Hyperemesis Gravidarum catch-up: Hospitals, PICC lines, IVs, and other fun


A lot has happened in my world of hyperemesis gravidarum.  I’ll try to break it down into a timeline.

Friday Feb 18th – I had a really, really bad day.  This was after they had set me up with the zofran pump and home IV hydration the night before.  By the afternoon I was in terrible shape and my Alere home health nurse instructed me to go in to the hospital immediately.  I did and initially they sent my up to labor and delivery.  The nurses there tried to get an IV in me because my one from before had blown but they couldn’t do it.  They kept sticking me again and again.  I started halucinating I think.  I kept thinking I could hear the Grasshopper crying but I couldn’t get up to help her.  There were a lot of nurses in there.  A couple of them were holding me down I think and trying to talk to me because I kept panicking.  The regular nurses tried to get the IV in.  The NICU nurse tried.  Finally they got an anesthesiologist in and he got a line in and they started running fluids.  Then they sent me back to the ER.  I was there until midnight I think. They gave me a bunch of stuff. Lots of shots. Then they moved me to the sick ward.

My night nurse was so mean. She would come take my vitals and put the blood pressure cuff so tight that it made me cry. She kept saying my bp was low and doing it again and again. It was so tight that the old iv sticks started bleeding. She also tried to check my BP on my left arm where the IV was which is a huge no-no.  My doctor helped me figure out who she was and gave me her name.  I will be writing a letter.

I was there through the weekend.  Saturday they gave me potassium in my IV which really burned.  Then more fluids.

Sunday Feb 20th –  I was doing better and eating crackers, so they sent me home.  They were kind enough to get a new line in so I could go home and hook up to my IVs at home.  Unfortunately, that line clotted off before I could get the fluids going.  My mom arrived right around that time, so she dropped her suitcases off at the front door, hopped in the car, and drove me back to the ER while my husband went to go pick up the Grasshopper from daycare.

I was really scared when they came to put the new line in.  I had been stuck so many times on Friday that it just terrified me.  I just looked at a rivet on my mom’s shoe and tried to breathe.  I was so scared I was shaking.  But the nurse who came to do it was phenomenal.  Trauma Nurse Andy.  Bless him.  Boom.  One stick and he nailed it.  No digging, no hunting, no nothing.  Just one stick.  Bless you Trauma Nurse Andy.  You are my hero.

The line lasted until Tuesday before it blew out.  Again.

Tuesday Feb 22nd – I was finally able to talk to my doctor and tell her what was going on.  She had been out of town.  She told me to go in straight away for a PICC line.  We went to a different hospital on her recommendation, and I’m glad we did.  The staff there was excellent.  She set me up to have the radiologist place the PICC.  They were all very nice, but the radiologist got a little nervous about doing too many x-rays on me.  He was concerned about the radiation and the baby.  So I wound up with a midline instead.  It was lovely.  It was purple.  It was a double-lumen, meaning there were two sites to which I could connect both my zofran pump and my fluids.  For a brief and shining moment it meant no more pokes.

Thursday Feb 24th – After taking a shower (and keeping the PICC dressing totally dry!  I swear!), I noticed that the dressing was starting to look… not right.  It looked brownish and really saturated, not to mention the deep ache I was feeling in my wrist, finger, and elbow joints.  I called Alere to see what to do and they said they’d have to call me back.  I waited.  And waited.  An hour or so later I realized that my shirt was soaked with fluid running out from under my PICC dressing.   I called again.  They told me to get to the ER immediately.  When Mom and I got there, I told them I thought my PICC was infected.  That got me back quickly and a PICC nurse came to see me.  When she tried to flush the line, the pain was unbelievable and I started crying again.  She said that the PICC, which was really a midline, had blown out of the vein.  No infection, but no functioning line.  She said the fluid running out was the fluid from my IV bags.  She pointed out how swollen my arm was compared to the other one, something we hadn’t noticed before.  She said she could try to put another one in for me at bedside.  “Okay,” I said, “Do what you gotta do.”

It was harrowing.  She tried and tried to get it in, but she just couldn’t make the turn at my shoulder.  When she flushed it, the joint ached indicating that it was not in a vein.  She pulled it, and for the first time in a while I wasn’t attached to anything.  I went home and got the zofran pump going on a subcutaneous site in my leg again.

Friday Feb 25th – I went in to see my doctor at 1:00.  She took one look at my arms and said, “No more IVs.  No more PICC.”  We are at the point where the risks of me being stuck again outweigh other risks.  The good news is, after a lot of really hard work on my mom’s part, I had been able to take in fluids in the form of ice chips and frozen cranberry juice.  I had also been able to eat in a minimal way.  We had reached the wait and see point.  She wanted to see how I did with the Mom treatment through the weekend.  She said that if I got dehydrated again to go straight in.  Don’t let anyone but an anesthesiologist try to put in an IV.  And the IV would be only temporary until they could get a central line placed.  Scary stuff.  A relief though because I’m at the point where I see the little pink IV needle and I start to panic.  But the good news was, I felt well enough for my husband to take the Grasshopper, Mom, and me out to dinner for my birthday.  I ate part of a baked potato and salad.  I call that a huge win.

This weekend we worked hard.  Mom worked hard.  We just tried our best to get as much fluids in as possible.  Food was a bonus.  Same on Monday.  Yesterday was not a very good day, but Mom and I think it was because we didn’t get me eating immediately.  Today was a much better day.  I had another appointment with my doctor who was thrilled at my progress.  She said to just keep doing what we are doing.

At this point, the only thing that will fix this is time.

And on a final note:  Thank God for my mother.  If she was not here, I would be in the hospital right now with that central line.

17 thoughts on “Hyperemesis Gravidarum catch-up: Hospitals, PICC lines, IVs, and other fun

  1. I have been quietly following your journey. I don’t have personal experience with HG, but I want to let you know that I am praying for you and your babe. It is amazing to me the sacrifices you are making to bring another child into the world. You are a warrior in the truest form. Blessings to you and your family.


  2. We have both been thinking about you. I’m glad for the update, REALLY angry about Mean Nurse, and beyond thankful that your mom is there.


  3. As someone with needle phobia, I can tell you to take your developing fears VERY seriously. A needle phobia can be life-threatening. Be very insistent that they use someone who is fast, efficient, and accurate for all pokes from now on, and that you do not have nurses that do not use compassion when you’re starting to freak out. Anxiety meds might help, as well, if there are some you can safely take, but I learned the hard way yesterday that anxiety meds do not prevent the phobia from rearing its ugly head. Your reaction will be diminished, though (I didn’t hyperventilate, for example, and had less fight/flight, but still cried and tried to get away, even after taking valium), which will help.

    If all else fails, print out the wikipedia article on needle phobia and let them know that you’ve got an associative trypanophobia. Mishandling it at this point can make the phobia more severe, or permanent.

    Lots and lots of hugs!


  4. Praying for you, friend! And so glad that things look like they are at least stabilizing with your sweet mama to help you. I’m so glad you’re in good hands between her and your doc. Lots of hugs!


  5. I am glad you felt well enough to post! I have been thinking of you often!! And you’re right…nothing is better than Mom! Sending you good vibes from Scotland! 🙂


  6. Yes you have been through a lot! I cringed in pain when you talked about your IV experience….I’ve been there as far as getting poked and dug around in attempt to get a vein and also having a blown IV. I remember the nurse flushing out my IV once and I screamed in pain! I am soooo sorry you had to go through that.

    I am thrilled you are making progress without an IV. Praise God for your mom!
    Are you not throwing up too much? You didn’t mention that you were. That’s wonderful if you can keep most things down. That was the key to staying hydrated in my last pregnancy….. the diclectin kept the throwing up to a minimum.

    Hang in there and I am praying for you. You are getting there…. 1/4 of the way done :)!


  7. I don’t want to sound like a jerk here, but before you whip out the needle phobia thing remember that some medical professionals already think HG is in our heads. Maybe don’t set yourself up for that leap if you think there’s at all a chance. You don’t need “attitudes” on top of everything else if it can be avoided.

    Sorry you’re going through hell. That’s HG in a nutshell.

    Pats on the back for protecting your left arm. A nurse once literally assaulted me for protecting my left arm (the one with the PICC in it). So be it. My PICC was preserved, and that’s the bottom line. Injustice, suckiness, suffering. Bleah. HG in a nutshell. But…


    Hang in there. You’re doing great!
    (And word to your awesome mother!)


  8. I hate that you are going through this, but glad to see you are feeling better. I’m not a medical expert, but I just though the central lines were for in patient and emergency settings. I’m glad you aren’t needing any of that anyay. But I can’t figure out why they wouldn’t try for the picc again, because the radition threat is minimal I would think


  9. Island, I agree that the radiation threat is minimal, and I got that from a medical expert (Dr. Wall). Central lines can go home with you. I had the air sucked out of my TPN bags and threw them in a backpack with my CAD pump. This made it MUCH easier to get to the toilet to puke. I had carpet in my bedroom, and dragging a pole to the bathroom was miserable. A pole that falls over and pulls a line is NOT acceptable. Sometimes (good) lightning strikes and we get decent health care professionals who will actually help us.


  10. So why central vs picc? I had my tooth pulled and had lots of x rays druing 2nd pregnancy. The benefit definetly out weighs any risk.
    I like this backpack idea.
    Knocked up is in good hands with her primary, its just you see so many people during the ordeal, you do run across some meanies.


  11. Hang in there. Deep down inside you there is an inner strength and when you feel it has run out, know that there are many others sending you the strength to make it through another day.


  12. Central is PICC. Or are you referring to placement? If placement, definitely peripheral central. Not central central. But I was headed that way at one point and would have done what I had to do. I would not fear it. I know worse things.


  13. I am so glad your sweet mom is there with you! I know that the two of you together will be able to figure out what works best for you and then you just need to take one step at a time. Jamie and I have you all in our thoughts and prayers. We will keep up!


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