Thursday, January 30, 2014

Gallbladder

January is almost over.

It's been brutal.

[If you don't want to read about my gallbladder and/or vomiting, just turn off your brain and enjoy these cute Charlie pictures.]

In the first two weeks of the month, I had three gallbladder attacks. I have never felt such unbelievable pain in my life.


I had my first attack on New Year's Day. That morning, I couldn't keep any food down. I finally managed to keep down an apple and some water. The Zofran managed my nausea, finally, but suddenly and quite without warning, I started to have a very painful stomachache. At first (overshare alert), I thought maybe I was experiencing really bad trapped gas. The pills I take to control nausea cause some major constipation (say hello to Metamucil, my new bestest buddy), so it wasn't out of the realm of possibility. But no amount of stretching, resting, or trying to use the bathroom would alleviate this excruciating, stabbing pain in my upper abdomen. It was way worse than being in labor.

I'd also suspected for about a month that I had a urinary tract infection, even though I didn't have any of the usual symptoms, and my most recent test at the doctor was normal.

Anyway, Mike took me to the ER. All my blood and urine tests came back totally normal. And by the time we got settled in the exam room, the pain that had plagued me for 6 or 7 hours that day was long gone. I did throw up once in the room (because I have extreme nausea while pregnant; I wasn't in pain at that point), so they put me on fluids, more Zofran, and Phenergan, which made me feel drunk and absolutely out of control. The PA peeked at the baby via ultrasound, but didn't examine my organs. We went home and I finally got to rest after a long day of agony.


Three days later, on a nice lazy Saturday, we stopped at a cute drive-in called Holly's in Post, TX. I had the most delicious bacon cheeseburger of my life, but I paid for it dearly. About five minutes after I finished eating, I felt this horrible pressure up by my ribs again. I started to feel panic flood my whole body. We were a good 40 minutes from home, and this was happening again, and we'd already gone to the ER once only to be sent home without answers.

Mike packed us up and started toward Lubbock as fast as he dared. It honestly felt like we were rushing in to deliver a baby: I was moaning, almost unable to speak, clutching my stomach. I had Mike stop at a McDonald's off the highway about two-thirds of the way home so I could throw up my lunch. I hoped this would provide some relief, but it didn't. I staggered back to the car and we made it home. I writhed around in bed like a crazy woman for a while before finally falling asleep.


I called my doctor bright and early Monday morning, and luckily his office managed to squeeze me in.

It's so hard to go to a medical professional and declare that a) you are not currently experiencing any symptoms, b) another medical professional already passed you off as fit as a fiddle, c) you're pretty sure your gallbladder is misbehaving, and for good measure, d) even though his lab disagrees, you're confident you have a UTI.

But this is why I like Dr. B. He listened carefully, ordered an abdominal scan to check on my gallbladder and my pancreas, and sent me to the lab for another urine test.

And wouldn't you know it? I had a UTI. I started meds for that right away and scheduled my ultrasound for a week later, the following Monday.


Then, Saturday, I had another attack. Of course it had to happen during a beautiful three-course meal some friends prepared for us. I threw up the first course (spinach and acorn squash salad with a maple vinaigrette) but managed to keep down the second course (pork tenderloin, polenta, and roasted parsnips and carrots) long enough to drive to Walgreen's for baby Tylenol and a thermometer. (Why, you ask? Oh, because Charlie got a high grade temperature all of a sudden. That lasted for six days. Fun party.)

I lost the second course of the meal in the Walgreen's parking lot, then drove back to the lovely dinner, where the rest of the adults were eating this incredible homemade ice cream. I choked down about half of mine, knowing I'd lose it as soon as we got home. Poor Charlie was absolutely wiped out by this sudden fever, so we called it a night and headed home.

At this point, I was in debilitating pain again. This attack lingered the longest of the three, and the vomiting was the worst with this attack. I collapsed into bed at about 10:30, having completely empty my stomach of absolutely everything. Every. Thing. Even water. I turned to Mike and asked him to go fill the blasted Phenergan prescription. At the very least, I hoped it would knock me out. My sweet husband went across town to a 24-hour pharmacy for me.

I'm not really sure how the night ended. I woke up in the wee hours of the morning absolutely starving. I ate something, threw it up, and fell into bed again.


I was feeling great by the time my ultrasound appointment came on Monday. Of course. The tech hinted that she wasn't seeing gallstones. My doctor confirmed this later in the week at my regular OB appointment. My gallbladder, and my other organs, all looked excellent. The absence of gallstones, combined with the fact that some of my attacks happened without a super greasy meal to trigger them suggests that I have a lazy/weak/failing gallbladder.

To test this further would require extensive radiation. Dr. B. and I agree that we'd like to avoid anything extreme until after the baby is born. And so we wait.

By some miracle, I haven't had an attack for two and a half weeks. Before the ultrasound appointment, I was very careful about what I ate, to avoid further pain, but since we've ruled out gallstones, diet isn't really a factor at this point. Obviously, I'm not eating fried foods anymore, but I'm not eating like a rabbit either.

Also, Charlie is looking more and more "little boy" every day, isn't he? Our scale still says he weighs less than 20 lbs. Little nugget. He starts nursery in a few weeks. I can't wait!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dear Baby: January 2, 2014

Dear Baby,

New Year's Day found your dad and me in the ER. I had been having intermittent stabbing pains in my lower abdomen all day. I called our family doctor's office, and the associate who called me back said to go to the hospital and check for a possible UTI (which didn't perfectly match my symptoms, but something was going on) and to monitor the fetus (that's you).

We dropped Charlie off at our neighbors' house (thank you, South family!) and headed up to the hospital where you will be born in 25ish weeks or so. Pregnancy expedites the whole ER waiting room process. Not surprisingly, of course. Long story short, after puking in the ER, a nurse drew blood, hooked me up to fluids and the hard stuff (more Zofran and Phengren), and we waited for the PA to see me. Of course, as soon as we got settled into the room, the stabbing pains stopped and haven't returned. So that's a mystery. How embarrassing! I'm still feeling sheepish about making an ER visit on a holiday. But my tummy really hurt, okay? The PA said my pains were probably a result of constipation and dehydration. Delightful!

The silver lining is we got a sneak peek of you on an ultrasound. I'm not going to lie, you scared me for a second. When the PA found you, you were so perfectly still. My heart dropped. But then you about punched yourself in the face with both fists and started dancing.

So. I'm glad you're okay, and I'm glad I'm not doubled over with stomach cramps.

You are measuring right around 15 weeks.

I've lost 4 lbs.

I take 6 to 8 pills a day.

I can feel you swimming a few times a week now.

And we will see you in about 5 1/2 months!

Love,

Your mom

Dear Baby: December 21, 2013

Dear Baby,

13 weeks and 4 days pregnant, and the upchucking continues. I'm on Zofran again, but with Charlie's pregnancy that stuff was the magic bullet that kept my inside business in. This time around, not so much. Still puking two or three times a day. It's exhausting.

But I love you. Don't get the wrong impression. It's not like I'm going to hold my morning sickness over your head when you are a naughty teenager. WINK.

We are trying to teach your brother that you are inside me right now. Whenever we're snuggling as a family in bed or I'm stretching on the floor or lying on the couch, we point to my tummy and ask, "Is there a baby in there?"

Charlie invariably answers, "No." And shakes his head in vehement denial.

We went to see our family doctor a little over a week ago for my first OB check-up. We heard your heart beating like a little wild pony. (After we heard Charlie's heartbeat for the first time, Grandma said something along the lines of, "Doesn't it sound like a pony?" I don't know if it does but I think of tiny ponies thundering around when I hear fetal heartbeats now.) It took a while to find your heartbeat over mine, but we caught it eventually. It was so different than hearing Charlie's for the first time, your dad and I alone with that Elmer Fudd doctor and a nurse, gazing at one another in awe at this new life we were hearing for the first time.

It was hard to hear your heartbeat over Charlie's ruckus (he had had his checkup right before my appointment), but Dr. B. did find your heartbeat and your dad and I gave each other a look that meant, "Good, the baby is in there."

I find myself having a hard time celebrating my pregnancy this time around as much as I did with Charlie. It's not for not caring, but for not having the energy or the brainspace. Your dad and I are anxious to know if you are XX or XY. I can't help but think of all the boy stuff we already have, and how convenient another little boy would be, but I think your dad is longing for a daughter. We are excited either way. Not too many more weeks until we find out!

Love,

Your mom

Dear Baby: November 12, 2013

Dear Baby,

You! Glorious you. Today marks 8 weeks of pregnancy with you, numero dos.

We were surprised to be pregnant so quickly after we decided to try to conceive again. It took us several cycles before Charlie got cooking, but I'm not complaining. That waiting game is rotten and we are happy you're on your way.

With my last pregnancy, I knew I was pregnant at a little over five weeks because of the incessant vomiting that suddenly hijacked my life. This time around, I took a pregnancy test after two weeks of knowing I must be pregnant because I missed my period, but otherwise I felt totally normal.

The first major pregnancy symptom has been absolute exhaustion. I wake up so tired every single day, even after eight or ten hours of sleep. And I just want to nap all day.

The barfing did catch up to me. Why, just this morning I held your brother on my knee while I sat on the edge of the tub and introduced the toilet to my breakfast. Ah, yes, this pregnancy is a family affair, for sure.

Your dad's not one who can really handle all the retching noises, so I'm usually on my own in the bathroom, but he's a champ after a major puke-fest, showering me with ginger ale and saltines. He likes to get me settled on the couch for my hours of resting/trying not to barf up everything single thing I put in my body. He also does the dishes when the sink gets full and changes Charlie's diapers whenever he is home because those are my biggest nausea triggers. Your pop's a good guy, as you will someday learn.

Your brother has no idea what's coming, and the poor little prince might be in for a rude awakening. He doesn't get "baby" yet, but maybe in another seven months, he'll figure it out.

We love you, kiddo. See you in June.

Love,

Your mom