Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pregnancy, With a Side of Gallstones

I had a special holiday lunch on Monday for work and we went to one of my all time favorite Italian restaurants, La Grillia in Kenilworth. Before we ordered, the topic turned to gallbladders, I know – not typical lunch conversation, but the table was full of nurses. I briefly mentioned my previous bouts with “gas attacks” and they all agreed it was probably my gallbladder. Not even thinking that I should probably avoid rich, fatty foods – I ordered a very creamy pasta dish with pancetta and mushrooms. You think with a table full of outspoken nurses, one would have spoken up that maybe I shouldn’t order the pasta… well…

About an hour later, before we even got in the car, I felt another attack coming. It was getting hot, very nauseous and the pain started. I didn’t make it twenty minutes before I was in agony and vomiting in the office bathroom, non-stop.

I finally came to my senses and called the doc – they said, “how soon can you get here?” I told them I’d be there in 20 minutes.

Dr. Purdue took one look at me and sent me to the hospital’s PET unit. It’s a special pregnancy ER department. I called Frank to let him know what’s going on and that if I’m admitted, then he should try to leave work. As I’m getting checked in, I’m resisting the urge to vomit all over the nice lady’s desk. You think they would have a quicker admitting process and not ask me the same questions over and over again!

I finally get into a room, and my nurse tries desperately to do a blood draw and put in a hep-lock – a port for an IV. I have very “deep” veins. I think it’s a nice way of saying that since I’m so curvy, it’s hard to find my veins. They finally got me hooked up to the fetal monitors, which was pretty cool! That’s another thing that doesn’t fit perfectly on this curvy belly, the monitors kept falling off, but when they’re on, you can hear the baby’s heartbeat and hear him move – it’s really neat. I wasn’t having any contractions, and the baby’s heart rate was good. My blood pressure as a little high, but with all the pain I was in, the docs said it was okay.

The resident came in to talk to me and said we’d be running blood work and getting an ultrasound of my gallbladder. She was very nice – probably younger than me, which makes me feel old.

Frank arrived around 6:30 or so. At first I thought I could go it alone, but it was nice to get some moral support and much needed comic relief. Frank’s really good at both. He tried several times to hook up my monitors himself, or take a peak in all the cabinets labeled “vag” something or other.

At 7 p.m. we got a new nurse, Kim, who was great! She was so nice; she listed to all my concerns and apologized profusely for having to draw more blood because the lab needed another sample. She tried once, but then brought in the big guns – another nurse who struck gold on the first try. I still feel kind of like a pin cushion and have the black and blue marks to prove it.

This time the pain from the attack was lasting way longer than the first ones. It was going on 7 p.m. and I was still in pain. And they couldn’t give me anything for it. So frustrating! I’m a huge believer in pain management, but when you’re pregnant – that kind of goes out the window.

We waited several hours for the ultrasound. The transport staff wears blue scrubs, so I named them the “Blue Men.” The Blue Man took us down to radiology. Frank came right from work, so he was in uniform and people really seem to act differently when he’s Sergeant Frank – rather than daddy Mazzarella. I think people probably thought I was under arrest or something with this special “escort” but the radiologist said that maybe people think I’m a VIP with hired security.

The radiologist was so nice. She was so funny and sweet, just what I needed after being in so much pain and discomfort. She said, “Can you keep a secret?”

Of course we said “YES!”

“You have gallstones – see them down here. You have several small ones.”

Then she proceeded to tell us what she thought we should do, and what the doctor would tell us. We took her advice with a grain of salt, but were glad that she told us immediately rather than waiting to hear back from the doc.

The resident consulted with Dr. Crain, who’s in my OB’s practice. They didn’t see any immediate need to remove the gallbladder that night, or to keep me over night. They discharged me with instructions to follow up with a gastroenterologist. I have an appointment with the GI specialist for January 8. But for now, I've been advised to eat a low fat diet - just what I want to hear around the holidays.
From the research I've done: women are more prone to gallbladder stones, more so if they're over weight and even more so if they're pregnant. Three strikes against me! A lot of women expereince gallstones postpardum, but the lucky few like myself, get to expereince them durring pregnancy when we really can't do anything about them until the baby's born.

Rest assured that we will do something about it after the baby's born. We'll see what the GI specialist says, but I do not want to go through with another attack if I can help it.

We got home around 11 p.m. Frank headed back to work to finish his shift, and I headed straight to bed. Great news is that the baby's doing fine. While we were hooked up to the monitors, we heard him have the hic ups. It was the sweetest thing I have heard in a long time.


Jeni said...

Gosh I'm sorry to hear you've got gallstones, but I'm really glad you figured out what was wrong! And it must have been a real treat to hear baby, despite the pain. Glad you're both doing okay. Happy holidays :)

erin said...

Holy Mackerel. I'm glad you're ok. Let us know how your appt goes on the 8th.

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