Karin's Story- HELLP

Post On Monday, August 31, 2015 By Karin

Karin's Story- HELLP

I remember looking through your stories when I was 35 weeks pregnant, and getting myself all worked up thinking my severe headache was a sign of Preeclampsia. Turns out, that was one case where Dr. Google was actually helpful. So, I thought I would add my story, in hopes that someone frantically googling symptoms finds it helpful as well.

Last year around this time I was 35 weeks pregnant. My pregnancy had been pretty textbook up until this point. I had been seeing a midwife, taking my prenatals, getting regular exercise, and gaining just the right amount of weight. My midwife used to end each appointment by saying "Everything looks beautiful, see you in a few weeks." In my third trimester my blood pressure crept up slightly. In the second trimester it was always around 110/60-70...but in the third it came up to 120's/80's. Really nothing to be alarmed about, or so we thought. But then, around week 35 I developed a strange headache. I am a normal migraine sufferer outside of pregnancy, but this was different. It was like someone had my head in a vice. Everything I read said that headaches were not normal in the third trimester, so I called my midwife. She said to come in for a check. When she checked me, she only took my blood pressure (which was around 130/85). She didn't take a blood sample, or check my urine for protien. She just said to rest and take tylenol if I needed. But the next day I still had the terrible headache so I checked my bp at a pharmacy. It was 140/90. I went in to the labor and delivery at my midwife's advice. They monitored my blood pressure for a few hours, and did a fetal non-stress test. I only saw a doctor for 5 minutes and when she came in the room she said "So what kind of pain meds would you like?" I was so taken aback. I said I don't want any I just want to know if I have preeclampsia. They discharged me because my blood pressure wasn't high enough to be considered preeclampsia. ---Their words.

My headache came and went over the next few weeks. My hands and feet also started to swell, but nothing terrible. My midwife finally checked my urine at around 38 weeks, but there was no protein in it. I checked my blood pressure daily at a pharmacy. It lingered in the 130's/80's-90's. I knew something wasn't right, but no one seemed to believe me.

At 39 weeks I was tired, and I got winded from walking around the house. My hands had swelled so much that my rings didn't fit anymore, and the swelling never went down. Then, at 39 weeks 3 days, my water broke while I was lying on the couch. We went straight to the hospital. Contractions started once I walked through the door. They checked my bp when I got there and it was around 150/100. My midwife finally ordered a blood panel for preeclampsia. 5 hours later my beautiful little guy was born completely healthy, and completely natural. I remember him being set directly on my chest, and staring at him in amazement for a while...but then things get fuzzy.

I had a bad tear and was bleeding a lot, and while getting stitched up I started hearing static and my vision got blurry. I told my husband to take the baby off my chest so I didn't drop him. I lost consciousness for a while. When I came to they told me my bp had plummeted down to 80/50. Then a doctor came in and told me that my blood panel revealed I had HELLP. My platelets were at 60,000. I had no idea what any of this meant, but they put me on a magnesium drip for 24 hours and came in to draw my blood every few hours. They blew 4 veins in the process of so many draws. I looked like someone had severely beaten me. I was so weak, but I refused getting a catheter. I didn't want to feel completely bed bound, even though every time I had to get up to go to the bathroom I almost fainted again. My blood pressure was all over the map. I didn't really grasp the seriousness of it all. I was in the hospital for 5 days being monitored. After that I begged to be released. I just wanted to go home. They hesitantly discharged me, making sure I set follow-up appointments the next day for more monitoring.

It took a few weeks for my blood pressure to stabilize. It has taken me until now to realize what a serious situation it was, and how lucky I am that things worked out as they did. My son is a beautiful and vibrant 11 month old, and I am back to normal health-wise. It just shocks me to think back at how even my doctors were oblivious to the situation until I was crashing. HELLP can present differently than preeclampsia, and if you have any of the symptoms, and just don't feel right, be your own advocate.

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