For most women, there is an expectation that you will experience some morning sickness. However, for a percentage of women, they have morning sickness on steroids, also know as Hyperemsis Gravidarum, or HG for short. I’ve had extreme HG during both pregnancies. Between the two, I was hospitalized a total of seven times due to Hyperemesis Gravidarum. One option for getting through pregnancy with Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a Zofran Pump. When I was first told I was going on a pump, I was curious what it entailed. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much info on the Internet at the time. I’m hoping to fix that with a glimpse into my life with a Zofran Pump.
What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening pregnancy disease marked by rapid weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration due to unrelenting nausea and/or vomiting with potential adverse consequences for the mom-to-be and the newborn(s). At the end of both pregnancies, I weighed less than the day I took a pregnancy test. I personally dropped 30 pounds very quickly and then slowly gained some of it back over the course of the pregnancy.
Life With a Zofran Pump
A Zofran pump is similar to an insulin pump for someone with Diabetes. My pump controls the medicine–a constant drip of Zofran (a strong anti-nausea medicine often given to chemo patients, which is also effective in battling Hyperemesis.) The Zofran pump goes with me everywhere, including the shower. The pump can’t get wet, so I have a plastic pouch it goes in. The plastic the pouch is made out of shower curtain liner material.
The pump is attached to my stomach through a tiny catheter. I have to change the infusion site every day. It doesn’t really hurt to put the tiny needle into my abdomen, but it does get sore the longer it has been in my stomach. The medicine is constantly dripping and pools under my skin to be absorbed. It gets red, sore, and occasionally itchy. The red spots stay for several days and often bruise. I find that I’m running out of places to stick myself that aren’t still sore and trying to heal.
Since I stick myself daily, I must have a “Bio-Hazard” Container. The home health company doesn’t provide one for you, just the sticker. We’re using a large bottle left over from apple juice. Good thing we recycle, or we wouldn’t have had an empty container ready. The sharps container resides in our laundry room high out of my son’s reach among my cleaning supply stockpile.
Since I’m constantly using medicine and supplies, I get weekly visits from the FedEx delivery man. I feel important answering my door in my jammies to find boxes labeled with expiration dates and emergency shipment warnings.
The medicine in the box is always accompanied by an ice pack to keep the medicine cold in transit. I immediately count them and place them in the refrigerator until it’s their turn in the pump.
I also receive new kits for changing my infusion sites. These include everything I need to change my site daily. Basically there is a needle with a catheter threaded inside of it. When I pull the needle out of my skin, the catheter stays in my skin. It sounds complicated, but it is surprisingly simple. I usually have my husband poke me. I can and have changed the site, but I find that I “chicken out” half way through and it hurts more when I do it. Yes, I’m a wimp. I also receive new batteries to keep the pump running.
I have to stand on the scale every morning to keep a close watch on my weight. The home health care nurse calls me each morning to get my weight report. Since I don’t have an appetite and I’m getting sick often, this is a very big deal. So far, I’ve lost 13 pounds in 2 weeks. Normally I’d be ecstatic about this weight loss, but since I’m “eating for two” it isn’t something good. It means my body is using my fat stores and basically eating itself. Since I’m not up and active due to the extreme nausea, I’m becoming weak and wobbly. (Just for reference, I lost 30 pounds with my first pregnancy. I delivered Jonah at a healthy 7 lbs 11 oz. I did not have a pump during that pregnancy and was in the hospital 5 times.)
Another daily routine I now have is checking my urine for ketones (something often associated with diabetes.) The evidence of ketones in my urine lets the nurse know how dehydrated I am. If my ketones get too high, I’ll have to have another round of IV fluids. Oh, the importance of daily peeing on a stick.
There you have it…life with a zofran pump. It’s no fun. It’s definitely not glamorous.
For more info about Hyperemesis Gravidarum visit the Hyperemesis Education & Research Foundation.
Resources for Hyperemesis Gravidarum Survival
Did this post help you? Share with your friends and family so they can get a glimpse of what you’ll be going through on your Zofran pump.
Update: If you are a pregnant woman going through Hyperemesis Gravidarum, please know that you can make it. Both of my boys are happy and healthy. They were worth it. Carry on, warrior.