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Reading is something I do everyday. I have a friend who was trying to quit smoking weed once upon a time. He was about to become a first-time father and felt he needed to give up his habit. I could tell that it was a challenge for him. Bear with me…this really is relevant. We discussed the possibility of exchanging this particular habit for another.

“What is it you love most about it?” I asked him.

He thought for a minute, his face became soft, and he answered, “It’s just that one selfish thing I look forward to at the end of the day–the way I reward myself for working so hard.”

“My library book,” I said.

“What?” he asked.

“Your smoke is like my library book. It is the last thing I want at the end of the day. It is something I look forward to every night–the way I reward myself for working so hard,” I told him.

I know I couldn’t exchange my habit for another. I’m fairly certain he didn’t, either.

I am currently reading “Beyond Morning Sickness” by Ashli McCall.

I actually own this book for a very unusual reason. The author was gracious enough to send a copy for me as well as a copy for my young friend who was suffering this pregnancy-related disease.

It has been so long since I thought about the days of pregnancy when I was starving to death. I spent a total of two years of my life (among four pregnancies) unable to eat. Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a rare, unrelenting form of illness that affects 0.3% to 2.0% of the pregnant population. I haven’t seen it often in others but I always recognize it when I do.

Here’s the foreword:

 

From the Foreword (Jeffrey W. Wall MD, FACOG)

 

Ashli McCall has a terrible story to tell. It is a story of suffering, hopelessness and anguish, a story that brings us to the edge of human endurance and to the decision that no new mother-to-be expects to face. Unfortunately, it is not her story alone but the story of countless women worldwide. Hyperemesis gravidarum takes its terrible toll every day. As a disease it is under-studied, poorly understood, and fraught with the myths of years of misinformation and misunderstanding from the medical profession. We as doctors teach it to our students poorly and have handed down years of tradition founded on suspect science and bad medicine. We tell our patients to just “get over it;” we tell them it’s all in their head. We are trained to make our patients better but in reality are poorly armed to do so. In our frustration it becomes easy to blame the patient. I know. I’ve done it.

This book is a step in the direction of understanding a horrible condition. The first time I read it I was astonished at the depth of information it contained. It is extremely well researched, and the clear, concise writing provides a firm basis of understanding for those wanting, needing to learn more about this condition. But this book is more than just a collection of medical facts. Those who read it will gain real insights into the human suffering that women with hyperemesis endure. Readers will also find hope and wisdom for those experiencing the condition and understanding for those who live with and love them.

Seventeen years have passed since my last pregnancy. Although my midwife was more sensitive than most health professionals I’d dealt with in hospital settings, there was no real help to be found. Each day was like a slow death. I fantasized about food but I couldn’t hold food down. I was thirsty from the top of my head to the soles of my feet, but again, I couldn’t hold liquids.

If you know someone who suffers from this disease, I would encourage you to contact Ashli McCall. She will actually get the book into your hands free of charge. It might even be delivered the very next day. Mine was. That’s how desperate this disease can be. It took a mother who suffered through it four times to actually do the research and put this book together in a most valiant effort to help others.

 

 

 

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