Healthy to Heart Failure

New to This Mommy’s Heart? Check out my story from the beginning here – My PPCM Story

That night my daughter slept like the perfect baby she is and only woke up a few times to breastfeed. The next morning, I remember thinking that I was feeling better but it was probably just wishful thinking.

The hospital is on post so my husband went to the gate to help my parents in with his military ID. The cardiologist and about 10 residents then proceeded to fill my room. At that point, he asked if I wanted to wait for my husband to get back to review my results. I told him to go for it because I always have the mentality of ripping off the bandaid. This wasn’t the time for that way of thinking.

So, there I was alone in my hospital room holding my newborn when I was told about my life-changing diagnosis. Honestly, this is where everything starts to get fuzzy. There are only a few things I remember after this:

  • The doctor told me “You can never, ever, ever have another baby”.
  • Chris and my parents walking in and me and the room of residents staring at them silently.
  • My husband breaking down after all the doctors left when my mom asked what all they had told us meant. I comforted him and told him I had had a good life if this is where it had to end. I didn’t know what else to do.

Luckily, for the purposes of this blog, my husband took meticulous notes every day of my hospital stay. I feel it is important to do my part to help spread awareness about PPCM. Knowledge is power. If sharing my story saves even just one mommy, it will be worth it.

Now for a bit of medical terminology regarding my test results:

  • Brain-Type Natriuretic Peptide (BNP) test – almost 11,000
  • This blood test measures the levels of the BNP protein that is made by the heart and blood vessels.
      Your BNP levels are higher when you are in heart failure. Normal is <125.
  • Transthoracic Echocardiogram (TTE) – 18% ejection fraction (EF)
    • A TTE is an ultrasound of the internal parts of the heart.
    • The EF is the percentage of blood that is pumped out of the heart’s ventricles during each contraction. A normal EF is between 50% and 70%.

I was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after they gave me these results. This is when I had to separate from my daughter and end my plan for breastfeeding. I love breastfeeding my babies so this was extremely hard for me.

This Mommy's Heart - My PPCM Story - One of the last feeds
November 22nd at 5:22 AM. One of the last times I got to breastfeed my daughter.
This Mommy's Heart - My PPCM Story - Time with Wes
Spending time with my son before I had to go to the ICU

Several things happened next. I was taken to the catheterization laboratory (cath lab) which is an exam room with equipment that can show the arteries and chambers of the heart. There they performed a right heart catheterization in which they placed a Swan-Ganz used to measure the heart’s function, blood flow and pressures in and around the heart. There was also an arterial line placed (a-line) which is used for measuring blood pressure directly and in real-time. The cardiologist was able to use the information from these tests to determine the severity of my heart failure and send that information to the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) so I could be transferred to their hospital which was much better suited for the severity of my condition.

This Mommy's Heart - My PPCM Story - Resting
Resting after a ton of tests

They started me on dobutamine which is an injection that can help treat heart failure and help the heart pump blood. Next, I was literally swaddled like a newborn, placed in the back of an ambulance and sent to UWMC around midnight where the real fun began.

This Mommy's Heart - My PPCM Story - On My Way To UWMC

3 thoughts on “Healthy to Heart Failure”

  1. Jen your strength and courage are amazing. You inspire me to be strong. You are my hero! You are my heart. Love you always. Mom

    Reply

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