My Weekend (or, Why I Hate Hospitals)

On Saturday, Tim had to work for a while. He took Alex and Chase with him so I was home with the three littles. Things weren't going too bad, but my back was a bit sore. I just figured it was because I spent Friday night in the very front row of the theater watching "Fireproof" (excellent movie, btw). As it turns out, it was something more...

By 1:30 I was really in pain. I couldn't get comfortable, and if anyone touched my belly it about sent me through the roof. I finally laid down on Chase's bed and hoped for the best. I dosed off and on, but if I moved at all the pain was excruciating. Finally, I called Joy (my midwife) to see if she had any ideas for me. Her advice? "Head for the ER." I knew that... but I was hoping against hope she'd have some miracle cure for me.

I called Steph and she came (after calling Mitch and telling him he needed to come home with the older kids) and took me to the hospital. When you are pregnant, the hospital policy is to send you to L&D. They want to make sure the baby is okay, and that you aren't in labor. At 32+ weeks I couldn't really pretend I WASN'T pregnant...

When I arrived in L&D they wanted me to put on a gown. I refused (politely) saying I would much rather keep my own clothes on. Anything they needed to do could be done easily enough whether I was wearing a gown or street clothes.

After monitoring the baby and making sure I wasn't having contractions, checking my cervix (dilated to 1cm), drawing some blood, and taking a urine sample, and left me alone. At this point, other than confirming that I was in pain, and the location of the pain, there was no attempt to diagnose or treat me.

The tests showed no real reason to suspect an infection but did suggest that I was somewhat dehydrated. I was presented with a cup of water at some point, but no pitcher to keep it filled. Steph filled it for me a couple times... Still, no attempt was made to evaluate my pain. It seemed that since I was not in labor, there was no problem! But let me tell you, I have never experienced prolonged pain like this!! After talking to the dr. (via phone) the nurse came to let me know I could go home and should just make sure to stay well hydrated.

WHAT?!!? I was really not comfortable with that! I was in an immense amount of pain (have I mentioned the pain??) and no one had made any attempt to evaluate that. You know the "...on a scale of 1 to 10"? I was a solid 6 - maybe 7 - when I was lying perfectly still. When I moved, I hit a solid 10, and it stayed there until I'd been still for at least a couple minutes, at which point it lessened once again to a 6 or 7. (Keep in mind here that I have delivered 3 babies with no pain meds.)

After another call to Joy, I asked Steph to do something for me that is completely out of her comfort zone... I asked her to speak up, and let them know that I was NOT in any shape to be sent home. She did -- and did a GREAT job, I might add.

The nurses returned and we asked that they call the doctor and have her evaluate me in person. About 30 minutes later, the dr. arrived. She chatted with me the same way the nurses had. She explained that the baby's heart rate was good, and she was reactive so they weren't concerned about her, and I was not contracting, so I wasn't in labor. At that point I mentioned that I sure felt like I was having contractions because I had regular intervals where my pain would increase and then it would back off again. I asked if perhaps they could put the contraction monitor back on me... and also asked them to take my temp since I really felt like I was getting a bit feverish.

[I’m really fuzzy about the order of things here, but at some point the nurses started to get really rude (about the time we requested the doctor be called in). The doctor also got rude (snotty) after I refused to accept her repeated claim that what I was experiencing was “general pregnancy aches and pains”.]

Although the nurses and doctor had agreed to take my temp and hook me back up to make sure I wasn’t having contractions, Steph had to step out in the hall and remind them after they all left the room. From that point on, we were BOTH treated poorly. As it turns out, I did have a temp… the nurse blamed it on the fact that I was still wearing my sweatshirt and made me take it off (another trigger for a solid 10). I felt pretty - well - cocky when they took my temp later (again at my request) since it’d increased another degree.

Since I see a midwife, and deliver at home, they have no prenatal records on me. That means, I get whatever doctor they assign. Never mind that we’ve determined I’m not in labor and the baby is fine. Never mind that I have a family practice doc that I love at another clinic. Finally, Steph and I decided that I needed to see either MY doctor or another doctor from St. Cloud Medical Group.

The call was made, and eventually, Dr. Danielson arrived. FINALLY, someone took the fact that I was really in pain seriously. I was able to rate my pain. Dr. D went through all the possibilities of what it could be, and eventually had me admitted.

I was given an IV bolus and then a constant drip for the entire night. An ultrasound was ordered to check (among other things) my kidneys and gall bladder to make sure there were no stones. I was given Tylenol for my pain.

Slowly, over the course of the night, I began to feel better. By morning I was still experiencing lingering discomfort, with minor amounts of pain when I moved, but was feeling much better. Dr. D came to check on me in the morning (after reviewing the labs from the blood draw they took at 6:45 am). He was still at a loss as to what had caused me so much pain, but felt that I was okay to go home (and this time I was comfortable with that as well).

Overall, what I took from the experience was this:
*I WILL NOT go to St. Cloud Hospital unless I’m dying and there is ABSOLUTELY NO ALTERNATIVE.
*I love my midwife, and am so glad to have made the decision to homebirth my babies where I and my family and my baby will be treated with love and respect.
*I am scared to death at the thought of ever needing to go to L&D at SCMC ever again.
*Dr. Danielson is great.
*Stick up for your rights! and don’t go alone -- take someone with you that will also stick up for you when you are in too much pain and crying too hard to stick up for yourself.


Jami said...

Yikes. Right about where you are right now, I was admitted to the hospital for dehydration with my first pregnancy. I had very similar symptoms as you, but I was having contractions for sure. I didn't have to have an IV drip, but I had to drink to big jugs of water before they sent me home.

I can't stand it when I'm treated like a dummy. Who knows better about our bodies than ourselves? Make sure you get some good rest!

Dawn said...

Oh. My. Word. So sorry you went through all that. And glad that all seems to be well at this point. If I ever have to go to the hospital w/o my hubby I'll call Steph!!! :)

Tandy and Jeff said...

So sorry to hear about your experience at the hospital! Yikes!

I linked to your blog from diaperswappers - I think we might have the same midwife! We're working with Joy Parker w/Central MN Midwifery outa St. Cloud (live in Brainerd). Due with our first on Feb 20th.

Kristin said...

The entire time I read this, I kept expecting you to say that they discovered that you had a kidney stone. Four weeks before I was due with baby #3 I awoke in excruciating pain. I didn't even want to be touched. My husband took me to the hospital, thinking that I was in labor and it certainly felt like it. When they found that I wasn't having contractions, they pretty much ignored the fact that I was in such terrible pain. When I was asked to give a urine sample that turned out to be dark red, they sent me for an ultrasound that showed I was passing a kidney stone. I wish I could say that was the last time I suffered through that!