In the never-ending saga of my pregnancy story, this last week was one for the books. As I talked about in my last post, I was really excited to FINALLY have a proper OB appointment, wherein I would meet my NEW doctor and be able to talk about all the stuff that had been going on (including two hospital trips) and my hopes and expectations for going forward.
Instead… Well, let’s just say that things got very dramatic very quickly.
I woke up Thursday morning feeling a bit unwell. I was quite tired (more than usual) and I was having a lot of trouble breathing. It felt like I just couldn’t catch my breath, and overall I just felt… off. I spent most of the day just chilling out on the couch, which is not a normal thing for me, despite being supposedly on bed rest. I just never seem able to relax or get comfy. But I was not feeling up for anything else.
When it got close to my appointment time, I was still not feeling great, and when Mark offered to come with me to the appointment, I was very tempted to say yes. But because it wasn’t until 2:30 and the kids have to be picked up from school at 4:00, I was worried that we wouldn’t be back in time. Also, he wasn’t QUITE finished with work for the day, and I didn’t want to ask him to quit early and have to work later in the evening. So I told him I’d be fine, and off I went.
I drove to the doctor’s office feeling a little bit swimmy. It wasn’t anything overly alarming, but it was a little bit disconcerting the closer I got. I just felt dizzy. I made it to the office and checked in, still feeling like the world was spinning a little. When the nurse called me back, I nearly fell over as I stood up, and she asked me if I was okay. I assured her I was fine.
As usual, the first thing they do is take my weight and vitals. When it came to my blood pressure, it was 130/83, which is quite high for me. She also noted that my pulse was quite high – as in 140! I didn’t feel particularly like my heart was racing, but I told her I’d been having trouble breathing all day, and she sympathetically led me to the room, where she immediately sat me on the bed and raised my legs. She hooked me up to the pulse ox machine and noted that my pulse was SLIGHTLY lower at around 136. She began asking me questions, and I admit my head just wasn’t keeping up with them. I felt weird, and I felt like I was starting to breathe a bit heavily. She asked if I wanted some water, so I said yes, and she ran off to get me a cup and to get the doctor.
When she came back, I took a sip of the water, and immediately my pulse shot up to 147. I started feeling very faint, and the nurse was talking to me and said she needed to get the doctor. I heard her call for the doctor, who came in and started to introduce herself. Unfortunately, by that point, I was kind of half-laughing and half-crying because I couldn’t get my breath under control. I heard the nurse say that my pulse was now at 155, and it kept going up.
I started to hyperventilate. I could feel it happening, and I knew that I needed to get it under control, so I began to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. By this point, the doctor and nurse were both pretty much yelling at me and trying to calm me down. They were asking me questions, and I was trying to respond, but I couldn’t. I managed to tell them that my lips and face were tingling, but that was about all I could manage. In very quick time the tingling spread throughout my entire head, neck, shoulders and chest, and I was freaking out. My lips had started to pucker like I’d eaten a lemon, and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t move them. Again, the doctor and nurse were asking me questions – “Do you know where you are? What’s your name? Can you hear me?” but I couldn’t respond.
The tingling was overwhelming by then, and I heard them calling for help and ring an alarm, yelling that I was tachycardic and they were calling a “Code White.” I never did get to ask what that was.
The next thing I knew, I was waking up with a bunch of people yelling in my face. I was wearing an oxygen mask and had an IV in my arm, and there were doctors, nurses and others all trying to get my attention. I was still struggling to comprehend what was happening, and it took me a few minutes before I could process things enough to respond with actual words. I noted that my voice was quite weak when I finally spoke.
It turned out that I’d passed out completely and then had a seizure. An ambulance had been called, and I’d been given oxygen and the IV in haste to try and get me stable. My Blood Pressure was 150/110, my heart rate was 160, and my oxygen levels were at 85%. The doctors said they were sending me to the hospital for a suspected Pulmonary Embolism. I was terrified.
When they lifted me from the bed so that I could be moved to the gurney, I realized that there were at least 20 people in this tiny room. All of them looked worried, and I was even more scared. Once I was strapped into the gurney, I realized that someone needed to call Mark and let him know what was happening. I also realized that since I had our car, he was going to have to find a ride to come to the hospital AND find someone to watch the kids. The nurses told me to let them handle it, so I left it with them and relaxed back to enjoy the ambulance ride.
By this point, I was feeling a lot more “with it” and I couldn’t help feeling kind of embarrassed by all the fuss, though I was obviously still quite scared about what was to come. I answered the EMTs questions as best as I could on the way, and we managed to make it to the hospital. Somewhere on the journey, my phone rang and it was Mark. He’d got the call from my OB’s office, but he hadn’t really realized what was going on. All they told him was that I had fainted and was going to the hospital. I weakly explained the situation to him and he said he had called his brother to come watch the kids, and he’d be there as soon as he could.
Once at the hospital, we were not taken to the Labor and Delivery ward as we’d all thought, but to Room 5 of the ER. My IV was switched out, and I was told that they needed to do some tests to check for blood clots in my lungs. I was warned that this involved a chest x-ray and something called a VQ Scan. While they were explaining, someone came in to hook me up to do an EKG. When he was done, I was hooked up to further heart monitors to keep track of what was going on in real time.
Mark arrived while I was having the x-ray done, and I was glad to get back to him. My blood pressure by this time was still high, but not as bad, and my O2 levels were around 92%. A nurse from the L&D ward came down to hook me up to an NST machine to monitor me and the baby. I had several vials of blood taken, and after reviewing my history of Adrenal Insufficiency, the doctor had me given a shot of cortisol to be sure I didn’t go into any shock.
Finally it was time for the VQ Scan, which involved me going into a giant machine, having a mask placed over my mouth and having to breathe in radioactive gas (!!!!) for SEVEN minutes so they could take videos of my lungs. It was excruciating. Given I was having trouble breathing in the first place, this horrible experience was one I NEVER want to repeat. I then had to have further radioactive stuff INJECTED into my veins to take further videos of my lungs, and lemme tell ya… NOPE NOPE NOPE! Never again!
Thank goodness that Mark was there to keep me somewhat calm through all this.
Back in my ER room, I was given further IV medications, though I can’t remember what they were, and we waited for results. Eventually the doctor came back and said that I had the all clear for blood clots, but that they weren’t really sure what had happened. They suspected it was a combination of a seizure and my adrenal insufficiency making me ill. I was told I could leave (they wouldn’t have certain test results for a while) but that I must go back to my doctor ASAP.
All in all, it was a six hour ER visit that I hope to never repeat. In fact, I am waiting in terror on the bill that is going to come through because I KNOW that all those tests can’t have been cheap! But the good news is that the next day, I was feeling heaps better. I was still weak and a little unwell, but it was so much better than the previous day. I went back to the OB who informed me that I had ketones and glucose in my urine, which is not a good sign. I was also given another blood test to check my bile acids because of my ICP.
For now, I am just waiting for results and keeping as optimistic as I can because it’s been a hell of a scary time. I thank my lucky stars that I am well enough to be at home rather than in the hospital, and I hope that my luck holds out. My doctor advised that their goal is to get me to 34 weeks and then take it day by day.