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!