Have you ever had that moment in your life when you thought, “This is not happening?! This cannot be happening!” That was me in late January when I ended up in the emergency room.
It all began when I started having some pain in my rib area. It started on a Wednesday and continued to get worse as the week went on. I wasn’t able to sleep comfortably and it hurt to take deep breaths. By Saturday I was a little worried, so I went to urgent care first thing in the morning. Being pregnant, they were concerned about blood clots, so they drew some blood and put a rush on getting the results back, but they sent me home with a prescription for pain meds and that’s it.
Not 30 minutes after getting home the pain became excruciating. Worst pain I have ever felt in my life, next to child birth. I was home alone and was just screaming the pain was so bad. I called my parents to come over right away, then called K to come home (he and Little A were headed up to the mountains to go sledding). I called urgent care and they said to call 911. Having to call 911 for yourself is one of the weirdest experiences I’ve ever had. Luckily we live practically across the street from the fire station, so the paramedics were there immediately. All my vitals were good, so they let K drive me to the emergency room.
The entire car ride to the ER I was screaming and moaning in pain and just so worried about the baby. Had his foot gotten caught in my ribs? Was he okay? Was he in distress? I was so worried about him and not at all concerned about if something could be wrong with me.
Upon arrival at the ER, they checked a few things, then sent me down to the birth center since I’m pregnant. In the birth center they gave me some pain medicine that helped me relax a little (my whole body was tense) and took the edge off the pain. They monitored the baby (who was doing fabulous), gave me fluids since I was pretty dehydrated, did blood work and also did an ultrasound on my liver and spleen. Since there was nothing wrong with the baby they sent me back up to emergency.
Once back in the ER they did more blood work, a full CT scan, an x-ray and ultrasounds of both my legs, checking for blood clots. The pain meds started to wear off around hour 4, so they gave me some more. My whole body had been tense for hours, so I was completely exhausted.
At this point we’d been at the hospital for about 7 hours and I was starving. They gave me a little juice and allowed K to go get me something small from the cafeteria, since I hadn’t eaten all day. When you’re in the hospital there is so much waiting. Most of what you do is just wait. And we waited a lot. When you have that much time to wait you start to worry, so of course I was worried there was something major wrong with me. But after 8 hours in the hospital, one of the ER docs came to talk to us and let us know that they weren’t able to find anything to explain the pain I was experiencing. Nothing. After all those tests (all that money spent….sigh) there was nothing. They said it was probably muscular and had to do with being pregnant and the stress it puts on your body.
During all the tests they ran, though, they did find a few unrelated issues. First, they found a 3 mm non-calcified nodule on one of my lungs, as well as a calcified granuloma. I go see my regular doctor about those in a few months. They also found 2 splenic artery aneurysms, one on my aorta and one in my spleen. These were a bit more concerning since I needed to see the vascular surgeon right away. After meeting with her and all the vascular surgeons at UW Medicine (seriously, they all got together to talk about what was the best course of action since at that time I was 36 weeks pregnant), they decided the aneurysms were small enough that I could continue with a vaginal delivery. They’ll be monitoring me closely while I’m in labor to make sure everything is fine, but all should be well. After baby is born we’ll then talk about next steps to get rid of the aneurysms.
So that’s the story of my unexpected trip to the emergency room. It took a few days but the pain is completely gone and I haven’t had any since. The whole experience was so….weird, and coming out having no explanation for it is good (it’s not like I had a broken rib or something was wrong with baby boy), but also frustrating at the same time. I kept worrying that it would come back at any point, and once again not know what was causing it. Luckily I’ve been pain free since.
One thing I learned from the whole experience is to always seek care from a trained medical professional if you ever feel something may be going on with your body. I almost didn’t go to urgent care, and I almost didn’t even go to the ER! I felt so silly, even though I was in excruciating pain! Yes I ended up having those tests run because of something totally unrelated, but they uncovered an issue that could have potentially been fatal to me if not found. So please, make sure you’re seeing your doctor on a regular basis, even though you feel 100% and think nothing could be wrong. You never know when they may find something that could save your life.