Every time I want to retreat from medicine, stories Like Angela Burgin Logan’s give me reasons to press on. Angela almost died having a baby because her physician was too careless to listen. Stories like Angela’s is what inspired me to write The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy. I saw too many “near-miss” and “near-death” occurrences among pregnant women and decided to do something about it because most of them are preventable.
Angela is a 30-something year old African American alumnus of Syracuse University who has extensive business experience as a marketing executive for celebrities and is also married to one. She had an uneventful pregnancy up until her late second trimester when she developed signs and symptoms that any trained obstetrician would have immediately recognized as impending pre-eclampsia. She gained five pounds a week and developed swelling. She could only sleep propped up on a pillow because she couldn’t breathe pillow. She complained of shortness of breath and difficulty walking. All of her complaints were disregarded by her physician and staff in a condescending manner. It was only after she gained 15 pounds in one week did her physician reluctantly order lab tests based on her insistence.
On the night of her delivery, she went to the hospital because she could not breathe. Her blood pressure was extremely high, her platelets were low and she had significant protein in the urine. Angela had a lethal variant of pre-eclampsia called the HELLP Syndrome. Against Angela’s wishes, she was forced to lie on her back for a nursing procedure and fluid seeped into her lungs. She lapsed into a coma. An emergency C. Section was performed and it was discovered that she had an enlarged heart. Her infant daughter was born in distress and there was an 80 percent chance that Angela would die. Thank God she didn’t. Angela is now on a mission to warn pregnant moms about pre-eclampsia and urges them to “trust their instincts.” I totally agree.
Arrogance and condescension have no place in a patient-physician relationship and is a sure-fire way to end up in court. I urge all pregnant women to become proactive regarding their prenatal care and above all, trust your instincts. The days of the passive patient are gone. A healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.