Took the weekend off

IMG_5232 Last weekend was a much needed weekend off. It was amazing that I actually made it out of my pj’s. I worked on a few “fun” projects, but for the most part I stayed planted firmly on the couch with remote in hand. I tried my best to do absolutely nothing.

You see, the weekend followed a couple of stressful days at the end of last week. Last Thursday morning, I went in to work early to prepare for an 8am conference call with our team and the auditors. Sitting at my desk and printing a few last minute papers, things started to get a bit weird… I started seeing spots. Or, more accurately, not seeing spots. My field of vision was littered with over-exposed, burned in spots. It was like someone had just flashed a bright light in my eyes and they were trying to adjust out of it. Blinking and shaking my head a few times, I grabbed my papers off the printer and rushed in to my meeting, hopeful the strange symptoms would clear up on their own.

As I sat on the conference call with my team members, the symptoms remained. In fact, they started to progress. As I tried to read the paper in front of me, I realized the bright spots were growing. Trying to read the paper in front of me, I had to move it around strategically to complete a full sentence. Torn between hoping things would clear up and wanting to complete the meeting, I sat there struggling to determine what to do. The symptoms were transitioning slowly, but they were definitely still progressing, and I was starting to lose my peripheral vision – I was slowly moving in to tunnel vision territory.

I’d had symptoms like this once before – 9 years ago, the first summer I was at Cal Poly. I’d been really stressed and sleeping very little (I was taking three classes and two of them were really intense 5 week classes. I was up until 2am every night doing homework). It coincidently happened at work, and my boss took me to her optometrist to get checked out. Based on the symptoms (which had cleared up by the time I saw him), he surmised that it was a visual migraine and I went on my happy way.

So as I sat in the meeting last Thursday morning, I was comforted by the fact that these seemed to be the same pattern of symptoms, but still dismayed as to what to do. I turned to my boss and whispered, “I think I’m having a visual migraine – I can’t see anything in my peripheral vision.” He looked concerned, but didn’t really respond. Damn. I was hoping he would tell me to get out of there and call my doctor. I was pretty sure I was having a migraine, but still a little concerned that the symptoms might be pregnancy related and wanted the opinion of a professional. A few minutes later, when we realized we were missing some paperwork needed for the meeting, I took the opportunity to excuse myself from the meeting. I wanted to call Ben to tell him what was happening and see what I should do. During this whole episode, everything was in a bit of a haze. I was having a really hard time processing things to realize that I should have just left the meeting and called my doctor. At the back of my head, I knew that was the right thing to do, but in the fog that was my brain that morning, I just couldn’t make that decision on my own.

Briefly free from the meeting, I quickly attempted to call Ben. Unfortunately it was to no avail – I didn’t realize he was sequestered in an all day training. I  came back in to the meeting (with the paperwork we were missing in hand) and sat down. Next, I tried text messaging him – not really sure what to type. I told him that I was having tunnel vision and may need a ride to the doctor. Luckily, he had his phone and was able to respond. As the meeting progressed and the symptoms didn’t clear, I realized I probably need to get to the doctor to get checked regardless, and asked Ben to come and get me. I suffered through the last part of the meeting feeling very off and counting down the minutes until it ended.

I bolted out as soon as the meeting was over – still experiencing tunnel vision, I carefully made my way down the hall back to my office. I called my doctor’s office immediately when I got back to my office. I was only able to speak with the receptionist and she didn’t know when the RN or doctor would be able to call me back. So I tried my health insurance’s RN hotline next (they have a special program during pregnancy with RN’s available 24 hours a day) and was able to speak with someone promptly. They were concerned that my blood pressure might be low, and suggested that I get in to either my doctor’s office or the ER as soon as possible. Now I was feeling concerned. Trying to remain calm, I waited for Ben to arrive.

During this whole episode, C was moving A LOT. I didn’t know if that was a good or bad thing, but I figured the fact that I could feel her moving meant I knew she was ok, if not a little distressed. I’m guessing she was picking up on my own feelings of distress and getting a little shot of the endorphin and adrenaline that were coursing through my own system.

By the time Ben picked me up, my symptoms seemed to be getting better. Arriving at the doctor’s office, they seemed to be nearly gone. My peripheral vision was still a bit dark, but otherwise everything else seemed normal. My doctor checked me out and then checked C – so far so good. We talked about my symptoms and she decided that she wanted to refer me to a neurologist just to be on the safe side. She also stated that if my symptoms came back that evening, I should head to the ER.

Feeling comforted that everything seemed to be ok, and that this was just a repeat of the same episode I’d had 9 years ago, we headed home and I readied myself for a nap. I was feeling pretty stressed from the events of the morning and just wanted to relax.

After my three hour nap, the rest of the afternoon was a regimen of relaxation coupled with a few computer games and some TV watching. All in all a pretty relaxing afternoon. Ben and I discussed dinner options, and he left for the store shortly after 6pm to purchase the components from the grocery store. I continued to sit lazily on the couch, playing Farm Town with the TV humming in the background. Suddenly, bright spots once again appeared in front of my eyes. Ughhh… are you kidding me? This CAN NOT be happening again. Twice in one day? And, of course, it was all starting while Ben was still at the store. Crap.

Giving it a few seconds and testing my vision by looking at a variety of different objects, I was convinced it wasn’t just my imagination. I called Ben – only to get no answer. Unbeknownst to me, he was pulling in to the driveway as I called. Feeling scared and stressed for the second time that day, I started to panic a little. Fortunately, Ben walked in the door moments later and gave my poor, stressed brain a reprieve.

Quite unhappy about it, and armed with snacks (instead of our healthy dinner Ben had just foraged for us), off to the emergency room we went… the symptoms progressed much the same as they had earlier that day, except this time my visual symptoms were chased with a blinding headache on the right side of my head. Starting at the crown, moving its way behind my right eye and finally settling in my temple (all over about an hour long progression). We waited 5 hours before being seen at the hospital… by then, the symptoms had long passed and I was feeling better (other than being extremely tired as we entered the wee hours of the night). The hospital staff didn’t want me to leave because of the pregnancy (increased liability if they’d missed something, maybe?) so we waited. And waited. And waited. We were finally seen by a doctor after midnight who, based on the symptoms, stated he thought I had a migraine. Surprise, surprise. We could have told you that 5 hours ago. Now if you can just pay your $100 co-pay and we’ll send you on your way (it really wasn’t quite like that – the hospital staff was all very nice and professional, but I still couldn’t help but feel a bit jaded by the whole experience).

The next morning (ok, really, 6 hours later), I had a 7am appointment with the neurologist. Another $10 co-pay and the same diagnosis. He said it could be the hormones from the pregnancy and that stress, diet and exercise are possible triggers – the two latter items I think we’ve been doing pretty well at, so by process of elimination, stress seems to be variable I need to get in to check. He wanted me to keep a headache log and follow up with him in 4 weeks to see how I’m doing. Going off far too little sleep, far too much stress from the very lengthy day before, and feeling just generally drained, we headed home so I could crawl back into bed. There was no way I was struggling through a day at work with only 5 hours of sleep… one of the main reasons being that I didn’t want my symptoms to reappear! I did put in a half day from home that afternoon, but stayed away from the more complex and stressful of projects and plugged through some of my easier work.

After that, I made the executive decision to take the rest of the weekend off. We usually have a variety of activities filling our weekends, and the thought of that alone was making me feel anxious. I took myself out of commission for anything social, stressful or taxing in any way. Friends invited us over a few times that weekend, but I stuck to my plan and stayed home. The only time we left was to see a late movie on Saturday night – but it was just Ben and me, so it removed the stress of social interaction and pressures. It was actually quite nice – it’s been a really long time since I’ve had a weekend like that.

So far, one week later, and no symptoms have resurfaced. I’ve been trying to take it easy and keep stress at a minimum. There are far too many important things in life to worry about the small stuff (which I am trying to repeat over and over to myself!). Taking small steps to get through the more complicated and stressful things in life is the key – it’s much easier to digest things in small quantities than to force yourself to deal all at once (I’m reminded of a saying about how to eat an elephant, but it’s far too disturbing for me to elaborate).

Aside from the story above, everything else has been going really smoothly with the pregnancy. I’m getting quite a belly now as C is growing and she is increasingly active. She’s moving my belly more and more these days – it’s such a cool thing to see! She has her favorite position – on the right side of my tummy, head up near my ribs (you can actually feel the hard spot where her head is ). I’m guessing her butt is down near my hip and legs out in front – the last few ultra sounds she’s been in that position, and the nudges I get throughout the day would make sense based on that position. I still have a hard time figuring out where she is when I’m lying down – I get definite pokes on whatever side I’m lying on, but I’m not sure if it’s feet, hands, elbows or knees. She seems to like being upright, so the only body part I’m ruling out is head…

Ben has been taking progress belly pictures, which I’m sure we’ll post soon :) There wasn’t much to see until recently, so you should get a good feel for how quickly I’ve grown over the past few weeks!

Sorry for the lengthy post… hopefully you stayed with me and made it through to the end. I usually try to keep them shorter, but there was just too much to this story to abbreviate it much more. As a little reward for making it through, here’s a picture of the decorations in C’s room so far…



4 Responses to “Took the weekend off”

  1. 1 laura July 26, 2009 at 12:13 PM

    Oh welcome to pregnancy problems! I too had visual migraine problems during my first pregnancy. I had two kinds. One was the tunnel vision, and the most common was the flashing colors. I don’t know if it was related to stress though. They just seemed to happen whenever. The experts didn’t seem to even be one bit concerned. It got better with the second pregnancy. I only had two visuals, in one day. That was it. The third seemed to be totally void of the visuals, although, I did have problems with the headaches in the first trimesters with that pregnancy. I wouldn’t get too stressed over them… just keep a close eye on other symptoms as well. This is your first pregnancy, and you are more susceptible to preclamcia (that is probably not how you spell it, but I can’t for the life of me find anything that will tell me the correct spelling) which is dangerously high blood pressure.

  2. 2 Rev. Jeri July 26, 2009 at 7:01 PM

    I’m glad you were able to ascertain the problem so quickly. AND that you’re so committed to resting and minimizing the stress. Big Kudos to you!

  3. 3 ingrid July 26, 2009 at 9:56 PM

    I had visual migraines with birth control use— and I had slight ones in pregnancy. I was told that it was a hormonal thing AND that I needed to drink more water….. something about your blood being too thick from dehydration. I know that doesn’t sound too scientific, but it was my understanding of the issue. My midwives told me that when I start to feel one coming on, I need to sit up straight, take deep breaths, and drink 32 ounces of water. I haven’t had one for a long time. This was the original cause of the rash of MRIs and such. I think water is the solution for me! I hope they leave you alone. It is freaky!

  4. 4 Amberlee July 27, 2009 at 12:11 AM

    Hey suzy, you know, I have the exact same symptoms and it was always stress related. I start noticing that I can’t read very well and I am moving the paper around so that I can read a full sentence. Thats when I realize that something is wrong and I start getting the tunnel vision. I did find that drinking a lot of water, like 1-2 glasses helps a lot. A least for me, when I am stressed, I think that I forget to drink enough water and when pregnant, it is even more important to drink a lot of water. Once I down a lot of water, the headache gets better and my vision returns. You should try this if it happens again. Glad to hear that everything else with the pregnancy is going well. You should post some pics of the belly :)

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Mom to "C", wife to Ben. I'm a part-time blogger, cook, organizer, seamstress, house cleaner, taxi, nurse (the mom kind), accountant... I could go on, but really... it's all in the blog. Read away!

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