My HELLP Experience.

Post On Friday, September 13, 2013 By Elizabeth

My HELLP Experience.

My story begins October of 2012, when I found my husband and I were expecting our first child. We were beyond thrilled to experience bringing a new life into this world. My pregnancy started out rocky. I experienced severe morning sickness for the first four months. I was given zofran to make it through my work day as a reading teacher, and re-hydrated at the hospital once as well. I also experienced a night of severe side and back pain which the emergency room chalked up to implantation. Finally at 4 months the nausea began to dissipate and I was ready for the joy of pregnancy to begin. It didn't.

I began to become very tired and out of breath. It was difficult to climb the stairs and walk down the halls of the school I worked in.  I slept the second I got home from work because I was exhausted. I was itchy from head to toe. I felt I must be a huge "whimp."  Every time I went to the doctor and spoke of my symptoms I was told "that's normal." 

The downfall of my symptoms began with a fashion show. I modeled for my Catholic School Fashion Show Fundraiser. I was on my feet teaching all day and then on my feet all night. I woke up very swollen the next day. I chalked it up to being on my feet and salty food but it didn't get better. My swelling increased from my feet to my knees, my hands, and my face. Again, I was told this is normal and I felt like an even bigger "whimp."  

But was a matter of days before my blood pressure increased and protein was found in my urine.  I was immediately hospitalized and thought I knew what lay ahead of me... But I had no idea. My protein levels went from a trace amount to 14,000 within a matter of days.... No so began my roller coaster ride. I was first told I had severe, irreversible kidney failure, on,y to then be told that it was preeclampsia.  I was transferred to a larger hospital an hour from my home, where my soon to be NICU baby would be born.  I was monitored night and day.  I was placed on blood pressure meds and bed rest.  Neonatologist and High Risk OB/GYNS came to prepare us for what we were about to experience. It was a cool May Day.... Only 2 weeks after I entered the hospital when the high risk doctors arrived..  I was 30 weeks and 1 day and had developed HELLP syndrome.  I was brought directly to labor and delivery. I was at risk for bleeding out so I was induced and placed on magnesium.  this vile drug made me feel so ill.

After 2 days of induction I was barely progressing. In the mean time I had doubled in size.  I gained well over 30 extra lbs of fluid. I hadn't eaten anything but ices In 2 days, and could not longer walk to the bathroom or stand. I nearly fainted and felt very tired. The light bothered my eyes and I felt like I wasn't going to make it.

It was barely 7 pm  on May 3rd when I thought I had a migraine.  I took my medication but shortly after lost sight in my left eye.  All I saw were black spots. I was having a stroke.  My incredible nurse, who stood by my side knew it was over. Before I could think a team of doctors were in my room and I was being rushed to an emergency c-section.  I was so relieved. I thought my struggle would finally be over.  I grabbed my mom's hand and told her I wasn't afraid as I was pushed down to the operating room. It only took five minutes for Matthew James to enter the world.  He was 3lbs 6oz and cried; I was so happy to hear his cry. He was rushed to the NICU with breathing difficulties. The rest of the c-section was blurry. I know I dry heaved for 20 minutes while being operated on.  I remember the nurse and my husband holding my hand.  I remember feeling like I was out of my body.  By the time I got to the recovery room I was ready to feel better... But I felt worse.

I had severe pain which the doctors chalked up to the surgery... l but it wasn't. When after 3 days I wasn't able to walk or go the bathroom the doctors decided to immediately take action.  My lung capacity was beginning to decrease and if I didn't get moving soon I wouldn't make it.  What they found was a 7 cm long blood clot with infected fluid in my uterus along with an Elias of my bowels.  I underwent another procedure to have it drained and my system began to recover. I sweat off the fluid, I lost my fever, began to walk, and visited my son.

Our struggle wasn't over. It took Matthew 2 months to come home.  It took me 2 months to gain my vision back.  I am struggling each day to increase my mental capacity. I lost so much time. I cannot remember details of the event and keep trying to put these pieces together.  I thank God that I survived. The experience has taught me to trust my body more. I was advised not to have anymore children. I am coming to terms with that as well.  I'm dealing with my sons medical issues as well as recovering myself.

I am a different person than I was when I entered the hospital in April. Unless you have experience the horror of HELLP and its consequences you can't fully understand it. I continue to struggle connecting with people over the experience as well as embrace my new reality. 

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