptions for more Zofran, Reglan, and Zantac.

July 19, 2009
A couple days before the gall bladder surgery, I had a PICC line (an IV line that can stay in for a few months) inserted in my arm so I won’t have to be poked every time I have to have an IV. My doctor ordered a home health nurse for me, and they showed us how to do the IV's at home, so now I am hooked to an IV for most of the day every day. The gall bladder surgery seemed to go well; I felt a lot worse for a couple of days, and now I’m back to feeling as badly as I did before =(. I had hoped that it would help me to feel better to have my gall bladder removed, but it doesn’t seem to have made any difference. So now I’m back to trying to endure each day without praying for death to release me from this misery. Feeling this bad all the time wears on a person.

July 25, 2009
I have started feeling a little better this week; the things I eat aren’t making me feel so sick, but nothing sounds appetizing, so it’s hard to think of something to eat. Maybe I’ll start feeling better once I’ve recovered more from the surgery.

After having the PICC line in for about 2 1/2 weeks, and getting about 3 bags of fluid every two days, I actually felt a little better and was able to eat more.  It was very unsettling to have something hanging out of my arm all the time, knowing that the rest of it was INSIDE of my arm, but it was SO MUCH BETTER than being stabbed repeatedly trying to get an IV started every other day.......BUT.  After 2 1/2 weeks, my home-health nurse said she thought my PICC line arm was looking bigger than my other arm, and that arm started hurting, so she took the PICC line out and sent me to the the Emergency Room to get checked for a blood clot.  Even though the ER knew that I had hyperemesis, they did not feed me while I was there FOR 8 HOURS (and I hadn't thought to bring any food), and I didn't have much to drink either.  By the time I left the ER, I was feeling terrible again.

August 1, 2009
Didn’t do much to celebrate for my birthday, but I was grateful to be able to eat some cake (that was before the PICC line came out).
The PICC line gave me a blood clot in my arm, so now I have to have painful, blood thinner shots in my stomach twice a day for I don’t know how long, sigh. I just can’t win. And ever since that day spent in the ER to diagnose the blood clot, I’ve felt worse than usual; I hope that passes soon.

After the PICC line was removed, I had to go back to Urgent Care every time I needed an IV;  I was dehydrated to the degree that the home health nurse couldn't get one started.  I HATED going to Urgent Care because, the way the doctor had written the orders, they hooked the IV up through a machine that made it take about 2 hours for one bag of fluid to go in, and I hated being in that cold, sterile room for hours. 
There was one nurse at the infusion center who could get an IV started for me, usually on the first try (LOVED THAT NURSE!);  she would put the IV port in my arm, and then attach the IV tubing to the port.  When I was finished for the day, she would remove the tubing, wrap my arm and the port in gauze, and it could stay there until the next day.  Along with my home health nurse, I had received IV supplies that I could use at long as I had a functioning port.  As long as the port didn't clot over or infiltrate, it could be used again and I wouldn't have to be stabbed for my next IV.  The first month I had IV therapy, a port would be good for at least 3 days, 4 if I was really lucky.  By the end of September, a port would not last for even 12 hours.

Because I wasn't suffering enough (*insert maniacal laughter here*), I also managed to get some sort of stomach virus 2 or 3 times.  I remember one night I threw up 3-4 times an hour for 5 hours, and to top it all off, I had a doctor's appointment (one of those that takes weeks to get) that morning with a cardiologist or some other specialized doctor like that, to check on my blood clot!  Oh the cruel, cruel paradox of trying desperately to stay hydrated while losing fluid through both ends of the body at the same time, if you get my drift.  I have always known that in every situation things could always be worse, and, in this situation, they generally were!


clueless but hopeful mama said...

O. M. G.

There are no words.

I can only imagine how horrible this all was. That you made it through is testament to your strength.

Doing My Best said...

Clueless but hopeful mama--Thank you; your comment is balm to my still-recovering soul!

d e v a n said...

This whole ordeal sounds absolutely horrifying! OMG! Surely there was some sort of medal awarded along with the baby!

Superjules said...

I just, I can't even.... HOLY HELL.