Be Your Own Advocate

Post On Tuesday, February 18, 2020 By Gina Schenck

Be Your Own Advocate

Throughout my pregnancy, my blood pressure was always normal, and in fact it was lower than it had ever been in my life. There was no protein in my urine any of the times I was tested. However, at around 30 weeks I started waking up with crushing headaches right behind my eye and they would last throughout the entire day.

I asked my doctor about it, but he said I didn't have any other signs of preeclampsia. These were unlike any headaches I had ever experienced. But, because I trusted the doctor I didn't pursue it.

I was induced at 41 weeks. I received Pitocin and then the epidural. I couldn't feel anything at all, but every time I asked for the doctor to check my progress they said I had to wait until I felt pressure. I told them I couldn't feel anything. No one came and checked me for five hours. Eventually, the doctor came in and felt to see how I was progressing. My son's head was already crowning. I delivered in five pushes, 12 minutes. However, the entire time I was pushing my head was killing me. I thought it was going to explode.

After I delivered, I suffered from a severe postpartum hemorrhage, which was terrifying. But once it was stopped I thought the worst was over. I was wrong.

As soon as they pulled the epidural out, my blood pressure shot up. The machines started beeping and nurses rushed into the room. They turned out the lights and told me to relax. I started panicking. They sent all of my family away and started massaging my hands. They kept saying "You have to relax!" I was confused and scared with the blood pressure cuff going on and squeezing every five minutes and making a horrifying sound to indicate I was at an unsafe level.

They started me on magnesium sulfate and brought pads to put on the sides of the bed in case I had a stroke or seizure. I still didn't understand what was going on. The next day I felt completely out of it - one nurse said it was like being underwater on the bottom of a lake and looking up. I actually don't remember anything that happened that day. There are pictures with me in them, but I don't remember them being taken. By the third day laying in the bed, the machine going off every 10 minutes, I was begging them to take the catheter out and to please stop having it take my blood pressure every 10 minutes. It was making me anxious because now I was anticipating it squeezing my arm.

They were pumping me full of BP meds. No one spoke up for me, no one explained what was going on. On the fourth day I was moved to the postpartum ward due to my insistence that holding me in that room was making me crazy. So they did, but checked my BP every half hour.

On the fifth day I was allowed to go home, but on heavy BP meds and I had to take my BP every half hour. Besides adjusting to a new baby and healing down below, I was so scared that I was going to have a stroke. Eventually my BP came down and I went off the meds. But I ended up with postpartum PTSD and other issues because of my time in the hospital.

Now, four years later, I struggle with health complications like high BP and protein in my urine, which indicates kidney disease, though that hasn't been confirmed.

No one advised me to get help or follow up to make sure I didn't have lifelong issues. They all said once it went back down I was fine, and they barely did anything at my six-week postpartum checkup. It is now my mission to help women become their own advocates. To speak up when you know something is wrong with your body. Only YOU know your body. Don't ever let a doctor decide for you. And if you have this situation in the hospital, speak up. Ask questions. Don't let them push you around in a chaotic environment and not explain anything. And most of all, don't let them release you if you feel something is not right!! It could be a matter of life and death. Ask for tests, demand follow-up care. Don't settle for the six-week postpartum checkup as a green light. I believe this happened so I can help others!

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