Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Visit to the ER

It is amazing how a day can go from uneventful to the exact opposite in less than a second. I simply unplugged our computer from our converter (it's an American computer) and got a painful shock to the right hand. This is normally not the kind of thing a person would think twice about. But it bothered me. What would happen if I got a shock like that while sitting in the bathtub? Would I get burned? Would my heart stop? Well, if the shock went through the uterus, the baby IS essentially in a bathtub. I thought about going immediately to the ER because, well, if it's heart had stopped, something needed to be done immediately. But I told myself that I was a total paranoid hypochondriac. I ran to the train with my computer in backpack, made a phone call, got on the train and then started reading an article about electric shock on the internet. This one:

From household voltages of 110 to 220 alternating current, they found a 71% death rate among the fetuses. Most immediate. Others up to three days later. Oh my GOD. I hadn't felt the baby move since the shock. I screamed in my seat on the train. People started looking at me. I ran into the bathroom and started screaming and crying, not knowing what to do. I called SR and he didn't answer. So I called the Danish equivalent of 911, which is 112. They told me to find the train conductor and get him to stop the train. But even in my panicked state, I was not about to have the train conductor stop in the middle of the woods. "Just tell me if it's dangerous or not!!!!" I replied. He got a nurse on the line, who told me to get off the train at the next stop and go to the ER. I had to wait a few minutes for the next stop. SR called back. He told me I was crazy to worry and that he had to go to a meeting. So who was right? I sat down in total agony. And then I thought I felt the baby kick. Oh yes! Yes! But I got off the train anyway and headed to the ER, feeling more than a little reassured.

At the ER they thought I was bat shit crazy. And I would have thought the same thing about me just an hour earlier. But why didn't they know about the dangers? Or what was with that internet website? They did all kinds of monitoring of me and I was like "I am NOT worried about me. I am worried about the baby. Can't I just get a doppler?" I lay there completely bare-chested with ginormous preggo boobs (everything is relative) getting an ekg when the doctor walked in. He smiled and introduced himself and asked if I was SR's wife. They were apparently med school buddies and he was apparently unoffended by my shirtlessness. I told him about my concerns and then he said "Well, I looked it up and found a Danish midwife who had written on an internet forum that there is nothing to worry about."

Is this what modern medicine has come to? Doctor 1 comes to the ER scared by an article on the internet only to have Doctor 2 tell her not to be frightened because he had read something else on the internet? (Anyone starting to understand why I doubt doctors so much?)

I was taken up to the obstetrical department where they once again thought I was bat shit crazy. I had felt the baby move many times by now but just wanted someone knowledgeable to talk to. Well, this wasn't meant to be. I got a doppler from an obstetrical nurse and everything sounded fine. I aksed her if she could at least confer with an obsterician and long as I was there and she did. But I didn't get any sort of an answer other than everything would be okay.

Maybe most other women would have been satisfied. But I had read reports of badly burned babies dying days or weeks later and couldn't let it rest. I mean, at least my understanding from physics was that current in through the hand has to be grounded somewhere and the easiest way to the ground is through the foot (am I wrong?)- and thus through the baby in the little amniotic bathtub on the way.

But remember - negative outcomes are the ones that get published. And women who just get a shock and forget about it never get written about. Yet, I wouldn't blame you for still being worried.

But I am not going to leave you (or myself) in a state of doubt. I found a good study. A study in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology where they looked at 32 random women who had received shocks from household appliances and other much higher electric voltages and called for advice. Out of the 32, there were two spontaneous abortions, one which was proven to be unrelated and the other one was unlikely to be related. Otherwise all babies survived unaffected.

Accidental electric shock in pregnancy: a prospective cohort study.Einarson A - Am J Obstet Gynecol - 01-MAR-1997; 176(3): 678-81 Their bottom line was "in the typical home scenario ... hand-to-hand electric shock does not pose a major fetal risk."

Thanks to Adrienne Einarson, the author of the study above, this story has a happy ending. But I'm not about to go playing with that converter again while pregnant.


Stefanie Schocke said...

I would freak out, too! As a mother, you did the right thing for you baby, making sure he was okay. Glad to hear you both are well. Scary!

Kirsten said...

Good for you that everything went ok! First of all. Second: You've got to relax!!! Nothing is going to happen to your wonderful baby, these little things are so strong - think of all the things that women do to get rid of them and they come out all healthy. You are going to make yourself sick with all this worry! Go on running, enjoy your pregnancy and you'll see, you will have the healthiest and most beautiful baby in the world!!
And of course it's terrible to be checked by other doctors and you know exactly why. That's why I, as a nurse, never take my ill kids to the doctors, they will come over it eventually and I anyway wouldn't want them to take any medications. My kids have had antibiotics maximum once in their lifes - but maybe that's just luck...

Kirsten said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirsten said...

On this blog I found this link and thought it might be something for you as a vegetarian
This blog is also full of good stuff:


cherelli said...

Agh, what a stressful day! So glad it seems everything will be fine.

Tracizzle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sea legs girl said...

Just wanted to thank you guys for the support and comments. The baby is STILL KICKING, so I think all is still well and yea, Kirsten, it is safe to say I need to calm down, but my God it is hard not to panik when the emergency personel on the phone told me to get the train conductor to stop the train - that was definitely the low point of the day :).

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Glad to hear everything is ok.

I saw this article recently and thought of you: It's from Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2011 43, 639. Basically it says that recreational activity in early pregnancy reduces the risk of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Probably not news to you, but encouraging I think.


SteveQ said...

Looks like I won't be seeing you at Chippewa. Helen says she'll be there, so trip her for me.

The Lorax in the second photo in your last post looks just like a Rembrandt painting. So nice of you to make sure he had proper lighting; north-facing window? That's what artists always tell me they want.

And I'm glad you didn't do anything stupid in your momentary panic.

Anonymous said...

I’m surprised you didn’t pull off your shoes, dive from the moving train off of a bridge into a lake, swim 6 miles to shore and run barefoot for 50 miles to the nearest ER, because unlike mild electrical shocks, there are absolutely no scientific studies definitively showing that any of that other stuff could possibly be harmful to your baby . . . .