well, that was (not) fun…. my first visit to the ER

As you read in my previous posts, after we returned from Morocco, week 24 was rather uneventful and this week (week 25) began with a visit from one of our best couple friends; by all accounts the New Year was off to a good start! And then came Friday.

First, back-track to our flight home from Morocco on December 31st, our 8 hour flight. I spent almost the entire flight uncomfortable in my seat, and completely forgot about the risk of blood clots in pregnant woman from sitting (especially on airplanes) for an extended period of time. That is, until I re-read about this in my “What to Expect While You’re Expecting Book” about 7 hours into the flight. I promptly got up and stretched my legs, as the book suggested.

The next few days were uneventful, as I’ve already mentioned, but I did have this nagging back and chest pain, which was dull but noticeable. This brings me to Friday, January 4th. I woke up after tossing and turning all night from a more severe back/chest pain and a cold that I seemed to have caught overnight. As the day went on, the pain and my cold symptoms got worse. My stuffed nose was manageable, but the back pain was becoming unbearable, it was the worst pain I had ever experienced!

I immediately booked a pre-natal massage thinking that would do the trick, but I walked out of the massage in even worse pain. By this point in the day, I could barely breathe from my cold and I could barely drive home because of the pain in my upper body. My thought then turned to, did I have the flu? I had never had the flu before, so I really did not know the symptoms. But once I read that body aches were a symptom, I was certain that I had the flu. I immediately called my doctor, but she wasn’t able to see me until Monday. I could not take the back pain for one more minute, and certainly not until Monday, so I went to see the urgent care doctor. I had Craig meet me there because I didn’t think I would be able to drive home.

I described my symptoms to the doctor, sever upper back pain, slight pain in my chest when I took a deep breathe in, etc..
and I also mentioned that I had just gotten back from a trip to Morocco which included an 8 hour flight. The flu test that he gave me came back negative, and he started to worry more that the pain I was feeling when I took a deep breathe, coupled with the fact that I was 6 months pregnant and sat on an airplane for many hours, was due to a blood clot in my lungs. He made a call to the ER doctors and they agreed that this could be serious and that I needed to come to the hospital. I was scared, very scared.

I had never gone to the ER for myself before this – 28 years with no serious injuries or illness, but I guess there’s a first time for everyone. After a 2 hour wait, I was finally seen by the doctor, who recommended that I had a contrast CAT scan to determine if I had a blood clot. In a normal situation, it would have been a given that I would want the scan, as a blood clot can be deadly if not treated. But this wasn’t a normal situation, I am pregnant. I was well aware of the risks of radiation exposure to the baby and I broke into tears over the decision. Craig happened to capture this delicate moment on his camera.

We had two options: 1) Go home and not get the scan to avoid the radiation exposure to our baby, but risk the chance of me dying from a blood clot. 2) Get the scan to know if we need to treat the blood clot, but risk the chance of radiation exposure to our baby.

We had to go with option 2, it just did not make any logical sense to risk me dying from a blood clot that could be treated if caught. I was assured by the doctor that they would take extra precautions to block the baby from the radiation, and the radiologist layered on 3 protective shields over my belly. The risks to our baby were still there, but they were very small.

As I laid there with an IV in my arm, moving forward and backward into the machine, I thought of how brave my mom was in her final weeks with the many IV’s and scans she endured. If she could get through this, I could get through this.

Thirty minutes later, the results were back. NO BLOOD CLOT. We were of-course relieved, but at the same time, upset that we put our baby through a risk that turned out to be unnecessary. The doctor did not have an explanation for my pain, but he was no longer concerned that it was due to a serious issue, and he “prescribed” me Tylenol. My pain medication options were limited!

As I sit here now sharing with all of you and reflecting on the events that occurred on Friday, I can’t help but question our decision to move forward with the CAT scan. If we had waited another day or two, the back/chest pain would have passed – as it now has all disappeared – and even though I would still be sitting here with this nasty cold that I can’t get rid of, there would be no regrets. But, at the end of the day, I can’t go back and change the decision we made, all I can do now is hope and pray that we did not do any harm to our baby!