Thursday, 14 January 2010

Counting my blessings

Thank god that we are normally a fairly healthy bunch. I am not a religious person, but I do regularly appreciate my lot in life. I am largely unbothered by traumas and problems, mainly happy (in fact, in a recent Sunday newspaper quiz, I came out proven Extremely Happy with life - more so than husband who was disappointed to find that he was just Happy Enough) and have three, gorgeous, healthy children.

So when I was sick last week it came as quite a shock to all of us. None of us were used to mummy just having to lie down for days and days, unable to eat or walk or really sometimes even speak because of the discomfort she was in. My husband learnt to cook roast chicken, freshly prepared pizza (the bread maker is officially a fab machine!). Despite numerous trips to the doctor and the gynaecologist, we could get no diagnosis of what was the problem, and so they sent me home with a packet of Panadol and told me to rest. The Panadol did not even make a tiny dent in the pain and we were constantly concerned that this was something to do with my seven-month pregnancy. So after five days of no sleep, constant pain, no appetite at all and feeling pretty, darn miserable, husband took the plunge and decided I had to fly home. He was amazing. Booked me and our youngest on the first flight out of town, and arranged things so that he could come with us to help on the flight. We packed that afternoon and left in the night.

Thank goodness he came with me, because I think I would actually have collapsed at some point during the journey if I had had to make it by myself, so rank did I feel by that point. Even walking was becoming quite difficult, and getting from the plane to the luggage collection point at Heathrow has to go down as one of the lowest points in my extensive life experience of long haul flying. Simply awful.

It was scary to experience how a physical sickness can utterly take over and make you absolutely no use to anyone at all. Quite quickly - it was only five days - I had gone from being totally fine, to being really not at all fine and barely able to function.

Getting back to my parents' house, I staggered into the living room and collapsed on the sofa. But miraculously, an hour later, the pain passed and that is the last I have had of the grips of this condition to date. Our local GP had very thoughtfully and kindly arranged an appointment to see me immediately, so we went over. In comparison to the "Pain" period, I felt so much better, but I probably looked pretty rank. She spotted that  I had jaundice within about two minutes of our being there, and proposed a few theories about my condition before referring me to hospital where I was admitted.

In the main hospital, they checked me and the baby over very quickly but very thoroughly, made up a set of records and tested me for all sorts of things within an hour. Quite amazing considering that I do not qualify for state medial care. I had no NHS number and it took a midwife half a day to sort out my paperwork the following day. They will treat me on the NHS where necessary and bill our health company later - how awesome is that?

It turned out that I had some seriously iffy blood readings which were probably the result of gall stones blocking not only my bile duct, causing my liver to stop working properly, and affecting the small intestine. To add to the mix, the stone was also preventing my pancreas from properly functioning and causing pancreatitis which is a very uncomfortable condition indeed (I can now say with certainty). It seems that the offending gall stone has now stopped blocking everything up, and so I feel normal again.

What a scene the last week has been. I feel quite post-traumatic about the whole experience, looking back on what was so-recently an utter, scary nightmare. I feel so lucky to be back within striking distance of such competent medical care. My mother asked me today what might have happened had I stayed in Kazakhstan. I breezily replied, "Well, I guess the same thing as here probably. Eventually, it would have moved and the pain would have passed, but we would still not have known what was the matter". I don't like her to worry too much. I don't really like to dwell too much on that question myself. The pancreas is not an organ to mess around with. You don't want to annoy, antagonise or even meet your own pancreas. They like to be left alone to do their job and that is all. Gall stones present fairly typical symptoms, so I don't really understand why this was not explored at all in Almaty. If they had done some basic blood tests, they would have seen some very alarming signs. For example, one of my readings was up at 2000 whatevers, and is now back to within normal levels, my normal level being 6.

So for the time being I will remain relieved that the whole drama is over. And extremely grateful for having such a trooper of a husband who looks after me when it is all going to shit and he is also utterly exhausted - he never gets cross or grumpy, always remains as cheerful as possible, never slacks for a second, just makes sure that what needs to be done gets done. And so completely happy to hear that none of this has been caused in any way by being pregnant, the baby is absolutely normal and I can look forward to a standard birth.

I now have to get used to the idea of being here for a lot longer than we ever planned.


  1. No idea why but your blog did not come to the top of my blogroll for the last 3 posts, or maybe I just missed it... but anyway, have fully caught up now and was sorry to hear about all the trauma. That must have been pretty scary. But you are with your mum now and near to good healthcare, so that is good. Wishing you a relaxing time here and hope that all continues to go smoothly x

  2. Goodness, that sounds horrific. Poor you, so sorry you're having a hard time, but very, very glad the baby is still bumping around nice and happy. Probably the last thing you need, but I've tagged you over at ours. Catch up soon.