Feb 21, 2011

The road

I have been pondering the adventures of the last few months, marveling at what has happened, where my family and I have been, what new (and hard) things we have done. I'm really glad I didn't know what was ahead when I pleaded with Heavenly Father for another baby. I'm quite certain I wouldn't have been brave enough. Now that I'm in the thick of things, I'm mostly not brave enough, but I'm trying to summon my courage again, now that we've hit a new milestone and the way ahead is less clear than ever.

The time line seems important to me today, with dates and events floating through my brain, so here's a brief(ish) run-down:

December 25: Garry finds a positive pregnancy test (taken that morning in secrecy) in his Christmas stocking. He sees it, thinks it is negative, gives me a weird look, and hides it away. I have to revisit the issue later that day. We bask in the happy news, let it soak in, and keep it to ourselves.

January 4: Morning sickness arrives. I write in my journal: "only dry heaves so far." There follows a 25-day break in my journal.

January 7: Puke arrives in earnest.

January 11: First OB appointment. Ultrasound confirms dates and a beating heart. I beg for a Zofran prescription (and don't get it). We announce the pregnancy, knowing that I'm not far along but unable to hide my sickness. We tell the kids, who are relieved to find out that I'm not dying. We sit around the dinner table and brainstorm baby names. Zach lists all his friends' names. Garry and I pledge not to have a real conversation until we know gender.

January 18: Doc finally OK's Zofran. I'm vomiting 2-3 times a day with constant nausea. It's hard to manage the household. Zofran isn't a miracle cure but mostly keeps the vomiting at bay. There are unsavory side effects, but vomiting seems less savory.

January 22: I decide to take a short break from Zofran to recover from the side-effects. In past pregnancies, breaks like this were effective and balancing. Not this time. I go into a tailspin.

January 25: By Tuesday I have gone 48 hours without keeping anything (not water, crackers, popsicles -- anything) down. I have to call Garry home from work at noon. I spend the night in the ER getting IV fluids. I am 9 weeks and 2 days along.

January 27: Miraculously (and I do mean by God-given miracle), I am stable enough to travel to Utah for Women's Conference orientation, which is completely delightful. I vomit during the travel periods, but feel quite well the rest of the time.
What a blessing.

February 3: I have an emergency appointment with my OB. Even with constant Zofran (every eight hours, around the clock; I set an alarm at night to take it), I am throwing up and/or dry heaving half a dozen times a day. Nothing is working. I can hardly function. Several friends have suggested a Zofran pump, and my doctor complies.

February 4: I meet my home care nurse, Shelly, for the first time and feel completely overwhelmed by the process of caring for myself. But I learn to poke myself in the gut to set up subcutanenous Zofran infusion. It's not as bad as it sounds.

February 5: Shelly comes back to set up home IV fluids. I am so dehydrated that she can't find a vein suitable for an IV. She tries four times (ouch) and then sends me to the ER. Ouch.

February 6-10: On the upside, people from church are helping with my kids, meals, and housework. I find I am benefitting from the fluid infusion. It seems to be helping much more than the Zofran. I am learning to time my meals with Zofran boluses. Things are looking up....except that I keep having complications (usually in the middle of the night) with my IV sites. One infiltrates (the vein bursts and the fluid fills the surrounding tissue). One clots off. One just has to be moved. I take one out on my own because we make the decision to insert a PICC line in my arm.

February 11: I get a PICC line in my arm. It's not love at first sight. It causes chest pain and doesn't infuse as well as the IV. My arm hurts. I actually feel MORE nauseated than before. In general, I'm not a fan, but all things point to eventual improvement, and I do love the absence of an IV.

February 13: Happy Birthday to Tyler!

February 14: Lexi is vomiting. She is the first of four puking, coughing, feverish kids this week. Garry handles all of it. (Happy Valentine's Day!)

February 15: Lexi is still puking. Tyler has a migraine. I pick him up from school (pole and all) and have a breakdown in the front office. On the same day, I'm concerned enough about my new chest pain (and general deterioration) that I see my doctor again. He orders a chest x-ray to confirm placement. He also pledges to figure out a new medicine regime to alleviate my worsening symptoms. The x-ray results are normal. Everyone is relieved but me; my chest still hurts. Something is wrong.

February 16: While Shelly (whom I adore, by the way) is changing the PICC dressing, the catheter somehow pulls out a tiny bit. In an instant, my chest pain disappears. Everyone is thrilled. Shelly shows me how to inject Benadryl into my IV bag, which is supposed to help with the nausea. It makes me feel like I'm on a boat at sea (and I'm seasick).

February 18: Zach is barfing. Gavin has a fever. I feel sicker than ever. I can't keep anything down, even though my Zofran rate has nearly doubled in two weeks. Everything hurts. I call Garry home from work at lunch. He finds me shriveled in a recliner. A man in the ward comes to help give me a priesthood blessing. I start a low-grade fever that reaches 101 an hour later. I spend a miserable evening in the ER, receive three liters of fluids and morphine for my pain and fever, and go home with the diagnosis of "the flu."

February 19: I spend the entire day in bed. (Thankfully it is Saturday and Garry can man the troops.) I only leave my bed to throw up. I have violent bouts of chills. I lie on a heating pad, dress in layers, and have six quilts on top of me, but still shiver convulsively. One episode gets so bad that I throw up for ten minutes straight. Garry helps me into a hot shower, which is the only thing that warms me up. My temperature is 102. I call the on-call OB, who recommends the ER. Still smarting from my bad experience just 24 hours earlier, I ignore the advice. Garry tries to comfort and keep me warm all night. I have seriously never loved him more.

February 20: I wake up at 6:45 and my temperature is 103.9. I know I have to go to the hospital. Garry starts getting ready. Lexi wakes up with a major blowout -- ankles to neck -- inside footie pajamas. 45 minutes later, we "rush" out the door. Once again I experience the gawking stares of the ER staff and patrons as I am wheeled in, doubled over, with a PICC line and an IV pole. However, this time people seem to take my symptoms seriously. Garry leaves me to pick up my mom, who bought a one-way ticket to Colorado Springs,
at the local airport.

I see a doctor within five minutes of arrival. He and two nurses are hovering. They are concerned; I am nearly incoherent with pain and dehydration. The nurse can't start an IV after two very painful attempts. The "best stick" in the ER finally gets one going. The nurse takes several bottles and vials of blood and sends them off for testing. I have a nasal swab for the flu and submit a urine sample. I receive fluids and morphine. The next few hours are a blur.

My mom arrives. I cry when I see her. Garry stays home with our sick kids. By then I still don't look very good but am calm and can speak in complete sentences and open my eyes. I am sweating profusely and am acutely aware that I haven't bathed for a couple of days. The nurse removes my PICC line, which, happily, is a much less painful process than the insertion. There is lots of waiting. Finally I find out that I do not, in fact, have the flu.

Finally I am admitted as a patient. The ER nurse tells me that when I arrived she was sure I was septic. We are all relieved that it now appears I am not. She finds the baby's heartbeat, which is easily the high point of my week. I settle into a room on the third floor. By nightfall I find out I do have a bacterial infection and start antibiotics. I have been without Zofran for almost 12 hours. Getting more provides sweet relief and I eat some crackers. They come up later. Garry spends the night with me and my mom goes home to be with the kids.

February 21: After a pretty decent night of sleep, I take a shower. That is Life Experience #247 that I will never take for granted again. I realize I feel better than I have in at least three weeks, but probably two months. Life isn't perfect, but there is a plan. My OB visits and says we will get the infection under control (and determine its source), and then work on a protocol for my nausea and vomiting that I can maintain at home. Looking forward, this is my biggest concern. I have many, many questions.

But I also have many helping hands. I have been keeping a list of people who have helped my family -- and the list only includes those who have set a foot in my house, run an errand, picked up a child, etc. That list numbers 26, and most of those have helped more than once. I know there are dozens more, maybe even hundreds more, who are praying for me and my family, watching out for my kids at church and school, and encouraging me online. I am truly humbled by the service that has been rendered and will continue to be rendered while we weather this storm.


On another note, today is the 13-week mark of the pregnancy. My doctor says that three days of a high fever shouldn't have harmed my little one. I'm encouraged but still worried (I'm a worrier!). More than ever, I look forward to holding this baby in my arms and crying with joy that we made day at a time, we made it.
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