Monday, February 21, 2011

Signs of Pregnancy

While carrying Baby Bunny #1 and Baby Bunny #2, I tried to interpret every possible thing going on with my body as being signs of pregnancy...or, after I knew I was expecting, I interpreting everything as having its roots in being pregnant.

A bit much, right?

Other than the clinical pregnancy symptoms I talked about in my last post, there are just some signs of pregnancy that seem to be universal – or, at least, they were universal to my pregnancies!

Here's my lineup:
  • Heightened sense of smell – I had this with all of my pregnancies, starting very early on
  • Heightened sense of fullness – This one is psychological; there's no way a newly fertilized egg can create a sense of fullness...but I fel one there ya have it!
  • Crampy – For me, I felt minorly crampy throughout every pregnancy. At the beginning, I interpreted this as AF coming, but in hindsight, it felt different than those monthly cramps. The general crampiness in my pregnancies seemed broader – not as sharp.

What were/are your signs of pregnancy? If you're still TTCing, what symptoms are you looking at hopefully?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Alternatives to Reglan for Pregnancy

Alternatives to Reglan

Because of the allergic and dystonic reactions I suffered because of ingesting Reglan, I had to turn to other options to control my motility and digestive issues.

The first medicine I took for this, while in the hospital a couple months before my Reglan experince, was Phenergan, which I took as an injection in my IV line.

It didn't make me sick, per se, but it did cause me to feel anxious and caged. I especially hated that they gave it to me late at night which ruined my ability to sleep. It was effective, however, in helping to control my system.

Next, I took Zofran. I've since taken Zofran in three forms – injection in IV, dissolvable pill, and infusion pump. It has been my saving grace, even though it hasn't been the most effective. Let's put it like this: I'll take slightly lower efficacy to avoid reactions!

Zofran as an injection in my IV was the least effective for me. Too low concentration, to inoften given.

The most effective form of Zofran for me was the infusion pump that I was tethered to for 6 weeks. It ran a needle into the thick of my thigh and kept me on a constant dosage, plus could deliver an extra dose on demand when needed. It was a pain in the butt because it caused scarring on my legs and it was painful to change out needles every 12 hours and find an uninflamed spot to poke. It was also annoying to wear a fanny pack with the meds in. But it was very, very, very effective! And my insurance covered it 100% - no small feat, because this is also the most expensive option.

Most recently, I've been taken the dissolvable Zofran pill. It was one of the meds the gastroenterologist put me on after the Reglan reaction caused my OBGYN to give up and hand off the case. It tastes a bit funky and isn't nearly as fast acting as the pump, but I've relied on this medicine for almost a year to “rescue” me when I feel like I'm on the verge of becoming ill.

In addition, I took herbal ginger pills, wore a seasickness patch behind my ear, and took both Zantac and Prevacid to prevent stomach acid from taking over my life. And with that enormous combination of drugs, I was able to get through the rest of my pregnancy with Baby Bunny #2 – and actually keep some food down.

What's your rescue med when you're feeling the ill effects of pregnancy?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mama Bunny and Reglan

Mama Bunny and Reglan

Reglan can be a very powerful and fast acting medicine. I was prescribed Reglan for motility and digestive issues while pregnant with Baby Bunny #2. I started taking it when I was around 3.5-4 months pregnant, after having taken different medicines beforehand that my OBGYN didn't consider to be as effective.

I was prescribed Reglan on a Friday. After my doctor's appointment, I had my prescription filled, but decided not to take it until the next day and just finish up that day with the prior medicine, Zofran.

On Saturday, I took one dose of Reglan with breakfast, one dose with lunch, one dose at dinner, and one dose at bedtime.

After breakfast, I felt no different. Reglan is fast acting...but not that fast!

After lunch, I started to feel a little iffy. Caged. Anxious. Highstrung.

I ignored it and went grocery shopping. Came home, made dinner, and popped my third Reglan.

This time, my tongue started swelling up and my throat itched. I didn't connect these symptoms with Reglan and instead figured that I must have eaten something that I was allergic to. All of those symptoms were consistent with how I've reacted in the past to food allergies.

My tongue swelling and throat itching went down and I continued eating.

It approached bedtime, so I took my last scheduled Reglan dose for the day.

Within 10 minutes, my tongued had swelled up, throat swelled mostly shut, and the muscles in my upper back and neck froze still and essentially locked me in place.

Panic time! At this point, I realized that I was feeling like that because of the medicine, not any food I had eaten. But I could barely move, could barely breathe, and couldn't talk at all.

I managed to communicate to Papa Bunny what was up and he called a friend of ours who is a pharmacist. At her urging, he pried open my jaw, which was also frozen in place, and dumped an entire bottle of baby Benedryl down my throat. I began to feel relief from my allergic reaction almost immediately and the swelling and itching mostly receded over the next half hour.

The dystonic reaction of frozen muscles – I was “grimacing” - took far longer to go down and were not impacted by any medicine. In fact, all of my frozen features didn't fully relax until the next morning.

Dystonic reactions are cumulative, which means that if I have another, it'll be like a continuation of the previous episode in terms of impact, instead of a new episode.

Needless to say, I haven't taken Reglan ever again! It might be a great option for many people, but not for me!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Reglan for Tummy Troubles

When I was busily brewing Baby Bunny #2, I became quite ill. In fact, I spent almost a full week in the hospital while they tried to figure out how to get me to stop losing everything I ingested. While on IVs, I was given Phenergan and then Zofran. After some additional time on Zofran post-hospital, my OBGYN decided it wasn't doing enough for me and placed me on Reglan.

I believe that Reglan medicine is great for many patients. I also believe that the attorneys on the television trying to drum up business from Reglan side effects are a bit much. But unfortunately, I was one of those patients who had an adverse reaction to the Reglan instead of it helping my motility and digestive issues. More about Phenergan, Zofran, and my Reglan reaction in a later post.

For now, let's talk about the need for Reglan medicine and whether you should talk to your doctor about its use.

Many women, while pregnant, experience terrible issues with nausea, vomiting and heartburn. Although it is not approved for this instance, many doctors prescribe Reglan medicine off-label. And for a vast majority of cases, it's effective. Reglan can be taken as an injection or a pill and its effect can often be felt quickly.

On-label, Reglan is used for people with motility issues – slow stomach emptying – caused by anything from diabetes to gastroparesis. Again, in a vast number of cases, it's highly effective. But not all.

If you're having awful issues with eating and retaining meals while pregnant, Reglan is a viable option to discuss with your doctor. But some of the side effects should be studied first, and other options should be exhausted before its use.

Side effects include allergic reactions such as swelling and breathing issues, as well as dystonic reactions that cause abrupt movements, shaking, freezing, and a feeling of being caged. Let's be real, here. All medicines have side effects. And different medicines work differently on different people. And the worst side effects occur in such a small portion of the population that reports of drug issues are almost nearly always overblown.

If your doctor does decide that Reglan is the right choice for you, just be aware of what side effects you should look for, take it exactly as prescribed, and never take it without a prescription.

I'll post most later about my own Reglan medicine experience, as well as my experiences with other similar meds.