Category Archives: Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Posts that focus on HG

Going out with a bang

Hi everyone,

It’s now 3 weeks after Lake Placid and I thought it would be fitting to finish my blog with an entry after the Luray tri, as it was with that race that the blog began a year ago.

It can be a long process recovering from an ironman, but it seems to be going pretty well for me. I had trouble walking for about three days, but from then on the recovery has been pretty fast. I resumed training slowly a week after the race and the last few days I’ve felt the best I’ve ever felt. However, feeling incredible and actually performing well are two things, so I was interested to see how my performance went in Luray.

luray

Getting ready for the race start with Ben

Being a sprint triathlon I went out really hard as I began the one loop swim of Lake Arrowhead. About 100 yards in I could see there were not many people in front of me, which is something I’m not really used to in open water swims. I found someone to draft off and settled in for the next couple of hundred metres, but then I could feel them fade so I surged out on my own. When I reached the beach I was shocked to see nobody ahead of me!

I was in fact in third position – the first two guys were so far ahead of me I couldn’t even see them, but I had just completed the swim of my life! At Luray last year I was very much a middle of the pack swimmer and it felt great to know all those hours in the pool have paid off. I was gasping for breath a little, but maintained my form as I made a quick transition and got onto the bike course.

Once on the bike I quickly caught sight of second place and looked to take some time off them on the first hill. I powered up, but right as I neared the top my bike ruined the serenity of the Blue Ridge foot hills with a deafening pop. I had burst my rear inner tube! With less than a mile of the bike course completed I retired from the race.

I was frustrated to say the least, but that’s triathlon and I have found you simply cannot beat Murphy’s Law sometimes. I’ve managed to post finishing times for only 50% of the triathlons I’ve entered this year! However, I feel incredibly lucky as on inspection of my tube it would appear it was simply a burst seam, probably caused by age. This could have happened at any time and yet I managed to get in all 112 miles of the Lake Placid course before it did. Less than a mile of outdoor cycling later and there it goes – maybe on this occasion I did get the better of Murphy!

So now I guess it’s a question of what’s next for me. I still have no desire to do anything as crazy as an ironman again anytime soon. Right now I’m leaning towards focusing on running again and focusing on middle distance. While I love triathlon, it involves a lot of preparation for each race, very early mornings and the added risk factor of your bike letting you down. With running races you just rock up 30 minutes before the race, collect your race packet and off you go for a few minutes. Anything that involves more sleep seems like a much better option when you’ve got a little guy to take care of!

Nevertheless, I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to compete at Lake Placid and complete an ironman. It was a lot of hard work to train for, but it was an incredibly satisfying experience I’ll always be able to look back on fondly.

I was also glad to do my bit, however small, for hyperemesis gravidarum research. I’d like to thank everyone who donated for their generosity. Altogether we raised $1540, which goes an incredibly long way with the HER Foundation. The HER Foundation has very few overheads (e.g. it does not have a paid staff) and really makes every donation go a long way, so if you are ever looking to give to charity in the future I’d strongly encourage you to keep them in mind.

Of course, raising money was only part of the cause and I really wanted to help get the word out about HG and its effect on families. Please take the next opportunity you get to educate someone you know on HG (with the recent royal birth you have an excellent ice breaker!) So many expectant mothers are suffering from this debilitating illness and have no idea what it is – let’ do them all a big favour and help spread the word so they can get the treatment they need.

I’ve had fun writing the blog, so thanks for reading along and for your words of encouragement along the way!

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May 15: HG Awareness Day

As you may be aware, today is Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day. It is only the second year that HG has had an official awareness day and not surprisingly awareness of the disease is still not great. HG continues to be one of the most misdiagnosed pregnancy complications affecting the health of both mothers and babies.

hg-world-day-2013-2

The purpose of HG Awareness Day is to encourage people to find out more about HG and help educate others on the disease. Almost 20% of HG pregnancies are lost to therapeutic abortions. These are wanted pregnancies that mother’s are forced to terminate because of a lack of adequate care.

As a way to help increase awareness, I’ve put together a quiz titled “How HG Aware are you?“. Each question is True or False and you’ll find the answers posted in the comments of this post below.

  1. Women who suffer HG in one pregnancy are 70% likely to suffer it in additional pregnancies.
  2. Women in the 35-44 year age group are the most likely to be affected by HG in their pregnancies.
  3. Babies born of mothers with HG are more likely to be born underweight
  4. HG is highly contagious
  5. HG is typically accompanied by significant weight loss (usually more than 10%)
  6. US law protects women suffering from HG from losing their jobs
  7. Intravenous hydration is commonly used in treating HG
  8. HG symtoms rarely continue past the first trimester of pregnancy
  9. One symptom of HG can be an acutely increased sense of smell
  10. HG is curable with a healthy diet and proper rest
  11. Women with HG are 60% more likely to give birth to a girl than women without HG
  12. HG is a strong indication that the mother is pregnant with twins or other multiples

Of course research is continuing into HG and hopefully we will have more answers to what causes HG and how to best treat it. I’d encourage you to contribute to the HER Foundation (it’s tax deductible and the management of the charity are not paid a salary). If you do please post a comment on my donate page (it can be anonymous) so I can keep track of the fundraising campaign. Currently we’re just shy of $1000 and a few small donations will get us over the milestone. Your help is greatly appreciated!

HER 5k

Hi everyone,

Mother’s Day ended up being a very memorable experience for our family and not only because Benjamin decided to start crawling (covering about 4 feet so he could attack his alphabet caterpillar with his ferocious gums). The day began with the HER 5k, a race very close to Brynn’s and my heart given our experience with HG last year.

The day could only be better than last year’s Mother’s Day, given Brynn was in hospital fighting off an infection caused by the PICC line she had been given for intravenous feeding. That particular visit lasted five days. It was a huge contrast to see Brynn happy and full of energy this year, back to her usual self.

This Mom IS one tough chick

This Mom IS one tough chick!

The race was full of other mothers who had survived HG and it was a great opportunity for them to share their stories with each other. Given how little known HG still is I think it must be huge for these women to be able to speak to so many other people that truly understand what they have been through. While I saw Brynn suffer for the longest nine months of our lives I can only start to imagine the physical pain she went through, so it was fantastic that she was able to connect with so many strong mothers who had survived similar ordeals.

Of course, in addition to the social opportunity there was a race to be run and I was intent on having a good go at it. Once the gun went off I was all business and surged out at a steady pace. Coming around the first corner I was in the lead and settled into a firm but comfortable tempo I felt I could hold for the next 5k. The course was predominantly flat, but presented a little bit of a challenge in that a quarter of it was on crushed sea shells – not a surface I would typically run on! At the half way turn around I had about a minute’s lead on the competition. I held my pace and surged towards the finish line only to realise I actually had to run past the finish about 300 metres and then turn around before crossing the line. Fortunately I still had enough left in the reserve tank to complete the final section and finish the race in 17 minutes 49 seconds – a full minute better than the last 5k I ran over a year ago and enough to secure a win.

Passing the fan club en route to the finish

Passing the fan club en route to the finish

Once I was done I gave myself a quick breather before jogging off to find Brynn, who was walking the course with Benjamin and her parents. I found them and was able to complete the course a second time… this time at a much more leisurely pace thankfully. Benjamin seemed to be quite excited at the start of the race, but by the time I caught up to him he was fast asleep.

Benjamin gave the medal the old fashioned bite test - it wasn't 24 carat gold

Benjamin gave the medal the old fashioned bite test – it wasn’t 24 carat gold

All in all the HER 5k was a huge success and looks set to continue for many more years to come. I think we have a new annual tradition for Mother’s Day.

HER 5k for Mother’s Day

Hi again,

I’ve been slowly getting back into my running lately and have been doing some 5k’s on the treadmill. So far my knee is holding up great so I’ll continue to increase my mileage slowly and before you know I’ll be ready for the marathon leg at Lake Placid.

Before then though I’m looking forward to a few 5k races and as the HER 5k registration just opened up I was sure to get my entry in. Being at the National Harbor in early May I’m sure it will be a very pleasant way to spend Mother’s Day. Not only that, but the funds raised go to the HER foundation, the same charity I am trying to raise awareness for with my participation at Lake Placid.

I’d really like to do anything I can to get as many people out to the National Harbor in May, so for any readers who enter the race by March 15 I will personally donate $20 to the HER Foundation (* for up to 15 people). Simply register through Active by going through the race website (http://www.her5k.org/) and then post a reply to this post below.

If you’d like to show your support, but simply can’t make it out to Maryland on Mother’s Day there is also a virtual registration option. This allows you to do any 5k course in your own time and post your results with the race organizers.

Alternatively if you’d like to show your support but just aren’t the running type the race is still looking for volunteers.  That’s exactly what Brynn and Benjamin will be doing (and I when I’m not running), so if you’d like to lend a hand please either contact the race organizers through the website or drop me a line.

Ben enjoying the cold weather with his Dad

Ben enjoying the cold weather with his Dad

On the note of upcoming competitions March is almost upon us! One of the local gyms has an indoor triathlon next weekend, so I’ve entered that. It involves a 10 minute swim, 10 minute transition, 30 minute spin cycle, 5 minute transition and a 20 minute treadmill run. Each athlete receives a score for the distance they are able to complete and then the winner is the person with the highest score. I’m looking forward to releasing a few competitive juices after a long winter!

The closest I will ever get to HG

Hi everyone,

This last week I think I got as close as a man can get to actually having Hyperemesis Gravidarum – I got a nasty case of food poisoning. It all began with what seemed like a nice meal from Noodles & Company, but several hours later turned out to be one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life.

I was on Ben watch until 1am and when Brynn came to relieve me I felt fine. However, just a few hours later I woke up with intense feelings of nausea like I have never experienced (if you don’t want to read about getting sick you might want to skip the rest of this paragraph). When I wasn’t running to the bathroom I just curled up in the fetal position and moaning to myself. After three hours I finally brought the meal back up and had some temporary relief.

About an hour later the nausea returned, though not as intense than before. Then I began to have a really bad headache and feel really dizzy. I also developed a mild fever and began feeling delirious, which was probably exacerbated (or caused) by the amount of fluid loss I’d incurred. Fortunately that part of it cleared up the following evening and I just had to deal with the other symptoms in various capacities for the next few days.

While I certainly wasn’t glad to have had food poisoning, the experience did give me a deeper appreciation for what Brynn and other HG sufferers have to go through in their pregnancies. The main difference was that the worst of my food poisoning lasted one day… I could not imagine dealing with that for an entire pregnancy! Also, I only had to worry about myself – I didn’t need to stress about the potential of my illness harming an unborn baby.

One thing that really resonated with me was how Brynn had always told me that the nausea was far worse than the vomitting that comes with HG. The first doctor that Brynn saw told her she would need to start throwing up more if she wanted her case taken more seriously (despite the fact she’d been in the ER three times for dehydration – did I mention she was a quack?) However, the vomitting that comes with HG is sometimes (but not always) seen by HG sufferers as a good thing as it gives them a window of opportunity where their nausea subsides to a point that they can eat and drink a few things. I knew Brynn wasn’t faking it, but it’s impossible to imagine feeling that nauseous until you’ve been through anything so intense. Now that I’ve had an insight it baffles me how she was able to go through it so long. The nausea incapacitates you – you simply can’t eat, sleep or do anything until that window of opportunity comes around.

I’m still not 100% recovered yet, but at least it’s more manageable now. I’m able to eat quite a bit, but I think I’ll be on a pretty bland diet for at least another week. I had four days off training (which is how you know I’m feeling bad!), but got back on the bike last night for an easy 20 minute spin.

My parents were staying with us at the time so I was lucky that we had a few extra hands to look after Benjamin (and me!) Fortunately I was the only one that was affected, I don’t know what we would have done if we all came down with food poisoning!

Ben is getting bigger by the hour

Ben is getting bigger by the hour

The Magical Mystical Bromelain

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. Ours was certainly fun with Benjamin, although he is obviously still a bit young to know what’s going on. He was a good sport though and even had his photo taken on Santa’s knee.

ben_santa

Posing with the big man

As my culinary contribution to the evening feast I decided to make one of my favourite All-American dishes from the south – pineapple cheese casserole. As I figured we would be consuming plenty of other trans fats and sugars, I thought I would tweak the recipe and make it a little healthier. Besides, if I could get it to a healthy enough point there’s no reason we couldn’t make pineapple cheese casserole a weekly staple!

I used less sugar in the recipe and used a mixture of crackers with crushed almonds and cashews for the crust, both of which I think were sound decisions. I also substituted canned pineapple for a fresh pineapple and juiced the core of the pineapple rather than use off-the-shelf pineapple juice. The result? It was absolutely disgusting! The casserole came out completely bitter and I couldn’t even finish what I had served up on my plate.

I couldn’t understand what went wrong. I had tasted the pineapple before making the casserole and it was fine. I had also tasted the juice I made from the core and while it wasn’t particularly sweet it should not have created a bitter taste in the end result. Or could it? The engineer in me went into overdrive and I set about some research.

Ananas

Pineapple fact of the day – once a pineapple is picked it will not ripen any further

It didn’t take me long to discover fresh pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which is destroyed by the processes used in commercial canning and juicing. This enzyme is very unique in that it can break down proteins and as such is often used in commercial meat tenderisers. While the enzyme is contained in the whole pineapple it is particularly concentrated in the core. So when I combined the pineapple chunks and the juiced core with cheese, which is very high in protein, I was brewing up a chemical reaction that would tarnish my already lacking reputation as a master chef (at least I didn’t blow up the kitchen this time!)

However, I couldn’t stop my research there. If bromelain could destroy one of my favourite recipes what else could it do? Well quite a lot as it would turn out:

Digestion: Given it’s ability to break down protein, bromelain can be used as a natural digestive aid.

Anti-inflammatory: Bromelain appears to also be effective outside the digestive system in reducing inflammation and swelling. In fact, a lot of research has been done on bromelain as an anti-inflammatory in Germany and it is now the 13th most popular herbal supplement there.

Sinus Relief: Some studies have shown bromelain to be effective for treating sinusitis. In Germany, it is now commonly used after sinus operations for this reason as well as its anti-inflammatory properties.

Cancer: Still very much early stages, but a recent animal study showed that bromelain was able to stop tumorous growth without causing healthy cells to die. If it can be developed, bromelain may prove to be the basis of a cancer treatment program as effective as chemo-therapy, but without side-effects that come with such an aggressive treatment.

On face value it seems like bromelain is a miracle substance and so my next thought was what it could do for Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I could not find any information on this, but I did come across some posts online from women who said that fresh pineapple had done wonders for their morning sickness. So if any HG sufferers have had any experiences with eating fresh pineapple or fresh pineapple juice (note that canned pineapple and commercial pineapple juice do not contain bromelain) I would really like to hear more about it. (A word of warning to anyone who is going through HG now though – because of its acidity pineapple is extremely painful to bring up. Also, the affects of bromelain on pregnant mothers is completely unknown).

Now that I am about to return to running with a potentially suspect knee, finding out about a natural anti-inflammatory has me very excited. But even if it doesn’t work, it’s a great excuse for drinking more fresh pineapple juice!

Running for HG

Hi everyone,

Well the year is nearly over and I’m happy to report that we’re now over 10% of the way to our $5,000 fundraising goal for HG research. Thank you very much to everyone who has donated so far, your contribution is making a huge difference. With the end of the financial year fast approaching in America, now is a great time to make a tax-deductable donation. If you have any money to spare we’d really appreciate it!

With the end of the year approaching so fast I have another thought on my mind – returning to running. I haven’t jogged 100 yards since Benjamin was born owing to a knee injury I sustained. I decided with all the constraints on my time the easiest and best thing to do would be to go easy on the knee for a while and I decided to not run until the new year. Thank goodness I still have two other disciplines to keep training for- back when I was purely a runner I would be very unpleasant to be around when I couldn’t train!

Early in the season there are often a lot of fun running races around 5-10k in distance. However, there is one in particular that has me excited – the HER Foundation is hosting a 5k run/walk at the National Harbor in Maryland! The race will be held on May 12 (Mother’s Day), so if you’re available please consider entering or volunteering at the event! It’s set to take place on a great course all along the waterfront that will take in views of the harbor as well as the famous “awakening” sculpture.

Find out more about the race here

national_harbour u80-r

If you have never run 5k before it could be a great opportunity to achieve something you might not have thought possible… or even kick start your career as an endurance athlete! 5k is roughly 3.1 miles and while that might seem like a drop in the ocean next to the 140.6 miles I plan on completing in July, I can assure you that that wasn’t always the case for me!

I ran my first 5k race the first year that I came to America. I was still competing at a pretty high level as a 400 metre sprinter back in Australia, but found that the track and field scene was pretty dead for adults in America unless you are at Olympic standard. With work commitments I was finding it very difficult to commit the time needed to maintain my standard and without any training partners or races to look forward to I just couldn’t get motivated.

The final straw was when the local Lacrosse team started taking over my track so I couldn’t train there. Rather than not train I decided to just jog around the neighbourhood and soon I was addicted. I felt like I was getting more from my workouts in a shorter period of time and as I bonus I got to explore the area and take in the scenery. After a few months I told Brynn I was going to do a fun run.

I spent a bit of time looking into races and soon had my first one picked out – the Arlington 9/11 Memorial 5k. Before the race came around I’d already started planning on running a marathon, but that’s a whole other story in itself!

I didn’t really know what a good time for the race would be or what I was capable of. I hadn’t even timed myself on my runs around the neighbourhood. I remembered someone once saying that 4 min k’s were good, so I figured 20 minutes would be a nice round goal to strive for. The race was held in the afternoon, so I expelled a lot of nervous energy most of the day (the apartment had never looked cleaner), but still felt ready to break that mark when I hit the starting line.

When I arrived there seemed to be some pretty fit looking people in the front pack, so I went into the next pack back. Then the gun fired and I was off like scalded cat. I felt good and didn’t have many people in front of me so thoughts began crossing my mind about how I was born to do this and I was just a natural. Then I hit the 1km mark and reality set in – straight away I knew I’d have to ease off the pace if I wanted to be standing at the end.

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Amongst the crowd at the start of the Arlington 9/11 5K

The new pace I adjusted to felt good for the next three k’s, but then my body had another reality check. As I approached the Pentagon the other runners seemed to be getting faster and I was ready to wind down. I really wanted to walk, but had come this far and was determined to get the best possible time I could. I threw everything I had into that final kilometre, but people were passing me like I was standing still. As I turned the final corner I could see the clock – it was still 19 minutes something! I went into an all out sprint and managed to finish in 19:49, beating my goal by 11 seconds.

After crossing the line I sat down on the curbside before I had a chance to collapse. It took about five minutes before I felt I could get up and walk, but I was hooked! I couldn’t wait for my first marathon!

I’m looking forward to running again, but it will be a while before I am full speed again. I’ve begun weight lifting with my legs again to hopefully strengthen any imbalances that may  have led to this current injury that I’m getting over.

In baby news Benjamin had his 8 week doctor visit this week, which sadly meant that he had to get his shots. It’s a big needle for such a little guy, but he handled it surprisingly well – he’s obviously a lot tougher than his old man! Owing to all the milk he keeps drinking he’s now weighing in at 12 pounds, which has rocketed him up the charts since his last check.

I hope everyone has a great Christmas and thanks again to everyone for your support!

More HG in the News

My next post will be up soon. In the meantime I thought I’d share this video I just came across: http://media.smh.com.au/news/world-news/kates-morning-sickness-no-laughing-matter-3907037.html

Interviewed for Today.com

I was contacted by Today this week for a phone interview and this story is the result. It’s great to see HG getting so much attention this week, hopefully this will help with attaining research funding.

Fit for a Princess

Hi everyone,

As you may have seen in the last 24 hours Princess Kate has been diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I really feel for her, but the good news in her case is that the problem has been diagnosed early and she has access to the highest level of health care. Even so she is in for a very rough few weeks at a minimum, where she will probably be in and out of hospital.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Kate’s decision in coming out about HG. There is still some stigma surrounding the condition because of a lack of education and as with anything in life ignorance breeds ignorance. There have been a number of high profile celebrities who have been rumoured to had HG, but have kept it behind close doors fearing it will damage the public’s perception of them. Because the condition is not well understood some people still see it as a psychological problem and for some reason these celebrities think people will see them as crazies and it will affect their careers (but this doesn’t stop celebrities acting crazy in all other kinds of ways!). Bottom line: it took a lot of courage for Princess Kate to make her case public, especially given the early stage of her pregnancy.

Although the silver lining to this thunder cloud is that this will raise awareness for HG, the media reports have been coming out with some pretty strange claims, so to set the record straight:

  • Hyperemsis Gravidarum IS dangerous. HG has resulted in a number of problems including liver failure and babies being born underweight, even when proper medical care is provided.
  • Hyperemesis Gravidarum cannot resolve itself in 48 hours. Although there are exceptions, most cases are only diagnosed when there is a weight loss component of at least 5kg (10lb), which cannot happen in two days. HG by definition lasts at least several weeks.
  • Having Hyperemesis Gravidarum does not necessarily mean that the royals are expecting twins. It means statistically there is a slightly higher chance than with normal pregnancies, but the chances are still slim.
  • One study that I’m aware of has indicated that HG may be more likely to affect mothers in the first trimester if they are expecting a girl. However, it was pretty inconclusive and my son Benjamin is living proof that plenty of boys come from mothers with first trimester HG. So I’d hold off on buying any “It’s a Girl” cards just yet.
  • HG affects pregnant women of all ages. It affects women from all shapes, sizes, ethnic groups, cultures and climates.

The other good news is that the royal family (and the entire commonwealth for that matter) has a new addition to look forward to and when he/she arrives Princess Kate will be completely HG free.

In my wife Brynn’s case giving birth ended up being one of the easiest parts of the pregnancy. And upon looking into young Benjamin’s eyes she knew that all the pain and suffering had been worth it.

Ben doing what he loves most - eating

Ben doing what he loves most – eating

Benjamin is exactly six weeks old today and is in great health. It is really hard to believe that such a healthy baby could be the result of a pregnancy that was fraught with so much sickness, but Brynn and I are incredibly grateful that he is so well. It is very easy to take health for granted until someone close to you has so many difficulties.

Bath time

Bath time