New to This Mommy’s Heart? Check out my story from the beginning here – My PPCM Story
I started having severe shortness of breath at night a few days after I got home from the hospital. The shortness of breath made me anxious which led me to believe it was a panic attack. My husband woke up and I told him how I was feeling. I felt confident and so happy with my life. I had no clue why I was feeling this way. It felt like something was wrong like I could die. This was the first time I told my husband that, if I died, I wanted him to change our daughter’s middle name to my first name. I didn’t want her to forget me.
The next day, on November 21, I started having the shortness of breath during the entire day and could barely make it up one flight of stairs to our bedroom. Once I was up in the room, I had to lay on the bed for several minutes before I felt like I could breathe normally again.
My parents, who were visiting to meet their new granddaughter, had no idea about the issues I was having. I tend to try to suck it up and tough it through things. Not the best thing to do when you are experiencing peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM). They had gone out to run a few errands but shortly after they left, I started panicking due to my shortness of breath. I called and told them I needed them to come home ASAP.
When they got back to the house, my parents encouraged me to go back to the hospital. I was reluctant but my discharge paperwork stated to return to the hospital if I had shortness of breath. It was time to go to the hospital.
I packed up my daughter because we were still breastfeeding and my dad drove me to Madigan Army Medical Center (MAMC) where I had just given birth six days before. My husband works at the hospital and was still there when I arrived. I text him saying I would let him know if it was serious and he needed to come down. We went to Labor & Delivery and were placed in a room while we waited on the Family Medicine resident that was on call to come down and see me. This pregnancy had been managed by Family Medicine because I had already had a pregnancy with no complications and was considered low risk. Didn’t I prove them wrong…
Eventually, the doctor did arrive and reviewed my symptoms. Besides my shortness of breath, my pulse was 150. Their initial thought was that it may be a pulmonary embolism. Although a pulmonary embolism is scary, there is a fairly straightforward treatment plan. The pulmonary embolism tests, however, came back negative. The doctor named off a variety of things that could be the issue. I remember him mentioning last, almost as an afterthought, “Oh and there is heart failure but that is really rare.” Watch for this as a theme throughout my story. If there was a small chance of something bad happening, it likely did.
The next step was to get an echocardiogram. We would need to stay overnight and have the test the next morning. Luckily MAMC is breastfeeding friendly and gave us a private room where my husband and daughter could stay with me. If only I knew how my life would be flipped upside down that next day.