Friday, June 08, 2007

The next week in the hospital

Before I continue, thank you all for your comments. I need to share this in order to start moving on. This experience has jarred me in ways I never could have imagined. Thank you, Jen, for the information about the support group. I will be visiting it soon. During my stay in the hospital, social workers would visit me in between all the other parades of doctors and visitors, and they would want to talk to me about postpartum depression and such. Well, at that time, sick as I was, I couldn't talk to them had I wanted to. I'm sure I do have some depression issues to deal with (who wouldn't??), but when I was in the hospital, I could only focus on one thing--reserving every bit of energy for healing my body.

I could only stare in disbelief at those social workers who would come in wanting to chat about my feelings while I was being given blood products because my body was shredding all my red blood cells, being fed nutrients through an IV, and had yet a third bag attached to my body to drain fluid from the C-section incision site. (Ironically in all this, the C-section incision healed beautifully within a week of the procedure, you can't see it, and I never even felt it.) I was hooked up to oxygen and covered in electrodes to monitor my vital signs. My thoughts were on getting through the next painful test and whether I would have the assistance I needed when my bowels would begin to demand immeditiate release. It took two nurses to get me in and out of bed to use the bathroom. I had to have all of my bags of fluid hooked onto the walker they helped me use, and all of the wires attached to my body stayed with me after being unplugged. It was a long process to get me up and back to bed. Getting my massive belly positioned back in bed was very painful, as the nurses surrounded me with pillows and foam props to try to minimize my pain and help me breathe. I couldn't lay on my back because the weight of my stomach crushed me. I had to be carefully positioned on one side or the other, and once I was propped that way, I couldn't move without assistance.

Over the course of the next week, the doctors tried every test to determine whether I had HELLP Syndrome , Fatty Liver, or something viral that was causing all of this. The problem was (and still is), that I showed many signs of both HELLP and Fatty Liver and nothing was clear cut. The cure for HELLP is delivery, and here I was, delivered but getting worse, not better. Or at least, not getting better at the rate that would be expected for HELLP. All the fluid that had been removed from my abdomen had built back up. My jaundice was not improving. My white and red blood cell counts were still bad. My arms and legs were so swollen they looked like tree trunks, and my fingers and toes were like sausages sticking out of my huge hands and feet.

After a few doctors who saw me thought I was just a "big" girl to begin with, not recognizing the severity of my swelling, my Mom stuck a picture of me and H pre-pregnancy on my bulletin board with the baby pictures she had brought. One of the nurses saw it and asked who the girl was with my husband. I thought she was joking. When I answered me, she looked down at me with the saddest eyes and said--"Oh, honey...you must be in there somewhere. Don't look in the mirror, okay?" I didn't. I was spared seeing what I was like at my worst. It must have been pretty awful because when I finally did see myself 2 weeks later, I was still horrified. And that was after everyone had told me how much better I looked.

There wasn't much more the hospital I was in could do for me, so it was recommended that I be transferred to a tertiary care hospital where more specialists would be available to examine me. When a bed finally became available there, ten days after I had delivered, I was transferred by an ambulance. This part truly felt like a movie. With the sides of my abdomen spilling out on either side of me, I was carefully moved from my hospital bed to a very narrow stretcher and loaded into an ambulance. It took 2 men and 2 women to move me. H rode with me but up front, because a nurse had to monitor my vitals the whole way. I was continually given morphine during the hour trip for the pain. I spent most of the time with my eyes closed, trying to block everything out, thinking only that I had to get better for the babies and H. Whenever I was in pain or going through a difficult test I did this--just sort of retreated into myself.

7 comments:

Motel Manager said...

Your story is so traumatizing, even vicariously. I can't imagine living through it. Egad.

Meg said...

You are an incredibly brave woman, miss emmie.

(My hubby had bells palsy last year. I can picture.)

So glad you are on the road to recovery.

Anonymous said...

Emmie - I continue to read these posts with disbelief and utter sadness at what you went through. Your strength is wonderous. I can understand your needing to document what happened as a step toward closure and a definite aid in healing. Take the time you need to sort thru this as best you can. I wish you peace and love. You and your little ones remain in my warmest thoughts. ~Lisa

The Town Criers said...

Emmie--this is just so so scary. I'm glad I know that you're now out of the hospital and recovering at home as you write this. Because this is just so so scary.

Flmgodog said...

Wow Emmie...
I really don't even have words to say. I will continue to check on you and hope you get better. The husband and the boys must keep you going!!!!
Take care!

Michelle said...

Oh, Emmie. I cannot even imagine what you've been through (and are still recovering from). I hope that getting it all out helps you to process everything. And I suspect this isn't an experience from which one ever fully recovers. Take all the time and ask for all of the care and support that you need.

seattlegal said...

wow - I cannot even imagine all you've been through! I hope that you get better soon!