Friday, September 25, 2009

One Year Later PSA

First and foremost, I'm glad I'm not dead.

Seriously. I'm really, really glad I'm not dead. That would have sucked. And, thanks to the fact that I recognized warning symptoms and had some emergency surgery one year ago today, I get to be alive to appreciate being alive. I'm a big fan.

So in honor of my not-dying anniversary, I'm doing a PSA about ectopic pregnancy. Even if you never plan on having children, these are important symptoms to know because you could very well save the life of someone you love. Or your own. (Unless you are a guy, in which case your risk of ectopic pregnancy = non-existent. Still, you like women, right?)

An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy in which a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus. This is a bad thing. Usually the egg implants in the fallopian tube; occasionally it implants other places. 2% of all pregnancies are ectopic. That's 1 in 50. Certain factors increase your risks--tubal scarring, abdominal surgery, endometriosis, fertility treatments, IUDs--but it can happen to anyone.

An even scarier statistic than the one-in-fifty? Ectopic pregnancies are the number one cause of pregnancy-related death. Part of the problem is that many women with ectopic pregnancies don't even know they're pregnant. Because your body doesn't produce as many hormones, you might continue having periods like normal, ignore the sudden pain, go to bed because you're feeling tired and dizzy, and never wake up.

I know that sounds terrible and scary. It is. It happens. So even if you don't think you're pregnant, or if you think you are just having a standard miscarriage (which was what I thought), always, ALWAYS call the doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
  • Sharp pain on one side of your lower abdomen. When you press down on it, it will be a stabbing pain that you will feel reflected in the other side, but one side will be more tender. Once your tube actually bursts the pain will lessen considerably--DO NOT IGNORE THAT. All it means is that you are now bleeding internally.
  • Feeling dizzy and lightheaded when you aren't lying down. This would be because of the internal bleeding. Also, difficulty and discomfort breathing.
  • And finally, the key symptom: when you lie down, you have a sharp, stabbing pain in your shoulder. This is called referred pain, and is caused by the blood filling up your abdomen and pushing on your lungs. This is also a symptom of a burst appendix, in case you were interested. If you EVER have abdominal pain that is reflected in your shoulder when you lie down, go to the hospital immediately. And have someone else drive you.
Like I said, you may not think you are pregnant, but if there is any chance whatsoever you could be and you have these symptoms, have someone drive you to the hospital immediately or call 911. If I had ignored my symptoms and let Hot Stuff go to work that day, I probably would have fallen asleep on the couch and never woken up again. I was in surgery within two or three hours of the pain starting, and at that point I had lost so much blood I nearly needed a transfusion.

But, because I am obsessive and had researched every pregnancy-related topic under the sun, I knew something was wrong. And I'm not dead. And that's a good thing.

Here's hoping you never have to recognize the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. But now you can, and that's the important thing.

Happy Being Alive Day!

42 comments:

Jenna said...

We're glad you're not dead, too! Happy Being Alive Day!

Obviously I'm not planning on getting pregnant for a long time (if ever), but thanks for this all the same. Good information to have. :)

Tyler and Sunni said...

I'm glad your not dead either. I love life and all of it's little surprises... well most of them.

Natalie Whipple said...

Gosh, I remember that day, mostly because you disappeared online and didn't get on for days. I was so worried, since we talked so much. (I'm kinda tearing up just thinking about it again.)

Thanks for sharing such important information. It's so important to be aware of symptoms like that.

I am so, so glad you're alive!

Anthony said...

Thank you for your post and I am sorry for your loss.

Corey Schwartz said...

OMG, I'm feeling dizzy just reading about it. How awful. 1 in 50? Wow! I can't even believe that statistic.

Mireyah Wolfe said...

YAY for not being dead. Like you said, that would really suck. =(

That's some great information to have, especially since I know several pregnant and wanting-to-get-pregnant people...thanks for the info!! :)

kristycolley said...

I know you talk about it fairly lightly, but I know it was a big deal as it should be. And I really appreciate knowing this! I've never had anyone cover those with me, but I'm glad I know this now.
Happy One Year You're Alive Anniversary!

Mariah Irvin said...

Hooray for being alive! It's a pretty good day, in my opinion.

Renee Collins said...

Fellow ectopic pregnancy survivor here. And I agree with you, Kiersten, it's very important to know the signs and listen to your body.

I woke up one morning, after tossing and turning all night because of pain on one side. Almost immediately, I knew something was wrong.

And the crazy thing is, I wasn't even trying to get pregnant. I had an IUD in. Apparently, an IUD can increase the chance of an ectopic pregnancy. At any rate, luckily I knew the signs and drove myself immediately to the ER. That was one scary day.

So yes, definitely, hurray for being alive!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Having survived cancer, I am right there with you. It is good to be alive! It's good to remind ourselves,too, so thanks.

Bevie said...

I am so glad you're not dead. You are a wonderful woman with a beautiful sense of family and humor.

And I'm glad you got a good agent who helped get you published.

You are a very sweet person.

Marybeth Poppins said...

The world would be dull without you! Glad you are still around :)

lotusgirl said...

Happy being alive day to you too! Thanks for sharing this. You may have just saved someone's life. Wow! You provide humor and life saving too. I'm so glad I follow your blog.

Lisa said...

Wow. Scary. Scary. Scary.

Thanks God you listened to your instincts!

Happy Being Alive Day! Cheers!

Marsha Sigman said...

What a horrible experience! I am so glad that you were informed enough not to ignore the symptoms. Thanks for the info, who knew about that referred pain thing? Wierd.

Valerie Geary said...

Thank you for sharing this!! Imporant stuff for all women to know!

candicekennington said...

I like that, "Happy Being Alive Day!" It could apply to everyday. That information is good to know since it sounds like you could easily imagine that whatever was wrong had passed if you didn't know what to look for.

writtenwyrdd said...

First, let me say that I'm glad you knew those warning signs and are alive, too!

Second, having just had major laproscopic surgery, I can also tell you that, after you have been filled up with air for laproscopic surgery, you will also feel that referred pain in your shoulder due to the pressure of the gas against your lungs. It's not generally as bad as when you have a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, though!

EmmaTheJane said...

I had NO idea. That is very helpful info to have tucked into my brain. I'm glad you were smart enough to know and that your guardian angel was working full force.

heidikins said...

This gave me goosebumps...I am so glad you're ALIVE!

I feel like a John Travolta song is in order, with the disco hang jabs.

"Stayin' Alive, Stayin' Alive! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Staaaaayin' Aliiiiiiiiii-iiiiiiii-iiiiiiiive..."

Love you girl,
xox

fairyhedgehog said...

Happy Being Alive Day, Kiersten! I'm one of the many who are glad that you're alive.

Jessie Oliveros said...

I'm glad that Hot Stuff didn't go to work that day, either. But, look, Renee was naughty and drove herself to the hospital when she had her ectopic pregnancy. Thanks for sharing the information with everyone.(And it really got so bad you were having shoulder pain? That's scary.)

Nick said...

Scary story, and glad you did your research!

Tara said...

Living is a wonderful thing. Thanks for stepping up and sharing your story. I hope it helps someone (all though I don't wish this on anyone). Happy being alive day--go ahead and have a Dr Pepper, or maybe even a Cherry Coke. :]

Lily said...

I am so thankful you lived. I would have never know you. I'm glad you realized something was wrong.

That one-in-fifty statistic scares me! It's incredible that we don't hear more about this.

Thanks for doing a great public service.

I am sorry for what you had to experience in order to teach us.

Stephanie Perkins said...

Happy Anniversary, darling. This post scares the crap out of me. I am so thankful that you knew to get help immediately, and I hope this post teaches someone, too.

I love you.

sraasch said...

Yay for being alive!!

Thanks for this info -- definitely a PSA that needs to get out to more women!

storyqueen said...

We are all so glad you lived, sweetie.

And now, you have to come over to my blog where I have take credit for your success.

Little did you know......

Shelley

Wendy said...

Thank goodness you knew what to look for! I'm a fellow survivor too. I was on the pill at the time and had no intention of getting pregnant, but I did.

I'm very glad you made it too!

Ruth said...

Wow, what a scary post. Thanks for sharing the information, though! I'm neither pregnant nor trying to be, but one day I hope to be - and will remind myself of this! Very scary stuff.

(Also: if you pregnant while using an IUD, you're likelier to have an ectopic pregnancy? I guess that makes sense. Is the same true for if you're on the pill? Would the pregnancy be more likely to be ectopic? Scary stuff....)

Ruth said...

Also, Happy Being Alive Day! It is a very scary thought to think you could have just gone to sleep and never woken up.

Larissa said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story and this important information!

Happy Being Alive Day to you!!!

myrna said...

Happy Being Alive Day!

The same thing happened to my sis, and I'm glad she's alive too!

Thanks for sharing this so that we can be more aware.

Ebony McKenna. said...

Thank you very much.
Happy Being Alive day to you!

Carrie Harris said...

Happy Being Alive Day! I know it's been tough, but you continue to awe me with your grace and light heart.

Wow. That was deep. Still true, of course, but...

Uh...

I like zombies!

Whirlochre said...

I remember this, and as I sit commenting here, I see Carrie's comment about your grace and light heart.

So, good on you, first, for not dying.

And again, for bouncing back like a rubber phoenix to wow the guys at Harperteen.

Me? No grace or heart for this kind of stuff at all.

Nadine said...

Wow, good to know!! Scary stuff!!

Happy One Year!! And what a year it has been!!

lora96 said...

I thank God that you were "obsessive" and knew the warning signs. You are still here for many reasons...not only your family, but for the readers who will find joy in your writing and the women who will read this post and file away the symptoms in their minds, possibly saving a life.

Thank you so much for your bravery and for sharing this information, Kiersten. We appreciate you and celebrate your survival.

Love,
Lora
litdiva.blogspot.com

Liyana said...

I'm glad you're still here. *hugs*

Christina Farley said...

Wow. So glad you are still with us! Good post and you wrote it with such a fun nature considering the seriousness of it all.

Pipsylou said...

Kiersten -
This happened to me 10 days ago. The doctors tell me that if I had waited 30 minutes more I would be DEAD. Deader than a door nail. I am sitting here, wondering how I could NOT have known something was wrong. I had a period about a week after my period was due, so thought it was just a miscarriage.

I blame myself for not knowing more, for not REALIZING what that pain was, for losing the tube...

So many emotions, but just finding your site has helped SO much. Off to read the comments now...I'm going to check your archives and see how you felt 10 days after...I still feel like I'm in a haze!

A "lucky-to-be-alive" haze! :)

Rachel

Kiersten White said...

Thank you everyone for your comments--I'm glad you're all alive, too : )

And Rachel, that's so scary! I'm always amazed that women don't know about this since it is such a relatively common thing. Please don't blame yourself. Even if you had realized something was wrong, it would have been too late to save your tube no matter what. You're going to feel a lot of things, but please don't let guilt be one of them. And now you know what to look for, and can let other women know, too.