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Entry Four, August 13, 1997

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A Life Threatening Illness

My second round of fertility drugs appeared to be met with another failure. I was bitterly disappointed. The doctor did not recommend a pregnancy test, since my long, heavy period seemed to indicate otherwise. I was quite depressed after the second round, possibly due to the hormonal craziness involved in the process. To make things worse, I started feeling ill. I was nauseated, dizzy, and having terrible migraines. One of the migraines would not let up, and I became dehydrated. I received an injection to stop the migraine.

My world suddenly turned upside down! I had a sudden, intense allergic shock reaction to the drug (called anaphylactic shock). The attending nurse issued a call for emergency help. A medical team rushed in with drugs to stop the reaction. Before they could administer the drugs, the air sacs in my lungs ruptured from the intensity of the shock. My lungs filled with blood and fluid. This is a condition called Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome. It has a mortality rate over 50%. My blood pressure stayed dangerously low, my heart went into a seriously abnormal pattern, and the medical team was not certain if I would survive. I was actually conscious through this, in a way. I was only vaguely aware that there were people around me trying to resuscitate me. But I was very clearly aware that I was fighting for my life, and that I might not win the fight. I was clear about what I needed to do. I needed to keep trying to breathe, to keep fighting to stay conscious, and to keep fighting to stay in my body. I also had a shattering, intense awareness of how precious life is, of how desperately I wanted to live, and what a fierce, intense will to survive I felt.

This incredible, shattering awareness is a gift that I have never lost. To this day, when I wake up in the morning, I am grateful for another day of life. I know that I almost didn't live to see it, and know that I have a precious and limited number of them. I also think it is this love of life that helps me keep working towards my dream of children.

I was in intensive care for about a week, was in a general hospital room for a while after that, and finally was able to return home. I was told several times how close I came to dying. I was told it would be three to four months until I could return to work, because my lungs were so damaged. But I was determined to go back to work as soon as I could. I actually returned to work, part-time, only 3 1/2 weeks after my discharge from the hospital!

But before I returned to work, I had shocking news. I was pregnant. I had gotten pregnant from my last Pergonal cycle. The doctor speculated that my long and heavy flow could have possibly been a partial miscarriage of a twin. At the very least, it was an unusual way to start a pregnancy. But what about all the chest x-rays I had received? What about all the physical trauma I had gone through? Could the embryo survive this level of trauma?

We waited, and we prayed. We hoped against hope. And we finally received our news. The pregnancy was not viable. Our baby had not survived. We will never know if the baby would have lived if circumstances had been normal. As the doctor said, the situation did not look good from the very start. I worked through my grief over my first pregnancy, took a few months off from fertility treatment to let my lungs and emotions heal, and began again. My next few rounds resulted in another pregnancy, which I will tell you about next time.
Kay Grames

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