Monday, February 14, 2011
spent ample time looking my prettiest. I shaved my legs and showered
and changed my shirt (I had no more clean pants so I had to wear the
same ones). I know. Clearly I was serious about this momentous
occasion given the massive amount of work that went into all that.
This was like the biggest day of my life since the mag stopped and I
got to pee. I knew she wouldn't be there til evening so I bided my
time crocheting. Yes, I finally got all those knots undone. Although I
also made a vow that I will NEVER purchase unwound yarn again. Why
they even make unwound yarn is a mystery to me. Yeah, okay, maybe it
is easier to package and maybe loomers or something need it unwound. I
don't care. It's a terrible idea. Back to the point.
At about 10 someone came to my room while I was sound asleep (I don't
sleep at night but I take lots of naps) and knocked on the door. When
she poked her head in she said, "You're Ms Silverstein?". I affirmed
rather groggily and she shut the door. I promptly returned to my nap.
A few minutes later, another knock. Same lady. This time, rather
annoyed, she says, "I'm here to take you to your ultrasound." Okay I
knew I was having an ultrasound but you never know what time so it's
not like anyone had said, "Be ready at ten." Second, she didn't say
that the first time. She just asked who I was. I am not a mind reader.
A billion people come in and out of my room everyday so I am pretty
sure there was no way for me to divine that you needed me for
something so I am not sure you need to be annoyed with me. I scrambled
to get on my flip-flops and grab my phone. I took a seat in my sweet
ride and we were on our way. By the time we got down the hall and to
the elevator the woman says, "Where's your bracelet?". "I have no
idea. It must have fallen off in my sleep.". Ha! you thought I was
annoying her before, well apparently that was just the beginning. "Uh,
you need that," she tells me. Ok well that's fine but I can't do
anything about that right here. She asks some buddy of hers that just
passed us to babysit me while she went back to my nurse and got
another wristband. Obviously, keeping my mouth shut for the rest of
the trip would have been the socially responsible thing to do.
Obviously, I am a social idiot so I continued to comment on things we
passed, make little jokes, compliment her, etc. It took a long time
for her various grunts of reply to communicate to me that talking was
not a sweet idea. Eventually we reached our destination and the
torture ended. Now, I had learned the first time I was locked up that
you have to bring something to do with you, thus the phone. Do you get
dropped off in the waiting area? Oh no. They park you in a hallway and
then you wait for a tech to come out and get you. Last time that was
about 45 minutes. This time it was only about 20. It's not like there
are a bunch of people in wheelchairs waiting. It's just you, awkwardly
sitting in the middle of a hallway meant for walking, watching people
pass by, having to see the same people go in and out and decide
whether you should smile the 38th time they pass you or continue to
pretend you are not sitting in a hallway and ignore. Here's me in the
got to go back in the hallway to wait for my ride back. Luckily it
only took about 20 minutes as opposed to last time when it took over
an hour and a half.
Eric came by that evening just in time for the doc to come by. It was
possibly the most suspenseful moment in history. We're talking more
suspenseful than every sports movie where there is a tie and it comes
down to the last play/second/shot etc. I got ready and laid back. When
she was done she said "Yeah, it's 3cm and about 90%". Then she walked
into the bathroom to wash her hands. Eric, somewhat trepidatiously
asks, "So what does that mean?". Her reply? You really wanna know.
Come on, if you have been on Facebook you already know. Okay fine. Her
words were, "Well, you're not going home". She said it just so it
sounded like "well obviously your not going home crazy person". It was
perfect. She said it just how I would have. A girl after my own heart
I tell ya. Anyway, point is I wasn't stable enough to go home and she
will re-evaluate at 32 weeks. She is also pretty amazing and so she
sat there and chatted with me and Eric about medical and non-medical
stuff for at least an hour. Sorry but you are just not as cool as her.
Get over it.
Yeah, being in the hospital isn't completely awesome. I am currently
suffering from severe Fenway dog withdrawal syndrome. My symptoms
include dreaming he is next to me at night, watching little videos of
him for like an hour at a time and missing him. See how smooth that
was? They should just give me a medical degree. That said, even though
I only write about the ridiculous, it could be a lot worse and I am
certainly not miserable. I think it helps that I had been on bed-ish
rest for several weeks before coming so it's not exactly like my daily
activities have changed tremendously. At home, I laid on the couch all
day watching tv and playing on the computer. At the hospital I lie on
the bed all day watching tv, playing on the computer and crocheting.
At home I wasn't allowed out of the house except to try and get my fat
self to doctor appointments. In the hospital I am only allowed out of
the flor when pushed to an ultrasound and the docs come to me. Not
what I would call a major lifestyle shift if ya get me. Believe it or
not it even has its perks. At home I pay 65 smackers every time I see
a doc plus 42 bucks in cab fare to get there and back. In the hospital
I pay a low flat rate for all you can eat doctor appointments. The
food still sucks though. Don't ever forget that.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
About a week after the steroid shots were done I got the word that I would be doing the three hour challenge starting first thing in the morning. The upside was that the nurse would just do it so I didn't have to actually go anywhere. Well, because this is ME we are talking about, I didn't sleep at all the night before. It had nothing to do with the test I just do that from time to time where I don't fall asleep for a night. It's generally no big deal because I nap a little the next day and then sleep nice and sound the following nights. The problem here is that when you are awake you are hungry, like, real hungry. You have to fast for the test so eating was a no no. So, the blood taker came in at 5:30 and of course I was still awake. I gave her my blood and she left. The nurse came in with the drink at like ten to six. Ok. I thought the one hour drink was wretched but heavens to Betsy, I had NO idea what wretched was. This one was Lemon Lime flavored. Instead of having the viscosity of water or soda, like the other one, this drink was more of a syrup. Check it out:
I give you this close up. Notice how it says, "Pleasant LEMON_LIME flavor". That is a horrible lie. They should be sued for false advertising. It should read, "Warning, this crap will make you throw up all over yourself".
First stop- my nest. I have created a nest on my bed so that the belly has cushioning on whichever side I am laying on. Tied to the bed are: my phone cord, my computer cord, the tv remote (it has a cord), the call button and the cord for the light switch. This way, I don't have to move this massive structure around every time I want to change the channel. Also, I can hang my glasses on the knots at night so they are easy to find in the wee hours when hundreds of doctors descend on me.
This is my information board. Almost none of that actually applies to me since I have not had my baby yet.
Here is the view from my window. I usually have to keep the shade drawn because, as I have said, it's 111 degrees in here. Remember, they cooled it down from 112.
This is Eric napping in my bed on the weekend. Its a cozy nest when there are two chickens in there. Especially if one chicken is the size of a manatee!
Following my first descent into the underworld of medical care (aka hospital stay 1) it was made very clear to me that if my cervix showed any significant changes during my weekly ultrasounds I would be thrown back in to be fed on by the nurses of antepartum. It made every ultrasound a more thrilling and suspenseful experience. Since I was lacking in thrill and suspense in my daily life, due to its home-bound nature, I welcomed the excitement.
It was a cold and blustery day in January, the 27th, to be exact. I exited my town car (read taxi) and climbed the harrowing distance to the door. Alright, too slow. I went to my ultrasound and, Yippee, my cervix was about 1.6 so no real change. Also, Eric got in trouble for using the wrong chair. I warned him not to bring in a different chair but he assured me no one would even notice but what was the first thing the tech noticed. Oh , you know what it was. She made him re-arrange but let him keep his choice of chair. Anyhoo, I then skipped giddily over to the doctor's waiting room, assured of my going home by the excellent cervical measurement. Eric had a snow day so he actually got to come with me which was exciting in itself. They were very backed up due to people not being able to get there for work and just the weather in general so we waited for at least an hour and a half. When we finally went back it was business as usual. Got my weight, checked the ultrasound report for the cervical length, etc. The doctor came in shortly and was asking about how I was feeling. I told her that my uterus had been feeling a lot tighter for significantly longer periods of time but it wasn't painful or regular or accompanied by cramping so it was probably fine. She delved a little deeper asking exactly what the tightening felt like, how long it had been lasting, how long it was lasting now, etc. Apparently, my idea of normal was actually NOT normal (typical right?). She was pretty concerned with the fact that I was literally contracting all the time. She did a cervical exam and I was 2cm dilated and 80% effaced. So, I bet you can't guess where I went.... Oh, how did you know? You're right. Back to the hospital. Luckily, I was significantly less petrified this time for several reasons. First, this was old hat now. I had done the whole l&d triage thing twice before. Second, I knew that no matter how the doctor's were talking, it didn't actually mean the babies were for sure coming right away. Third, we were past the magic 28 weeks which meant that, barring any outside complications, their chance of survival was in the high 90%s and their risk of long-term, debilitating effects such as cerebral palsy was greatly diminished.
The docs did the usual shenanigans. They hooked me up to thousands of monitors, checked my cervix for themselves, etc. They did notice that I was pretty much contracting every 2-4 minutes (this had been happening 24 hours a day for at least a week). Given the cervix and the contractions they had good reason to believe that true labor could be starting. They had 2 goals at this point, a. stopping the labor and b. preparing the babies in case they couldn't.
Thus begins the true tale of horror and torture. I was not taken to the cozy antepartum ward where I spent those 5 carefree days in early January. I was taken to the high-risk area because I needed continuous monitoring, meaning the contraction monitor and fetal monitors needed to stay on at all times.
This is how I got into drugs. First they started me on a Magnesium Sulfate drip. This can help with contractions and also helps the babies’ brains develop a bit more quickly. The drug itself was a trip, especially in the beginning because they start you on a very high dose for the first half hour before lowering the dose for the remainder. I was sweating like a fat, fat pig, shaking, extremely drowsy and frankly, a little delirious. I tried calling my father just to say hi and he said I sounded pretty loopy. The Mag was through an IV (my favorite) that they also used to feed me fluids and some sort of sugar water since I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and couldn’t eat on the Mag. They also started round two of steroid shots. Each round is two shots given 24 hours apart and the babies can receive a total of two rounds. The last time I was in the hospital they gave me round one. So, this time they started round 2. Finally, they gave me some indomethacin orally which is supposed to help stop the contractions. So I was getting drugs through an IV, shots and pills. Someone should probably call Intervenion.
I looked amazing.
I wish I could say that the drugs were the bad part, especially the Mag which I have heard many understandable complaints about. Unfortunately, my real problem was a policy. Hospital policy is that patients on Magnesium Sulfate drips are not allowed to walk. Supposedly the drug can suddenly make you really weak and you can collapse. Well, think of one place I might need to walk to every half hour or so. Keep thinking. Got it? Yep. The bathroom. I was not allowed to walk to the bathroom. The first nurse I had while I was there had me try a bedpan by lying in bed and sticking it under my butt and telling me to just go. Right. Of course. Just retrain your body after years of teaching it to NOT pee the bed. No biggie. Clearly I couldn’t do it. Even though I really had to pee I could not pee while lying in bed. This has to be the only time this could ever be considered a negative. So, she inserted a catheter. Alright, I expected it to hurt going in. It did. Fine. I am not a whiner so I didn’t complain. Here is what I was not expecting. I already had that holy-crap-I’m-about-to-pee-my-pants, have-to-go-so-bad-it-hurts-like-a-mother feeling. When the catheter was in and very visibly working that feeling didn’t go away. It got worse and worse and more and more painful. I promise you I am not much of a complainer. They do all kinds of weird and uncomfortable things to me here and I always say, “No, I’m fine. It feels fine. Don’t worry about it.” After about three hours of that feeling and the pain that goes with it increasing I just started bawling. It hurt so incredibly badly. Of course, even though I had been telling the nurse that it was hurting, she simply couldn’t believe that it hurt that badly. Her comment to me was, "If it's uncomfortable enough to prevent you from sleeping we can take it out and re-insert when you need it." Seriously, "if it's preventing me from sleeping"? IT'S PREVENTING ME FROM BREATHING you crazy woman!!!! I told her she had to take it out, which she did. Well, when she pulled it out did that feeling go away? No. This is me we are talking about. Of course it didn’t. So I’m bawling and telling her it still hurts and she’s asking, “Why are you crying? Are you scared?” Are you scared? Are you kidding me? Though I may be crying my communication skills have not been that impaired. I am telling you why I am crying. It hurts. She is unable to process this information. Lucky for both me and her, her shift is over.
Then an angel arrives. A sweet sweet angel sent from God himself. A woman I will never forget. After the catheter is out I know that my bladder is empty so trying the bedpan again will do nothing. The doctor comes by and tells me I am allowed water, which is such excellent news. I am parched since I haven’t had any water since breakfast. Also, because of the monitors I have had to lie on my back, which makes my nose completely clogged, impassible by even the slightest stream of air. Therefore I have been breathing out of my mouth for a few hours and have had no water. The other excellent news she brings is that the fetal heart monitors can come off and only one contraction monitor has to stay on. Hallelujah. Unfortunately, all of this is overshadowed by the intensely-sharp and unrelenting pain in my bladder region. This is where the angel comes in. I tell my new night nurse that I have to try the bedpan again. I am just praying I can go because it’s now been a totally of about 5 ½ hours since this feeling started. I told her that I wasn’t able to do it when the other nurse tried. And that sweet sweet angel said she would put it on a chair right next to my bed so it was more “toilet-like”. It actually worked. I have never in my life experienced such joy and happiness as I did when I finally peed that night. I had no idea I could ever have such a passion for urination. The immensely lightening feeling of relief made me want to cry. It was such a beautiful, beautiful thing. I have my doubts about my babies’ birth being able to live up to the ecstasy felt that day. She then took care of the bedpan and put it back on the chair so I could just use it whenever I needed to. I made excellent use of it. The Mag infusion finished at around 3:30 am and they also took the contraction monitor off at that time. I could finally roll on my side, use a real toilet and drink real water. After watching some Netflix on my phone I eventually fell asleep for a couple of hours. Dreaming about my new love, peeing.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
The nurse practitioner wheeled me over to triage and dropped me off. It's really awkward to be wheeled in a wheelchair in case you were wondering. It makes me feel really self-conscious and just....creepy. Apparently the hospital is also a labyrinth. We had to encounter many strange and frightening creatures as well as take several back alley paths in order to reach our destination. I kindof wondered if NP, let's call her Ms Social, would be crowned queen or at least win the snitch if/when we finally made it. It reminded me of an unfortunate period of time in my life when I had to live at Pace University for Teach For America (This is WAY off topic so bear with me). Every time we wanted to go to our rooms we had to go through a side exterior door that was labeled as the theater. Go to a desk. Show our ID cards. Choose the correct of two elevators. Take that elevator to a certain floor. Get out. Show IDs again. Go to another elevator. Take that to our living floor. Get out. Use a key to enter the main floor doors. Find our room and use another key to enter the room. Heaven forbid you needed to run out for a snack. Back to the story. Getting to triage we had to take certain elevators down to a floor. Get off. Go through a million hallways and through a sort-of tunnel. Get on some other elevators, take them up to the floor triage was on, get out, go through some construction before we finally reached our destination. Whew. But, we did finally make it and it gave me enough time to end the public displays of emotion that had been humiliating me.
Upon arrival, the first thing they do is make you go to the bathroom, take off your clothes and put on a small gown. Sweet. Next they put you on 1 monitor for each baby (so, that's 3) and 1 or 2 Toco monitors (measure contractions) and see what happens. The babies heartbeats were fine and they were showing no signs of distress. I don't know what these babies have to stress about. I feed them and give them blood and carry them everywhere I go and talk to them (but only when I am alone because I look a little nutso otherwise). There were some contractions but they eventually simmered down. Then you wait around for a really long time being denied food and water. It's like prison that way. In this instance a doctor eventually came in and did a cervical check which is pretty great and really comfortable. She found no dilation or effacement. Then we waited around for a long time again but I was at least allowed water this time. Finally, they had a bed ready in the antepartum ward and we got moved down there. This was like 9:30. I hadn't eaten since 1 and let me tell you, this beast needs to be fed regularly. Since I had a shared room the first night Eric wasn't allowed to stay past 10. We asked the nurse about food and she just said dinner was over but she would look around. She definitely gave me the impression that that was a sillly thing to ask and what could I possibly need food for at this hour? Eventually though she found me a turkey sandwich so I ate and Eric left. The first night I shared my room with a nice lady who didn't speak much English. I stayed up late watching Netflix on my phone and fiddling around. In the morning I introduced myself to her and we actually had a conversation between her few English words and my few Spanish words. She was very nice but was moved in the afternoon. Before nightfall I had another roommate come in, this time a lady who was an orthodox jew and her husband. They were trying to have shabbat but of course that is difficult with millions of people coming in and out.
The first night I was hooked to an IV for fluids to stop the contractions I was having. Being that this was the first time I had been on an IV awake I learned that it is really quite annoying. It's not all glamorous like it is in the movies. The regulator thingymabob (that is the technical term for it) has to be plugged into the wall so every time you want to get up to go pee (which for me is about every 15-45 minutes) you have to unplug it, drag it around with you, and then plug it back in. It's amazing the cognitive ability required to unplug something in the middle of the night! Oh, and if you fall asleep and the bag runs out...yeah, that happened. I finally fall into a medium sleep and this screaming BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP starts going off. I bolt up to a sitting position. I am completely disoriented about being in a foreign place. The thing is going off for about 15 minutes and nobody comes to do anything. I swear on my hamster Hammy's grave you could hear this baby on the other side of the building. Finally I hit the call button and tell them it won't stop going off. Wait another 15 minutes. NOBODY COMES. I don't know about you but I am SOSOSOSO irritible when I am woken up in the middle of the night and this was just pissing me off. Finally I turn the thing off myself only to have it come back on every 3 minutes or so. After about an hour the nurse comes in and is so surprised that it had been going off. Really? So, the incessant beeping as well as me hitting the call button did nothing? Really? Your that surprised? Oooookkkkaayyy.
The stay was pretty uneventful. They did NSTs (Non-stress tests) every day where they listen to the babies and monitor contractions for 20 continuous minutes. The babies, at this time anyway, were pretty good about staying on. Honestly, I'm only introducing the NST here because during my next hospital stay they got a loooot (Hahaha, this word looks like loot but its actually lot with superflous o's) more interesting. I watched a lot of television and since the stay was over the weekend Eric was there to entertain and delight me with the snap of my fingers. I snapped for him often.
This was bad when it was a once-in-a-while, random occurrence. Well, it's not anymore. Poor Eric still gets all of it too. Over the last few days in the hospital (yes, I solemnly swear to update this blog all the way to the current hospital stay) Eric can't walk in the door without a flood of creepy tears. I should be in a horror movie. The poor man walks in and I'm glad to see him so what do I do? Well, start bawling of course. He comes in and we start talking about our days and what do I do? Start crying, obviously. He eventually has to leave and of course I will miss him so what is the most reasonable and effective course of action? Well, clearly to bawl about it. What were you really expecting me to say? Poor Eric, good grief, he tries so hard to tell me that it's fine. no big deal, he likes it. But he has that same look in his eye as the injured, wild animals captured by the SPCA. I know about this look because I watch a requisite 6 or so hours of Animal Cops every day. The really disturbing thing is that I am pretty sure I have that same look in my eye.