Jan 30, 2007

On preeclampsia

I'd like to share a few ideas on preeclampsia. It is a disease that affects pregnant women. It affects about 10% of all pregnancies, being as common as breast cancer. It usually happens toward the end of the pregnancy and can cause emergency delivery, but sometimes it happens in the second trimester and it can cause severely premature babies or stillborn babies. It can get dangerous enough that the mother can remain disabled or even die.

Paul Levy reminded me of an excellent article on preeclampsia written by someone at his hospital. It appeared in the New Yorker this last summer and it is worth checking out

For a great summary on preeclampsia and the research done at the Beth Israel Deaconess MC, check http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060724fa_fact

If you want to read more and preeclampsia stories, check the Preeclampsia Foundation's website

If you want to chat with other people that had preeclampsia, the Foundation's Forum is a wonderful resource. I basically learned everything I know about preeclampsia from there and it was a tremendous support while preparing for my second pregnancy after a loss.

I think there are two ideas that I'd love you to remember:
  • It can happen to any pregnant woman, so if any family member or friend is pregnant, send them to check the signs and symptoms. If they have any of those symptoms after 20w, send them to their doctor or take them to L&D. This is no joke.

  • If you had it once bad, there is still hope that you will succeed in a future pregnancy.
We lost our first son at 24w gestational age. He was very small, less than a pound. We took 3 years to prepare for another pregnancy. We got medical textbooks, we read all that we could get our hands on about preeclampsia, I got fit and got as healthy as I could, I selected the best doctors I could get, I got a second opinion from a specialist in hypertension in pregnancy... we did all we could to help it.
When I got pregnant, I took my blood pressure twice a day, logged it and graphed it. When things started to be interesting (after 33w gestation), I was the one that told my doctors that things are going downhill. Here are my charts and graphs

After all this graphing and charting... here's the result: 5lbs, 13oz born at 36 weeks gestation, healthy mother, healthy baby, 13 months later still healthy baby. This is the perfect outcome for any pregnancy, the rest doesn't matter!!!!

Jan 29, 2007

Now I'm public... maybe

Paul Levy made me public. And if you wonder how I feel about it, I feel pretty bad. The kind of bad that makes you talk to yourself in the parking lot and laugh out loud all alone. I felt very embarassed. And the only reason I am out here is that the online environment is allowing me to cool down before saying anything. I am frightened and excited, and maybe this is my blog's moment of glory.

Paul just publicly announced his salary yesterday, a figure that left me breathless for a couple of minutes. I was feeling comfortable knowing that a guy that earns that much wouldn't think twice about a too shy person... oh well, in his blog he asked people to visit mine... and asked me to install my statistics counter. I am not going to install the statistics counter, not tonight. I will be in the comfort of the fact that there are no comments and maybe there are too many interesting things on the web for anyone to pay attention to me.

[ETA: Just to be clear, Paul offered to put a link to my blog and I took his offer. I am very grateful for his outreaching out to me. It is the nature of social anxiety that the emotional responses to any kind of exposure are very strong. I think it was important to acknowledge and face my emotions. At a rational level, I fully understand that creating this blog, having a link to it from another place or even having the whole world see it is a big thing only for me.]

Now enough about my embarasment, I am going to use the free publicity to talk about a subject dear to my heart: preeclampsia. It's almost 4 years since we lost our first son to this disease and the weeks to follow will be quite difficult for us. They are much less difficult now that we have a happy and healthy baby then they were 2 and 3 years ago, but we will always remember our Angel.

Jan 27, 2007

About communication and friends

As I wrote a few messages ago, I emailed 3 authors asking them to look at my blog. I read their books and loved them and felt very connected to them. I am putting my sole in these pages and so I figured that if I invite them here, we will instantly become good friends.

I got short answers from two of them and I understood a few things: first is that love at first sight does not work with ideas: no one will fall in love with me by reading 2 sentences... it might be interesting, amusing, whatever, but we will not become friends.

The other thing I understood is that I always think "if only I could talk to people I would have much more friends"... and because I am not a big talker, I can't have friends. I guess friends come over time, when you spend time with them, and, talky or not, I could have friends if I spent more time with them. And I am valuing too high the ability to talk a lot or express everything I am thinking.

And with my work and household load, it is not easy to find time for friends. When family and all your college and childhood friends are far away, I would not be too surprised if anyone would be just like me if they walked in my shoes. That's why family and college and childhood friends are there forever: because we had time to share with each other at the time.

Jan 22, 2007

What works and what doesn't in hospitals - a patient's perspective

Paul, thank you so much for answering my email and your suggestions on how to play with the blog.

My dream started when I was a patient in a hospital and I kept thinking that something can be done to make these people's life better. Here's the story:

My baby was 9 days old and his pediatrician was afraid that he's not gaining enough weight (diagnostic: failure to thrive). He sent us to the hospital to get some blood tests done. If the tests were not good, my baby could have been admitted back in the hospital and be fed through IV.

At the hopital, I ended up in a big waiting room with maybe 50 other (sick) people waiting to go through the admission paperwork. I was told that I will have to wait at least 1 hour to get the paperwork done. I asked if they had a room where I can breastfeed my (hungry) baby. I was told that there isn't one and the person at the desk suggested the restroom.

This is a very nice hospital where I delivered, I was encouraged and helped to breastfeed and I was really satisfiedw with their services while I was in. Their L&D (Labor and Delivery) admission was very friendly: they just sent me to L&D, gave me a bed, and after all the medical stuff was cleared, someone came in with a laptop and got my paperwork. I thought this was very thoughtful and cool.

I imagined that maybe the restrooms are like hotel restrooms, where there would be a quiet, clean room with comfortable chairs. No chance of that... The baby was becoming fussy and I got over my embarasment and everything and started feeding him. (When babies are that small, they need to learn how to feed and you are encouraged to not give them bottles) I imagine that this offended them, because I was called to register within 5 minutes, just 30 minutes after I got in.

Imagine that the waiting room was full of sick people. My drama might have been the least dramatic in that room.

Why can't hospitals do something about this? Why don't they create an electronic check-in like the airlines do? Why don't they have a room for breastfeeding and have that kid with a laptop do our paperwork? If this process works so smoothly for L&D why can't it be made to work for the general admission?

I'm feeling that I can help this somehow and the more I read about the status of helthcare the more I realize that this is one place where I can help, where a difference might help, where something needs to be done.

Jan 21, 2007

What is that impossible dream

The impossible dream is getting a job... in a field that I have no qualifications or experience. I would like to work as a hospital administrator... Paul Levy, President and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston is my hero. I don't want to be CEO or President, but I'd love to help someone like Paul. And I think I have the talent to do it.

This is reaching as high as the sky. This is all so new to me. I am a software developer with no training in medicine or management. I am managing large software projects and I am very good at it. I imagine that the job is the same, but rather than dealing with software, you deal with sick people and people that care for them. I know I need to learn a lot, and this doesn't scare me. I can read, research and learn. What scares me is the interview... oh, no, not the interview.

I'm just starting to see what's under the covers and it is scary. I thought it's all about patients and caring for them, but there's so much else going on: uninsured and universal health plan and HIPPA, and pharma companies, and unions, etc.

But when I was in Romania, working for a leading US software consulting company seemed like reaching for the sky... and I did it. It seems easy now, but it wasn't, and I know I can do it again.

Thank you for hanging out with me while I dig through all this and prepare for THE INTERVIEW.

Random thoughts in the middle of the night

I did not go away, I just had a very long day yesterday. We went and saw a show in NYC - A Chorus Line. We loved it!

Going to NY is exhausting and of course I need to make out of it more than it really is, so it's also emotionally exhausting. It was cold and traveling with a 13 months old in the train and then subway its an adventure in itself, but for me, the adventure started the night before with thinking about all the disastrous scenarios: what if I will get lost, the baby will lose his hat, I will need to ask for help, I will need to call my husband and admit that I am lost, I will need to ask strangers to help with the stroller, how do you get a stroller through the subway doors anyway, and how should I behave with these people that I'm seeing once a year and know nothing about. They are all nice and I'd like to be nice to them, but what is there to talk?

It all went smoothly, and yes I asked that stranger for help, and he helped, and I asked for help in Penn station and I was guided the wrong way, and I think I did ok with "these people that I only meet once a year" even though I didn't say much, nor shared intimacies.

That being said, I am back to waking up every night at 3 AM or 3:30 AM, but I am not exhausted yet.

And I told 3 more people, getting the total count of people that know about this website to 5. I am now annoyed that nobody is having any comments. I added anonymous comments, so please comment. I have a plan to add some outside players: people that don't know me, but write about social anxiety. I'm curious where this will go.

And just to let you know, I have a draft of "what my dream is" in work, I will likely post it one of these days...

Jan 19, 2007

First night as a blogger

Last night while being awake and checking my email and the website every 5 minutes, my husband and I wondered whether this is going to cause more anxiety than it resolves. Keep in mind that only 2 people knew about the blog and one of them was in bed with me. LOL What will happen when I will have 20 or 200 people knowing about it?... oh well, I went through sleepless nights before, I'll go through them again.

Jan 18, 2007

The Impossible Dream

from MAN OF LA MANCHA (1972)
music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

... or, if you prefer French:


Not so glorious start, but dealt with AAA

I was dreaming to start this blog with a glorious introduction on why I started it or a poem or something... instead I ran into a situation that I feared for a long time: I had a flat tire.

Nothing happened that was really exciting: it was daylight and I got to a Burger King parking lot. But it was cold and snowy and I was about half an hour from home, and even though I technically know what I have to do to change the tire, I did not feel like getting all cold and dirty doing it... and having the kids from BK laugh at me. So now the question: what would have caused me more anxiety: do it myself or ask for help?

Anyway, I called AAA, they came, changed the tire, I went home... What was it that I was anxious about?

That's me: any human interaction makes me cringe: I'm dreading talking on the phone, having anyone do anything for me, saying hello to a neighbour, and the list can go on forever.

Why did I start this blog? Because I think that I need to face my anxiety and this can be facing a lot of it if I will keep writing and I will let more and more people know about it.

So far 2 people know about my blog.