Friday, January 04, 2008

Hyperemesis gravidarum

Out Of The Loop...

Out of the loop...It’s a cliché, and writers shouldn't use cliches, but clichés are clichés for good reasons. They express something we all go through or experience. I think we have all been through being “out of the loop” whether due to illness, vacation, crisis, etc.


In bed.


For almost two months.

Unable to do the following, which are all important to my every day happiness:

Eat anything other than crackers
Enjoy an afternoon cup of tea or morning coffee
Read unless it was a trashy magazine
Talk, the taste of my own mouth made me sick
Play with my daughter–it made me dizzy
Drive my car–out of the question…I had this “midline” or IV line in my arm
Smell my own skin, my husband’s cologne, fresh air, anything too sweet, too pungent
Shower–well, I did this in limited amounts
Drink or smell water–yes, water has a smell!)

The screwed up part was that I didn’t look disabled. And, I didn’t look like the “condition” I had (pregnancy). Although, my husband said the sad part was that I was so so so sick but so so glowy and pretty. I beg to differ. He’s a sweetie though!


I didn’t write much or do much of anything most of the time, except sleep, but my sleep was active with dreams and stories. I wrote entire short stories all from my bed.

Of course that was in my head. Now I have to see if that story will get out on paper. But first, let’s see if I can finish this blog in some cohesive, complete fashion. It may just ramble without a solid thesis or direction. I guess that’s fine. At least I am writing, right? Or, write? Ha!


The good part about having been away for so long was that I didn’t realize I needed a break from everything, work, writing, civilization. I appreciate those things more now that I am back.

Yesterday, I went back to Starbuck’s for the first time. I sat and worked for 3 hours. It was bliss.

When I think about the last time I did that, I was tired and stressed and tired of being at my computer, tired of the people around me–the talking and chatting. Tired of the smell of egg sandwiches burning in the oven and harsh smell of Starbuck’s coffee. But, yesterday, I adored the click click of the keys, the sounds of patrons talking, the burnt smell of coffee and eggs. I inhaled like it was the first time. When I walked outside to my car, the smell of fresh air, which previously when I was in the thick of being ill, made me more ill, smelled new and possible and the word H-O-P-E came to mind. Then I rubbed my belly and the H-O-P-E turned into P-O-S-S-I-B-L-E.

Those are words I didn't think I would use just a few weeks ago.

So, believe it or not, my “morning sickness” was not the usual kind–some of you are laughing and rolling your eyes, thinking, of course Hannah doesn’t even due pregnancy the normal, typical way. She goes and gets some rare condition.

So read below to learn a bit about what was wrong with me:

Hyperemesis gravidarum: (from Greek hyper and emesis and Latin gravida; meaning "excessive vomiting of pregnant women") is a severe form of morning sickness, with unrelenting, excessive pregnancy-related nausea and/or vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids.[1] Hyperemesis is considered a rare complication of pregnancy but, because nausea and vomiting during pregnancy exist on a continuum, there is no clear boundary between common morning sickness and Hyperemesis. Estimates of the percentage of pregnant women afflicted range from 0.3% to 2%.


After this experience, I have such reverie and such appreciation for the capacity of the human female body. I cannot believe the pain, and yes, nausea is a form of pain and no, it’s not all in the woman’s head. Many, many of the case studies I have been reading about the treatment of Hyperemesis in the good ole days. One report cited that nurses were so disgusted with these woman that the nurses (woman mind you) would force the sick patient to clean up their own vomit. Needless to say, women died or had illegal abortions because of Hyperemesis. Think about that.

From my experience, today there’s a whole host of resources, medications and treatments available that really do help and save woman and their babies lives. Thank God.

However, this is the dirty secret of pregnancy and isn’t talked about, openly. Only the garden variety, the ginger and crackers cure type of nausea is discussed in books and among women. There’s a whole bunch of shame, which I experienced that goes along with Hyperemesis. It’s like why can’t I muscle through this? Especially for me since in my first pregnancy, I was nauseous…but not like this. Not where I existed on a handful of some kind of cracker a day. Where ginger ale or eating wouldn’t cure the nausea. At first, I did think it was in my head, but when I began to drop weight and when I started to vomit just stomach fluids and when I kept getting emitted to the ER, I started to wonder, what the hell is this? Very, very quickly my docs started to use the word Hyperemesis, and while I was too weak to look it up on the computer, my husband did. That’s when we began to take the whole thing seriously.


So now where am I? Well, I am proud. Proud of two things…well proud of many things really. First, right now I am proud of this little piece of writing. Just a few weeks ago I didn’t think I would be able to string together a sentence let alone write an entire blog.
That gives me H-O-P-E.

Second, I am so proud of the way my family held me together. I didn’t talk much about that here but I think you can imagine what happened to my mind as my body twisted into the darkness of the nausea. They held me and my mind together…and the medical professionals, but it was my husband who brought me to the hospital over and over and it was my mother who watched my daughter each time and it was my best friend who talked to me every day even when I couldn’t do anything but cry to her and it was my not-even four year old daughter that said things to me like:

“Just let our body be, Mom. Just rest, it will be okay.”

“Just let your body feel whatever. Don’t compromise it. Let it go.”

“You’ll feel better soon, Mommy. I know it’s tough.”

Now that makes me feel P-O-S-S-I-B-L-E.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your story was really good to read i just suffered from hyperemesis and i know EXACTLY how it feels.