Friday, 7 December 2012

Gladness of the heart...

So since I posted the 'Why We Love Mam' post a few days ago I've had a couple of emails from readers wondering what the medical reason I mentioned was. I've never blogged about this before - because honestly, I wasn't ready. However now I think it's pretty important I start talking about it as awareness is the key - I didn't even give it a second thought before it happened!

Whilst I was 24 weeks pregnant during February this year I suffered a massive pulmonary embolism - with no major symptoms to indicate anything had happened. I had a little dizziness and was feeling slightly more tired than normal, but I was pregnant - I had asked my midwife about feeling light-headed, but was reassured it was normal. Then one day I fainted - I was luckily sitting down and came to no harm, but at this point I still didn't think anything serious was going on. I went to work and got on with my day, but once I told others about what had happened I was convinced to go and see my Dr right away.

He didn't seem overly concerned, but thought it was best to go into hospital and get checked over just in case. Once there I sat for what seemed like hours going through all kinds of questions and any other symptoms I might of had (there were none) and in the end they gave me a blood test. My D-Dimer test came back only slightly high, which can happen sometimes in pregnancy but they were concerned enough to rush me in for a CT scan right away. I was pretty worried by this point - I had to sign a lot of forms to say I understood the risk of that type of X-Ray to my baby and my lower half was wrapped into a lead apron. It was explained to me that even though there is a small risk to the baby, the risks if there was something wrong with me were much higher.

I was taken to a ward and admitted, and after what seemed like an eternity a doctor came and confirmed the worst. I had suffered a massive Pulmonary Embolism. If you don't know what this is, it's where blood clots form in the arteries of the lungs - I had many and in my main arteries.

I was in hospital for 7 days. I could of easily stayed longer, but by this point I was climbing the walls and couldn't stand the boredom and lack of vegan food. I was shown by a nurse a few days before I was discharged how to inject myself. I have to say I've never been so scared about doing something in my life. I was put on a high dose of Clexane, which is a type of Heparin. It's a drug which is similar to Warfarin in that it 'thins the blood', stops anymore clots forming and allowing your body to break down the ones you already have. Whilst in hospital I was also given ECG's and an ultrasound of my heart to check the clots had not caused any damage.

During the time between being discharged and actually giving birth to my daughter I was also diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes - which could not have come at a worse time. For several months between the Clexane and the insulin I had to inject 6 times a day, and throughout my whole labour/ birth I had to stay flat on my back hooked up to multiple machines.

I don't really feel that my recovery began until I had given birth - I was cleared for diabetes, but still had three months of Clexane injections left of my six month course. Until I first held my daughter and stared into her beautiful eyes I feel like maybe I had been in a level of denial about what had happened, I had just tried to keep my head down and make it through the birth. In the weeks afterwards, I admit to freaking out a little. I ended up in A&E several times in the weeks and months afterwards with various aches and pains - but honestly I am glad I was safe rather than sorry.

As for now, I've been off medication now for three months. I'm still waiting for the results of tests to find out if I have any conditions that could of caused the PE. Sometimes my chest aches and often I feel very tired. These are two common symptoms of PE recovery, which are exasperated by sleepless nights with a baby. I'm always aware now to look out for symptoms of a reoccurring PE or DVT - I'm careful not to sit down for too long, I don't cross my legs and I make sure I take walks. If ever I go on a long car journey I always need to stop and walk about and if I ever take a flight I'll need to take medication. I'm mindful of all these things, but you can't let them take over your life.

I'm very VERY lucky to still be here and have such a happy and healthy daughter. As I didn't really have any symptoms at the time of the PE - it could have easily been missed. It's not known as the 'Silent Killer' for nothing. Some sources claim that Pulmonary Embolism is the leading cause of pregnancy related maternal death in the developed world, yet so few people are aware of the symptoms they need to look out for. It's estimated the rates are about 1 per 1,000 pregnancies. If you'd like to find out more please check out LifeBlood - they are a UK based Thrombosis charity and helped awareness that lead to the government putting in place more routine checks in hospitalised patients. If you are pregnant and have any symptoms you're not sure about - it goes without saying - but get checked up! It's better to feel a little silly for being over cautious than for it to be something to worry about!

All parents look lovingly at their children, but every moment with my daughter is extra special to me as I know how close I came to both of us not making it. She's beautiful.. and I am truly blessed to be a mother.

To keep a little more active in the day we often take walks in the park (forgive the gloom - it's Winter!)

Or we walk in town, have coffee or just potter about and stretch my legs at regular intervals.

Thank you for reading my story - awareness is the key.

No comments:

Post a Comment