Oh boy has it been wild around here lately. I’ve shared some of the info on Instagram and Facebook but I wanted to write it all down here because I’m already starting to forget the details.
A little history: While I was pregnant with Adelaide, I had a really terrible back spasm/attack of some sort. It came on quite suddenly and before long I could barely breathe and we were panicking. I wrote about it at the time. My doctor wasn’t concerned since it only happened once. After Addie was born it would happen here and there. I seem to remember a few, less intense, episodes in the first month or two after she was born and then it not really happening again until she was 18 months old. From there, it started to happen somewhat regularly. Each time it would happen, it lasted longer and became harder to find relief. Finally in September of last year, I went to urgentcare because the attack had lasted all night without relief. The NP working that day gave me a muscle relaxer and some pain meds which I used two or three times in October when it happened. Then I got pregnant and the problem seemed to go away over night. In hindsight, I realize I should have taken it more seriously and gone to the doctor but after it would go away I’d always think, “Well maybe that was the last time!”
Monday Night, May 6th
So my back started to bother me at about 11 PM. It starts with a back ache and sometimes I can head it off from there with meds. But being pregnant, all I could take was a couple of Tylenol and take a hot shower. Jacob heard me in the shower and got up to see what was going on. I thought I had it under control and sent him back to bed. Within a half an hour I could tell it was starting to get bad so I woke him up again. He called the OB’s office to talk to the doctor on call (who took AGES to call back, I was dying.) He said I could take one of the pain killers I had and if it didn’t get better, to go to the hospital. At this point I could barely breathe I was in so much pain. I was crawling around the living room on my hands and knees because it was the only position that gave even the tiniest bit of relief from the pain. My back muscles were tightly locked and it wrapped around to the top of my belly.
Early Tuesday Morning, May 7th
The pain killer gave only a minor amount of relief and by 3 AM I was still in a lot of pain and it felt like it was starting to get worse again. So we decided to go to the hospital. I hate the hospital so this is a good indication of how much pain I was in that I was willing to do anything to get some relief. We had to wake poor Addie up and take her with us. She was confused and insisted on putting shoes on before going, but otherwise she was a champ.
At the hospital they checked us in and since I was pregnant, they send me to L&D triage. Jacob had to wait outside with Addie. They monitored the baby and my contractions (which I think were happening because of the pain, but I hadn’t even noticed them in comparison) did some tests and things before finally talking to my doctor and giving me a shot of Demerol which helped tremendously. We went home at 8 AM and made an appointment with my dr’s NP for 10 AM.
This was the first time I’d seen this particular NP and she was amazing. So helpful and supportive. She prescribed a muscle relaxer that’s safe for pregnancy and said I could take one of the pain killers I already had if it was really bad. But we were all hoping it wouldn’t happen again, of course.
Jacob had called in sick. He was on an elective rotation so they were really nice about it and he wouldn’t have to make up the time. We all came home and took a long nap that afternoon. Jacob went to pick up the prescription after that but it wasn’t there and the doctor’s office was closed already. We planned to call about it the next day.
Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning May 8th
I went to bed early, totally exhausted. But I woke up around 3 AM with my back starting to hurt again. I was so frustrated! I took the pain killer right away, the only thing I had to help, and it didn’t do much of anything. We called the Dr’s office again and talked to the Dr. on call who said we should probably go back in. I was trying so hard to make it until my Dr’s office opened so I could avoid the ER again but by about 6:30 AM I was dying. Addie woke up around then (our new early riser!) and I texted my friend LaShay who took Addie for us before we went in. It was much easier having her taken care of so Jacob could help with me and talk to the doctors and nurses. And luckily Jacob’s program was great about him needing to miss more work.
I was in sooo much pain and had hoped they would give me a shot right away since I’d been there the day before and they knew the history. But they took FOREVER to get me any pain relief. First they took some labs (which was difficult because I’m a hard stick on a good day, I’m apparently a near impossible stick on a bad day) and then put in an IV, all of which took multiple attempts. They ended up with it in my hand because it was the only place they could get it in. Finally they talked to my Dr who said I could have morphine. Which sounds great but honestly it barely took the edge off and just made me kind of sleepy. But I couldn’t sleep because of the pain. They gave that to me as often as they were allowed but it didn’t do much.
At some point during the day the NP from my Dr’s office called my phone and talked to Jacob. She wanted me to know she was thinking of me and was so sorry that my prescription hadn’t been there when we tried to pick it up because she HAD called it in. Honestly, I don’t think it would have made a difference in the long run if we’d had it or not. But it was so thoughtful of her to call. I honestly wish I could see her from now on instead of my Dr!
I was in triage most of the day. An ultrasound tech came to do an ultrasound on the internal organs which showed stones in my gallbladder. They weren’t sure if it was the reason for the pain but it was a concern. My Dr. had called a surgeon friend to come do a consult and he took ages to come. Someone else from his practice came in the mean time just to check in. He mentioned that I might need to have the gallbladder out but that it was risky at 30 weeks pregnant. The uterus is so big at this point it’s hard to get to the gallbladder safely and the stress of the operation can put you in labor. He gave some other options including putting a tube in to drain the gallbladder to ease the pain until I could have the surgery after the baby is born. I was really hoping to avoid that.
The ultrasound tech came back and did an ultrasound on the baby this time (he looked great. We even saw his cute face.) A neonatologist came to explain what risks the baby would be under if we had to have the surgery and he ended up being born at 30 weeks. That was overwhelming. He was SO nice and comforting though so I felt if we had to go down that road, at least we had a great doctor on board for the baby. They decided to do steroid shots for the baby’s lungs in case he had to be delivered early. All these people were coming in and out and I was still in a lot of pain, despite the morphine. I could barely keep my eyes open to talk to anyone.
Around this time they were trying to give me potassium in my IV and it hurt so bad in my hand that I couldn’t stand it. So they decided I needed another IV someplace higher up on my arm. They had to call the crisis nurse to do it. They wrapped me up in warm blankets to help with finding a vein, but it didn’t do much. He ended up having to use an ultrasound to find a vein. That whole process took a good 45 minutes. But he was SO friendly and patient. Seriously, the nicest guy we saw the whole time we were there. They ended up having to put it in the bend of my arm, which he was trying to avoid, but it was the only place they could get it in. I had 2 IV’s in the rest of the time I was there.
The surgeon my Dr. originally called finally came. He was very confident that the issue was the gallbladder but wanted me to be admitted and monitored for awhile and do 24 hours of IV antibiotics before we made any decisions. It was nice to be moved to a real room finally, about 11 hours after we had arrived. I finally got to have some water and a popsicle at that point. I hadn’t been very hungry because of the pain but I had been desperate to drink. All I’d eaten since Monday night was a bagel and popsicle.
My night nurse Wednesday night was the best nurse I had the whole stay. She was so amazing and helpful. She couldn’t believe they hadn’t given me anything better for the pain since the morphine every 4 hours or whatever it was only took the edge off. She called the OB on call and got me on the Demerol again. BLESS HER. Even though she was in an out throughout the night to change IVs, move the monitors, take my blood pressure, etc. I slept great. So grateful for her.
Thursday, May 9
Thursday was kind of a waiting game, trying to decide what to do. I honestly don’t remember much of that day. We saw my OB, the surgeon and the interventional radiologist about getting the tube in to drain the gallbladder. We weren’t crazy about this idea, especially Jacob. He was concerned that there were other issues on my labs that could mean the gallbladder wasn’t actually the problem. But it was the only thing they could come up with so they wanted to just go that direction. We planned the procedure for first thing Friday morning. Jacob brought Addie to see me that evening. She was a little nervous about the whole thing and didn’t want to come up on the bed. But it was good for me to see her anyway.
Friday morning, May 10
Jacob called in to work yet again on Friday and LaShay watched Addie yet again (bless her!) They came to get me around 7 AM for the procedure and just then Jacob showed up and said he didn’t think we should do it. I had woken up pretty much pain free that day and so he thought we should wait. I was surprised but I could tell he was really worried about me getting the procedure if it wasn’t necessary so we cancelled it. My OB and the surgeon came at different times and both seemed a little annoyed that we hadn’t gone through with it. The surgeon, who was kind of condescending, said, “Well if it were me and I was pain free, I would go home too. But you’ll be back within two weeks.” He recommended that I eat some real food and see if it brought back the pain. So we ordered lunch and before it even arrived, my back started hurting again. At this point I kind of fell apart. I had been tear-free the whole time until then but I just got overwhelmed and scared about going home and having to come back and go through all this again to get the procedure done. The interventional radiologist showed up at this point while I was in tears to talk about it. We decided to go ahead with it and Jacob seemed at peace with the idea now.
They decided to do the procedure that afternoon since it was a Friday and it would be a hassle trying to get it done on Saturday. The only problem was that since the surgeon had had me eat a few hours earlier (I had half a turkey sandwich) they couldn’t sedate me. The IR assured me that he’d done similar procedures on pregnant women just using the IV pain med that they were giving me so we went ahead with it. That was probably a bad idea. It hurt a LOT. They did the procedure in the cath lab and everyone was really nice. They asked what I wanted to listen to and I said I didn’t care. Then they said Dr. S liked country music so I should speak up before he got there if I didn’t want country. I said anything but country so they ended up putting on Eric Clapton radio which for some reason seemed so odd to be listening to while having a surgical procedure done. As soon as he got started and took out some of the fluid in my gallbladder he said it looked very infected and it was a good thing we were doing the procedure. It hurt but I was managing it until the pain was referred to my right shoulder (apparently very common.) Then I wanted to die. My whole shoulder and upper arm were cramping so bad I wanted them to cut it off. We tried to move it around to ease the pain but it just kept getting worse. They gave me a lot of the IV pain meds (like 10 times what they had been giving me in L&D! The L&D nurse was mad about that when they brought me back) but my shoulder still hurt so bad and did for about an hour after the procedure. The procedure itself was pretty quick though, maybe 20 minutes.
After the procedure I went back to a different room. I was the only patient on the 1st floor at that point so they wanted to put me on the 2nd floor and close the 1st. The bummer here was that the 1st floor was brand new and SO nice. The 2nd floor was old and preparing for remodel so I was in a room with the windows closed up and weird smells coming from the cafeteria. Glad I was only there one night.
It was hard to say if the procedure helped the back pain because I was in so much pain from the actual procedure and it was in a lot of the same places I’d been in pain before. My night nurse Friday night was really liberal with the pain meds. I liked her. Jacob brought Addie to come visit me for a little while. She was happy to see me and less nervous about the hospital. They brought me a slushie from Sonic.
Saturday, May 11
My nurse thought I would probably be able to get released that day but I had to first be seen the surgeon and OB on call. (And since it was Saturday there was no telling how long that would take.) When the surgeon came he mentioned wanting me stay one more day to be monitored but I begged him to let me go home. He agreed to since I’d been there so many days. The OB finally came and gave me the go ahead to go home and gave me some prescriptions.
Jacob and Addie came to get me. Even after getting the green light from the doctors it took forever for my nurse to get everything ready for us to leave. I was so grateful to get those IV’s out and take the monitors off. It had been so annoying to be hooked up for that many days. And the monitors made me so itchy. Going to the bathroom was seriously an ordeal involving unplugging two monitors (and carrying the cords around my neck), taking off the pulse oximeter and blood pressure cuff, and taking the IV (and my new fancy gallbladder bag once the procedure was done) with me. Then I had to go back and plug everything back in again. I remembered having to do all that when in labor with Addie but that was 1 day. After 4 days I was going a little crazy.
My mom arrived that afternoon to take care of me and Addie. Thank heavens for her because the recovery was a lot harder than they prepared me for. I was in a LOT of pain and could barely move for the first few days. The pain meds made me sleepy so I don’t know how I would have taken care of Addie. My mom was an absolute lifesaver. Especially since Jacob had to take Step 3 of the boards on Monday. As soon as my mom arrived he took off to study the rest of the weekend. Poor guy! But he was amazing. He studied when he could at the hospital and never made me feel bad about the timing (as if I could control it anyway.) I always felt like his top priority, even knowing how stressed he was about the test. My mom stayed until the next Friday and we were SO grateful to have her help.
So now I have this annoying tube sticking out of my side that will stay in until the baby is born and I can have the gallbladder removal surgery. I’m allergic to adhesive tape but the paper tape doesn’t work well enough to hold the tubes in place so I’m constantly itchy from the sticky tape and bandages. I’m 2 weeks out from the procedure now and I’m finally to the point of not having too much pain on a daily basis. At this point the tube is way more annoying than the pregnancy so I feel more anxious to get the surgery done than to have the baby but of course, the baby has to come first in order to have the surgery! Luckily he looks great on the ultrasounds we’ve had and he’s stayed really active. I feel bad for all the drugs he was exposed to during this ordeal and I can’t wait for it to be over.