pain management for arthritis

Our Journey

2002 Uterine Fibroid Surgery #1

2003 1st consult with an RE, you know, just in case

2003 Got Married (at 37 (me) & 34 (DH) years old)

2003/2004 Naturally conceived pregnancies BFPs #1, #2, & #3 and miscarriages #1, #2, #3

2005 Uterine Fibroid Surgery #2

2005 IVF #1, BFN #1

2005 IUIs #1 and #2, just because, BFN #2 & #3

2005 FET from IVF #1, BFN #4

2006 Exploratory surgery to remove scar tissue from fibroid sugery #2

2006 IVF #2 (w PGD), BFP #4

2006 Emergency cerclage for IC @ 16w6d (5 months + 1 week of complete bed rest at home ensues)

2007 Our son is born @ 38w by scheduled c-section

2007 IVF #3 for baby #2, BFN #5

2007 IVF #4, BFP #5, miscarriage #4

2008 IVF #5, BFP #6, miscarriage #5

2008 IVF #6, BFP #7, miscarriage #6

2008 DE IVF #7, BFN #6

2009 DEFET #8, cancelled, embryos don't thaw

2010 Decide to adopt domestically

12.17.10 Profile is live with our agency

November 2011 Consult with RE re: donated embryo cycle

Early January 2012 Cleared to proceed with deFET

January 2012 Freeze our profile

1.20.12 deFET begins
2.12.12 eSET of one compacted morula
2.22.12 BFN

3.23.12 deFET #2 begins
4.14.12 transfer 3 embryos (1-8 cell, 1-5 cell, 1-4 cell)
4.22.12 + HPT
4.24.12 Beta #1 = 48.4
4.26.12 Beta #2 = 125.7
4.30.12 Beta #3 = 777.8
5.11.12 1st U/S - Singleton!
7.12.12 It's a Boy!
12.26.12 C-section: Baby G is born, 9#5oz, 20.5"

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My Heart, Literally

I woke up on Monday night at 11 PM with what I thought felt like heartburn, something I’ve experienced regularly throughout this pregnancy.  I took two Tums, as has been my treatment.  However, things continued to worsen and by 2:30, I knew something was wrong as I was still in pain and was also sweating.  It had to be really wrong because what ensued was waking my husband, waking our son, packing a bag, and heading to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning.

We got to L&D at around 3:30 and after an EKG, and some blood work to rule out a heart problem, it was determined that it was reflux.  Because I was in so much pain, they treated it with a “lidocaine cocktail” which was liquid lidocaine mixed with milk of magnesia.  By around 6:45 I was feeling better enough to go home.

I went straight to sleep when we got home and slept in fits and starts for a couple of hours.  My husband came home for an early lunch and by the time he did, the lidocaine had worn off and I was in worse pain than the night before.  It was a radiant pain, emanating from the center of my chest out toward my breasts and up to my clavicles.  It wrapped around my back and was so painful it made my breathing shallow.  And, it crept up my neck to my jaw, behind my ears and up the nape of my neck.

Rosie O’Donnell was on my mind.  I watched and read reports of her heart attack, saw her interviewed, and watched segments of shows dedicated to the symptoms of heart attack in women.  I emailed my OB and included all of the above symptoms and got a call from her nurse.  She was at the hospital and I was to go back, immediately.  I would learn later that the jaw pain was what caught her eye.

My son was in school so my husband drove me in.  We arrived at around lunchtime.  They ordered another EKG, and a more inclusive cardiac blood work-up.  Something in the EKG caught my OBs eye and she ordered a cardiology consult.  In an effort to manage my pain and because it seemed to have worked before, I had another lidocaine cocktail only this time it didn’t work nearly as well.  The cardiologist came by and reviewed my history, focusing on the fact that I had had a prolonged chest cold that only recently resolved itself.  We were still waiting for the results of the blood work, and he decided to do a cardiac ultrasound (using a handheld ultrasound machine, almost no bigger than an iPhone, that I fully believe should be offered to all pregnant women)  looking for fluid around my heart.  He asked me a lot of questions, the answer to one of which would become the key to my diagnosis, which was, ‘do you feel better or relief from the pain if you are standing up or sitting upright?’ to which my answer was yes.  By this point, lying down was excruciatingly painful, taking a deep breath, coughing, or even clearing my throat were out of the question and I was tachycardic, with a resting heart rate around 130bpm.

Let me break here to say that baby was monitored fully and during my first trip to L&D they did an ultrasound before I went home.  Because he is breech, that added to the initial diagnosis of reflux, that his head was pushing the stomach acids more easily and fully up my esophagus.  It all sounded reasonable to me, except for the pain factor.  I rated my pain as a 5 during the first trip and it was an 8-10 by the time I returned.

We were there, in L&D triage, all afternoon.  When the test results had all come in, the resident quite calmly explained that it was possible I had had a mild heart attack.  Cue the freak the fuck out music because it scared the shit out of me to think I was 46, in otherwise reasonably good health, pregnant and had had a heart attack. It was also probable that I had pericarditis (an inflammation of the sac around the heart, usually brought on by a viral infection).  Of primary concern was my continued tachycardia that did not improve as the afternoon wore on and the elevated ST segments from the 2nd EKG I had.  We would not know for sure if it was a heart attack until a series of 3 sequential triponin tests came back (the third of which was this morning).  I would not be going home, they were going to admit me and determine a treatment plan.

We had a friend pick our son up from school and she kept him through dinner.  It was around this time that it was decided I was going to be admitted.  I worried about our son and how the night would unfold, so as scared as I was, I told my husband to go home and pick him up.  We tried to come up with a Plan B that would allow my husband to stay with me, but there wasn’t one.  I cried as my husband walked out the door.

Just the mere thought of something being wrong with my heart scared me in a way that I can’t adequately describe.  It is hard to not think the worst and the worse was dying before this baby was born or before I saw my son again.  I was alone, in the hospital, in pain, and scared.  I would later post to Facebook that I was too scared to sleep and I didn’t.  They started me on meds to treat the pericarditis which thankfully began to alleviate the pain.  The MFM on call had to research the best way to treat me as I was pregnant and the prescribed treatment was Ibuprofen which is not safe for babies past 34 weeks as it can close one of the vessels of the heart.

She came by on rounds early this morning (by then, I’d had two doses of two meds she’d prescribed).  She had 3 residents in tow.  The first thing out of her mouth was, “You are an unusual case.  I’ve only seen one case similar to yours in 30 years of practice.”  Really.  Where have I heard that before?!

Cutting to the chase, I did not have a heart attack (Amen! Alleluia! Thanks be to the universe!).  The diagnosis is acute pericarditis brought on by a viral chest cold (they are still trying to determine which).  I have to take medication for the next 3 months to treat it but the pain as abated significantly already.  My discharge was contingent upon a significant lowering of my heart rate (which was in the 90s by the time I was last monitored) and the results of a favorable echocardiogram (I got to look at my heart beating from various angles for the 45 minutes it took to do the test) which I got.  I was discharged and on my way home with my husband and son by 3:30 this afternoon.

I have become used to being an ‘unusual’ case but it is sometimes hard for me to understand why these dramatic health issues happen to me.  It is a lot for one person to bear and a lot for those who love me to go through.  If it weren’t happening to me, I wouldn’t believe it (and believe me, I have lost friends over my dramatic health issues).  It has been quite validating to have been with my husband long enough for him to witness these diagnoses first hand.

I am home.

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
~Marcus Aurelius

16 comments to My Heart, Literally

  • […]    4/14 » Pericarditis. Again. If you have been reading since I was pregnant with Baby G, then you might remember that I developed pericarditis when I was 35w along and had to be hospitalized. I wrote all about it here. […]

  • What a terrible experience…so scary. I’m glad you are home and I hope those meds are all you will need to take care of this.

  • How scary this must’ve been — and so unexpected. I am glad you are on the mend. I remember reading about Toni Braxton having this same condition, and she was also a relatively young/vivacious person with small kids too.

    Hope you have a restful weekend!

  • claire

    wow! I don’t know how I missed this post – but probably because I read on my phone so much. When I saw your FB post I didn’t realize how scared you were. SOrry, very stupid of me!
    I can really relate to those feelings of scaredness in the hospital alone wondering where it would all end. NOt that I have been there myself – but just reading it was so evocative. I am sorry and I really hope that the new pain killers that aren’t hospital grade can do something to relieve the pain.
    It really sucks that you have to be so much of a “rarity” in all your health conditions and deal with all these complications.
    big hugs and I hope you feel better soon:)
    xoxox

  • Oh my goodness! I am SO GLAD you are ok! I was on the edge of my seat through that whole post. Thinking of you!

  • Meg

    You have been and continue to go through a lot of complications. I am grateful that you listen to your body and continue to report symptoms as necessary! Hopefully the pain will subside and you can get a few weeks of rest before your new arrival!
    Peace and calm!!
    Meg

  • Mel

    That is so so scary. I am so glad you’re healing and home again.

  • Just so thankful that everything is okay; you’ve been on my mind constantly since I saw your FB post.

    Rest up, sweetie.

    xoxo

  • Oi how terrifying! So glad the crisis is over, and that they’ve found an appropriate treatment that is already starting to relieve the pain. Thinking of you.

  • Wishing you nothing but the best! You surely have quite the stories to tell at parties, huh? Glad to hear you are home and on the mend and just look at you, 36 weeks pregnant, and baby boy is doing alright! THAT is one good story so far! And even though it was not the smoothest of sailings, it was certainly less eventful than you dreaded. Best of luck!

  • Jen

    Oh my goodness, how terrifying that must have been for you and your husband. I’m so relieved that it wasn’t a heart attack! You have had MORE than your fair share of health crisis and it isn’t fair. Please take it very easy, I will be thinking of you.

  • Anna

    Oh my goodness, I am shocked that you had to go through that, it sounds totally terrifying. I can’t imagine how scared you were. I am so glad that they were thorough in their consideration and found an explanation for what’s going on and I am thrilled that you have gone home to be with your husband and son. Wishing you some peaceful time,x

  • holy crap! how terrifying, on so many levels. glad they figured it out and that you’re being treated. you must be relieved. hope you can get some sleep, at least.

  • jen

    That just sucks. My dad was hospitalized with acute pericarditis a few years ago and it was hard enough on him without being pregnant! I’m so glad you went to the hospital and that you and the baby are ok. (hugs)

  • Omg, how utterly terrifying!! SO glad you are okay.

  • Sarah

    And another reason you’d like to have that health info birth mother! She should really pony up. Ok, soapbox abandoned. I’m soooooo glad that you and baby boy are in the clear.

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