So a couple of days ago, I was full of joy and elation at having got to see our little monkey baby on the big screen. I recounted my personal mortification at a pap smear gone wrong and recounted our entire 12 week appointment at the OBGYN.
One of the things I mentioned very briefly was that the very first thing I had to do was pee in a cup. It’s pretty standard procedure, and I used to have to do it in the UK, as well. I always knew to come with a full bladder and an extra bottle of water because damn it if baby doctors aren’t just OBSESSED with your urine.
Of course, over there, they simply dipped a little piece of paper in the urine sample, said, “Yep you’ve got an infection… Drink more water!” before dumping the rest of the urine and sending me on my way.
So it took me a bit by surprise when I was told at this appointment, “You’ve got an infection. We’re not sure exactly what it is, so we’re sending it off for tests. But right now, here’s a prescription for some medicine that should clear it up. Once we’ve tested it, if we need to change the medication at all, we’ll give you a call…. We will ONLY call you if something is WRONG.”
I think they mentioned that about six times during my appointment. After taking blood, after the dreaded pap smear… “we will call you if something is wrong…”
Fast forward three days, and I am sitting at my computer minding my own business when my phone rings. I see my doctor’s name pop up, and I immediately think, “Oh crap.” But then, I think about the fact that they referred me to the diabetes clinic, which I was MEANT to attend today, but which I cancelled because I didn’t want to pay $383 to learn how to take my blood sugar when I’ve been doing it for years anyway. So I started to think, “Oh no, she’s calling to yell at me and tell me to just do it.”
How I wish that is what she was calling to say.
Instead, the conversation went something like this…
Dr K: Hi Katie… It’s Dr K. How are you?
Me: Hi Dr K. I’m fine, thanks. Can’t complain.
Dr K: Erm… have you had a chance to get that prescription filled yet?
Me: Oh yes. I got it filled right away. It cost me $41 because the pharmacy couldn’t be bothered to chase up my insurance info, but ah well. That’s how it goes sometimes. Ha ha.
Dr K: And erm…. How are you feeling?
Me: Um. Fine. Yah, I feel fine, thanks.
Dr K: And do you…. feel…. BETTER?
Me: Well… erm. Not really… I mean, I don’t really feel any difference at this point.
Dr K: Well, you see… the think is this… We got the results back from your urine culture. And… well… it’s not what we thought it was….
At this point, alarm bells started ringing in my head, and I felt my heart speed up. But of course, they warned that they might have to change my medicine. I can deal with that. Okay. Okay… Breathe.
She then proceeded to give me the run down.
I have a bacterial infection which is rare. They know WHAT it is, but she’s never personally seen it in one of her patients. It’s very difficult to take care of, and it’s VERY dangerous to have when pregnant.
To that end, she was prescribing me a new medication… Unfortunately, the medicine I am on will not make a dent. Not only that, but NONE of the Class B medications will touch it. Class B = Safe in Pregnancy.
She had been through the ENTIRE database of every medicine they knew, and there was only one that would stand a chance of working. And unfortunately, it is NOT safe to take in pregnancy. In fact, it is known to cause cartilage malformations in babies. AND – it has some major life-threatening side effects to the mother, as well.
BUT – when weighing up the risks of the medicine vs the risk of the infection, apparently the medicine wins out.
She wanted to explain this to me in person so that I would know in advance that there is a big risk either way. She wanted me to know that she’d given it a large amount of thought.
She was calling in the prescription right away. A course of treatment which would be one pill a day for three days. Once I was finished with it, after one week, I needed to come back in and book a new appointment to check that the infection is gone.
Shaken, I put the phone down and ran to Mark to tell him this new development. We were scared, but we trusted that our doctor knew best.
We went and got the prescription filled, and I read carefully through all of the information that came with it. There are a TON of side effects, none of them good. There are MANY dangers, the most common of which is tendons snapping for no reason. This can happen up to several MONTHS after I STOP taking the medicine.
And even more of concern, it very specifically points out that anyone with heart arrhythmia (especially Long QT Syndrome) should not take the medicine. I have Long QT Syndrome. I made the doctor aware of this at the appointment.
Mark started to get very panicky. I tried to call the doctor’s office so that I could make sure she was sure I should take it. But it’s Friday, and the office closed at 2 PM. I spoke to their answering service, and the receptionist told me that she was not able to page the on-call doctor unless it was an emergency.
IS it an emergency? Who even knows?
At the end of the day, my fear of this bacteria hurting the baby overcomes my fear of what the medicine could do to me. But Mark is more fearful. He pointed out – something could happen to the baby if I wait to take the medicine. But something could happen to me AND the baby if I did take it.
We went back and forth on the issue. I tweeted. I facebooked. I went online and researched everything I could on the medication and what the infection could actually be (because I was stupid and didn’t even ask the doctor what it was I have!).
In the end, I took the medicine. Tomorrow I will take another. And Sunday will be the last.
I’m warned not to go out in the sunlight, as I will be exceptionally prone to burns. It will also mean the medication may not work. I have been warned I will be lightheaded, dizzy, nauseous and may faint. I am not allowed to drive. Nor am I allowed to exercise.
Today is Mark’s 33rd birthday. He has been amazing and supportive, and I know that he is scared. He went from finding out we could lose our baby or be left with someone disabled to learning that the medicine that might SAVE our baby could kill his fiancee.
Before the phone call came, we had plans for the whole weekend. A celebration for his birthday. Fun all around the area. Seaworld, Disney, Animal Kingdom. We were going to party. But now we are too scared to leave the house.
I don’t even know how I feel about it anymore. I took the damn pill. I did what I was told by the professional I’ve entrusted with my care. And I have to hope for the best. I will stay positive and keep an eye out for anything unusual and breathe a big sigh of relief when, in a few weeks time, we find that all is well and we worried for no reason.