This memory makes me cringe. This was one of the outward signs that my heart was not functioning during my pregnancy. There were many other signs, starting at around 3-4 months into my pregnancy, but, this was a big one. Granted, it was hot, it was August, and I was 9 months pregnant...but, something just felt very off about how swollen I got all of a sudden. And, nothing relieved the swelling. No amount of ice or elevation. From this day forward, I had a permanent tingling sensation in my toes, and my feet hurt worse than I had ever felt.
I remember calling the on call nurse line this night and telling them how incredibly swollen my feet were, and how suddenly the swelling came on, and how I was having difficulty breathing. Of course they told me if I felt like I was in danger, to come in, but assured me that it was very normal. I almost felt dumb calling, but, knew deep down, as I had for the previous few months, that something was seriously wrong.
A lot of people ask what symptoms I had leading up to my week on the cardio floor in heart failure, and in hindsight, there were several signs that are so obvious now, but, were brushed aside as "normal pregnancy complications." What I have learned more than anything is that we know our bodies better than doctors, and when something seems off, and it's one of those feelings you just can't shake...don't be afraid to advocate. Don't be afraid of getting a second opinion. Or a third. If you really feel something is wrong, demand tests. Don't be afraid to ask for more than a generic explanation. Go with your gut. I had 2 experiences prior to winding up on the cardio floor, where heart complications were mentioned as possible reasons for my symptoms, but, both time they were quickly brushed aside because I was "too young" and both times my symptoms were chalked up to anxiety...even though I constantly told my doctors that I knew what anxiety felt like, and this was so much different than any type of anxiety I'd ever felt. blushing style garments for bridesmaid in pastel pink
A 23 year old mother died last month from peri-partum cardiomyopathy, because her doctors also believed her symptoms were related to mental issues, and not a physical problem. A young mother should NEVER die, because medical professionals refuse to listen to a patient when they repeatedly say something is off and something is not right. This should NEVER happen.
I know swelling is normal in pregnancy. I know Peripartum cardiomyopathy is rare. But, I think more awareness needs to be brought to this condition, and pregnant women need to be educated that this COULD happen, and be aware and when they feel that something is wrong, request a simple blood test. There are several symptoms that can be normal in pregnancy...but, when combined, and no relief is brought, could indicate heart failure. If it could keep any more mothers from dying, and leaving their young children behind, that blood test would be worth every penny.