Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Stupid Blood Pressure

As I write this, I am anticipating the moment when I have to stop typing and move my left arm so that my blood pressure can be read as accurately as possible. Today I had the pleasure of going to the hospital and getting a blood pressure monitoring device (for which I can't remember the proper name and can't be bothered looking up) attached to my upper arm. It's like a regular blood pressure arm band, but attached to a little box that hangs in a case around my neck and records my blood pressure regularly. Meaning every 20 minutes (30 minutes in the evening and hourly over night) the thing makes a loud beep before blowing itself up and slowly releasing the pressure. It squeezes very tight and takes a lot longer than the doctor does to release the pressure. I just hope they get enough accurate readings that they don't have to do the whole thing over again, as the nurse today said could be the case...
I have to take it back tomorrow. Also tomorrow I have to ring a different part of the hospital and ask why exactly they want me to get more blood tests and whether I can move the appointment (I came home to a letter and a phone message saying I needed to come and get them, but without any specific information about why, which is quite annoying/stressful/worrying news for someone who is quite good at imagining the worst).

Anyway, I know you're probably all more looking forward to photos and info from our trip than boring rants about the state of my health, but I have to write this stuff down as it's happening - I've already written (most of) our travel journal, I just have to go through and type some of it up. Hopefully tomorrow, ok?

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Monday, 26 November 2007

Back, but exhausted

We're back from our trip to Italy and Austria. We had a great time but are both really tired - 12 days with contiki means early mornings, late nights and lots of stuff going on every day, but it was worth it.

I wish I could say more, but nothing is coming out of my brain the way it should. There should be plenty of updating over the next week or so, on our website and flickr as well as here. I think it might be time for bed.....

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Friday, 9 November 2007

Sorry... but I bring news

I'm sorry - I promised an update and I haven't done one. Really though, there hasn't been much to tell until today. I have pretty much spent every weekday at home, we've done a couple of weekends away (see our website) which have been good but made me even more buggered for the days that followed. I haven't worked because when you are throwing up at least once pretty much every day and feeling tired and nauseous the rest of the time, supply teaching seems like the most unappealing thing in the entire world.

Today though, we went for our first visit to the Ante-Natal Clinic and got to see our baby for the first time (no pictures though, because it really wasn't that exciting to look at, especially as a still photo - I promise I'll get one when we go for a later scan). If you want to read the play-by-play of that (and I know some of you do, which is why I'm going to write it) then read on. Otherwise, know that we have some serious travelling to do over the next couple of weeks, so there won't be any updates happening, and feel free to ignore the rest.

This is probably way more detailed than I would usually bother with, but I know a couple of you are keen to know about differences between having a baby in Australia and having one in England. Having not experienced the former, I'll tell you all about the latter and you can make your own comparisons, ok?

So as soon as we got home from Australia, I rang and made an appointment with my GP. A few days later I went in and saw her (weird thing about the whole GP thing - under the NHS you have to be registered with a specific GP, but the one we're registered with is actually 2 doctors, you just see whichever of them is working that day, basically) and told her I was pregnant. She just took my word for it and started filling out paperwork, one of the most important elements of which was the hospital I wanted to receive my care through.

A week or so later I got a letter from the hospital with a date and time for my first appointment. Graeme ummed and aahhed about coming with me, mainly because they warned it could take over 3 hours for the appointment and he wasn't sure he wanted to take time off work, also because we weren't really sure if it would be worth his time. In the end he decided he'd come and disappear if it all seemed like he shouldn't be there and it turned out most of the other women who were there for the same first appointment dealy had their partners there too. So we got there quite early, due mainly to the fact that we had left more time than necessary to get there via the two buses (parking at the hospital is pretty much not an option) since we had to do so in peak hour. We sat in the waiting room, something that became quite a theme for the day :)

First up we had a consultation with a midwife. It started with a weigh-in (not as high as I thought, in fact I think the morning sickness has made me lose some weight [I know that's not good - I really am trying to eat well]) and then she went through like a 20 page booklet, which was contained in my already massive patient file, asking questions, filling in answers - my medical history, family medical history, my pregnancy so far. She also tested a urine sample for proteins and took my blood pressure. Two things arose that had to be further followed up. My blood pressure was slightly high and had also been so when I'd seen the doctor 5 weeks ago - not like worryingly high, but just sitting slightly above normal, apparently (not that I really "get" the whole blood pressure measuring thing, I guess I should do some reading and sort that). Also, the fact that I told her about mum's blood clots last year and that I couldn't remember what cause, if any, they'd found for them, made her decide to add a visit with the doctor into my schedule for the day.

Next up (well, after sitting in a waiting room again) came the worst and best bit of the day - the ultrasound. First thing that was weird was that I expected it to be really cold and it was actually warm - like bordering on too warm. The next couple of minutes totally sucked - she couldn't see anything. She started asking questions like "Did you confirm this pregnancy with a blood test or urine test?", "How long ago was that?", "You definitely haven't had any bleeding?". I was right on the edge of a freak-out when she found it - apparently my bladder wasn't very full and my uterus was tipped back quite far, or something. In fact it was so bad that she couldn't get a decent look at it, even though she was pushing into my belly HARD. At that point she suggested an internal ultrasound, which at first sounded kind of scary, but was really no big deal. We saw and heard the heartbeat, confirmed there is indeed one baby with one head and two arms and two legs. It definitely made it all very real and was quite a relief after that moment of thinking something was really wrong. At this point, an adjustment was made to my due date based on the size of the baby, so it's now June 2, which puts me at like 10 weeks, 4 days instead of 11 weeks, 2 days (sorry Sharon - I think the thing I sent you was WAY off because I stupidly relied on a calculator rather than my own brain). I really feel like they'll adjust it back a bit when I go for my next scan, since I know my dates are right, but that won't be for awhile and anyway, I'd rather have a later due date than an early one because it'll be longer before they start pressuring for induction and stuff if the baby's overdue. We made an appointment for the next scan and then continued on with the step-by-step that the midwife laid out for us.

So next we went back to reception and handed over the big patient folder we were lugging around, because we had to see the doctor. [The next step for everyone else at this point was to join the queue for the blood testing, but we got the extra step thrown in] The doctor was great and the awesome thing is that she's my assigned hospital doctor, so anytime I need to see one when I'm there, it'll be the same woman. Also, I had an appointment in a couple of weeks at the Obstetric Medical Unit set up by my GP because of the whole blood pressure thing and this doctor also works there, so she was able to do what that appointment would've been anyway. We chatted about the fact that I've never had anyone say something bad about my blood pressure before and she explained a bunch of options and possible scenarios. Crazy thing is when she took my blood pressure herself, it was perfectly normal, so she decided the best course of action would be to get this 24 hour blood pressure monitoring thing that you wear over a normal day and it regularly records your blood pressure, to help work out why/how/when it's changing. She also ordered a couple extra blood tests to be done because of the clotting thing - thanks Mum.

While we went and joined the queue for the blood testing (this one was a take a number one, like at the deli counter in a supermarket) the doctor sorted out a form for the monitoring request. By this time we were pretty sick of sitting in waiting rooms/areas so Graeme went and got a drink while I waited. When my number was called, I got the privilege of filling up 5 vials of blood for various tests (could've been more if I'd chosen to have the one that tests for risk of Downs Syndrome). Of course, as I left, there was basically no wait…

Back to reception (not that far, everything was close together) to drop off my folder and make my next midwife appointment (which they make for the same day as the scan) and I was done. Well, I would've been, if I didn't have to find my way around the main hospital to find the ECG department and sort out a date to get this 24hour monitoring thing. That's not happening until we get back from Italy in a couple of weeks, though.

So yeah, a nice long description of my day for those of you who were interested. Apologies to anyone who got suckered into reading this because it appeared on your blog reader or something - I did warn you. Questions, comments, comparisons, USEFUL suggestions welcome :)

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