What the heck is PPCM? Part 1

If anyone noticed my Instagram or blog Bio and I know you were hanging on my every word ;-), then you may have noticed I mentioned I suffer from  Peripartum Cardiomyopathy or PPCM. Here the medical definition from Johns Hopkins Medicine because they can put it so much better then me :

Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a weakness of the heart muscle that by definition begins sometime during the final month of pregnancy through about five months after delivery, without any other known cause. Most commonly, it occurs right after delivery. It is a rare condition that can carry mild or severe symptoms.

I’m going to level with you. I researched every single thing I thought could go wrong with my baby and I during childbirth and after. And being the paranoid person I was, I was pretty sure something would happen to me or the baby. So after a 3 day induction and then finally a c section, I thought ok that was it. I didn’t get the beautiful birth plan I wanted. Things went wrong but we are healthy. 

I remember being in recovery and the nurses fussing a little more over me then the baby. “Take care of her!” I thought. I had Gestational Diabetes. I wanted to make sure her sugars were ok. Was she healthy? She was screaming and big but was she ok? They told me she was great but they were a little concerned about my breathing and heart rate during my hours of pushing and my surgey so they were sending me back to high risk. I didn’t think anything of it.Baby  was good. I was good. I was happy. 

After several days in recovery I felt great! People came to visit and it was just a wonderful time. I noticed my blood pressure began to rise during my days of recovery. I was told it would need to be addressed when I got home. Probably through meds. It really just didn’t sink in. Yeah I was overweight and I had just had a baby, of course my BP was high. My pulmonary doctor wanted me to have a sleep study and he took a baseline chest X-ray. All looked well. 

I was released a day early even though my BP was still high. I had started to notice a tight feeling in my throat but assumed it was just acid reflux. We brought our daughter home to begin our new life.

One thing I was nervous about was the fact my home only had one bathroom upstairs. Women are asked to avoid steps as much as possible during recovery but I had no choice. The first time I had to go, climbing those steps felt like I ran a mile. I remember sitting there so out of breath it was scary. But I had felt like this for the last two months of my pregnancy so it was nothing new. I was disappointed it had not gone away but it didn’t panic me. It was more of an annoyance since I still had to go to the bathroom often. 

As we settled in for our first night, the baby went right to sleep and stayed that way for about 6 hours! I kept checking in on her because I was so nervous why she was sleeping so long but she seemed fine. I did mention to my husband that I felt like I could catch my breathe while laying down and I kept having to cough. I had received a flu shot while in the hospital for the first time ever and thought maybe it had made me sick. 

My mom came over the next day to help out with things and I mentioned it to her. She’s a nurse so I always run things by her. She thought I was just over doing it after my surgery and wanted me to rest more. So I spent the day on the sofa taking care of the baby and relaxing. While I was in the hospital they had let me know that a visiting nurse could come to the house because it was covered under my insurance. She would come to check the baby as well as myself. So I said sure. 

She arrived late in the afternoon and she immedialy asked me if my legs had been that swollen. I shrugged. Yeah I guess they had but I heard that was normal. She checked on the baby and then focused on me. My BP was very high. 160/110.  She asked me to lay on my right side for 10 minutes. It didn’t help. She let me know she had to report it to you doctor. Within  15 minutes of her leaving, the doctor called and asked that I come in first thing in the morning. I was so annoyed. I had just gotten home! But we made plans for me to go get checked the next morning. That night we had more visitors and I felt fine. My husband went upstairs to go to bed and I decided to stay downstairs with the baby. Honestly the thought of going up the stairs was exhausting. 

The baby fell asleep in her swing and I laid down on the couch. I could not sleep or get comfortable. I had this annoying cough that would not go away. Also I could hear this crackling sound in my chest. Great, I thought, a cold. Just what I need. Around 6 am I climbed the steps to go to the bathroom. I remember coughing and suddenly I burst into tears. I knew in my heart something wasn’t right. I coughed so hard from crying into a tissue that I saw blood. That was it. I called my mom to come watch the baby and woke up my husband and told him he had to take me to the ER. I know they thought I was paranoid and I hoped I was. Unfortunately I wasn’t……..


To be CONTINUED


DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional or doctor. I am just writing about my experience and what happened to me and how my doctors decided to treat me. Everyone is different. Listen to your body and don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel something is wrong. It saved my life! 

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