5 Weeks Pregnant/ Pulmonary Embolism

Thursday, August 20, 2020

From excited to scared. 
I've told more people than I thought I would about this pregnancy. I'm finding joy in sharing something that is so precious and life-changing for our family. This leads me to believe that as soon as we see that beautiful heartbeat, we will share the exciting news.
** AUGUST 20th, 2020 ** 

This was such an exciting day for our family and devastating almost immediately after our joy. At nearly 7 weeks pregnant, Justin and I got to see our little melon on an ultrasound screen for the first time. We got to see the heartbeat. We got to relish in our last time seeing a first ultrasound. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. The night before this appointment with our reproductive endo, I experienced chest pains. I wanted to chalk it up as heartburn or something but it stopped me dead in my tracks while walking up the stairs. I thought it might have been the progesterone I was taking and I told Justin I'd address it the next morning at our appointment. He wanted me to go to the hospital then, but I sort of dismissed that idea... (we are still in the throws of a global pandemic). I went to sleep that night not thinking too much more of it. When I shared this information with the nurses at the RE's office after my ultrasound, they instructed me to go to urgent care as chest pain was not common for the medication I was on. Nervous and a tad bit annoyed, I went to urgent care. It was there that I had my first EKG done (never had one prior), blood pressure, oxygen levels, etc. My oxygen levels weren't the best even though my EKG came back without any indication of issues. The doctor couldn't rule out a pulmonary embolism, and with that, he sent me to the E.R. Panic mode had officially set in. I had never been sent to the E.R. after an urgent care visit and the tears started to fall as soon as I got in the car to make that trek. I remember calling my aunt and talking to her about it. 

She helped me relax a bit and before I knew it, I was pulling into Providence Hospital's parking lot. Not only was I afraid about this foreign potential I'd never heard of but I was also afraid of being at a hospital. I'd gone nearly half of the year avoiding all healthcare facilities because of the coronavirus and here I was. I went into the hospital crying but was surprised at how short my waiting room time was. They got me back in what felt like no time and the longest part was actually waiting for a doctor to come to my room. Once that happened, the blood tests and x-rays immediately followed. I have never had radiation exposure in pregnancy and that was my biggest worry but the techs made sure to shield my womb and reproductive region and I was thankful for that. 

I was taken to a different area of the triage system for this E.R. and a Dr. Strand come in to tell me the news I feared. My D-timer blood levels were through the roof -- expected to be elevated in pregnancy, but nearly 6,000 was not normal. This was an indicator that I had a blood clot somewhere. Their job was to find it. This meant I needed clearer imaging. They told me I had two choices, once was less invasive for baby and the other was safer, but the imaging wouldn't be great. I decided to go with the C.T. scan so I knew exactly what I was dealing with here. Once again, the techs made sure to cut things off right after the lungs to shield my unborn baby. I waited for a good while before Dr. Strand came back with the results. 

I had blood clots in the left side of my lungs. My heart was on the larger side of normal and one of my ventricle arteries was slightly enlarged. When you google all of this, it comes back with so many worrisome information. One thing stuck out like a ton of bricks. Pulmonary hypertension. This is what took my mother's life. I immediately went into panic mode. Pulmonary embolism can lead to pulmonary hypertension. I froze. I cried.  I shook. The doctor could see the fear in my eyes. He talked me through it -- we aren't there. Where we are is getting me on pregnancy-safe blood injectables to prevent new clots and give my body time to dissolve the current ones. That's what I tried to keep my mind focused on. I'd be taking injectable blood thinners throughout the duration of my pregnancy and after. This was the goal to focus on. What was one of the happiest days of my life quickly turned into a devastating one. I left that E.R. that night puffy and with a heart of fear. 

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