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A HELLP Story
by Tina
sub - 6/15/01

I really had no idea what or how serious this was so when I was sent immediatley over to labor and delivery I wasn't concerned. I called my mother to have her come sit with my son while the tests were run that the doctor had ordered. 
 

Tina's Story

I am a mom to Ryan who will be 3 in July and 3 week old Shawn who was induced at 35 and a half weeks. Both pregnancies started off normal but by 38 weeks with Ryan I was being induced due to massive swelling, protein in my urine and high blood pressure, however there wasn't much of a problem with his delivery and I never dreamed that something called HELLP existed. 

It is amazing how little is known about it unless you have had it or have come across it. 

With Shawn, I was so proud that I was keeping my weight gain to a minimium. I had only gained about 30 pounds or so by my 7month which in comparasion to the 60 I had with my first pregnancy was great! 

In April I had a normal Ob/gyn appointment and was scheduled to start coming every 2 weeks. I had an appointment than  on  May 3rd which the doctor cancelled for some reason . Then another appointment was cancelled by me. 

On May 16th I finally went in for my Ob check-up where protein was detected at a plus 4 rating and to find that I had gained 20pounds in 4 weeks so they scheduled me to come 
again the following week. 

During the next week I notice decreased fetal activity and a lack of wanting to take any liquids which are signs of HELLP. 
I look back now and realize there were dozens of things that I should have been concerned about because they were signs of the syndrome but because it just didn't exist to me I brushed them off.  

I had nausea, headaches, neck pains, shoulder aches, spots before my eyes and other's I can't remember. So on May 23 I went back to the Ob's and was able to give them a drop of urine, ( another sign of HELLP,not able to produce urine) enough to detect again plus 4 for protein. 

I really had no idea what or how serious this was so when 
I was sent immediatley over to labor and delivery I wasn't concerned. I called my mother to have her come sit with my son while the tests were run that the doctor had ordered. 

It was mentioned to me by the Ob that they might have to induce which was fine with me because Ryan had been induced at 38weeks. It never crossed my mind that they meant NOW. It was too soon, this baby was only 35 weeks. 

There might be lung problems and other complications 
due to being so early. I had preclampsia that turned into HELLP. They started me on something called Cervidil which is inserted into your cervix to bring on contractions. From 7:30 to 10  with no progress so the Cevidil was removed and then the contractions came all night long but again no progress. In the morning my bloodwork hadn't improved and at 10am I was started on Pitocin. 

They broke my water at 5 and at 6:06 pm Shawn Christopher Sweeney was delivered. He weighed in a 6 pounds 6 ounces which was great for being a premie. Shawn was fine in the beginning but put under a bili-light for jaundice when he was 4 days old. 

For me, the problems were just beginning. I found out not long afterwards that HELLP is put into catogaries with Class 1 
being the most serious. All the nurse's and doctor's who cared for me for the 6 days I was in labor and delivery kept telling me that I would soon realize how sick I was and I guess I was because I was Class 1.My platelets dropped to 22,000 when they are supposed to be 200,000 to 400,000. My iron level was 8 when it's supposed to be 12. I had brusies covering both arm's from IV's and platelets being so low,  one of which was used for a blood transfusion in the middle of the night and from bloodwork being taken twice a day.  

An hour after my blood transfusion I  started to get really cold and couldn't stop shaking. I was told if the transfusion didn't take that I would know in 15 minutes well this was an hour later and I thought that I was dying. I was scared to death. 

I had them call my mom who came to sit with me and assured 
me that she had the same thing happen to her with the chills. About an hour later I broke out into a fever and was covered in sweat from it. As it turns out my body didn't take to the transfustion because my platelets still didn't rise. 

So on to more bloodwork. In the middle of the night the next night I had an incredible urge to urinate and could only let out a trickle and I sat on a bedpan for hours feeling so uncomfortable. I was told that it was from the epsiotomy and swelling that made me feel discomfort. 

When the day nurse came on I told them and they realized that my liver was so swollen that it was keeping my bladder from fully voiding urine except for the overflow. I was then hooked up to a cathator (sp) and a large amount of urine was 
released. 

The next day, I had the urge to urinate again and when they checked the cathator it had come out. There was blood in my urine so they weren't sure if I was bleeding internally or if it was from the cathator cutting me when it came out. More bloodwork. 

I was on something called Mag sulfate to prevent seizures from high blood pressure. It made me feel very tired. My 
reflexes were taken every hour to make sure I wasn't getting too much Mag sulfate.My blood pressure (which at times was very high) and tempature  was taken every hour and I had bloodwork done most times twice a day sometimes 
more depending on the  results from the previous batch. 

Once I was released from the hospital on Memorial  day and the next day my mom came to get me to take me for more bloodwork. I can remember sitting at the out patient registration with my son who was only days old and feeling so 
tired that I just wanted to sleep. My mom had sat in the car with my toddler who was asleep and I was so tired that I couldn't even see myself having the energy to walk out to get her. 

Soon she came in and I was taken by wheelchair to have blood drawn once again as was my son to test the jaundice levels. He at one time was a level 17 and I was told that if it went to 20 that there could be a chance of brain damage. 

I  went to stay with my mom so my husband could work and she could take care of me. I was so tired and even taking a 
shower fatigued me. My infant son was put into a biliblanket for 3 days where a home nurse came out to check on both of us. I can't tell you how many times they pricked his tiny little foot to get blood from it, he was covered with marks. 

On Saturday morning I finally came home only to go to the ER Sunday with chest pains, nausea. I was told to call if any of these things occured. I was there for 5 hours where they did a pulse ox where they take blood from an artery to test for blood clots ( they took it on the underpart of my (wrist). I had an ebg (?) to test my heart and chest x-rays where they thought they saw something suspious. 

I was released  after getting IV fluids for dehydration. I was sent then for more chest x-rays where they were ruling out 
pneumonia. I again went to my mom's house. Finally, I'm feeling a bit better or at least better then I have been. I still get tired when I do too much and I'm told that it make take up to a year for me to feel back to "normal". 

The color is back to my face and I don't feel like the living dead with the exception of being a mom to a new infant. As for other kids, not sure how that will go. I will make an appointment to talk to a high risk Ob and go from there. 

From what I have read this happens normally with your first child not your 2nd so this may increase my chances of having HELLP again. My track record doesn't look so good and I would never want to go through what I did again. It seems with HELLP the only solution is to delivery the baby  so in a 
way, I'm very lucky that I was as far along as I was. 

Some mother have had to deliver very early and with that there are problems. My son is only 3 weeks on June 15th, 2001 so I have time to decide. Much luck to all who have had 
this and I hope that it helps you to understand what it is and don't let your doctor downplay  anything you feel isn't "right". I would like to include my email address if it is allowed. Feel free to email me at Fleetwoodmac1@aol.com 

             Please put HELLP in subject line.
 
 

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Updated 
7/2/01