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Shaken

September 20, 2010

My blog has sat, neglected and semi-forgotten, for what feels like eons now.  Lacking in motivation, inspiration, and energy, I can’t even begin to estimate how many times I’ve opened up a new post, stared at the flickering screen, then clicked out again without typing a word.

This hasn’t been an easy pregnancy. With Shane, I was one of those annoying pregnant women, one who would smile serenely and blissfully rub her tummy as other women complained about how miserable they were during their own pregnancies. I loved being pregnant. Cherished every moment, marveled over every change, and felt more like a woman than I ever had before in my life as I protected and nourished that growing life within me.

Images from the early ultrasound (12 weeks)

This has been an entirely different experience.  I’ve spent the past several months utterly exhausted and in a state of constant, unrelenting nausea.  Several weeks back I started spotting, and called my OB’s office in a panic.  They rushed me in for an emergency ultrasound that same day, where we thankfully discovered that the baby was just fine…and that I was actually at least two weeks further along than we had initially thought!  Since then I’ve been feeling sensations that can only be described as feeling as though I’ve swallowed a goldfish, periodic flutters that provide a welcome reassurance that all is well.

Last Wednesday I had a scare that has left me completely shaken.  After spending three days and nights at the hospital, I was discharged this past Saturday morning. My husband had brought me in to the ER Wednesday afternoon after I suffered an episode of double vision while driving home on the highway. It was terrifyingly surreal, suddenly I was seeing two of everything — highway signs, cars whizzing past, my steering wheel, my sleepy son in the rear-view mirror.

I remember trying desperately to force my eyes to focus, while frantically trying to merge through traffic in order to pull over on the side of the highway.  It only lasted about 15 to 20 seconds, but it was the most horrifyingly frightening experience.  As soon as my vision returned to normal I started weeping and shaking and sweating, fighting against the nausea that was bubbling up and the hysterical pounding of my heart.  I was told in the ER that those were more than likely symptoms of a panic attack, which was understandable considering the fear that had overwhelmed me.

In the ER they immediately suspected a stroke, and I was hooked up to an IV with a continuous Heparin drip in order to thin my blood to a therapeutic level and quickly admitted to the hospital for observation overnight.  Over the following three days I saw a steady stream of specialists, including a hematologist, perinatologist (high-risk OB), and a neurologist, and they ran a battery of tests — an electrocardiogram, ultrasounds of the arteries in my neck, and an MRI.  During my stay I remained tethered to both the IV and a heart monitor.  The eventual diagnosis:  I had what they called a Transient Ischemic Attack or “Mini-stroke.”

Interestingly…and worryingly (is even that a word, because it should be), the MRI actually showed evidence of old mini-strokes as well — apparently I must have had them in the past, spanning back ten or more years. I’ve been dealing with migraines for quite some time now, and according to the neurologist this isn’t all that uncommon to be seen in the MRIs of migraine sufferers. The fact that I’m pregnant, already suffer from migraines, and have a genetic blood clotting disorder all upped my risk for developing these mini-strokes.

Thankfully, we know that the baby’s doing fine — they did an ultrasound and would check fetal heart tones periodically. I’ve been feeling flutters and subtle thumps, and each sensation has been a such a blessing.  One of this week’s ultrasound photos never fails to lighten my heart — can you see how the Little Peanut is already sticking his or her tongue out at us?!?

I was finally able to leave the hospital on Saturday morning.  My dose of Lovenox (the blood thinner I’m on while pregnant) has been doubled, and I need to do follow-up appointments with both my primary care doctor and OB this week, and with the high-risk OB, neurologist, and a hematologist within the next month.

I’m doing relatively well right now — just unexpectedly exhausted, and in all honestly, incredibly shaken up. This has been an incredibly nerve-wracking experience.  While I was in the hospital I was just praying that they’d find out what was going on, and praying that I’d be okay.  I’m so grateful to be home, so thankful for answers, and so very hopeful that I’ve come through the worst of it…but I won’t deny that I’m still feeling anxious, and completely and utterly drained.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. September 20, 2010 3:17 pm

    Oh Crystal.. I’m so sorry all that has happened. But thank God you and the baby are ok.
    Thinking of you guys.
    Let me know if you need anything!

    • September 21, 2010 3:20 pm

      Thank you so much, Corinne. I’m doing alright at the moment…the only thing I could use right now is prayers. I’m just so thankful that I’m ok, that the baby’s ok, and that we have some answers. It’s been a trying week, as you could imagine!

  2. Ms. Alien Corn permalink
    September 20, 2010 4:00 pm

    Wow; I just came across your entry on wordpress. I’m so, so sorry; that sounds so scary. Also, I don’t know what it feels like to have a mini stroke, but I had migraines and nausea all throughout my pregnancy, so I can relate to that part. You sound like a very brave woman; hang in there.

    • September 21, 2010 3:24 pm

      Thank you, this was incredibly kind of you to take the time to leave some comforting words after stumbling across my blog. Having migraines and constant nausea is so difficult to deal with, I hope you were feeling much better once your little one arrived!

  3. September 20, 2010 10:11 pm

    Thanks for keeping us followers in the loop during such a trying time. I’m so sorry to hear how stressful & scary things have been lately. (I had my own bought in the hospital and know how awful/terrifying an experience it can be when no one can figure out what’s wrong.) I’m sending along all my best wishes for a wonderful rest of the pregnancy.

    • September 21, 2010 3:24 pm

      Oh, Deb, thank you so much! I didn’t realize you had a health scare/hospitalization, I hope you were finally able to find some answers and some relief from whatever you were facing at the time!

  4. September 21, 2010 3:27 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear what you have been going through. I had thought that your blog was quiet. I was just hoping that you were resting and spending time looking after Shane and yourself. Keeping you in my prayers.
    Gina

    • September 23, 2010 1:30 pm

      Thank you, Gina. I’m doing well right now — I had a very reassuring appointment today with the perinatologist, so I’m feeling more positive and much less frightened now. I’ve been resting as much as Shane allows, snuggling as much as I can, and enjoying all those precious little moments!

  5. Heather permalink
    September 22, 2010 11:10 pm

    Oh my goodness, Crystal, what an ordeal! I hope you are healing well, and doing okay. I admire your strength, and your attitude.

    • September 23, 2010 1:31 pm

      Thanks so much, Heather. I’m doing well today — had a very positive appointment w/ the perinatologist today, so I’m feeling reassured and much less anxious! I’ll keep you posted.

  6. September 23, 2010 6:46 pm

    Oh, hon. I can’t imagine finding all of this out during your pregnancy. I understand your anxiousness. I’m glad that you’ve stopped in on my simple pleasures post today…because I’ve found my way here. May you find peace through the days ahead of you, a calmness that is unexplainable but wonderfully there. Bless your heart, mind, body, spirit and bless that little bundle within ♥

  7. September 25, 2010 8:53 am

    OK, wait… what? You’re pregnant? Where the heck have I been?! I’m so sorry you’ve had some scares, but I hope it’s smooth sailing from here. I’ll be thinking of you (and checking in more often, apparently :)). Congratulations!

  8. September 28, 2010 3:34 pm

    How scary for you, Crystal! I’m so happy to hear that your little one is doing well despite it all.

    When I was my pregnant with #2, I pretty much dropped off the face of the blogosphere during the 1st trimester. If you do the same, we’ll still be waiting for you when you return. 🙂

    Thinking of you!

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