Read part 3 here.
About an hour after getting my blood taken, I received a phone call from my doctor. She explained to me that my platelet levels were low yesterday and they had dropped even lower today and that I needed to get over to the emergency room right away. She said that the hematology department would start work to see what was going on.
I got off the phone feeling extremely confused and spoke with Jonathan. We quickly packed a few things to take and headed out the door. I called my parents and tried my best to explain everything the doctor told me, but I really had no clue what to expect. I didn’t really know what platelets were, but the fact that I was heading to the emergency room because of blood levels scared me. I was thinking, “Do I have cancer or something horrible? Am I about to die?”
We got checked in quickly and the doctors and nurses got to work. I had to explain why I was there several times and I was trying to remain polite, but it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world retelling the ultrasound story that had just happened the day before.
The doctor explained to me that platelets were blood cells that help the blood to clot and stop blood loss. In a normal person, platelet levels will range from 150,000 to 450,000. My platelet levels on Monday were 30,000 and on Tuesday, they had dropped down to 14,000. Once platelet levels get below 10,000, you can have spontaneous internal bleeding.
Levels that low are dangerous by themselves, but the fact that I was also currently spotting and would be soon having a miscarriage, made it even more dangerous.
The doctors put me on a high dose treatment of 80 mg of prednisone (a steroid medication that has some crazy side effects!) and ran various tests to look for a cause for the low platelets. The prednisone medication had to be the worst part of being in the hospital. I was already feeling emotional from the grieving and pregnancy hormones, but the prednisone magnified everything and made me feel insane.
On the first day in the hospital the doctors ruled out a number of serious diseases that could be causing my low platelets but still hadn’t found a cause. Around midnight that first evening, I left the emergency room and was admitted into a room in the hospital. I was excited to finally be leaving the emergency room and looking forward to peace and quiet.
When I went into the room, I discovered that I was sharing a room. I tried to remain calm but as the night went on, I became furious over my entire situation. I was sharing a room with a 95 year old woman, and the nurses came in once every hour to do a stroke test. The patient wasn’t able to hear very well and they had to yell commands at her.
I was exhausted. I hadn’t slept very much in the previous two days as I had spent much of the time crying and then I spent that entire day being poked with needles. I also had the great misfortune of having a pregnant nurse that made my heart ache every time her big belly passed. I laughed at one point to my husband and said, “It’s almost comical now. Everything that can go wrong is going wrong. It’s as if someone is out to get me.”
I wanted to call my mom and cry but I was afraid of disturbing my roommate so I opened my bible and read the book of Psalms. I heard that the book of Psalms can be very comforting because you find people crying out to God with every sort of emotion: happiness, joy, sadness, depression, anger, loneliness. It shows that you can trust in God and share with Him any emotion that you are feeling. The important thing is that you go to Him because he wants to be there for you and help you through it.
I went to God with anger. There was definitely a big part of me that was angry over all that I was going through but at the same time, I knew that God had a reason for all of this, and I knew, just as he had done previously, He would get me through the death of our 2nd baby.
The next day I was determined to get in a private room and I told a student nurse what I was going through. I told her that I was sad and wanted to be alone so that I could grieve in private and she was kind enough to speak with someone who put my request through.
That morning, I was also delighted to hear that the medicine had worked in raising my platelet levels slightly but I would still not be able to go home anytime soon. The doctors would continue to do testing to look for a cause and I would continue to take the prednisone medication. I was nervous about having to do a blood transfusion if the medicine didn’t work and I was praising God that this medicine, although difficult to handle the side effects, was working and keeping me safe.
Later that day I was happy to move into a private room (yes, I realize I sound like a spoiled American right now – I was too sad to care about being spoiled during this time. I was going to enjoy the one good thing that was happening that week – my big private room!) The rest of the week was one big blur as nothing too exciting happened.
I did have some kind visitors from my church family – I even had two members visit me that I had never met before. I was amazed that people I didn’t know were compassionate and loving and came to comfort me even though I was a stranger to them. I was so thankful to God that we had found such a good church family to be a part of and it made me think of the verse, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Their kind acts made a huge difference in giving me hope and comfort and I pray that God will reward them for their generosity towards me.
There was a large part of me that wanted to feel bad for myself and wanted to be angry with God over my circumstances. But having a church family that supported me and loved me made me see just how blessed I am. True, I was suffering through the loss of our baby, but I was also comforted by God himself and He used his faithful servants to care for me.
On Thursday morning one of the doctors told me that I was most likely going home that day as my levels were continuing to rise. I started to pack my bags and was anxiously waiting to be released when another doctor informed me that they didn’t think it was safe enough to return home just yet.
They also found a diagnosis for my low platelets, a disease called ITP (Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura – yup, it’s a mouthful. I’ll refer to it as ITP from here on out). ITP is a bleeding disorder in which the immune system cells produce antibodies that destroy platelets. Again, platelets are normal for necessary blood clotting.
I’m usually a calm person, at least in front of other people, but my blood started pumping when I learned that I would not be able to go home yet and I had an epic meltdown. I argued with the doctors and they finally had to inform me of the importance of me staying in the hospital. The doctor said, “If you go home today you could start bleeding heavily and die. It’s not safe.” For whatever reason, I didn’t come to my senses quick enough and I demanded that they release me from the hospital. The doctors agreed and left the room.
Within the next few minutes, I realized what a fool I had made of myself and called the nurse to ask her to apologize to the doctors and inform them that I would stay put and cooperate from now on. To this day, I feel horrible about the way that I acted, but I hope that the doctors understood that I just wasn’t myself. I did later apologize in person and thank them for taking good care of me, but I sure wish I could go back in time and delete that embarrassing scene from my life.
On Friday, November 18, my levels were high enough to go home and I was released. I was so excited to go home and see my animals! I was also told to go to labor and delivery on Monday morning for a follow up ultrasound and to determine what we would do next if the miscarriage hadn’t started. And I would have an appointment with a hematologist the following Wednesday to learn more about my newly diagnosed disease, ITP, and to discuss our treatment options.
For the time being, I was kept on the prednisone medication, and told to go to labor and delivery if I started to have any sort of heavier bleeding.
To be continued in part 5.