The Hematologist Visit

Yesterday was my appointment with the hematologist.

It started of rather badly.

When they called me back, I was expecting to be weighed and have my blood pressure checked.  I was not expecting to do this in the room where they were doing blood draws.

I walked in, saw the chair with the little drawers with all the needles and blood-draw-related supplies and jumped back.  I’m not sure why it caught me by surprise.  I mean, it’s a hematology office after all, right?  Blood is what they do.  But it did.  I guess I just didn’t expect it to be right there.

I weighed.  Managed to sit down.  And then I started crying.  I told the nurse that I have issues with needles, and she was super nice about it.  She gave me some tissues and promised it would be quick and that she’s really good and it wouldn’t hurt.  She didn’t lie.  She was excellent.  It was just a tiny finger prick.  No big deal.

Yet, still I had to sit there shaking and crying and trying to pull myself back together.  It was so embarrassing.  All that for a little finger prick.  Honestly, it wasn’t the finger prick that bothered me.  It was the chair and seeing the supplies.

Afterwards, I went to the restroom and washed my face and tried to pull myself together.

The doctor came in right away.  They had a lab there in the office, so my results came back immediately.

She had great news:  My blood looks just like it should look for any pregnant woman at 28 weeks.  She didn’t see anything abnormal.  The iron was a little low, but not low enough to class me as anemic.  It was 11.9, up from 10.6 last Wednesday.  She said my platelets were well within normal range.

She did agree that my white blood cells were a little high, but they looked normal.  I guess there are different kinds of white blood cells and they mix of mine was what she would expect to see.  She said there is some indication that there might be an infection within my body, but there are other things that can cause high white blood cells, including stress.  While this seems a pretty likely factor in my case, my midwife has already agreed to test me for H. pylori next time I come in, and the hematologist suggested checking my urine for an infection in my bladder.

She said that I should definitely keep taking the Floradix iron supplement, and that it would be something to continue throughout pregnancy and until I’m done breastfeeding, but she said she wouldn’t worry.

She also looked at my blood under a microscope and that it looked good there, too.  She even went through my med list to see if there was anything I was on or that I had been on that could have caused issues with my blood.  Nope.

She was pleased that my midwife had taken the initiative to go ahead and refer me.  She said that it’s certainly better to play it safe and have a look at things rather than closing your eyes and hoping it will all work out.  One more point in my midwives’ favor.  I like them more and more every day.

I was really happy that my iron levels had already gone up in the last few days.  This really gives me hope and makes me feel less victimized by my own body.

Update: My midwife called me back last night and wants me to go ahead and come in early to find out what’s going on with the white blood cell count.  They had gone up since the initial blood draw on 7/6 and she wants to track it down.  I had an appointment originally scheduled for 7/21, but she wants to see me tomorrow.  She’ll test for H. pylori, a vaginal infection, and a UTI.  If there’s something that she can do to make me more comfortable, she wants to do it quickly.  I love her!

How I survived the Gestational Diabetes Test

It certainly wasn’t much fun, but I did manage to survive yesterday’s gestational diabetes test.

There were a couple of things that had me feeling incredibly anxious.  The needle stick is kind of an obvious stressor considering my anxiety from all the IVs I had to endure, but the test itself had me afraid for a couple of reasons.

First of all, I didn’t want to fast.  Not eating right now is really, really bad.  The reality of what I’m dealing with means that skipping a meal could land me on the couch for a couple of days.  I’m not okay with that.  Then there’s the sugar drink itself.  It’s bad.  It’s like flat orange Fanta.  It’s tough for a lot of non-HGers to choke down.  Then there’s the sugar rush, followed by the inevitable sugar crash after drinking something like that glucola.  All-in-all, not fun at all.

The midwives were kind enough to let me off the hook for fasting.  There was a risk that this would give a false positive on the test, but I’m just so afraid of doing any fasting that it was worth the risk.  So I started yesterday morning off like I do every morning: with a bagel and cream cheese at 6 AM.

At 7:50 AM, I started drinking the glucola.  I managed to finish it up by 8:10 AM, so the timing was perfect for my appointment.  We would do the blood draw at 8:50 AM.  Really, though, I was hoping I could just keep the glucola in that long.  I told myself, “You can’t throw it up until after the blood draw, but after the blood draw, if you need to get rid of you you can.”  HG is not a mind-over-matter thing, but somehow giving myself “permission” to throw up later helped me to deal with the wave of glucola induced nausea.

We started our appointment like we always do.  I peed in the cup and checked my levels.  This time, though, the dip stick did not give me happy numbers.  I was spilling protein and sugar in my urine.  Not a great sign.  This meant that my pancreas wasn’t processing the sugar the way it needed to, and my kidneys were having to pick up the slack.  No wonder I felt like hell.

Then came the weigh.  166 lbs.  I checked it a couple of times to make sure it was right.  The midwife said this was quite a major weight gain for 4 weeks, and it was the largest she’d ever seen.  Aaaaand… I lost it.

I just broke down and cried.  Spilling glucose in my urine, big weight gain… This all points to gestational diabetes.  This is the last thing I need right now.  I already have food issues from the hyperemesis gravidarum.  Having to follow an even more special diet is just too much to handle.

At any rate, feeling defeated and huge (although my midwife assured me that huge is one thing I’m NOT), we went in for the measurements and the blood draw.

This went surprisingly well.  I used my Hypnobabies finger drop technique and I closed my eyes and just breathed.  I stayed very relaxed.  She hit the vein immediately with no issues at all.  And it was done.  No pain!

This was a really important moment for me.  It was almost like a test.  I got the chance to test myself and see how I could handle a needle stick, and I was pleased that I managed to do so in such a relaxed fashion.  It was also a test for her.  How easily could she hit my vein?  Apparently, it was effortless!  She did a fantastic job.  Sure, it wasn’t comfortable, but there was no painful digging or rolling or veins blowing or any of that.  The lack of drama surrounding the whole thing went a long way toward helping me feel more confident for the future.

Really, though, with the urine thing and the weight gain, I’ve been walking around wanting to cry for the last 24 hours.  Also, we’re having a heat wave and we don’t have AC, so my feet are swollen.

But in order to help me refocus myself, here are the positives that came out of the appointment:

  • I’m measuring right where I should be for 28 weeks.  So the next person that tells me I’m huge really and truly will get smacked.
  • The baby’s heartbeat is great.  We heard it beating along as she kicked and rolled, and then it slowed down as she relaxed.
  • I did great with the needle.
  • My midwife did great with the needle.
  • I got to meet the third midwife in the group.
  • Mr. Grasshopper got to meet the second and third midwives.
  • I did not throw up!

So there were positives to balance out the negatives, so that helps, I guess.  We should know in the next day or so what my diabetes test results are, so for now I can enjoy blissful ignorance.

I also got some general pregnancy tips that I thought I’d pass along:

  • The aches, pains, and that horrible charlie horse from Friday night that still hurts?  It’s my body telling me it needs more calcium.  She suggested adding in a supplement to make sure I’m getting 1200-2000 mg per day.  She also said this would help me sleep better at night.
  • That washed out feeling I’ve been having where the stars appear at the edge of my vision and I feel like fainting? Iron.  Apparently there is an iron supplement called Floradix that is supposed to be incredibly gentle.  I’ll be picking some of that up I guess.

Both of these issues are due to changes in my blood volume which deplete my body’s stores of iron and calcium.  Apparently, beginning at 28 weeks, your body doubles its blood volume.  This happens over the next 4 weeks.  Shoring up those calcium and iron levels can help ease some of the big pregnancy discomforts.  And I’m all for that!

So please wish me luck.  I’ll update here once I hear back on the diabetes testing.  Hopefully this will be one pregnancy issue that I won’t have to do any research on!