Saturday, May 27, 2017

Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

A year ago today this was my Facebook status:  "The saga of The Browns versus 2016 continues... So today I went to the Urgent Care for a bladder infection. Turns out my pulse was abnormally high. So they did a EKG which ended up being abnormal from there they took me to the ER for more testing. I am now in observation at the hospital for what the Dr believes (by process of elimination) is postpartum myocardial myopathy. Easiest explanation is that my heart is weak which in turn is causing tachycardia. They are putting me on three different medications. And we are currently praying that this was diagnosed correctly(it was a little difficult to figure out) and that the medicine will help my heart have a full recovery. I appreciate your prayers!!"

Suddenly, faced with a serious medical condition, life was flipped upside down for the second time in 2016. The BAD news: My hearts EF (ejection fraction) was at 35% and we were told that I had heart failure due to pregnancy. The GOOD news: this is something that with the proper medication you can recover from. The BEST news: just 4 months after being diagnosised my heart EF was at 55 - 60% which means my heart did indeed recover. And I am extremely thankful for that! For some people recovery takes years...

There are no known reasons as to what causes PPCM. At first I thought after losing Abby that maybe I had a broken heart (it's a real thing which has similar symptoms) but the doctor said that wasn't the case. I've voiced over and over that I had no PPCM symptoms after having Abby. However, I did have several symptoms after Levi's birth (swelling and high blood pressure). However, even then none of my symptoms were overly obvious nor as intense as many that I've read about and I will never know which pregnancy caused the PPCM. My PPCM was only caught because I thought  knew I had a UTI and the doctor noticed my abnormal heart rate.

However the point of this post isn't really to talk about me. It is to bring more awareness to Post Partum Cardiomyopathy. Per the American Heart Association this is a uncommon form of heart failure. It happens during the last month of pregnancy and up to 5 months after. About 1,000 to 3,000 women develop this condition in the United States each year. Because it's rare it can be mis-diagnosised and depending on the person if left untreated can (and does) lead to death.

Places you can find more information and support are: Pregnancy Induced Heart Failure

PPCM Network 

American Heart Association 

John Hopkins Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

Facebook Group:  Peripartum Cardiomyopathy (ppcm) Survivor Support 

Below is a Heart Failure Quiz that is a great idea to take during the last trimester of pregnancy. Especially if you are experiencing abnormal symptoms.
Heart Failure Quiz (Source – Dr. James Fett ) Please note: that with all tools, there is always the possibility of a false negative or false positive, so if in doubt, please see your doctor and order the relevant blood tests or echocardiogram.
 1. Orthopnea (difficulty breathing while lying flat):
     a.) None = 0 points;
     b.) Need to elevate head = 1 point;
     c.) Need to elevate upper body 45ยบ or more = 2 points
 2. Dyspnea (shortness of breath on exertion):
     a.) None = 0 points;
     b.) Climbing 8 or more steps = 1 point;
     c.) Walking on level = 2 points
 3. Unexplained cough:
     a.) None = 0 points;
     b.) Night-time = 1 point;
     c.) Day and night = 2 points
 4. Swelling (pitting edema) lower extremities:
     a.) None = 0 points;
     b.) Below knee = 1 point;
     c.) Above and below knee and/or hands/face = 2 points.
 5. Excessive weight gain during last month of pregnancy:
    a.) Under 2 pounds per week = 0 points;
    b.) 2 to 4 pounds per week = 1 point;
    c.) over 4 pounds per week = 2 points.
 6. Palpitations (sensation of irregular heart beats):
    a.) None = 0 points;
    b.) When lying down at night = 1 point;
    c.) Day and night, any position = 2 points
 Scoring and Action:
 0 - 2 = low risk -- continue observation
 3 - 4 = mild risk -- consider doing blood BNP and CRP; echocardiogram if BNP and CRP are elevated
 5 or more = high risk -- do blood BNP, CRP, and echocardiogram
An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart and diagnosis is made usually with an echocardiogram.
The B-Type Natriuretic Peptide (BNP) blood test is used to help diagnose heart failure and to determine the severity of that heart failure

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Mothers Day Pictures 2017

Just a couple pictures of me and my little man on Mother's Day! 

So thankful for this little man who made me a Momma!! <3

It's so hard to believe how much this little man has grown in 4 short years!! 

The last five Mother's Days

Note to self: Take more pictures with your kiddo!!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

This Is Us - Mike and Melissa Visit Alexandria

Every year we try to slip away for a couple days for some US time. We may not be able to do this forever but it's always nice to be able to spend quality time together over a date weekend. Last year we went to Alexandria in April and it rained a good bit of the time. So this year I suggested we wait until May and.... it rain a good bit of the time. It was POURING when we packed the car Friday morning and continued to rain as we made our way to Virginia. However as we pulled into our destination Friday afternoon the skies cleared and it turned into a beautiful afternoon and evening. Our first stop was lunch at Mount Vernon. We visited here last year and enjoyed the restaurant and tour. Since we did the tour last year we skipped that part and solely focused on stuffing ourselves!

You can tell how much we hated the cornbread that came in the skillet and was served with a vanilla bean honey butter. Delicious!! I went with the cob salad while Mike ordered the fish of the day stuffed with crab meat. Dessert was delicious. I don't remember what Mike had (maybe pineapple upside down cake) because I was too busy stuffing my face with enjoying pie! Go ahead and drool!

Next up we decided to head over to Woodlawn where we wanted to do a home tour as well as see Frank Lloyd Wrights Pope-Leighey house. Unfortunately we only had time to do one so we picked Woodlawn which at one time (the land) was part of George Washington's Mount Vernon before he gifted it to his nephew. 

After our tour ended we checked into our hotel and then headed off to do some shopping at nearby outlets and then spent the evening at National Harbor. Beautiful weather, more food, an awesome view from a Ferris wheel and ice cream was a perfect way to end the day. 

Saturday morning we slept in until 8:00 (!!!!) and then leisurely got ready to head out to Jackson 20 for breakfast (brunch?!) where I of course chose french toast. It's always my go-to when we eat breakfast out. I love it so but always feel semi-guilty for the carb overload! You wish you could dig in, don't you?!

The rest of the day was spent wandering around Old Town. In and out of shops (The Lucky Knot and Torpedo Factory Art Center) and walking along the water, ending the afternoon with lunch at the Chart House. It was a lot more rainy on Saturday so our umbrellas were out most of the time. We still enjoyed ourselves though!! Love spending time together and a welcome break away from work. 

Of course when you go away and leave your kiddo behind it's always nice to bring back a cookie as big as his head. Apparently eating it was quite the challenge and exhausting enough to put him to sleep on the drive home!! Thanks Aunt Lizzy for watching our little man!! 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Levi Turns Four (Two Months Ago)

One post I've been meaning to do forever. I find the more pictures I have to sort through and pick from the longer it takes me to get a post done.

Grammy and Pappy took the birthday boy out to Dunkin Donuts for a birthday doughnut. Always a hit! Although he looks depressed in the third picture here. Haha!

I did my best to make his favorite meal and let him pick out special treats. This means we had cheeseburgers, Gibbles cheese puffs and watermelon.

He also picked out cupcakes that had little ducks on them. 
P.S. taking pictures of a 4 year old seems to be too challenging for me... 

He had a blast opening his presents... Although there was no trombone. A trumpet will have to do.  

And ended his day with a bath bomb. This is the life! 

But the birthday fun didn't end here. 
All the Grandparents came over for a little party a couple of days later. 

Happy 4th Birthday Kiddo!!

Monday, May 1, 2017

This Is Us - Wandering Wilson

Mainly a wordless post... Us wandering the Wilson Equestrian Center a couple Sunday's ago...