I would like to introduce to you Michelle, she is my cousin and she has an incredible journey to share with you. It is a personal story that I believe took great courage to share. It is not easy being wide open for the world to see you at your weakest point. It is graphic, so if you are eating, or have a weak stomach, this might not be the article to read at this moment. But if you’re looking for hope, and love seeing miracles then you are at the right spot. I love Michelle and I love her courage to share this with you. I hope she is an inspiration to you all.
Imagine your house being invaded and the safety of your child compromised by this invader and you are helpless in your own and your child’s defense. Now imagine having a process evolving inside you that you cannot see, you cannot feel, and you are very much unaware of and yet it is no less threatening and equally terrifying as compared to the invader in your home. This is what happened to me just over a year ago. It is hard to explain to someone who has never faced such peril but to tell you it was terrifying would be an understatement. I was 35 weeks pregnant with my third son. I lay down to sleep and within 45 minutes I awoke to the feeling that my water had broken. My husband and I jumped out of bed and turned on the lights to a scene I still cannot blink away no matter how hard I try. There was blood everywhere; my blood everywhere!! It was all over my bed, in a big huge spot on the carpet, there were saturated footprints on the carpet from every step I took. It was terrifying. I called my obstetrician from the car with so many questions in my head and so many unknowns but I was too stunned to even get the words out. I live five minutes from the hospital, where I also work in the Critical Care unit as a Registered Nurse, and I remember thinking over and over in my head “if I can just get there, I know I will be alright, if I can just get there.” My husband got me there quickly and within minutes of arriving I was on my way from the triage room on the maternity ward to the operating room. I had not signed consent, there was no small talk, and there was not even enough time to prepare myself for the possibilities that lie ahead for my own health and that of my child. I knew the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) from around the hospital, although he did not remember me, he was kind. The nurses were telling him to “put me out” or in other words place me under general anesthesia because the situation was too emergent. I begged him not to because I had not said goodbye to my other two children and I was afraid if they put me to sleep I would not wake up. He told me if I could stay really calm that we do the spinal fast. Believe me I was never so clam and still despite being so scared. I received a straight spinal without any added pain medications, which is not the norm; because there was no time but at least I got to remain awake. As soon as they lay me on my back, my doctor walked in, he made an incision and began his fortuitous task. He was obviously shaken by the circumstances at hand but he did what he had to do to save me and the baby. I remember during my Caesarean section, the Critical Care Nurse in me kept looking up at the monitor and reading my blood pressure of 73/43 mm Hg and wondering if I was okay. I asked the CRNA several times “isn’t my blood pressure too low” and he just kept reassuring me that I was going to be fine. The doctor had the baby out in four minutes; it was the longest four minutes of my life. After they told me he was out I just kept asking “Is he crying.” I asked repeatedly until someone finally said “yes he is fine.” We named him Evan; he is perfect, happy, and healthy.
My obstetrician said that when he made the incision and placed his hand inside my abdomen to feel how much of the placenta was still connected he said he could not feel anywhere where the placenta was still connected. For those of you who do not know this is called a placental abruption and is the emergency of all obstetrical emergencies. You may hear of someone having this from time to time but typically when you hear of this the placenta detaches a little bit (like 20% instead of 100%) and it happens when the Mom is already in the hospital. It was extremely rare, on the verge of miraculous, to have an almost complete abruption, at home, and both Mom and baby are perfectly fine.
So that should be where my journey ends but it is not. This is actually where my journey began. To have your life, or the life of your child, hang in the balance even for a moment is to be completely changed forever. My whole view-point on life changed. I asked my obstetrician and other medical professionals why this happened and the answer I received was “because sometimes it just does.” I could not accept this. Although they were being completely honest with me, and I knew from working in health care that there was really no way to definitively pinpoint why this happened, I needed answers.
My answers came unexpectedly one day at work when I had been complaining of post prandial fatigue (fatigue after eating) and low blood sugars. One of my colleagues said that it sounded like I had a thyroid problem!!! What?? My Mom has a thyroid problem and I had been complaining of symptoms to my doctors for years! How could this be? All my levels are always fine. The doctor straight up told me “your levels are fine you do not have the same thyroid problem as your Mom.” Once the light bulb was lit I started feverishly researching the thyroid condition my Mom has. It didn’t take much before I started retrieving scholarly articles linking the thyroid antibodies from my Mom’s disease with PLACENTAL ABRUPTION, miscarriage, and infertility. How could this be? They checked my “levels” and explicitly in no uncertain terms told me that I did not have a thyroid problem. What levels did they check? There are antibodies for this thyroid condition? Why did they not run the antibodies? If my Mom has this same disease and has always seen the same doctor as me, why wouldn’t they think to run these antibodies when I was reporting thyroid symptoms? I called my primary care physician’s office and asked that the antibodies be drawn. Sure enough they came back positive! Low and behold I had a diagnosis. Not only did I have a diagnosis, I had an answer to why I had the placental abruption, and most importantly I had hope for my future and my children’s futures. I now see an endocrinologist and he even told me that he was surprised I was able to get pregnant from the beginning and even more surprised I had not miscarried any of the pregnancies.
My journey did not stop there either although luckily for all of you reading this (thinking when will it end?) my report on this segment is about to end. I can tell you my journey is ongoing. The more I research, the more I am able to relate the effects of nutrition and the effects of my thyroid, to my general overall health and well-being. The Maternal side of my family has a very large autoimmune health history, one that would not have been linked together without some type of medical knowledge, and without everyone sharing details of their health history with me. Like I said, I am still in the beginning stages of my journey, but every bit of research I do points back to the thyroid, metabolism, and nutrition. I am proud of John, in many ways our journeys are intertwined, and in many ways he inspires me because I think it is easy to know what the right thing to do is or what the right things to eat are but it is another to have the willpower to fight for your life and your health.
Personal health and nutrition are a large puzzle, which even doctors cannot figure out 100% for us, because they do not have all the pieces, they did not design the human body. It is crucial to be proactive and understand fully the pieces of your own health puzzle. Do not ever take someone’s word that they “ran your levels and they were all fine.” Ask what levels they checked, look things up, ask questions if you do not understand. My life and my child’s life were spared because of divine intervention, and very good nurses and one very good doctor, but could have just as easily been ripped from the fabric of life because doctors told me “they ran my levels and they were fine” and I accepted that.