February Volunteer Profile
Kim Timer, Volunteer Beat Editor
What was your experience with preeclampsia?
I had a normal, routine pregnancy with my son, who was due March 28, 2007, up until week 31. At that time, I had gone to my normal doctor’s appointment and they told me I had gained over 10 pounds in a week and told me my blood pressure was elevated, but after stabilizing my blood pressure at the hospital, I was sent home. The night of February 4, 2007, I was experiencing what I thought to be gas pains but I was able to get to sleep. The morning of February 5, 2007, I woke up bleeding and my husband rushed me to the hospital. My son, Liam, was born at 32 weeks and taken to the NICU. Between the abruption and the preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome I would later discover I had, my organs began to shut down. I was put in a medically induced coma on a ventilator. I received 18 pints of blood and numerous transfusions and I required kidney dialysis. I was able to come out of the coma after 15 days. Some sympathetic ICU nurses took me to meet my son on February 20, 2007. With my son’s 4th birthday fast approaching, I am happy to say we are both doing fine now.
Why do you volunteer for the Preeclampsia Foundation?
Having Liam the way I did was such a hard, crazy experience. I knew nothing about preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome, except the minor mention of preeclampsia at my 31-week check up. Plus, I didn’t know anyone who had these conditions before. About a year and a half after he was born, I decided to look for some answers. It wasn’t until I read my own medical records that I saw the HELLP syndrome and preeclampsia diagnoses. I went searching for some answers and some support. I found the Preeclampsia Foundation. I spent a fair amount of time on the website, mostly as an observer. I thought if I would have had any of that information before Liam was born, I would have known to take my symptoms more seriously. I wanted to volunteer to help make a difference. Plus, the Preeclampsia Foundation was someplace I felt I could go where people understood me. I wanted to help the Foundation continue to reach people like me.
How aware were you about preeclampsia before/during your pregnancy?
I was not aware of it at all. I had heard the name before but thought that was something that happened to other people. When the doctor told me I had preeclampsia, he did not act like it was a big deal. I had no idea what was happening or what warning signs I should have been looking for.
What goals and dreams do you have for your involvement with the Foundation?
If I can help the Foundation reach just one person like me, my volunteer efforts will be worth it. I just hope that we can get the warning signs out to people ahead of time, so women can be educated about preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. And for the women like me who feel they have no one who understands, I hope we can continue to provide a place with information and forums that connect people.
What has been your most gratifying moment as a Foundation volunteer?
I am not sure I have just one moment, but I think hearing other people’s stories and how they got to the Foundation has been very special to me. In addition, being involved with the newsletter when we went to an electronic format was a great experience. I just think of how many more people we are able to educate and reach with the monthly electronic newsletter format.