At about 34 weeks, I had really bad stomach pains. I thought I had developed some sort of stomach virus, but after learning I had HELLP and researching, I wholeheartedly believe this was the beginning. After four days, I finally went to the hospital. My blood pressure was elevated when I arrived, and I was immediately instructed to lay on my left side. My urine was checked again, and showed no protein. No blood tests were drawn. The attending doctor diagnosed me with dehydration and told me to stay home from work the next day and drink lots of Gatorade. My blood pressure continued to stay elevated. At 36 weeks, I was not feeling well when I got home from work so I took my blood pressure and it was 146/100. I laid on my left side and instead of going down, it continued to rise. Because my doctor's office continually made me feel like I was crazy, I could not decide whether or not I should go to the hospital. The nurse line through my insurance company finally convinced me to go in. When I arrived, my blood pressure was 162/100. Once again, my urine showed no protein. This time, they did take blood work which showed high uric acid. I was sent home to do a 24-hour urine collection and return on Sunday.
When I returned, my blood pressure was once again elevated and the urine collection did show trace amounts of protein. Blood work was not drawn this time. I was told to follow up with my OB/GYN the next day. My appointment was first thing in the morning. When I woke up that morning, my blood pressure was 152/97. When it was taken (manually) in the office, the tech told me it was normal. Once again, none of this made sense to me! My doctor was not aware of my hospital visit that day, even though the doctor who saw me was a doctor within her practice. She told me that I had no protein in my urine, my blood pressure was normal, and she told me just to take off work for the rest of my pregnancy. I asked her to retake my blood pressure, and she told me that if anything the tech takes blood pressure on the high side, so not to worry. She did not retake my blood pressure.
I put myself on modified bed rest because I did not feel well and I knew my blood pressure was dangerously high. A week and a half later, I was on the floor, in horrendous stomach pain, with a migraine unlike anything I've ever felt before, telling my husband to call 911. When the EMTs arrived, my blood pressure was 167/105. They took me to the hospital, I was immediately admitted into labor and delivery, and once labs were back, I was finally diagnosed with HELLP syndrome. I heard the doctor in the hallway say, "Yes, it's HELLP, we need to deliver her immediately." I had never heard of HELLP syndrome, or how dangerous it was. I knew my health was in danger from the blood pressure alone. At the time, I did not know how dangerously low my blood platelets were or how elevated my liver enzymes were. It was only after I delivered and my health was still not back to normal that I did research and learned more about HELLP."
I delivered my baby girl about 8 hours after I was induced. She was 5lbs 7oz, but otherwise very healthy. My blood platelets were too dangerously low for a c-section. I was put on a magnesium drip. I had to stay on the magnesium for 24 hours after the birth of my daughter. My blood pressure, blood platelets, and liver enzymes did not go back to normal after delivery. I remained hospitalized for eight days. I had blood work drawn every four, then eventually every six, hours. Cardiology and Neurology were brought in. An echocardiogram of my heart showed no damage or otherwise any problems that would be causing the high blood pressure. An MRI and MRA revealed I had suffered from several small strokes, most likely due to the high blood pressure for an extended period of time.
The neurologist could not determine when exactly the strokes appeared, but the scan showed I had been having them for at least two weeks. The neurologist's nurse practitioner told me that she had only seen one other case similar to mine, and the other one did not turn out so well. After eight days, my lab work was finally back to normal, but my blood pressure remained elevated. I was finally released with three different prescriptions to maintain my blood pressure. Five months post-partum, I am now down to one medication to keep my blood pressure normal. I have some fatigue and memory loss, but I have no other residual effects from the strokes. The cardiologist that I saw in the hospital is now responsible for my care regarding the blood pressure. I finally took control of my health and switched OB/GYNs due to the lack of care I felt I received."