Today I heard that Kate, The Duchess of Cambridge, was suffering a health setback with her “acute morning sickness.” As Prince William said, “I don’t know why they call it morning sickness. They should call it “all day and all night sickness.”” Amen. For the short update on Kate in today’s news, click here: http://www.charter.net/tv/3/player/vendor/E!%20Pop%20of%20Culture/player/fiveminute/asset/gnrc_18242601
Lovely photo above, huh? This is how I spent nearly my entire pregnancy. Not exactly the beautiful “glow of pregnancy” you hear about! Notice the attractive IV pole, the wet washcloth hanging above my head, the towel hanging at the side of the bed, the puke bowl on one nightstand, and the various drinks that people brought for me to try, to see if I could keep them down. I see some Gatorade, a Tennessee Guzzler full of water, and a Pal’s Tea among the array. Oh, and the bottle of Tums, and Rolaids, and you name it… So, I ended up spending about a week in the hospital my seventh week of pregnancy. As I said, I was severely dehydrated, to the point of talking out of my head and having no urine output whatsoever. I had also lost a total of 26 pounds in two weeks, and, as you can imagine, we were incredibly fearful of what all this could mean for the baby I was carrying. So, besides all of the physical problems, I was an emotional and mental wreck, drowning in worry and depression. During my hospital stay, they kept me hooked up to IV fluids because the vomiting/dry heaves continued – and when I say “continued”, I mean they continued day and night. We stopped keeping count after I had dry heaved for the 50th time in one day. The intravenous fluids were the only way to keep me hydrated and conscious. They also began trying several drugs to see if they could alleviate some of the nausea and slow down the vomiting. First up was Phenergan. Now, I’m sure most of you have heard of this drug, and are familiar with the lovely suppository form of it that we all got to experience during childhood whenever we got the “stomach bug.” Luckily for me, they have this in a form that works intravenously, so the IV hook-up was very convenient. However, though the hospital staff was exceptionally wonderful every time I was admitted throughout the course of my pregnancies, I do have a distinct recollection of one very painful experience. The first time they administered the Phenergan intravenously, the nurse forgot to dilute it, and she also shot it into the IV really close to my arm. Well, let me tell you – undiluted Phenergan HURTS! It felt like a steel rod was being jammed up my arm. I was in pain from this for about an hour, and ever since then, I have made sure to ask before any drug is administered if it needs to be diluted. Keep this in mind yourself, just in case. Phenergan did nothing for the nausea – it did serve to kill my arm and keep me in a semi-conscious state, though. I definitely felt drugged. The next drug we tried was Reglan. Nothing. They might as well have shot me up with water. Finally, they gave me Zofran, an anti-nausea medication that was given to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Zofran was a miracle drug for me. It did not stop the vomiting completely. We’re talking about going from throwing up more than 50 times a day to throwing up around 20 times a day, which was a vast improvement. It also helped to alleviate the nausea to the point that I could think clearly for periods of time greater than five minutes. Unfortunately, taking Zofran by mouth was not working, because I could not keep from throwing up long enough for it to take effect, or keep it in my system. The solution was a drug pump, which allowed it to be administered via a pump that kept it coming into my system continuously. This worked much better than taking it by mouth because the flow of the drug was continuous. The downside of this was that you had to change the entrance site every other day, which consisted of sticking a small needle into my thigh each time, and later into my stomach, when my thighs became too black & blue and the muscle tissue too saturated and “hard” to be able to take it. James tried to learn how to do this for me, so he could help out on days when I was feeling too sick to even sit up. However, the first time he tried to do this from home without a nurse on hand to supervise, he forgot to take the plastic cap off the needle, and tried jabbing it into my thigh several times before realizing the problem. The crazy thing is that he almost succeeded in jabbing the entire thing into my leg, cap and all! Bless his heart; he still brings that up to this day, feeling horrible about it! After a few days using the Zofran pump in the hospital, we seemed to be making progress and we were looking forward to getting me out of the hospital and back home. However, every time they removed the intravenous fluids, I would immediately become dehydrated again. The strange thing is that this would happen with 30 minutes or so of removing the IV. To this day, no one has figured that one out. I tend to dehydrate easily, even when I have a stomach virus, and often have to go to the hospital for fluids when I get a stomach virus for this reason. So, I seem to have a natural tendency to become dehydrated for some crazy reason. Of course, this did nothing to help my condition during pregnancy. After a couple of days of this nonsense, the doctors were becoming very frustrated. I was even beginning to feel like they were accusing me of having a mental disorder that was “causing” this somehow. I really did think I was going nuts. This took an incredible toll on me emotionally. My doctor considered a picc (parentally inserted central catheter) line for total parenteral nutrition (TPN), however, he was very concerned about the risk of infection and pneumothorax with this, and how it could affect the baby. I was in agreement that if there was any way to avoid this we should. However, we could not find a way to get my system balanced out without the IV fluids. Even with the Zofran drug pump going full force, the removal of the IV would set me back to ground zero where I was vomiting and becoming dehydrated in a vicious cycle. However, my doctor was persistent, and he finally decided that the only way I would get to go home was to send me home with both the Zofran pump AND the IV fluids. And so, that is how I came to get my very own home health nurse, who was, simply put, a complete blessing to me throughout the pregnancy and beyond. She visited me at home every three days to change my IV site and take my vitals. James and I took care of changing out the Zofran pump site every other day. Also, James became very adept at changing out the IV fluids in between the nurse’s visits. What a man! Even with all of this “help”, I still continued to vomit several times a day. Overall, I lost a total of 40 pounds before the weight loss leveled out. And, this was not the end. There was still no “diagnosis” and no explanation offered for what was going on. I was in a period of horrible mental and emotional anguish, worrying about the health of our baby, and believing that I must somehow be to blame for all of this. And the sad part was that no one around me offered me any reassurance that it wasn’t my fault. Somehow, every solution offered included “crackers and ginger ale.” They simply did not know….and the worst was yet to come.