Sep 4, 2009, 12:51 PM | From My Journal
Anxiety burned my senses like stomach acid. It was too much. I was 30-weeks pregnant, in the hospital with escalating preeclampsia and being treated by strangers.
For the first time I had no influence over my situation.
What was going to happen to the baby and me? I wanted my doctor. He was my anchor, the one medical person I trusted without reserve. Why didn’t I choose to fight the insurance company and go to the hospital where he could treat me?
It was too late now. I was here, admitted and too sick to change.
“Dr. Terry will be here soon,” said Jenny, the nurse.
I was too nervous to take the requested Xanax and declined when Jenny offered it.
What if it made me sleepy? Yes, I was exhausted and my body demanded rest. Crawling into bed was the only reason I trudged the hospital hallways to antepartum. But now, I felt like a lame zebra in lion territory. Survival instincts demanded I stay alert or something would bite my ass.
To me, that something was meds.
My experiences with them were wonky. I flat-out hated narcotics. Codeine made me jittery and unable to sleep. Vicodin wasn’t much better. And sleeping pills? Ugh, I liked those even less.
But I knew something worse was on the horizon. I’d read about it on Babycenter.com’s community boards. It was the one drug every pregnant woman hoped to never take. It was the one I feared the most.
“Will I have to take magnesium?” I asked the nurse.
“Well, it’s a possibility.” She checked my arm, wrist and hands for a good vein to insert a second IV.
“When the doctor gets here he’ll take a look at you, the test results and decide what’s next.”
She found a promising spot on my hand, inserted the needle, taped and capped it off. The heplock would be used later to draw my blood.
“What’s it feel like?” Fear crackled on my skin and zapped the air from my lungs. My blood pressure was high, really high. The magnesium would prevent seizures.
“She read too much about it online,” said my husband, seated in the corner chair. “I told her she shouldn’t. She’s been scared about it for weeks.”
It was true. I’d obsessed.
“It can feel warm at first. Some patients say it’s like a case of the flu,” said Jenny. “Some aren’t bothered. Everyone’s different.”
I wanted to hope, but with my adverse reactions to drugs I didn’t dare.
The door to the room opened and light filtered through the privacy curtain. A man entered with the nurse’s aide.
“Hello. I’m Dr. Terry.” His greeting boomed with authority, but he smiled wide and put out a hand to shake.
Half of my face and body went numb. This was real. The guy with all the power had arrived. Maybe he was going to tell me the baby had to be born tonight.
That or worse – the baby wouldn’t live. Those were the only fears I had stronger than the magnesium. Not even my anxiety of a c-section could compete.
My husband shook the offered hand. The nurse relayed my stats and test results. Then doctor sat down and addressed me.
I don’t know what he said. By this time the focus I forced myself to maintain broke loose and wandered as free as a homeless dog. The singer on the mounted TV from the show ‘American Idol’ felt more real. The kooky contestant Tatiana was going on in her manner and I laughed.
“Did you see that?” I pointed to the screen above my husband’s head.
Both he and the doctor looked at me intently. It seemed odd until I realized I was behaving inappropriately.
“Do you know why you’re here?” asked the doctor.
I wanted to giggle, roll my eyes back and fall asleep. Good lord, he was the doctor. Shouldn’t he know? “Uh. Dr. Oswald sent me here.”
“I’m not feeling well and have preeclampsia.” I blathered on some more, not quite sure what I was saying but trying to get the answer right.
Anything he needed to hear. Just fix me doc. OK?
“I’m going to make this very clear,” said Dr. Terry. “You’re here to have a baby.”
Oh, a baby. Was that all? I’d been so focused on the medical hurdles I hadn’t thought about it like that. Well, I wasn’t able to think of much anyways. The last bit of stamina I possessed dissipated and I watched lips and people move.
Dr. Terry left. The nurse and aide quick-stepped around the room. Their activity made as much sense as watching colors shift in a kaleidoscope.
An abrupt, harsh scratch on my chest startled me. “What are you doing?”
The aide glanced up. “This is for the EKG.”
“We’ll watch your heart as we give you the injection for your blood pressure,” said the nurse. “It’s a strong medicine, we just want to make sure you handle it well.”
And if I didn’t, then what? … I decided not to ask