Posts Filed Under Prematurity

Lessons from DVT – Call Your Doctor

posted by Momo Fali on May 30, 2014

I’ve thought about this post for a week. It’s one part health story, one part important lesson, and one part me bragging about being in touch with my body. I honestly don’t know where to start without sounding pompous. There’s a chance, though, that it could save someone’s life. So obviously, in addition to sounding somewhat arrogant, there will also be overly dramatic statements.

Fifteen years ago, I saved my daughter’s life. I was five months pregnant and wasn’t far enough along to be concerned with fetal movement, but when I noticed her kicking had decreased over a two-week period, I told my doctor. I stressed the change. I told her I felt like it wasn’t right. I told her there was a big difference in what I had felt to what I was feeling. She wasn’t worried, but scheduled an ultrasound. Four weeks after I first noticed a change, I had the ultrasound and my daughter was born via emergency c-section shortly after. The doctor told us that if we had waited just a week or two more, she would have been stillborn.

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If she wasn’t around, who would harass him?

Fast forward to three months ago. I started taking hormones to control post-surgical pain on my girly parts. Okay, I’ll say it. My uterus. One of the side effects of the medication is blood clots, but I discussed it with my doctor and because I don’t smoke, the risk was low. Two weeks ago, delightfully pain-free, I flew to Miami for work. The day after I arrived I developed severe calf pain. Did you know that flying can case blood clots? It can.

I chalked it up to my new shoes, took some Ibuprofen and dealt with the pain off and on for the next week. I felt the aching at odd times (sometimes when standing, sometimes when in bed) and that’s what made me call my doctor. I wasn’t doing anything to trigger it. I gave it a week, so I knew it wasn’t my shoes. There was no redness, no swelling, the pain wasn’t bad and went away with a couple of Ibuprofen, but it just felt odd to me. Something wasn’t right.

I ended up in the ER a couple of hours after seeing my doctor and started taking blood thinners for Deep Vein Thrombosis the next day. If you have the good fortune of not knowing how dangerous DVT can be, let me just tell you that it can kill you. The blood clot can break off and go to your lungs and you have virtually no chance at surviving.

Needless to say, I’m no longer taking those hormones. I am, however, taking a blood thinner for the next 90 days. I can’t do my beloved workouts; at least not at the level I was. I am limited to upper body strength training, nothing too strenuous and working my calf is forbidden. My uterine pain is back with a vengeance and I can’t have a hysterectomy until I’m off the blood thinners. Catch 22, anyone? Oh, and I CAN’T DRINK ALL SUMMER LONG. But, I’m alive and so very thankful.

Long story, long – KNOW your body. If something doesn’t feel right, get it checked out. Trust me, I know going to the doctor is inconvenient and there is a really good chance that it’s nothing, but there’s also a chance that it isn’t.

Don’t chalk it up to new shoes. Call your doctor. Your body will thank you for it.

Reality Check

posted by Momo Fali on January 16, 2014

Today was our annual reality check.

Before autism, eye surgeries, infections and hospitalizations; before kidney problems, hearing aids, choking and vomiting; before speech, occupational, physical and behavioral therapy. Before it all, there was his heart.

I was six months pregnant when he got his first echocardiogram. I waddled down the halls of our local Children’s Hospital, then laid upon a table while a doctor looked at the right ventricle of his heart. It couldn’t have been much bigger than a peanut. I was decidedly bigger than one.

When his rare heart condition worsened two months later, they took him from my belly and whisked him away to that same Children’s Hospital in an ambulance while I, again, laid upon a table. This time I was miles away and I didn’t get to see him until two days later when they let me leave the hospital for a few hours. It was Mother’s Day. It was fitting, but gut-wrenching.

They told us he would be sedated until he reached five pounds and then he would need open heart surgery. They were wrong. He came home three weeks later without that surgery. Almost 12 years later, though, it’s still looming over our heads.

So each year we trek back to those same halls and now it’s my boy who climbs onto the table. We are all stronger than we once were. He is 52 pounds of unstoppable energy. We are not. But, when we spy parents wearing “CARDIOLOGY” badges we smile, nod, and give each other mental fist bumps.

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He still needs open heart surgery at some point, but we’re waiting. Stalling, if you will. Hoping, praying, and prodding the doctors to improve their technology so they won’t have to cut his chest open, spread his ribs apart and cut into his heart with a knife.

He had a heart catheterization when he was 13 months old and it was one of the easier surgeries he’s had. This is what we hope for. This is why we’re glad he’s small and grows slowly, so that his heart can keep up and each year that passes we know the doctors get closer to fixing this in a less invasive way. Today I chanted, “We want a heart cath! We want a heart cath!” If only my cheerleading could be enough to make it happen.

For today, though, he is stable and that’s really all we can ask for. That, and one more year until we have to walk those halls again.

Just For Today

posted by Momo Fali on August 21, 2013

When I define myself I don’t ever say I’m a mommy-blogger. I’m a mom, but I’m also a wife, daughter, niece, cousin, employee and a whole lot of other things which don’t, individually, make me who I am or this blog what it is. I’m more of a hodge-podge blogger. Look at that! I just created a niche!

But, today this little girl started high school and I am feeling 100% mommy.

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First day of first grade.

You hear it all the time; enjoy it when they’re little, they grow up so fast, time flies, blink and they’re grown. I’m here to tell you that it’s all true. In four years – God willing – she’ll be off to college and I don’t how my heart will stand it.

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First day of high school. I won’t even comment about the socks because that’s how they wear them these days. Kids!

So just for today, go ahead and call me a mommy-blogger. Just for today, I only want to talk about my daughter and how wonderful, smart, and funny she is, and how amazing it has been to watch her grow from the 2 lb. 9 oz. preemie who fit in her father’s hand.

Just for today, you can call me whatever you want as long as I get to be her mommy a little while longer.

When my son was young, he was very sick, not only because of his congenital heart disease, allergies, and kidney disorder, but with near-constant, chronic, bacterial infections. A bacterial infection is nothing to mess around with, but when you have a heart condition, you need to be extra careful. We faced what seemed like a never-ending battle against these bugs in order to keep his ticker, well, ticking.

He had strep many times. One case was so severe, and antibiotic resistant, that it nearly killed him. Have you ever heard of a mastoid infection? I hadn’t, until my son got one. It’s a bacterial infection in the bone behind the ear, which is not to be confused with adenitis, which made him look like he had swallowed a golf ball. Oh, and there was that UTI that he got before he was even one week old.

More than anything, though, my boy suffered from sinus infections. From October to May, his little head was crammed with crud and mucus so thick that he could barely breathe. We filled prescription after prescription of antibiotics to keep the bacteria from traveling to his heart. He spent, roughly, two out of his first nine years on Penicillin.

During this same time, when we were pumping him full of medicine, we tried natural remedies too. We even had the air quality tested in our house to see if there was mold hiding somewhere. I knew that all of the antibiotics were keeping him alive, but I also knew that they were killing the good bacteria right along with the bad, and I worried that someday they simply wouldn’t work anymore.

Then, on television one day I saw someone talking about neti pots. Something told me that this was what would help him. I had a talk with his pediatrician and she thought it was worth a try, though she suggested a sinus flush instead of a neti pot, something that would force the water up instead of just letting gravity have its way with his nasal passage.

I bought purified water and a sinus rinse kit, positioned my kid over the kitchen sink, and promptly made him vomit. We tried again the next day, and the next, and the day after that, until my son became a nasal irrigation pro! Now he can even tell me which side needs to “go first” in order to clear his sinuses quicker.

I would love to say that he hasn’t had to take any antibiotics since we started this all-natural solution, but I can say that he’s gone from needing medication about three months out of the year, to about two weeks. He rarely has sinus infections anymore, when he used to live with them perpetually.

He’s had three sets of tubes to help with ear infections, he had his tonsils removed to cut down on strep, and I’m happy to say that sinus infections are, mostly, a thing of the past. I’m glad I made him stick with it and keep trying. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what we parents are supposed to do.

This post is part of BlogHer’s My ‘I’m a Mom’ Moment editorial series, made possible by Seventh Generation.