As we arrived at the dreaded waiting room; I glanced down at my trembling, weak hand swallowed by my husband’s strong and steady grasp. My head was spinning with thoughts of, “Just act normal. Nothing is different. People will not stare. You can do this.” They called my name as if waiting in line at the meat counter and I took my place in the cold exam room to await the doctor’s verdict.
I fumbled for more tic tacs to shove in my saliva filled mouth while eyeing the garbage can to make sure it was within arm’s reach. My torturous wait ended with the same judgmental speech from doctor after doctor. . . . Have you tried eating small meals? Maybe try crackers by your bedside.
Nothing worked. Hyperemesis Gravidarum they call it. I call it the biggest trial of my life. I made it through that first pregnancy and was told I had a 50/50 chance of it happening again. Five years later I fell victim to it once more.
All the doctors and specialists looked at me as if to pat me on the back and say, “Sweetheart, this is all in your head. You are pregnant; of course you will feel sick.” Even my own friends muttered, “If you just get up off the couch and get moving I bet you will feel better.”
As if I asked to have that feeding tube inserted or wanted to violently hack up water or anything that remotely came close to my mouth. Did they think I hoped for the exhaustion that wrapped around and took hold of my every limb after all the failed attempts to hold down any type of food or drink? It became a true mind game and this disease consumed my every thought.
Could it have been in my head? Were those people right? Would that never-ending, raw pain simply go away if I had just gotten up off of that bed and went about my normal day? After numerous hospital trips and endless hours hooked up to I.V’s witnessing one horrible talk show after another; nightmares of hearing women trapped by HG in neighboring rooms echoed in my head.
On one of my most trying days in the hospital, a nurse sat at the edge of my bed and told me stories of how they used to admit women with my exact symptoms into the physic ward. Those women were all alone, banned from visitors including family due to what the physicians thought may effect their patient’s mental state. These women were left with nagging thoughts that something must be wrong with them mentally.
As the days rolled slowly by, weeks started to feel like years. I could see the toll it took on my family and guilt gnawed away at my insides thinking about all the terminally ill that don’t ever receive a happy ending. How could I begin to sit with these depressing thoughts watching the world spin madly by when others would not be given the gift of life at the end of their journey? How could I be so selfish to feel sorry for myself when those closest to me dropped their every obligation to lend me support and be there with me in my darkest hours?
One day near the end of my pregnancy I felt horribly weak and ashamed, but most of all ALONE. Making my way over to my computer, puke bowl in hand, I punch in those frightening, familiar words. . . Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I stumbled over endless fact sheets of survey results, only to realize, still little is known about this deadly disease. “Symptoms include rapid weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration, severe nausea and vomiting. Many health professionals are not well educated and mistakenly misdiagnose as a psychological disorder.” Web sites offered theory upon theory but still the cause remained unknown.
Then finally I come across what I had been searching for all along, a long list of desperate messages pleading for any hope from women suffering from HG all across the globe. My eyes swell with tears as I realized, I was not the only one! It was like they reached inside me and pulled out my every emotion that wanted to escape and yell out to the world. I went on to find comforting responses from survivors filling those who felt as if they could not hold on, with words of hope and encouragement.
If this disease did not start in your head, it certainly ended up there. Extreme talks of suicide screamed from my computer screen of lost women with a disease that ripped at their very souls. The day after day of severe vomiting left them unemployed, an unfit mother, a terribly dependent wife and feeling as if they would never be the same.
In the end, Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a disease that will change a person and, I believe, give them an unexpected gift of strength. To me it was a blessing to visit a place so hopeless and dark and in the end know I could crawl out with my arms raised, not once but twice.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum taught me that I can overcome, I can reach deep down inside and HOLD ON till the pain stops and the sun rises again. Through the darkest hours, I crept on to help bring my sons into this world and they have brought me an overwhelming amount of joy every day since my eyes fell over their beautiful faces for the first time. This triumphant journey lives within me harbored at first with great angst and now grows more and more as a cherished badge carefully stitched within the blanket of my life.