|I have developed a real affection for fainting goats. This may seem strange, but you will understand why as you read on. I feel a tremendous connection with them, see a great short video of them in action (or inaction) here.|
|My two adorable puppies!|
|My first munchkin (love!)|
Then.....<dun dun duuuuun> I got pregnant. By the end of Dec 2010 I knew something was wrong. I was having to pull over while driving and having bouts of extreme dizziness & feeling like I was going to pass out, my heart rate went bonkers, and I felt totally dehydrated. I actually had to sit in front of my friends house for over 2 hours before I felt well enough to drive at one point (she kept me company- thanks Lindz!). Then I found out that I was, indeed, knocked up. This was not planned, and came as a big surprise, as the timing was REALLY bad...my husband is a teacher and it put the due date right when school started (most teachers try and time births around summer break), and we were in the middle of opening another, even bigger business. I was going a million miles an hour, had just added a very successful linen rental portion to Bella Flora, and moved the business into a new showroom.
|Oooooo.....pretty new linens!|
|More pretty linens and flowers!|
Sooooo....about a week after finding out I was pregnant and going to doctor, we decided to wean me off the only medicine I was taking due to the danger to the baby. I had already had an increase in "I feel funny" symptoms, and had to put the brakes on a bit of my hectic lifestyle. Then, as if a switch was flipped, I was knocked on my butt. Literally. On a Sunday at home, while feeling pretty crappy already, I jumped up to pull my then 2 year old son down from the kitchen counter he had climbed onto, and started blacking out. My heart rate shot up, so I did the usual - laid down on the couch flat, and did some deep breathing. My heart continued to race, and my whole body started to shake, and I still felt like I would pass out. We finally decided after 30 minutes of this to call 911, as I could not get up and figured I may need some IV fluids.
I went to the ER, got some fluids, and they sent me on my way, saying I was dehydrated. I was home trying to just cope for the next two days, when the vertigo kicked in. WOW. I have never experinced extreme vertigo before, and wouldn't wish it on anyone. Well, that's not true - maybe Hitler, Bin Laden, and this bride that never paid for her damaged chair covers. It was indescribable, and coupled with my other dizzy lightheaded feelings, weakness, flu like symptoms, and general panic at the fact that I was not able to function with so much going on - or care for my toddler, it was horrible. I called the Obstetrician, and they told me to go to the ER. So I did.
Same deal - was told I was probably dehydrated, they gave me IV fluids and some meds for vertigo, and put me in a dark room to see if they would work. No such luck. I was admitted to the hospital, and this was the real start of the mostly downhill roller coaster ride that was 2011.
<TO BE CONTINUED>
(Part 2- Let the Humiliation Begin)
|Karate chop to face (beer bottles are doctors that wouldn't listen)|
|Oooo- trippy dude|
Oh - and I forgot to mention - during this time, we were signing the final papers for a big business deal involving opening an event venue. This was a BIG business deal, with partners, investors, bankers, lawyers - and lions and tigers and bears (oh my). Those lawyers and commercial realtors were coming to my hospital room, and I couldn't focus on them, much less read the paperwork that I had negotiated and worked so hard on. I had a wedding that Saturday, which my wonderful staff and another floral designer (thanks Char and Suzie!) took care of, but I was on the phone trying to orchestrate things constantly, and my stress level was through the roof. In the midst of that, the doctor decided to wean me off the final low dose of my central nervous system/anxiety medication. Houston, we have a problem. Repeat - HOUSTON - MAJOR PROBLEMS!!! This change in meds made all my symptoms worse, and not just a little bit - but WAY worse. See, my type of POTS is this thing called hyperadrenic - which means that my nervous system spits out adrenalin (nor-epinephrine) when it shouldn't. Or, when I try and get upright, to try and squeeze my blood vessels to get the blood pumped back into my heart and head, so I don't pass out. This puts my body in a constant feeling of "fight or flight" skin crawling, chest pain, out of breath, heart racing fun. That medicine helped control that, and now it was gone.
|Me with no meds. That's hot.|
It was the flu times 20. Plus the vertigo. Plus the POTS heart-racing and blood pressure drops. Plus the constant thirst. Plus the 1st trimester nausea. Having to try and run a business, see people in this condition, and finalize a business deal in this condition - was humiliating. I had to admit I couldn't do it. The doctor told me the business stuff had to stop. I needed to forget the upcoming weddings, impending event venue, signing my life away on a lease that was worth millions, and focus on getting well. Oh, ok - that should be easy. And with no meds.
And by the way, I was looking pretty hot at this point. See, when you have a condition that prevents you from being upright, things like washing your hair become a real issue. So does showering, using a regular toilet, and anything that involves raising your hands above your heart/head, because it increases your heart rate dramatically. Imagine how you feel after running on a treadmill to get your heart rate up and excercising for 20 plus minutes. That is how someone with POTS feels all the time (unless they are laying flat), the increased heart rate and dramatic swings in blood pressure are exhausting. It makes doing the smallest thing feel like you've run a marathon, and having to plan to recover from the smallest activity, sometimes for days. This was humiliating for me, not being able to do basic things like stay clean, pluck my ever growing eyebrows, and pee without someone watching me. Having to be bathed by a complete stranger because you can't do it yourself sucks. And even if someone else gave me a sponge bath, I was still exhausted and spinning, and my hair was still not washed. Washing hair from a hospital bed is a challenge, and most hospital staff just won't do it. I can count on one hand the number of wonderful nurses/aids that helped me wash my hair in 8 months. They are the angels I remember, the ones who remembered that I was a human, and my mind still worked even though my body did not, and I was embarrassed. They treated me with dignity and respect, and I will be forever grateful.
|The bedside commode. Every 30-something's dream.|
Well, almost a week passed with no progress, and instead of calling my neurologist at UVA or sending me to a hospital more equipped to deal with my issues, the hospital and my insurance decided I wasn't sick enough to justify being there. I had seen an ENT briefly, who thought I had swelling in my ears causing these issues, and that hospital didn't have the equipment to test for it, so I would have to come to his office "once I was better". His treatment suggestion was to lower my salt and fluids to reduce the fluid in my ears. So basically the exact opposite treatment for POTS. Great. They took me off IV fluids as I hysterically pleaded with the doctor to call someone, send me to the other hospital in Norfolk, do something! I could not go home like this! The doctor actually apologized, and said his hands were tied, and he the hospital was giving him a hard time about me still being there. They sent in the physical and occupational therapists for evaluations, and all of them said I was too sick to go home. But home they sent me, with a wheelchair I couldn't sit up in, a walker I couldn't use to walk, and a bucket to pee in - because our health care system rules.
TO BE CONTINUED. THIS IS A REALLY LONG STORY!