Saturday, May 28, 2011

Our Story (4) : Hypertension

Ugh. This is a tough topic for me. It's one of the areas of my life that I've tried to ignore over the last ten years. Not a good thing to ignore. I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was in college. It is one of those conditions that make life frustrating - weight gain, infertility, and a host of things like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol that I'm now at an increased risk to develop. I stayed fairly healthy but gained weight after getting married. When I was pregnant with Boog, I had my first high blood pressure reading. It continued to rise while I was pregnant, and I was diagnosed with chronic hypertension brought on by pregnancy. I never showed any signs of pre-eclampsia - just really high blood pressure. Well, after he was born it did go back down. But when I got pregnant with Roni, the high blood pressure returned and never went away again. For that pregnancy, I was immediately put on medication. It did marginally well in controlling my blood pressure but I felt like a zombie. When pregnant with Pixie, my ob/gyn suggested we try a different med, something stronger that she liked. She made me feel a bit silly questioning it. A quick google search of Atenolol and pregnancy will show how dangerous this drug really is to developing babies. I have very strong regrets about allowing her to be exposed to this drug. My pediatrician at the time even asked me to switch to something else while breastfeeding. Thank God I listened. Since she hadn't nursed in quite awhile and we weren't planning any other children, I had just switched to yet another medication to try and control my blood pressure. I felt like it was my dirty little secret -- allopathic drugs for hypertension. I had tried some natural ways to treat it in the past but never had much luck.

We had the news that I was pregnant and I knew the medication I was taking at that time was not safe for pregnancy. I immediately stopped taking it. There was enough medicine in my body that it took several weeks before I started to see it rising again. Here's the decision I most question about how I approached this pregnancy. I don't question my motives at all, but I wonder if the outcome would have been different if I had made different choices. I read up on blood pressure drugs and decided that I wanted to avoid them as long as possible. I knew that I would probably need them eventually, but my goal was 6 months. My blood pressure was already going up at 6 weeks though. First I tried herbs to control it. I think they would have worked, but I couldn't keep them down. I typically don't have bad morning sickness, but this tincture made me vomit. Then I tried supplements, specifically magnesium, and exercise, walking. This did a pretty good job keeping it below stroke levels, but it was by no means "good." Generally it hung in the 140/95 range. My blood pressure monitor and I became buds. I took my pressure all the time keeping a meticulous record to show my doctor. I needed it because every time I went in for an appointment, it was high. Really high. But she believed my record and let me make the choice to stay off the meds. Right around 6 months, I started feeling awful. I got some really high readings and I tried to get a hold of my doctor but she was out of town and it was a Friday. I wish I could remember the exact reading. I think it was like. 160/110. The staff told me that I had to go down to the hospital to get it checked. Grr. I was so mad. I'd been through this before. I just needed a prescription for the drug that my doctor and I had decided on and that was it. It was hypertension NOT pre-eclampsia.

The doctors and residents freaked out a bit when I came in. But, my blood pressure did start to come down a little after I'd been there for a couple of hours. I finally got a doctor to give me my prescription but also made me do a 24 hour urine test. This was really the beginning of the end. I just couldn't see it at the time. I was heading into the medical monster called "high risk pregnancy." Heading straight for everything I wanted to avoid and my head was still firmly planted in the sand regarding pre-eclampsia.


Unknown said...

(((hugs))), Cari... I want to give you comforting words to surround you, but I know you thought of this a million times and somewhere you've come to a peace. Just writing this, I know, will bring you peace. Ultimately, you have beautiful Violet and Life. Both of which I have no words to thank God for.

XoXo Tina

Betty said...

I had hypertension with all my kids. I was on Labetolal(sp?) With my 4th I had her 2 weeks early because it kept going up. With Macy , my 5th it got really bad. In the ER every other night. Finally at 37 they induced me. During labor my hp was 175/130. Two days after delivery it was 206/145. I was put on 7 different pills a day and I couldn't nurse :( But, I am alive. Now I take 2 pills. Exercise makes a huge difference too!