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From ICU to Patient Advisory Council

"Because of my case, my OB-GYNs office has strengthened their relationship with the hospital and is also being more proactive with their patients since we now know how easy is can be to miss the signs, and that delivery is not the cure."

 

Like so many others, Alissa was unsure that her pregnancy symptoms were related to preeclampsia. She endured life threatening and long term complications from her experience that propelled her to take action and become a champion for the cause. Alissa Goodman is our June Champion of the Month. Read her harrowing story below. 

I remember Mother’s Day 2017 as being one of the happiest days of my life. After my husband and I struggled for several years to conceive, I had just given birth to a beautiful baby boy, Landon, who, although born 5 weeks premature, was happy and healthy and strong. Two weeks later, I woke up in the ICU, nearly blind, unable to speak, and in tremendous amounts of pain – only to be told that I had been in the hospital for two days after suffering from seizures and being on the brink of death. 

IMG 4063I didn’t have a smooth pregnancy, and dealt with several complications, but what we didn’t know was that I actually had preeclampsia. Although I had many of the other symptoms, my normal blood pressure baseline was usually around 100, so when it started creeping up into the 130s, that level was high for me, but the nurses weren’t concerned because it was still considered to be in the “normal” range. And as a first-time mom, we often second-guess ourselves and excuse so many of these symptoms away because many - such as headaches, nausea, swelling, shortness of breath - are extreme versions of normal pregnancy symptoms. But we now know that if preeclampsia isn’t treated, rising blood pressure can cause a number of problems and preeclampsia can become eclampsia – eclampsia meaning seizures. 

The seizures happened twelve days postpartum. I remember very little from that day, except that I had what I thought was the worst migraine of my life, and that a coworker was bringing over dinner for us and my vision got so blurry that I couldn’t read his texts. So I asked my husband to take care of the food, while I took a migraine pill and went to bed. Sometime after my husband left me to go back to sleep, he heard me gasping in the bedroom and ran in to find me in the middle of a series of tonic clonic seizures. 

All in all, my injuries were substantial and I am extremely lucky to be alive. My blood pressure had shot up to 240, which caused significant brain damage and swelling in multiple brain lobes due to a condition called PRES (posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome). The PRES then caused the seizures – too many to count. I also suffered respiratory failure, pulmonary edema, severe sepsis, a heart attack due to the stress put on my heart, daily migraines, a herniated disc in my neck, reinjury of a previous shoulder problem, a nerve disorder, and PTSD. Oh, and did I mention this was 12 days after a c-section? Yeah, that hurt. Just a little. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. 

Goodman family 2018-0002Over the coming months, I began my recovery. Getting better and managing my disability felt like a full-time job - so many doctors’ appointments and tests, five months of physical therapy, and more prescriptions than I could count. It was a struggle, but thanks to the support of my husband, I began to make progress and eventually went back to work in November. I am still dealing with doctors and medication for the residual migraines and nerve pain caused by the PRES, which may never go away, but I am light years ahead of where I was last summer. 

My husband and I are now both back to somewhat of a “normal” routine and couldn’t be happier to be blessed with our little boy. We went through a horrific experience due to lack of knowledge of a condition that is rare, yet very serious, but I feel very strongly that part of the reason my life was spared is so that I can help spread awareness and fight this terrible disease. I recently began serving on the Preeclampsia Foundation’s Patient Advisory Council, and am humbled and honored to be chosen as the 2018 Mission Family for the Atlanta Promise Walk. Because of my case, my OB-GYNs office has strengthened their relationship with the hospital and is also being more proactive with their patients since we now know how easy is can be to miss the signs, and that delivery is not the cure. I am so hopeful that we will continue to make progress, and that someday we will be able to identify and cure this terrible disease.

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