Miranda Marquez knew something was wrong during her pregnancy but the medical staff did not pay attention to her symptoms. The lack of knowledge about peripartum cardiomyopathy, especially its resemblance to third trimester pregnancy symptoms, can cost mothers their lives. Here is Miranda’s story.
During the last trimester of my pregnancy, I noticed that something was not right. My body was overly swollen, I lost control of my bladder at night, was ALWAYS out of breath, and my heart was always beating hard and fast. Whenever I would notice these symptoms I would contact the on-call nurse because I didn’t think this was normal. The nurse, however, told me that these symptoms were normal, especially since I was having twins. No one paid attention to me when I would ask about the symptoms I was having.
The day before my C-section I had one last ultrasound to check the babies’ positions. After the ultrasound, I spoke with the doctor. The doctor was concerned about a potential blood clot in my leg. They wanted to run some tests so I stayed in triage for hours with different doctors and nurses passing through. The triage doctor made a point to keep telling me swelling was normal with twins.
My results came back that I did not have a blood clot and I could go home. I was so swollen with one leg being more swollen than the other to the point where I could barely walk. The skin on my feet so tight, I felt like they would rip. Due to COVID-19, I had to attend my appointments alone, my husband could not be there with me. The medical staff wouldn’t listen to me so my only option was to go home and wait for tomorrow’s C-section.
The next morning I was preparing for my c-section. I was already a little stressed because we had to leave my 3-year-old daughter for a couple of days. The procedure was detailed by the doctor as I was prepped for the C-section. My husband came in after my spinal tap to find me shaking uncontrollably. I was freezing but they told me that was a side effect of the medication.
On June 2, 2020, in the middle of a pandemic, I gave birth to my beautiful twin boys via C-section. The boys were out in the first ten minutes and I wanted to be excited but I couldn’t because I didn’t feel right.
After the C-section, while holding the babies, I felt like I was going to pass out. It turns out I had lost 2x the amount of blood that I should have during the procedure. A few hours passed and the nurses came in to help me use the restroom. As soon as I stood up I felt very dizzy and blood gushed out of me. The nurses seemed very concerned but they wouldn’t tell me much. I got two blood transfusions and the doctors said that I should feel better after those but I didn’t. My face was super pale and swollen.
After three days they sent us home from the hospital. Once home, I was completely out of it, still swollen, couldn’t walk plus I was taking medication for the C-section. The night of the 7th, I was trying to sleep but for some reason, I couldn’t catch my breath. I could hear a crackly sound in my chest/throat and I started freaking out which did not help with the breathing. I woke my husband up and told him I could not breathe and to call 911.
Paramedics came to our house and checked my vitals. My blood pressure was high, my heart rate was abnormal but they did not hear anything in my chest. Since I was breastfeeding two newborns the paramedics did not want me to leave them. They advised me to make a doctor’s appointment the next morning.
In the morning, June 8, 2020, I called the doctor’s office as soon as they opened. My doctor was out for the day but her nurse said my symptoms did not sound right and told me to go to the ER as soon as possible. I said goodbye to my family and, thinking the ER visit wouldn’t be so bad, only packed up a charger, laptop, and my purse.
When I checked in, the man who checked me in did not hear anything in my chest. Two hours passed as I waited. A woman with a broken wrist was called back before me as I struggled to breathe.
The doctor immediately heard fluid in my lungs and called for a chest X-ray and blood draw. As we were talking my heart rate raced up to 230 bpm. The doctor called a code and a bunch of nurses ran in and gave me a shot to calm my heart. After the shot, I drifted off to sleep only to be woken up by the cardiologist diagnosing me with peripartum cardiomyopathy – a pregnancy-induced heart failure.
I was admitted to the hospital for five days. Due to COVID-19, I was alone and without my family. I felt crazy in there.
Before my C-section, I weighed 170 lbs. While in the ER I was 165lbs but after they gave me Lasix, that brought me down to 125lbs. I had 40lbs. of fluid on my body and everyone told me it was normal.
Over the next three months through a course of medication and a very strict diet, I have now recovered from peripartum cardiomyopathy with my heart function now at 64%, up from 20% at diagnosis. I am very grateful to be here with my husband and children. I am also so grateful for the ER doctor and the cardiologist that helped me and knew what they were doing. They didn’t ignore my symptoms, they listened because it was NOT NORMAL.
Miranda is a supporter of the PPCMFund.
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