Help Sara Strand and Family!
Sara Strand had an emergency c-section on August 1st to deliver her baby girl. Complications in labor occurred and Sara developed Amniotic Fluid Embolism , a life threatening condition that resulted in emergency surgery to stop hemorrhaging. Sara is currently sedated with breathing tubes in the ICU. Her condition has improved, but she is not yet awake and has a road of recovery ahead of her. Sara and her husband Matt have three other children in addition to their new baby daughter at home waiting for their mommy to get better.
This beautiful family needs our financial support and encouragement to allow them to focus on Sara's recovery. Sara is a dear friend and source of strength, laughter, and joy for so many. It would mean so much to me if everyone would help give something to ease the burden on Matt and Sara so they can focus on getting Sara back on her feet and healthy. I know so many people care about Sara like I do, so please help me in making it possible for them to focus on Sara's recovery.
Sara here and I wanted to share with you an update on Lucy and I one year later. You can follow my blog: http://strandupdate.blogspot.com/2017/08/what-does-one-year-post-afe-look-like.html because I post frequently on there.
Matt and I want to say THANK YOU to every person who donated. Your support helped us get through the last year financially. All of the money went towards the medical bills for Lucy's birth, my large bucket of monthly prescriptions, or my three trips to the Mayo Clinic this year. We spent every dollar on medical related expenses and without your support, I don't know how we would have done it, so thank you. You didn't have to but you did anyways and it means the world to us because we wouldn't have asked for help on our own.
I'll be going to the Mayo again later in August and I see some new specialists in September for things we still can't figure out. As it turns out, when you die and are revived, it's like a complete reset on your body so we are relearning what my body is doing, I really am a whole new person.
For every person who donated, shared, dropped off meals and other items, sat with me during dark days, helped me get to my appointments, mailed us notes of encouragement and things through the mail- THANK YOU. You have been our rescue boat and without you and your support, we would not have made it.
-Matt, Sara, Olivia, Jackson, Penelope, and Lucy (who just turned one on August 1!)
I've said before but October is kind of a chill month for me right now. I've had a busy August and September, and not much action in October, but November is going to be busy. It starts with MRI appointments, literally on the first. I am having two MRI's in the same week, along with brain testing (sounds ominous and sketchy, doesn't it?) which is apparently a repeat of testing I had done when I was in the hospital. I'm having it done at each hospital in Duluth and the neurological team is going to basically conference together and figure out what to do with me going forward and maybe give me (hopefully) some idea of what my future is going to be like.
Going into that, I'm a little bit worried. I haven't been totally honest about my memory and just every day normal stuff. I've had what I call "brain blinks" and the best way to describe it is my brain literally blinks in and out. Like one of those Viewmaster toys where you push the lever and the screen clicks into a new image- it's like that. One minute I'm fine, and the next it's like my brain pauses a second and bam- I can't remember why I'm where I'm at, how I got there, what I'm doing, and sometimes I'm not sure where I am, but then blink- I'm back to normal and it's like nothing happened. Truthfully? It's scary. It's terrifying, actually. I'm afraid I'm going to leave a kid behind somewhere or worse. One time last week I was driving and suddenly forgot how to get to my kids' school. I driven there hundreds of times and bam, totally forgot and then it clicked and I was totally OK.
So we'll see what the neurologists have to say.
Next up- diabetes insipidus is kind of a pain in the ass. Thankfully, the medication I got works on the lowest dose so I've been managing it well. Except I get outrageously thirsty at random times. I'm working on keeping my water intake at a steady level (it's not necessarily good for me to drink a bunch at once and then go an hour or more with no water, I have to even it out), and that's been tough. Sometimes I forget because I'm busy with kids, and then I realize I'm over the top thirsty (it's similar to running a couple of miles and being dehydrated and wanting to chug water) and then it kind of messes me all up and I'm peeing a whole bunch and then thirsty again and it's kind of how it is the rest of the day.
I was also diagnosed with Sheehan's Syndrome and that's been fun. I was told that I have to write down every symptom or weird thing I experience because some of it will be tied to Sheehan's, and the rest... well they aren't sure, but I need to make a list anyways. So here's the list I have so far (aside from what I've already mentioned)
I definitely feel dumber. I have a hard time explaining things I absolutely know that I know. Things that I could have rattled on about without thinking about it, I can't even get thoughts organized enough to talk about them.
I've got no period. I know, most women would shout with glee! And I am, truly! And by no period I mean I've only had 5-7 days (not in a row, totally sporadic days) of light spotting since giving birth. That's it. But before you get all excited for me, just know I'm in PMS hell. I am constantly flipping between two options: option 1 is a total PMS week complete with migraines, moodiness, and cramps from hell where I feel like I'm being stabbed, and option 2 is hot flashes where I'm pretty sure I'm going to burst into flames. It's horrible. Clearly my hormones are stuck and it's not good.
My entire body hurts. I can't really explain this well, but I basically feel like I've simultaneously run a marathon and been physically assaulted. All of my insides hurt, head to toe. My hips feel like they are going to fall out of their sockets and my back hurts I can hardly move. It's really awful.
The fatigue, my god... the fatigue. Even if I manage to get eight hours of sleep at night, I wake up feeling like I haven't slept at all and I can barely get going. I could sleep all day if the opportunity presented itself. I don't even get the bursts of energy I used to get, this is just absolute fatigue all of the time.
Guess who has gained 20 pounds in a MONTH?! This girl. I can't even tell you how because my diet is managed well. Sure, I'm not exercising but that's because I'm so damn tired and when I walk for even a short while the body pain is excruciating.
Another side effect of Sheehan's is lack of a sex drive. Which, I feel really bad about, because I know it's an important thing to Matt but the thought of staying awake, and having energy for it... not there. I don't even have any kind of urge.
Depression. It's bad. I have my first official counselor appointment in November and I'm not even optimistic about it but I know I need to go. I need to fix myself, one thing at a time.
So yeah, that's all I've got so far. HA! But seriously, I feel like I'm falling apart. Matt said I'm the best actress he knows and it's kind of scary. But more on that another day.
Well this week was relatively "easy" considering I only had one doctor appointment to contend with. I think next week I have a visit with the endocrinologist to see how my pee medicine is working (more on that in a bit) but the most important visit (to me) is the one with the doctor who delivered Lucy. I basically want to know what the hell happened because I've gotten bits from my mom, different bits from Matt, and a really broad run down from my actual OB, but she encouraged me to make an appointment with the delivering doctor that day just to get the full story. So I did, and that's next week. Which is why I haven't written down Lucy's birth story, I'm kind of waiting for that appointment to make sure I get details correct.
But here's where I am now:
- I go to my OB again in November to have a full panel of labs run to see where my hormone levels are. She is 75% sure that I am basically a closed down baby bakery because of my pituitary gland being shot.
- Which explains why I haven't gotten a period yet. No bleeding at all, actually. Nothing. Nada. No cramps, no indicator that anything is coming, totally the weirdest thing. She said I most likely won't have a period again. I likely will need a cocktail of estrogen and progesterone or whatever to make sure I don't go into early menopause, considering I'm only 34. And even though my family health history makes that scary, she said she would rather me get cancer (I'm considered high risk for breast, uterine, cervical, and ovarian cancers) than heart disease (something I could get without the hormones) because we can treat cancer. Heart disease is kind of bad. So that's absolutely terrifying.
- Last week my endocrinologist gave me kind of bleak news letting me know that my pituitary gland is basically shot and what that means for me. After all of my labs from last week came back the final verdict is diabetes insipidus, secondary adrenal insufficiency, and low thyroid function. Basically I have Sheehan's Syndrome. It's a good thing I'm not a breast feeding mama because I'd be in bad shape right now since I have zero milk production. Perhaps the only bright spot in all of this is that I have had no milk come in and I have evaded the pain of milk drying up. So.. yay! But also along with this is that I don't think I'm growing hair on my legs or under my arms. Like, it's been a month and I haven't had to shave. Which is totally awesome, but what about my head? Is this it? Is what I have all I'm getting? Nobody seems to know.
- The neurologist I saw earlier in August to go over my MRI must have gotten the more advanced scan results because "after more looking" she wants me to see a specialist in traumatic brain injury (which is what I'm classified as because I technically died twice and the mass amount of blood I lost combined with loss of oxygen for two separate times... bad stuff happens when that happens) at the other hospital to do scans and look at my earlier scans. That's happening in November. Along with more scans at my hospital plus a series of "brain activity tests" to basically see how I'm functioning.
- My OB let me know I failed my post partum depression test and to continue with my anti-depressants, but if things don't get better in the next 2-3 weeks, I need to call and we'll start increasing my dosage. She also wants me to get into counseling for not just my depression but for PTSD. I exhibit a lot of the symptoms of that and she thinks I'm going to have a breakdown if I don't get some immediate treatment. So.. I guess I'll work on that. I can't afford it so who knows how that's going to work.
- The EOB's are starting to roll in. Now I'm getting really scared because we can't afford any of this. Not with Matt not working his usual schedule because I can't do the mornings on my own yet. Hell, I can barely do much on my own. Thankfully the big kids go back to school tomorrow but I won't lie, not having them to help me with Penelope? I'm worried. I hate relying on my mom and Matt's mom to basically babysit and help me take care of my kids. But between the depression, not feeling great physically, and my slew of medication that makes me feel run down and sluggish, I just can't do it. Some mornings I wake up by crying in the shower. I think Matt is concerned but he hasn't said anything. I don't know what I would even say back, to be honest. Certainly nothing that would be reassuring, that's for sure.
But what's been the strangest is when absolute strangers hug me and ask how I am. Doctor's offices, Walmart, the grocery store, the kids' school. I don't know what to say. If I say "good", they immediately feel relieved and assume I'm 100%. If I'm honest and say, "not good", they look like they don't know what to say or do and it's awkward for us all. But at this point, I can fake it for awhile but then it becomes obvious I'm not up to par and things aren't good. And sometimes I want to scream at people, "I DIED, FOLKS, TWO TIMES!" because it drives me nuts when people don't understand exactly what I went through. I mean, I can't even get mad because who the hell even has this happen to them? I do. I do, folks. I shouldn't even be surprised anymore yet here we are.
So have a good weekend, lambs. I'm going to try to be a mom, on my own, for a bunch of hours this weekend. I'm 100% terrified. I keep telling myself I just have to keep them alive. That's really all I have to do. Stay alive and keep them alive. Easy peasy, right?
- LOTS of doctor appointments. Saw the neurologist who confirmed while I don't have anything else wrong and not a stroke risk, my pituitary gland is "shot". It really is in bad shape.
- Which means my endocrinologist appointment got moved up from mid-September to this Friday because I am having a lot of issues, all related to pituitary gland stuff.
- I got my staples taken out of my stomach and that was, easily, the most painful thing I've been through in quite a while. Staples are not a chunky girl's friend and they will twist around each other, fun fact.
- Lucy is doing great. Does not sleep through the night, but thankfully Daddy is running on fumes handling that because I need every second of sleep otherwise my memory, balance, basic functioning goes out the window.
- I still have zero memory from her birth until the day I left the hospital, and even that day is spotty. I'm having issues with anxiety and depression, I still can't drive, I have someone here with me all day with the kids because I'm not able to do it all, which if you know me at all- is a HUGE ADJUSTMENT. I'm really struggling with loss of independence right now. I'd give just about anything to go shopping alone. Or even go into a doctor appointment alone, but I'm apparently not ready.
- I have to say THANK YOU to our friends, family, and total strangers who have donated to us, in any small way and the big ways. Matt has been working a significantly reduced amount of hours and it's been a struggle financially to get through, but we're going to because your mortgage company, hilariously enough, couldn't care less about your problems. HA! I don't know how we would be getting through without this fund and without the meals everyone has brought. I will always stand by the fact that we have the greatest friends and family because we do. Hugs to you all.
You have already been through so much and just like the Energizer bunny ... it keeps going and going. I also have brain issues of my own and I get the MRIs done from time to time. I do know that feeling of not knowing things so I can empathize with you about that. I wish you the best and just try to keep your chin up. If not, go ahead and vent to us - your friends - we will understand.
So glad you're on the mend, prayers for a complete recovery. Your new baby is adorable! Pam Rabideaux
what a beautiful picture !! Andrea tells me she is in love with Lucy !! You are all in my prayers..... stay strong and keep taking those baby steps, Sara. You got this !!
Beautiful picture! Congratulations and Best Wishes For A Speedy Recovery.