(side note: Tim added some of his experiences to the end of my last post if you'd like to read them. It made me cry...)
So, after what seemed like forever, we were ready to move out of recovery and into my room. I was so incredibly thirsty that I felt like I couldn't breathe. I had been on oxygen for a long time & they wouldn't let me drink anything, fearing I would need surgery. The nurse did let me chew some gum to help a bit. What a weird sensation- coming back to life & wanting a drink so bad. That's my main memory of this part- thirst!
Around 8:30- 9:00 I was moved to my room. Again, we got the closest available room to the nurses' station. It wasn't quite the 'Do not let me die suite' like after Lydia, but it was good to know help was near by. When you leave recovery at Alta View, they play 'Rock-a-bye baby" over the loud speaker to announce the birth. I felt like they should have been playing the Rocky theme song or something a little more triumphant. We had overcome a lot! WE SURVIVED!
The rest of the night was uneventful. They told me not to get out of bed- like I could have if I tried. Tim stayed with me & Eliza was in the nursery part of the night and with us after about 5am- I was wide awake & wanted to see my baby. I hadn't had much time with her the day before.
Then someone thought I should get up and walk around. "Let's get you into the bathroom." Why? I was fine where I was. I felt like I needed a crane to get out of the bed. Tim & the nurse helped me shuffle to the bathroom with my feet feeling like they were in cement boots. I made it to the bathroom- a good 8 feet away. That's when I felt really hot & nauseous. Not a good sign. Things are fuzzy after that. I passed out sitting there and finally remember anxious people dragging me back to the bed where I was laid flat. This is when talk of transfusions began.
The phlebotomist was summoned and eventually blood was drawn. I have no idea how many blood draws & pokes I had throughout the week. I stopped counting after 30. After having to call in the veteran to try after the new kids, they started just sending the veteran each time. Good thing I'm not afraid of needles. There was often digging along with the poking, as my veins dove & burst & generally didn't cooperate. Toward the end of my stay, the phlebotomists were telling me they were hitting scar tissue & valves. It was gross. We also found out I'm allergic to hypo-allergenic tape. Of course.
Back to the story. My blood work came back & my hematocrit was at 23. Twenty-three what, I don't know. All I know is that wasn't good. It was at 33 when I was admitted. I had my first transfusion Thursday to boost that blood count. I was promised it would make me feel like a new woman. Sounds great!
Two bags of blood later, the nurses thought I should get up. Another trip to the bathroom & shower. Why, oh, why must we rush these things? This time, Tim was gone to retrieve my other children from my parents' house. I remember telling the nurse and aide that I was glad my husband wasn't there since my last trip out of bed had traumatized him when I passed out. Me and my big mouth.
(My dignity was totally obliterated by all of this. If I share too much, you can stop reading.)
I made it to the toilet, where it seemed like a lot came out. I had been on an IV for over 24 hours, so I wasn't alarmed. They moved me over to the shower where I sat on the shower chair in what seemed like really hot water. I felt something strange and reached down in time to catch a blood clot about the size of a small apple. Uh, nurse... She had been trying to give my some privacy to that point, but now she was concerned. The curtain was flung open and I told her I felt nauseous and asked to turn the water cold. "Let's get you back on the toilet." Yes, let's.
The nurse and the aide moved me back to the toilet and that's when things went dark- fast. I remember that I was watching something, kind of dreaming. I was involved in the storyline, but I don't remember what it was. I remember being annoyed that someone was trying to interrupt this nice, peaceful scene I was enjoying. After a time I realized that the person interrupting was talking to me, trying to wake me up. I knew I should answer her and felt like I had to swim to the surface from the bottom of a deep swimming pool to get where I could answer her. It was the sweet aide, Nikki. When I was able to open my eyes again, there where four people crowded around me in that tiny bathroom. Awesome. In all my birthday suit splendor. Anyone else want to come in? I have no idea how long I was out, but at least long enough for more people & equipment to arrive.
I found out why there is an emergency cord in the bathroom. That was how the extra helpers were summoned, along with a wheel chair to get me back to the bed. Nothing makes you feel incapable like an 8 foot wheel chair ride.
Turns out that in addition to the smallish clot in the shower, I had also passed a larger clot- 800 cc's. (grapefruit size) I call it 'Edward.' To give you some perspective, the transfusion I had just received was only 660 cc's of blood. This was not good. Right on cue, Tim and the girls showed up as I was getting put back in bed flat on my back.
Alta View fixes a fancy steak dinner for two with a nice table setting, sparkling cider, the works. Mine showed up shortly after the Edward experience. I did not feel like eating, so Tim & the girls enjoyed a lovely meal. Tim's brother and his wife, Sam & Janika were also there visiting around this time. Tim & Sam gave me a blessing. They also took the girls for the night. Tim had been planning to bring them home and spend the night at our house, but the passing out changed our plans.
This was one of many interventions by our family and friends that helped so much with the older girls. Our plans changed hour by hour, so thank you all who stepped in to help!
Suffice it to say, I needed another transfusion the next day. My blood count was still low. I was determined to go to the breastfeeding class Friday morning, so I hauled my transfuser across the hall to the class. I probably horrified the other class members. Sorry- I was not thinking clearly. The class was very helpful, though! I highly recommend it! The lactation consultant came to my room after and helped a lot. I think much of our success nursing came from that class & the great teacher.
While nursing Eliza & receiving blood, I reached my left hand over her to do something and blood went pouring everywhere. The line that was attached to my IV site had come unhooked and the donor blood was running everywhere. That's $550 worth of blood spilling everywhere! I needed every last drop! Thankfully Tim was there and pinched the line shut while I paged the nurse. I don't think they realized what was happening and we had to page twice. When she came in and saw, she started moving faster. We started to wonder if the child should be named Murphy's Law Prestwich.
Optimistic nurses kept taking out my IV when they thought I was done, so I ended up with at least 5 IVs and a few more failed attempts. I finally asked them not to take out my IV until I was at the nurse's station being discharged! (When I got my bill, I saw each IV site cost $50. Grrr. Thank goodness for insurance.)
Another thing about my nurses- they kept calling and checking on me when they were off work. Others who had helped me earlier in the week would stop in to see me. A few I didn't remember meeting (they must have come on bad days) would tell me how much better I looked than the last time they saw me. They were all so sweet, even if we traumatized them repeatedly. I was what you might call a teaching case. One nurse that was there for my transfusion was being taught how to do it as she went. Turns out she has worked there for 8 years and had never had to give someone blood. Glad we could be of service!
Things settled down a lot after the second transfusion, but my blood count dropped again. Dr Smith's brand spankin' new partner was in charge of me Saturday and she came in to tell me that it looked like I would need a third transfusion. She was very sweet and delivered the news herself. We later found out that it was literally her first day. She looked like she was 16- I felt older and older as the days wore on. (When the new pediatrician came for Eliza's check up, I thought for sure I was hallucinating. He looks 12. When did I get so old?)
Another trip to the bathroom brought more fun. I emptied my bladder and then heard what sounded like running water. Turns out it was more blood pouring out of me. Awesome. Oh nurse...
Saturday was spent getting more blood, resting and enjoying quiet time with my baby. I looked horrible- not that I cared much. My face was all one color- white. My cheeks were the same color as the parts of my skin that have no pigment. It was kind of creepy. I hadn't looked at my reflection for days, so that was a bit unnerving for me.
The girls spent Friday night in Nephi at Aunt Jen's and had so much fun! They went to Gavin's baptism and Jen brought them back up that night. They had enjoyed three nights of sleepovers, but were anxious to get back to their own beds. Tim brought them home and, of course, couldn't get in the house. The fuse had blown in the garage so the opener wouldn't work. The storm door had been locked somehow and the keys were all inside. Tim finally had to break a window and lower Jenna into the downstairs bathroom. Seriously! At this point, all we can do is laugh about the whole thing. I was ridiculous!
Sunday Tim got the girls all ready and took them to church. The Lynches kept them and Tim was able to come to the hospital for the day. I was feeling much better and even got a shower without incident! My blood count had improved slightly and I was given the choice to go home if I felt up to it. I was so ready to get out of there! Everyone took great care of me, but I just wanted to be in my own space & with my other kids. I finally felt strong enough to get dressed. It took a lot out of me and I had to rest again for a while, but I finally was discharged around 7pm Sunday evening. The very last thing we did before I got in the wheel chair was take out my IV. I wasn't chancing it again!
There were also visits from family and friends throughout the week. I don't remember the details- hope I didn't say anything too crazy. Thanks for coming!
I know this post jumps around a bit. My memories of the week are like snapshots- disjointed, without a clear timeline. I don't share this looking for pity or anything. We are at the point where we can look back and laugh. What else can we do? Mostly, I want to make a record of this to torture Eliza with when she's older. :)
When all is said and done, I come away from this experience with a greater appreciation for the gift of life. I am so glad I get to be with my family! I am blessed that a perfectly healthy angel baby got to come to our family. I know she was supposed to be here. Even though I couldn't have anticipated the level of danger this time around, I knew things were going to be rough. It wasn't pleasant, but it was worth it.
Even as I came home and had to take handfuls of pills and all sorts of awesome ointments, creams, and on and on, I got to come home. Period. It will be a while before I am back up to speed, but I feel better every day. Dr Jones told me to expect 120 days for my blood to be fully restored and to be feeling back to normal- I lost at least 2500 ccs of blood that was measured- who knows how much more when down the drains. (Normal adult has 5000-6000 ccs of blood) Be patient with me if I act loopy or forget things you asked me. I'm working on it. Thanks again for your love, support and prayers. I needed every last one & they worked miracles!