Since I was discharged from hospital, I have wondered often about my medical notes.
I wondered what they contained.
I wished that I had read them properly at the time.
In reality I was too ill.
When I first started to write this blog back in January, I started to – tentatively – write about my HELLP syndrome story.
I had no idea that writing about what happened would lead me to a happier place. Who would have thought sitting down and writing about what happened, would help me to such a huge extent?
I don’t think I would have found the strength to request my notes from the hospital, had I not started this blog.
I requested my medical notes a few months ago. A few weeks later, I received them through the post. I was surprised that they were sent on a CD. For some reason I was expecting photocopies.
Since I received them, I have slowly worked my way through the pages.
It may seem like an easy thing, but to be honest reading through them took me right back there. Like I was reliving it all again. It was both hard-going and cathartic.
To be honest there was nothing startling there.
Nothing hugely shocking.
That said, it was not a complete waste of time. I did read a few things that made me think.
I was so sure that I had mentioned my symptoms to my midwife at the appointments which led up to giving birth to the boys.
However over the years, I started to doubt myself.
My medical notes, however, confirmed this. Turns out I am not going to mad after all.
A month before I was admitted to hospital, I had a lot of symptoms which could have pointed to pre-eclampsia and/or HELLP Syndrome. It is clear on my notes that I suffered from; swelling, protein in urine, pain at the top of my bump, rising blood pressure, black spots and visual problems.
As well as this, I had a rash all over my bump. The midwife said that it was most likely stretching.
At the end of listing all these symptoms, the midwife finishes her comments with: “mother is generally well”.
I was told that I developed HELLP syndrome after I gave birth to the boys.
I was told this at my follow up appointment after I was discharged from hospital. At this appointment the hospital could not find my medical notes. However, the doctor said they were ‘pretty sure’ that this was the case. I have doubted this but had nothing to prove otherwise.
From looking at my blood tests, my platelets dropped 24-hours before I gave birth to the boys. Perhaps indicating that I had HELLP syndrome a little earlier.
As far as timescales go, I was intrigued to find out when they diagnosed me. I was never clear on this. The medical notes spell this out quite clearly:
Monday: Admitted to hospital
Tuesday evening: My waters broke
Thursday morning: The boys were born
Friday afternoon: HELLP syndrome was diagnosed
Sunday morning: We were advised I had HELLP Syndrome
I have always got the distinct impression that the doctors were baffled by my symptoms. No one seemed to know what was going on in those first 24-hours. My notes confirmed this. Throughout my notes in those first 24-hours, I noted many comments about requesting further blood tests and calling the doctor / specialist for further advice.
We didn’t know this but apparently, Bob L had a gritty placenta. We were told that both placentas were intact and healthy.
I didn’t know what this meant. So I turned to Dr Google. Where I found that this is a sign that the placenta was not working properly. I also read that this tends to go hand in hand with pre-eclampsia. It also could cause a baby to stop growing in the womb. Which makes sense as he was tiny considering I gave birth at 37 weeks.
It is not going to be particularly helpful to dwell on this, but I did find it interesting.
I have often wondered why he was so small. We have also often wondered if his hip development problems were caused by my illness. I am now sure that this was no coincidence.
I have one more thing that I noticed, doctors have terrible handwriting!!!! I really struggled to read some of the comments, not so much from the midwives but the doctor and in particular the specialist!
So has this helped me?
Yes I think it has, despite it being hard to read.
I really feel like I can start to draw a line under my experience now.
So what is next?
Although my story on the blog has finished, I am determined to continue to raise awareness of pre-eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome.
Please read my blog post next weekend, where I will be asking for anyone who has suffered pre-eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome to share their story on my blog.
Lastly, I want to thanks those who have continued to read about my HELLP journey. I have appreciated the kind words and support from readers.
As for the weekend slot on my blog, as I have finished my HELLP story I now plan to try and recall what it was like in those hazy days of new parenting. I will be trying to talk about what it was like with twin babies, the good, the bad and the ugly!
Just joining me for the first time? Read the previous posts on HELLP Syndrome here.