Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1 year post-surgery

Well, it has been a year since I had my spleen and gallbladder removed.  If you were reading back then, then you know most of the story.  If not, you can check the archives for late December 2009 and January 2010 for details.  I had my spleen removed because I have hereditary spherocytosis.  I had been able to live with it my entire life until something finally put me into a hemolytic crisis.  My spleen began lynching red blood cells and swelled to 3 times its normal size.  The removal of these cells put my liver into overdrive and caused my bilirubin levels to rise.  It also produced a significant, round, black gall stone.  My potassium levels were dangerously low and other bloodwork numbers were off as well.  My hemoglobin dropped to 8.4.  Within weeks of surgery my hemoglobin improved dramatically.  At the doctor for my first prenatal visit, around 10 weeks pregnant/8 months post-surgery, my hemoglobin level was the highest I recall it ever being--13.9.  That was certainly something to celebrate!  I had my blood drawn again last week when I had my 1-hour glucose tolerance test to check for gestational diabetes.  The good news is I'm not diabetic--my blood sugar level was 111.  The bad news was that my hemoglobin is low again.  I was disappointed by this.  It was 10.2.  That is no better than it was at the same time during my last pregnancy.  Bummer!

But let's look at this for a minute.  Last year when my hgb levels were so low, they immediately put me on iron supplements.  It is a standard treatment.  However my iron levels were not low at that time, therefore the supplement did nothing to improve my hgb (something else dramatic was going on).  It is VERY NORMAL for pregnant women in their third trimesters to have a low hemoglobin due to low iron levels.  According to my research, the baby's demand for iron is highest at this time because it is crucial to brain development.  So I am a completely normal pregnant woman.  And I have high hopes that an iron supplement WILL help in this case.  Since I have been tracking the food that I eat (using myfitnesspal.com), I can see that my diet is consistently very low in iron.  This all adds up and makes a lot sense why my numbers came back as they did.  I have also been feeling more tired and run down the past couple weeks, and this certainly helps explain it.  I have started taking an iron supplement now, and in about 6 weeks I will begin taking alfalfa supplements.  These will give my body the boost it needs and [hopefully] will make sure that I don't hemorrhage or have low hgb after the birth of our baby.  :)

The scars on my belly from the surgery (there are 6) are stretching nicely as my belly grows.  I worried that they may not stretch and instead would tug at the skin and be uncomfortable or make stretch marks, but so far so good.  The longest scar where they removed my spleen is about 2 inches long.  I'm still amazed at the whole episode and the surgery.  I catch myself thinking every now and then, "at least I won't have to do THAT again!"  What a relief to have it over and done with! 


  1. Have you ever tried Floradix iron supplements? Those are the best. Totally natural, and won't make you constipated or anything. They improved my energy dramatically during pregnancy.

    I'm really glad to hear that you are doing so well after having major surgery :)

  2. I'm with you on the "at least I won't have to do that again" thing! :) Can't believe that was a year ago already...