Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why I'm a terrible patient...: Part 2

(Continued from Part 1)

When I got pregnant with my son, I was determined to do everything right.  I cut caffeine cold-turkey, even though I was told a little bit wouldn't hurt.  I started eating more organic things, adding lots of fresh fruits and veggies, cutting down on fat and sugar, and I was diligent about taking my prenatal vitamin every day.  When I started losing weight (which I later found out is normal in 1st trimester and even early 2nd trimester), I calculated exactly how many calories I was supposed to be eating, and even supplemented with a disgusting, chalky protein shake.

I was the ultimate paranoid mom-to-be.  After slamming on brakes and barely missing a spinning-out SUV on I-40, I had a few stress contractions, and headed straight to my OB-GYN to get the baby checked out.  (Obviously, he was fine.)  I drank 10 glasses of water a day.  I did my kick counts.  I was doing it all by the book.

Which is why it came as a shock to me when I went in for my 32-week appointment and was told I'd gained 10 pounds in two weeks.  I repeatedly stressed to the doctor (a member of the practice whom I'd never met before that day, and never care to meet again) that something must be wrong.  I knew every ounce of food that was going into my body, and there was no way I was eating 2,500 calories over my maintenance level a day.  He ignored me, and lectured me on how damaging extra weight gain was to my "fetus".  I got pissed that he was calling my baby a "fetus" (seriously dude, I was in my 3rd trimester) and told him my son had a name.  He told me he was scheduling me an appointment with a nutritionist.  I ended up not being able to get off work (these were in my days of retail hell) and cancelled that appointment.

Two weeks later, and I was stuck with a 2nd appointment with that same jerk.  During weeks 32 to 34 of my pregnancy (and the rest thereafter) I was miserably ill, tired, swollen, and just knowing something wasn't right.  My whole body ached, and I ran out of breath quickly.  I had miserable headaches and slept 12 hours a night.  Every instinct I had was screaming that something wasn't right.

When I got to my appointment with Dr. Jerkface von Jerk (name changed to protect the a-hole), he chewed me out about cancelling my appointment with the nutritionist.  I tried to tell him how exhausted and miserable I was, tried to show him where my legs were so swollen I could hardly take my shoes off.  He told me that 10 extra pounds wasn't "water-weight", and said my protein levels were a little elevated, "but nothing to worry about".  Likewise, my high blood pressure and other symptoms were just side effects of overeating.  He was making another appointment with the nutritionist for three weeks out, and I better keep it, if I wanted my "fetus" to be healthy.  (I'm pretty sure at this point he was just trying to get me angry.)  I was at least consoled by the fact that my next appointment, at 36 weeks, would be with a different doctor, and before I had to shell out the extra cash for the nutritionist appointment.

When I arrived at my 36 week appointment, the nurse took my blood pressure and a urine sample, like always, and I went back to the examining room.  The nurse practitioner (RN?  head lady nurse?  you know what I mean) came running in just a couple minutes behind me, staring at my chart.  "Don't even bother getting undressed," she said.  "Wait, let me see your legs real quick."  I pulled up my jeans leg just a few inches to show the bloated, puffy mass where I'd once had ankles.  "That's what I thought," she nodded.  "You're severely pre-eclamptic, and you're having this baby today.  Go drive to the hospital.  We've already called them and told them you're coming."

And that is how I ended up having my son induced 4 weeks early.  I went through an 18-hour labor with blood pressure so high that the doctors were sure that any minute they'd have to prep me for an emergency C-section.  My protein levels remained so elevated after my son's birth that my kidneys were shutting down, and I spent the first two days of my son's life lying semi-conscious in a hospital bed, while friends and family prayed I'd start producing urine on my own before I had to go on dialysis.

I never got an apology from Dr. Jerkface von Jerk.

Unfortunately, this is only Part 2 of a three-part saga.  (Continued in Part 3.)

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