After almost 36 hours will no chest pain, I was lulled into a sense that my recovery was progressing quickly. We never discussed the likely duration of the pain, how long it would be for the meds to have an actual effect, or that pericardital pain can sometimes wax and wane. All of which would have abdundantly helpful when the pain returned last night. As has been the case, it came on suddenly. The only thing I discussed with the discharge nurse at the hospital was to ‘take Tylenol for pain’. I must not have believed that the pain was here to stay because I decided not to take anything last night (don’t ask me why, I am not a believer in breathing through pain. I fully understand that pain management leads to quicker recovery and better quality of life). So, I did not sleep last night and by this morning the pain was a 6-7.
I had my first NST appointment scheduled for this morning and it is performed at my MFMs office. I let her know that I’d be there and I also knew the MFM who managed my care in the hospital would be there. The pain was so severe that, once again, I had to summon my husband from work to take me because there was no way I could drive. As it relates to that, my husband is working a lot. His company is opening a new location on Monday and he runs their IT department. He has been having to go back at night (last night he was there until 1:30 a.m.) and will have to work this weekend (both days and nights). It is such a stressful time already, for him, and then to have it compounded with me, 36w2d pregnant and suffering from a cardiac condition.
NST results were fine (forget that they were double booked and we had to wait about 40 mins). However, how to manage my pain was a subject of much discussion, debate, and consult. The issue is that the preferred treatment for pericarditis (the one that has the quickest and most long lasting effect) is a combination of medicines that include NSAIDs. NSAIDs are THE most effective in treating the inflammation. And, once the inflammation goes down, the pain begins to abate. At this gestation, there are just too many risks to baby to even consider the use of NSAIDs. And, Tylenol, is helpful but, honestly, I’d have to take more than the daily recommended cap in order to manage how severe this pain is (should anyone care, the cap used to be 4 gm/24 hours, but that has recently been dropped to 3 gm/24 hrs).
Tylenol with codeine was another option, but, frankly, I do not tolerate codeine or vicodin well. So, I threw out that my preferred pain killer was darvocet or percocet. The latter, while a narcotic pain killer, is used routinely in pregnancy and has been shown repeatedly to effectively manage pain. There was discussion between the two MFMs, between my MFM and the resident cycling through the maternal fetal medicine department (who I’d seen while in the hospital) and between all three and the cardiologist who saw me in the hospital. It was agreed that in an effort to get ahead of this pain (they want me to sleep and be able to move around), that percocet was the winner.
I’d already scheduled my next two NST appointments next week and have an OB appointment as well. This, in addition to a page long laundry list of errands, both Christmas and baby prep in nature. Mind you, I’ve already lost this entire week of what would have been Christmas and baby prep, so, I am in the hole, so to speak. To put it plainly, not one gift has been purchased.
The thing with narcotics is, well, you’re not allowed to drive. So, now I have three appointments I need to get shuttled to/from (two of which are at the facility that is 30-40 mins away) at a time when my husband won’t be able to get away. Many of my local friends work and those that are stay at home moms either have a newborn at home themselves or have 2-3 kids. I have managed to get 2 out of 3 of the appointments covered, so it is just Tuesday’s NST that’s outstanding.
I called my son’s school and was able to arrange for after care for the next 8 days (when his school closes for winter break). I feel bad for my little guy, having to be at school from 8:30 – 5:30, but there is simply no way around it. What’s helpful is that he LOVES ‘daycare’ there (and was mad at me yesterday for picking him up on time), so that assuages my guilt a bit. I will miss him, though.
I have done my best not to complain throughout this pregnancy. There has been a lot to worry about, hand wring over, and research, but I’ve not felt put out by it. Until now. It is so worrisome by itself to have constant chest pain. Add to that being 9 months pregnant with Christmas bearing down and a young son who deserves a festive holiday, and it is downright effed up. It hurts to breathe, to stand, to lie down, to go to the bathroom, to move about. Even being semi-supine while typing this is painful. Add to that that my husband is working 70 hours/wk (sometimes in the wee hours), and in addition he’ll have to take up full time parenting duties when he is home, not to mention run the myriad errands that need accomplishing. I am reaching out to our sitters to see who has availability to watch our son so that my husband can get some things done unencumbered. It is just A LOT. I feel like shit, I’m worried about myself and baby, I’m worried about my husband (he has never been this stressed at work), and I’m wondering how everything will come together (especially at a time where my parents couldn’t be more assholish, which is quite a feat given I’m not speaking directly to either of them).
It is a lot and I am overwhelmed.
“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
~Franklin D. Roosevelt