Thursday, March 10, 2016

3 Trips to the Hospital and Sorting Through These Feelings

It's been a hectic few weeks and I've been processing them slowly and thinking about writing everything down for the last few days, but wrangling the house back into shape after three trips to the hospital has taken all of my energy and I'm still battling the mountain of laundry that grew exponentially during my time away.

This is a little lengthy, but I need to get it all down in one place to process everything that's happened.  I'm kind of sad. I'm kind of angry.  And after slowly becoming more confident in the type of care I'd receive if something went wrong, I'm kind of back where I was in August 2011.  Or October 2011.

I'll also start by saying that throughout all this baby has been doing good and moving lots! I'm incredibly thankful for that!

Trip #2...
It started the last Thursday in February when I was suddenly in excruciating pain.  I hadn't, at that moment, had a UTI in over a decade, but this was that familiar old pain amped up on steroids.  I'd heard that UTIs could be worse during pregnancy (and easier to acquire) but this was nothing like I'd imagined.

I called my doctor's office and found that if I'd called first thing in the morning they could have gotten me in, but it was 1 pm and Clinicals were over and there wasn't a doctor in the office, but they could pencil me in for tomorrow afternoon.  Fighting back tears I said I'd try urgent care because I didn't think it could wait.

Before I could walk upstairs to grab my purse the back pain hit hard.  And it gave me pause.  I called back, this time crying because the pain level had gone from high to very, very high, and was sent straight over to Labor and Delivery at Sparrow Hospital.

They took me straight back to a room, and I made about fifty trips back and forth between my triage room and the bathroom before the conclusion was reached that I had a UTI.  I still hadn't taken anything more than Tylenol at this point, and the pain level was still excruciating.

Still when they pounded on my back the pain didn't get worse, and so, I was told, it probably wasn't a kidney infection and I was sent on my way with a five day supply of Keflex and a checklist of reasons to come back.  The resident I saw stressed the importance of coming back.  "I had a woman with pyelo in the ICU last week."  He said.  "I don't think you have a kidney infection yet, but if it gets worse, come back."

The pain had begun to ease up by the next morning, but by Saturday I was really sick.  I was on day three of a horrible headache that had begun around the same time as the UTI, and sometimes when I laid back tiny fireflies would dart across my vision for up to five minutes, which isn't one of my normal migraine symptoms.

Admission #1...
On Sunday I sent Paul to the store to get a replacement for our broken thermometer (those things don't last long in this house) and found that I had a fever well over the 100.3 that was supposed to send me back to Labor and Delivery.  I realized, as I glanced at the checklist, that I'd had a few of the symptoms for at least two days.  By then it hurt to breath and to move.

I headed back to the hospital.

The only thing I hate more than going in to Labor and Delivery when I'm not in labor is going to the ER for any reason whatsoever, but it was Sunday and it was getting harder and harder to breath and everything hurt.

I explained why I was there to a resident with plenty of attitude who repeatedly asked "why'd you come in today?" in a tone that made it clear that she didn't think I should be there and patiently explained that they had given me a checklist with five reasons to come back, and that upon looking at it I had realized I had three of those five reasons, and so I'd returned.

Finally the resident from the first day came in.  He was far more worried.  He ordered tests.  He listened to my lungs and said he couldn't hear any air moving through my right lung.  And he ordered a flu test.

Within a few hours I had been admitted and was shuffled up to a large room at the top of the hospital for observation, because I was only 21 weeks and 6 days and I'd need to be 24 weeks to be admitted to the Special OB unit.  By midnight the nurse had come in to tell me that I did in fact have Influenza A and that every person who came in my room would need to have their faces covered in a mask and their clothes draped in gauzy yellow paper.

Monday dawned and I felt worse.  A resident came up and listened to the baby.  Another came up and did an exam and told me I'd need to stay for at least another day so that they could continue to watch my lungs.

I asked if someone could tell my OB's office that I was there and the resident responded:  "If you get sick enough that we need to bother an attending and let them know what's going on, then we will."

I rolled my eyes, waited until she'd left the room and called my doctor's office to let them know that I was in the hospital in case my doctor happened to be over doing rounds.

This, I would later come to realize, was a mistake.

A few hours later another OB came up and listened to my lungs.  My oxygen levels were fine, but breathing was hard.  I'd asked for an inhaler (my asthma is super mild when I'm not pregnant and has been mild during this pregnancy) and was told that because I'd been tachycardic the whole time I'd been there that they couldn't let me use an inhaler.  "You're going to need to stay overnight so we can keep an eye on your lungs," she repeated before she left the room.

In the afternoon another person in a white coat walked into my room.  She told me she'd come from my doctor's office and wasn't I feeling better?  A little, I said, mostly out of politeness.  I mean if the pain level had been at 9 when I'd come in it was hovering around 8 now.  After 20 hours the codeine cough syrup had finally arrived.  That was something.

She listened to my lungs.  I needed to work on taking better breaths or I'd have pneumonia soon.

But didn't I want to be back in my bed at home?

Of course I did. I mean, who wants to be in the hospital unless they have to be?  I wasn't having fun hauling that IV pole around to go to the bathroom every half hour.

I'll be getting your paper work together and discharging you, she said as she turned and walked out.

I was stunned.  I still.hurt.  Everything still hurt.  Breathing hurt.  I felt panicked at the idea of going home in that much pain.  I've felt that way one other time.  And I ended up being really, really sick.

Glancing at the prescriptions she'd set down on my table I read her name and saw that it was followed by CNM.

It took a second to commute.  Certified Nurse Midwife.  Two OBs had examined me and said I needed to stay.  A midwife had come in and was readying my discharge papers.

When she came back I explained that while I wanted to go home I really, really felt like I shouldn't be going home.  The pain was excruciating.  I'd be up running around taking care of four kids with the flu.

That wouldn't really be so bad, she told me.  Go home and snuggle with your kids in bed.  I started to cry.  She gave me a look of absolute pity and stood up and walked out the room.

I pleaded with the nurses.  They thought I could stay, but couldn't do anything.  Two OBs had said I needed to stay.  Could I see one of them?  Could I see anyone?

They were apologetic, but I'd been discharged.

After wheezing across the parking garage and sobbing in the car for ten minutes I drove myself home.

When I got there I laid in bed, burning up, despite the many medications I'd been given before I left.  I took my temperature.  100.5.  I called my doctor's office where a sympathetic nurse told me she'd tell my doctor right away and call me back.

I took my temperature again. 101.1.

She called, but it was immediately clear that her entire manner had changed.  "I talked to the doctor and to B (the CNM) and so I've heard what's going on.  You just need to get through this.  There's nothing we can do."

"I haven't been able to keep down solid food in four days."  I sobbed.  "I have a fever of 101.1.  I've had the most excruciating headache for five days now."

"We've made our decision and you just need to get through this.  I'll call you tomorrow and check in."

That night was long.  I was burning up, but so were the kids.  While Paul was up with Patch, I stayed up with James.

The next day she called back.  "How are you feeling?" She asked.  "Terrible."  I said.  "Any better?"  She replied.  "Not at all."  I wheezed.  "Well you sound better.  So that's what I'll be telling the doctor.  I'll call to check on you tomorrow." "Ask him when I should worry that I haven't been able to keep down food in five days."  "You haven't been able to keep down food in that long?"  "I told you that yesterday."  "Well, you just need to get through this.  I'll call tomorrow."

She didn't call.  An amazing pediatrician from the kids' office did, because Paul had taken the girls in after a week of the flu, and she was extremely worried that I'd been sent home.  But my OB's office never picked up the phone.

Paul wanted me to go back to the hospital.  He told me I needed to go in every day.  "But what would that do?"  I'd sob.  "They'll just send me home.  My doctor's office sent me home.  I'll get some obnoxious brand new resident who'll let me know I'm wasting their time coming in like last time. They say I just need to toughen up and get through it."

I asked him not to call the office.  It wouldn't do any good. No one was listening.

The next day, midway through the day, the pain was through the roof.  And this time it was unmistakable.  I'd completed the antibiotics but the UTI was back.  I couldn't keep food down. I'd been sick four times and knew I was getting dehydrated, but I had an OB's appointment in the morning.  If I could just get in and see my doctor, who had up until this week been an amazing doctor, things would be okay.

That afternoon the nurse called back.  She was much, much nicer and was almost apologetic.  "You're seeing the doctor tomorrow?" she asked.  I wondered how much that played into her new tone.  I told her the UTI was back, that I was throwing up more than ever, but I thought I would be okay until morning.

I was wrong.

Friday morning arrived after a long, painful night.  My appointment was at 9:15, but I couldn't wait.  Walking down the steps to the laundry room was excruciating.  Every step I took felt like I was being punched in the back.  The pain wrapped around my abdomen.  I had Paul drop me off at my doctor's office at 8.  I had a feeling I wouldn't be home soon.

Limping down the hallway to my doctor's office I fought back tears.  At the front desk I sobbed that I was there early, but it just hurt so much, I couldn't wait.

They immediately brought me back and within ten minutes my OB was telling me that I was going to go straight to triage to be checked into the Special OB unit.  It seemed that the UTI had turned into a kidney infection and I'd need IV antibiotics for at least a couple of days.  He also thought that in addition to the flu, I had a gastro virus that was going around town.  

I limped across the Sky Walk and got lost trying to find my way to Labor and Delivery from the different entrance.  A woman in scrubs saw me and rushed over and asked if I needed a wheel chair and then guided me to L&D triage, where I passed on the message that I was supposed to be admitted.

And I waited.  And waited.  A tough looking young man pacing the halls stopped and asked if I was sure I was okay.  A very pregnant woman asked how far along I was, and admitted that she'd thought I was in labor because I was obviously in so much pain.  A timely coughing fit brought the receptionist out and she brought me to the Special OB unit room herself, since they hadn't made their way over yet to get me, and an amazing nurse took over.

I should not be in that much pain, she said.  We need to get it under control.  After eight days of Tylenol and agony it was nice to hear.

The photo I snapped while FaceTiming with them.
A grey haired woman showed up to transport me to get a sonogram.  The number of children I had was asked and the most uncomfortable conversation of the hospital stay followed.  "Why?" She said, stunned.  "Why would you have that many children?"  After a cheerful answer about how much we love them and how fun they are, she launched into a tirade about how annoying children are, how they whine and fight and are always saying "That's mine."  She had a friend with two children and they were horrible.  Always bickering.  "Better you than me." was the sentiment expressed repeatedly before we made it down to the ground floor.

I was extremely relieved when a different man appeared to transport me back to my room once the sonogram was over.

Back in the room the IV was started.  Dilaudid began to numb the pain.  When it came roaring back within an hour Norco was thrown in. In between restless naps I began to wonder what would have happened if I hadn't been admitted when I was.  If I was in this much pain as the Norco and Dilaudid wore off, what would I have felt like without it?

Rocephin arrived in a little bag.  The tiny bag of antibiotic would battle the infection.

A woman arrived to draw blood.  "How many children do you have?" She asked. "This is number five?  Why?  Why? Why? Why?"

I was getting tired of that question.  Extremely tired.

In the morning I could finally refuse the Dilaudid.  By the second day of antibiotics the painkillers were no longer necessary.

Still down about 5 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight...
hoping that changes soon.
And on the third day my doctor visited and told me that I could go home as soon as the sensitivity test on the culture was completed.  I'd be on antibiotics for another 10 days, and then I'd be taking something to prevent the infection from coming back, every day for the rest of the pregnancy.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

This time I was ready to go home.  The panic that deep down something was still wrong was gone.

Once I was discharged it quickly became clear that being up and about wasn't quite the same as being in a hospital bed.  I couldn't stand up for more than three minutes without feeling like someone was punching me in the kidneys.  And driving anywhere, with the many, many potholes in Michigan roads, was pretty unpleasant.

But now, on Thursday, I'm starting to feel more like myself.  We went to the park yesterday.  I have an alarm set to tell me to take the antibiotic every six hours.

But I have to admit I have considerably less faith in both my doctor's office and Sparrow Hospital than I did two weeks ago.  And I'm just praying we get through the rest of this pregnancy as uneventfully as possible.  Because I have no faith that anyone will listen to me if something goes wrong.


  1. Wow. You seem to have the worst luck with medical professionals! I have six kids and have never received a rude comment or that kind of care from any doctor or nurse! How awful. You do seem to have awful pregnancies, so maybe that's why they disapprove? Still, best to keep their views to themselves. Did your family not get vaccinated for flu? It is so very dangerous for pregnant women, I had a perfectly healthy friend who slipped into a coma from flu during her pregnancy! Glad you are doing better. Please take it easy on your body!

    1. Flu shots don't cover every strain of the flu. And with the kids' food allergies maybe they can't get them?

    2. In general, other than the big illness with Patch and then this pregnancy with the morning sickness, I feel like my pregnancies have been pretty easy. Definitely not like some women with HG where their sick for weeks on end.

      On the flu shot note, I didn't get one this year... I have so many years and it always seems like it's the wrong strains and we always end up getting it anyways. James had two flu shots this year and he still got it with the rest of us, and seemed to be sick just as long and just as miserably... so I'm thinking it isn't the same type they picked this year.

      Last month they announced that this years was 60% effective, which I think makes it a pretty good year in terms of effectiveness compared to other years. It's the only vaccine we sometimes skip because year after year the effectiveness is so incredibly low.

  2. Cam, please, please, please find another OB. With my fourth I switched after very poor treatment during a hospitalization during week 20. I was so hesitant to do so, but it really was the best decision. I hope you make a full recovery soon and are able to get through the rest of the pregnancy with no issues. I'll be praying for you and your little one.

  3. I am so sorry that this happened to you! I am a nurse and I can not believe a fellow woman would comment on how many children anyone else has let alone a nurse. God made us to bear children and be open to life, any life.

  4. Wow. That's horrible. I'm so, so sorry. Praying for you. So very glad you are on the mend and that your baby is doing well. What a nightmare to have to get through that.

  5. How very disappointing. In so ways! From them dismissing you to constantly questioning your family size it sounds absolutely awful. I guess the silver lining is that by being kind to them when they don't deserve it, you are showing them Christ's love, and by loving your children and telling others that they are WANTED and appreciated and not a burden, you are breaking down stereotypes and again allowing Christ to work through you. So at least there's that. Definitely praying for the rest of your pregnancy to be uneventful!

  6. Ugh. I'm so sorry that you've been put through the wringer this way. Last October the Atlantic did a story on how sexism in the medical system ( short version, womens' pain is taken much less seriously. Sounds like that's exactly what you experienced, and I am so so sorry. I'm so glad your little one is doing well, and we'll say some prayers that things calm down. Hugs!

  7. Goodness! I'm so sorry for what you've been through! I'm 17 weeks pregnant and cannot imagine... I will add you to my prayers. Did you recieve any apologies from the OBs? I hope that you at least write (or give) a thorough complaint so that this may be avoided for someone else. God bless you and your family, all the way from California!

  8. Cammie, I've been praying for you and the baby. I can't imagine having to handle all that, and everything else you do, all while in so much pain. I've been reading your blog since the FL days and even bought a snood or two. I'm back living in MI myself now actually. Sincerely, if you find yourself in need of help - laundry, a milk/gluten free meal or two, just let your readers know. We maybe internet friends, but we are sisters in Christ too, and we all love your family.

  9. You have to take antibiotics every day for the rest of your pregnancy so the kidney infection doesn't come back???! I'd get a second opinion if I were you. That sounds completely absurd. Did they give you any dietary advice for healing and maintaining healthy kidneys, esp during pregnancy?

    I hope and pray your entire household is healthy again soon! TB

  10. Absolutely awful! I'm so sorry you had to endure any of it! From the rude comments to the poor medical care! So so awful! Definitely write in your complaint and when the hospital calls post-baby to see how they did, don't hold back. It's very unfortunate they treated you and the baby so poorly. Thanks be to God, you both are alright! Praying for you Cammie!

  11. I'm so so sorry for everything you've gone through!! You need to find a new OB office immediately. That is completely unacceptable and scares me for how they will treat you when in labor. May the rest of your pregnancy and birth be much better!

  12. My goodness. I a so sorry about everything you went through. How terribly sad that some people in the medical profession can be so callous and rude. Continued prayers for you and your family.

  13. I would also find a new OB immediately! I am so sorry that you've had to go through all this. I will be praying for you!

  14. The phrase "the sensitivity test on the culture" struck me as wildly appropriate, and then I realised it had to do with medicine. Oh. I thought that we all flunked "the sensitivity test on the culture" by expecting routine kindness and respect for a family in crisis. Prayers, dear one, and rest every spare moment.

  15. Honestly, I really believe you need to be very stern from now on with anyone who questions how many children you have. Very stern. You can start with, "Excuse me?" with a dead on stare at them with darts in your eyes, and a pause. If they continue, you can say, "I'm sorry, but how is any of that your business?"
    You can probably think of a million unkind things to say, but of course your own Catholic values should shine through - that you don't return nasty words for nasty words. But sternness and a "please, I don't feel well. Please mind your own business. I am not having this conversation with you at this time." attitude can be done with charity. Nip it in the bud. Don't put up with it.

    And wow. No one should have to go through what you just went through. Unconscionable. I think it's the degradation of modern health care, that we're seeing the opening forays of socialized medicine at work. And it isn't pretty.

    Take care. Hope you're feeling better. I'll say a prayer for you and yours.
    God bless. ~ Bonnie

  16. I'm so sorry, and am incredibly glad you and baby are okay! Please know that you can switch care providers at any time if you wish! Sometimes good doctors are really hindered by unkind or incompetent staff.

  17. This is absolutely terrible. How dare they treat you that way!! I echo everyone else in there sentiments and I wish I could just give you a big ole hug! Poor Mama!

  18. The whole number of kids thing is absurd. You only have four at home, this will only make five. That isn't like my friend Matt who was the second to youngest of 21, or another friend who has 12. THOSE are large families. I think the problem is that these days people are so used to seeing anemic families that they think that those are the normal sizes but really, those 2 kid families are small and do not represent replacement levels. Top it off, even with lovely healthy sized families like yours, our population would be plummeting if it were not for immigration. My great grandchildren are going to look at old pictures of people with blond hair and talk about how odd people used to look because the genetic group that carries blond hair is dying out thanks to this silly notion that healthy numbers of kids-- like four, five or six (what was once considered normal and average)--are somehow huge and difficult and too many.

    That nurse midwife should be on a shit list somewhere for over-riding two Ob's without consulting them. She asked a leading question and got you to say what she needed to hear to do what she had decided to do anyway. Check and see what organization certifies and tracks complaints, then, after the baby is born and home, go make a formal complaint about her over-riding two doctors orders and leaving you suffering. She was the one who convinced the nurse that it was all in your head, and so your doctor very likely NEVER HEARD ANYTHING YOU ASKED THEM TO TELL HIM. I don't know how many doctors I have known who constantly complained about staff not passing on messages and not calling them to the phone, and not inputing the calls into the computer records. These days, in many practices, the doctors are employees and do not have any say in who works the front desk and takes their calls for them. top, out of time, hope I spelled everything correctly!


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