The last two days have been some of the most draining days that Ellen and I have had on this journey called pregnancy. At this point, although we have had top notch care from all of Ellen’s co-workers and doctors (which has truly been a HUGE blessing), we still have many unanswered questions. One piece of information that we know so far is that it appears that Judah is okay and will not be delivered this early.
Many of you may have no clue as to what is going on, so let me start from the beginning and bring you up to speed to where we are at this moment (although by the time I finnish writing this it could “out of date,” as information seems to change pretty quickly).
It all started on Sunday when we were on the way home from Church. We stopped by Costco to pick up some pictures and grab a slice of pizza. By the time we were done with our pizza, Ellen was complaining about a pain that was starting around her rib-cage and going through to her back and shoulder blades as well as some trouble breathing. On the way home she tried any possible way to get comfortable, and could not do so. We thought it may be either a pulled muscle in her back, or that Judah was just on the right side making her very uncomfortable. She decided that the best thing to do would be to rest and try and take a nap and maybe she would feel better later. As she laid down the pain seemed to worsen and she was unable to get any sleep. Eventually, she realized that the pain was not going away and that she should probably call her OBGYN. When the doctor on call got back to us, she instructed Ellen to come in and just get some tests run just incase it was something more serious than just uncomfortable-pregnant-ness.
Around 7:15 we arrived at Alta-Bates in Berkeley, and went to Triage on the L and D floor. As soon as we arrived, the red-carpet service, that is customary to employees of the unit, started. Many people that Ellen knows stopped by and said hi and frequently emphasized to me that if there was anything they could do to let them know! After a while in Triage, it was decided that Ellen would be admitted and that she needed an ultra-sound before she would be able to have any pain medication. The reason for this was because at this point they suspected that it may be PIH (preeclampsia) or HELLP syndrome, both of which would mean an induction or C-section. If Judah was going to be born, Ellen could not have any heavy narcotics due to an increased risk to Judah. At this point, on the international pain scale, Ellen described her pain as a 9 or 10, which is about the same amount of pain that people having a serious heart attack have. Suffering, and unable to get comfortable at all, Ellen was taken down to imaging to get an ultrasound done. The baby, and all of Ellen’s organs that they were able to visualize looked fine. This was good news, but still did not answer any questions as to what it was. Before we left for the ultrasound, the Triage nurse, Betty, drew up labs for almost everything that the doctor could possible think of.
When we arrived back up to the Labor and Delivery unit, Ellen was given the nicest room on the floor, with a couch and roll-a-way bed for me. Dr. Yogam, more affectinately known as Yogi by all of her co-workers, came in to brief us on the results of the lab and ultrasound. She told us the same thing that the ultrasound technitian had already told us, that everything looked okay. She also said that all of her labs looked fine, except that her blood platelettes were low and her white blood-cells as well as her blood pressure were high. The plateletes and blood pressure began to point the dr. in the direction of PIH or HELLP, and the white blood-cells were concern for some type of infection.
So at this point, while Yogi was still in the room, Ellen was finally able to get some pain Meds! Praise the LORD! According to Ellen’s nurse, Crystal, Dr. Yogam, gave her the highest loading dose of pain meds that she had ever seen. This was a combination of her knowning that it would not hurt Judah, Ellen being a nurse, and the amount of time that she had to wait for the drugs. The nurse told ellen that it was the equivalent of her drinking about 20 margaritas. The drug’s affect was almost instantaneous! She was feeling a whole lot better, and after about 10 minutes described her pain at about a 2!
So now that the pain was undercontrol, we could finally figure out what was causing it, right? Wrong…
Ellen was able to sleep through the night, and so was I. Early in the morning, Ellen’s doctor, Amy Huibonhoa (Huweebonwa) came in and said that there was a possibility that it could be PIH or HELLP, and that she wanted to get another Ultrasound done to rule out anything going on with Judah, as the previous ultrasound did not check everything. Luckily this time the Ultrasound tech was able to bring a portable machine into Ellen’s room and do it there, so that we did not have to make the cross-hospital trek to the imaging center. The Ultrasound technitian said that he looked fine, and that he was a “happy boy” (I will let you figure out what she meant by that).
With another test done and still no answers, and about 5 doctors at this point trying to figure out what it could possibly be that was causing all of this pain, a general surgeon came in to speak with us. Dr. Greenstone was extremely nice and very sensitive to the fact that Ellen was pregnant (which was pretty atypical for surgeons, as we found out later from Ellen’s nurse). Dr. Greenstone was brought in because the other doctors that were seeing Ellen, 2OB’s, 1 Parinatologist, 1 Neonatologist, 1 Pediatrician, thought that it cold possibly be something with the Appendix as this was not something that they could visualize on the Ultrasound. She discussed several options with us and we came to the conclusion that an MRI would be the best route to go, as there is absolutely no risk to the baby, just about an hour of uncomfortable stillness in a tube that sounds like a jack harmer is running on the top of it. The only problem was that the MRI center was not located on the campus of the hospital, but about 5 miles down the road. This meant that we would be taking about a 10 minute ambulance ride to the location, which just so happens to be the same office building that the Perinatologist that we have come to know and love is located. We arrived there around 5:15 pm and after everything was finished we got back to the hospital around 7pm. I asked Ellen what it was like and she said she didn’t remember, just that she tried to sleep and didn’t open her eyes.
Once we got settled back in the room at the hospital, Dr. Huibonhoa stopped back by and said that the MRI looked fine, and there was no sign of anything going on in the Appendix or the Gallbladder. That was the end of our first full day in the Hospital.
Today was another early morining with several doctors stopping by and giving us updates. The first to come in was Dr. Dipalma, a perinatologist who said that he did not think that anything was going on involving the pregnancy. This was great news to hear, knowing that our Judah was doing fine and hopefully will not have to be delivered early! He did think that it still could be the appendix and said that if the surgeon felt like a CT scan would give us the best image possible, then he was fine with that and did not feel that the extremely small risks the CT scan would have on Judah, would be anything to worry about. Then the surgeon stopped by and said that she did not think that we should do the CT scan, but have another Ultrasound to look at the Kiddneys, as this was not really looked at before and could possibly be where the infection (or kidney stones) was located. Then, a couple hours later, Dr. Huibonhoa came by and said she talked to a urologist who thought the CT scan would be a good idea.
It was finally decided that we would indeed have the CT scan to look at the Kidneys and that hopefully this would give us the answers we are looking for. So Ellen loaded up on the transport bed, made the cross-hospital-trek and got the CT scan done. While she was doing this I stepped out to grab some fresh air and a White peppermint mocha from Starbucks to get me through the rest of the day.
When I came back, Ellen was already back in the room and we called the nurse to discuss the results. She said that she spoke to Dr. Huibonhoa, who had discussed the results with the radiologist and she said that there was no kidney stones.
That is where we are at right now. Throughout the day and last night, some of Ellen’s pain came back even with the medication, so the decided to giver her morphine and phenergan, so she is resting pretty well. We are waiting to talk with Ellen’s OB to see what the latest news is and where to go from here. There is still a very slight chance that it could be PIH or HELLP, as symptoms for these are normally different in every person who has these syndromes. Also, Ellen’s dr. is not completley convinced that there isn’t smething going on in the kidneys.
Please pray that we will be at peace with whatever the outcome and treatment are. Also, that we will be patient and at peace in the waiting time until we have an answer! We know the Father has our family in the palm of his hand and we can feel his closeness to us during this time.
What I didn’t include in all of that was all of our Small Group that came by, and all of the texts, phone calls and emails that we received from family and friends that heard about what was going on. Over the past year and a half, our smallgroup, as well as my co-hort, has become our family and their friendship and the way they have taken care of us has just been awesome! Their willingness to do absolutely ANYTHING for us has been so encouraging!
It is days like these that also have us missing our family and friends back in Georgia and parts of us can’t help but to wish we were back there, or they were here with us. But we know that we are where God wants us to be!
I would ask that you pray for the health of Ellen and Judah during this time. Also, pray for me as I am taking all of this in at at times it can be extremely overwhelming. Pray that God will give us the answers that we are seeking and that we will be okay with whatever the diagnoses and treatment happens to be!
Forward this to whomever you want, as the more people we have praying for us the better!
That is it for now, I will update as soon as I can!