Living with PPCM
I had a beautiful bouncing baby boy via emergency c-section late in the evening of Tuesday, May 22,2001. After being induced twice and being in labor for about 38 hours. My sweet boy decided it was time to make his appearance, however my body was not ready. I did not fully dialate. So, off to the operating room we went to deliver my bundle of joy. Through the last weeks of my pregnancy I felt tired and sick. Everything seemed fine to my doctor and all of my tests came back normal. I had gained over 100 pounds throughout the pregnancy. My legs were so swollen that they looked like wax poles. I was just thankful to finally hold my sweet boy.
After recovery, I was able to finally be a mommy. Or at least that is what I thought. I recovered fine, still swollen and still very heavy. It was just something I thought I would have to get used to. I was discharged on Friday. I was so ready to go home with my little man. It was Memorial Day weekend and I still was not feeling right. Saturday night I called my mom. I thought I was having an asthma attack. Although I never had asthma. Every time I would lay down to sleep I felt like I was drowning. How ironic, since I was. If I did fall asleep, Cooper would cry non stop and wake me up. He did not want me to sleep. My sweet angelic boy was saving his mommy's life without even knowing it. Or maybe he did.... I had abdominal pain that was horrible also. My mom came and took me to the ER. The doctor said my labs looked fine and it was just new mom anxiety. My general doctor called me on Sunday & Monday to check on me. I was not feeling better. He told me to come in to the office first thing Tuesday morning.
On to the doctor on Tuesday morning, 1 week after having my baby boy. I went in the office where the nurse weighed me. I had gained 20 pounds since I was discharged. The doctor saw me in the hallway and told us to go to the hospital. He would be calling to tell them to admit me. He cancelled his day. He was concerned about what was happening. He still had no idea. The pain in my lower left abdomen had gotten worse. I would have rather gone through labor again then to feel this pain. The verdict, the surgeon must have left something behind during the c-section. Cooper's dad left to take him to his Grandma's house. With every intention of making the 30 minute drive back to the hospital.
I was swooped up to have a cat scan done. All I remember is having to lay down, and again having the feeling of drowning. The tech kept telling me you have to be still or we will not be able to get a good test. I told him I could not breathe and to get me out ohe stupid tube!! The doctor came in and finally listened to my lungs... Crackling all over!!! Surprise, surprise. The pain was not the main concern. He was baffled and could not figure out what was wrong. Trista, we are going to have to Life Flight you to the hospital in Peoria. I have no clue what is wrong with you and we do not have he ability to figure this out. That would be great, I thought to myself. Please call Tom, he needs to know I am not going to be here when he heads back. These could have very easily have been my last words. While on the landing being loaded into the helicopeter my heart stopped twice. I had to be revived before they could transport me. I have no recolection of any of it.
Tom called my mother who fell to her knees in prayer and then called my father who was halfway across the state driving his semi. The doctor jumped in his car to head to the hospital so he could explain everything to the doctors upon my arrival. All the while I was hanging on for my life and flying high in the sky. The doctor and my family all beat the helicopter to the hospital. It was a rough flight for the flight nurses, or so they have told me. It was touch & go the whole flight. Again I have no memories until I was in the ICU.
I have memories of seeing this person laying in the bed, and seeing the vitals on the monitor. I remember thinking, man this person is really sick. That person was me....how is this possible. I took care of heart patients in the ICU at Naval Hospital Charleston. I had never had any health problems, I served my country, I was a the picture of perfect health for a 25 year old woman. From what I have been told a team of doctors fought to figure out what was wrong with me. An internist, a surgeon, a pulmonologist, and a few others I can not recall all that checked me over. Nothing, they had nothing... The nurse in the ICU was on the elevator with Dr Gross, an OB/GYN. She told him that there was a post c-section patient on the floor that maybe he could give some insight on. I thank God daily for that nurse. She went out on a limb, she asked him to stop in. The moment he did, he said you need Cardio here now & they need to do an echocardiogram ASAP. 17% EF, that was where my heart was at. I was in respiratory failure, renal failure and cardiac failure. Dr Mark Jackson, my cardiologist, began to treat me on day 2 in the ICU. Digoxin, Beta Blockers, Calcium Chanel Blockers, Diuretics...they were my life savers.
On day 5 I was sent to the telemetry floor and on day 7 I was sent home. Home again to hold and raise my sweet baby boy. I was sad, I could not breast feed, I was sad that I was told no more babies... Then it hit me. Do NOT be sad, you are here and you are able to be a mommy! My heart function may never be normal, but my heart is so strong because of all of the hurdles I have ovecome.
The past 12 + years have been daily blessings, seeing my son play sports, watching him grow into a handsome young man. Helping mold him into a great person. He was my life saver, as was the medical team that took care of me. When life throws a challenge at me, I think of the biggest challenge I have ever encountered. I think, I won against heart failure. It was hard on my relationships, especially with my son's father. We did not have the ability to pull through, but I have an amazing son that I am able to watch grow!
So to those of you recently diagnosed, I say..Keep your head up and keep fighting the fight. Life will not always be easy. But if you can beat this disease and live, you can beat anything. Don't get me wrong, I still have moments when I cry wishing I could have another baby. But then I face reality and know I have the best gift ever. I get to be a mommy here on earth!!
My beautiful heart sisters...Stay strong for each other, stay strong for the little ones that we brought into this world. Life will never be the same. It will be better!!!