TTTS – understanding a unique condition

13 02 2010

When we were diagnosed with TTTS, we were only had it mildly at level one. I remember sitting there being told all of the possible worst-case scenarios – enlarged heart, brain damage, cerebral palsy, death of one or two of the twins. I felt so angry at this doctor going through a shopping list of disaster scenarios, ruining the joy of our first pregnancy. I walked out and said to my husband, “I don’t accept this for my boys.” We told our family, friends and church community, and got everyone to start praying.

We went on a steep learning curve trying to wrap our head around what TTTS was. We learnt that we had  monozygotic twins who had a separate sack but shared a placenta. The problem is the merging of the arteries and veins on the placenta that allow the blood to flow from one twin to the other.  One takes too much, the other doesn’t get enough from the placenta.

Basically at this stage, baby A was the recipient who received more of the blood and nutrients from the placenta than baby B who was the donor. This discrepancy is measured in terms of how much amniotic fluid each baby is existing in. IF the recipient baby is over 8cm of amniotic fluid and the donor is below 2cm of amniotic fluid , you are diagnosed at level one.

We were quite upset, but still really positive that our twins would be apart of the statistics that suggest 80% of level one TTTS pregnancies don’t progress and in fact get better. That was what we hoped and took hold of for our boys.

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Surprised, excited and then nervous. Twins with TTTS.

13 02 2010

We had fallen pregnant rather quickly. I had decided not to get an early scan but rather wait for the 20 week scan morphology. At week 17 I went to my first antenatal check. I had the standard blood pressure, and doppler reading (there was a heart beat!). Then came the measurement of my fundus. The nurse got another nurse to check the measurement, I was 23 cm rather than approx 17 cm. I was rather large for the week! We were then sent to get a scan, I was told I probably had my dates wrong. I knew I hadn’t, anyway we went to have the scan, and there up on the screen was two little heads! She checked the gender, (I asked her to check twice) and we were told we were having identical twin boys! WOW, we were pleasantly surprised. We didn’t have twins on our side of the family so weren’t really expecting twins. We were thrilled though. Unfortunately we were told that it looked as though we had a condition called TTTS (twin to twin transfusion syndrome) as our boys shared a placenta. We were both surprised, excited and then nervous and scared. Our first antenatal visit wasn’t quite what we were expecting…





Don’t like tea? Who am I?

30 10 2009

For the last three months the thought of drinking a hot, perfectly brewed cup of tea, has made me feel nauseous. Thanks to the bizarre symptoms of being pregnant! Iwas just so shocked though to find that my beloved tea was no longer desired…I looked into the depths of my soul and said “You don’t like tea? WHO are you?” Tea has always held a special place in my heart. I have a few close friends who understand the deep pleasure that comes from making and enjoying a good brew; how was I to meet with these same women and drink a cup of water? There was such a poverty in the experience, but at least now I understood how alienated people were who didn’t drink tea, coffee or any herbal tea. But the body (God bless its intelligence) has an aversion to tea in the first trimester due to the fact that caffenated drinks have an emmenagogue property (encourages menstrual cycle). I hope as I come into the next trimester that I will once again be able to enjoy a perfect cup of tea. As my nan said, “everything always seems better after a hot cup of tea!”





Book Review

22 05 2009

The Classic Ten – The true story of the little black dress and nine other fashion favourites by Nancy Macdonell Smith.

 

There is something electric and exciting about the mutability of fashion; its changing trends ebb and flow like the tide. It is however, the true “classics” that become symbols of personal taste and enduring style. The little black dress, the white shirt, the cashmere sweater, blue jeans, the suit, high heels, pearls, lipstick, sneakers and the trench coast are the quintessential items that every woman needs to have in her wardrobe if she is to appear effortlessly chic.

 

Nancy Macdonell, journalist for The New York Times, American Harper’s Bazaar and Wallpaper, explores these classic ten items from their genesis to their iconic status using examples from film, literature, biographies and magazines.  It is strange though that sneakers made the list, this could be a reflection of the book’s American heritage. Apart from this one questionable inclusion in the exclusive list of all that is classic, Nancy writes with poignant insight, sharp wit and persuasiveness.

 

For the woman of the world it is a comfort to have access to a book that re-affirms the timelessness of style. In the fast-paced and forever changing fashion-world sometimes it’s a god-send when you can wear a black cashmere turtleneck and a trench and know you have got it just right; you might not reflect the fashion trend of the moment, you will however transcend it.





Readers Digest Indigestion

21 05 2009

I have recently paid to be harassed by a well-known, slightly pedestrian publication! For just $40 I subscribed to Readers Digest and in return have got my monthly magazine and a labyrinth of papered paraphernalia that is set to send me over the edge.

 My subscription relationship  with the Reader’s Digest started off well but soon unravelled into a nightmare. Can I take out a restraining order against a magazine?

 The promise of a glossy magazine to join the usual bills in the mail box initially sucked me in, oh yeah and the chance to win one million dollars and a hot sports car.

 The magazine arrived faithfully each month, but then the mind games started. Each week I would get these verbose and personalised letters saying I was closer to winning the money and was instructed to look out in the mail soon for a “specially marked” envelop with further instructions. When this first started happening I was mildly thrilled by the prospect. A day or two later, the aforementioned envelop would arrive and I would then have to spend ten minutes (that’s a lot in this time-poor generation) sorting through a myriad of booklets and leaflets to find a particular sticker that then needed to be placed on a certain coupon and returned. I was given set dead lines in which to return the material to still be in the running. This process became more frequent and elaborate as time went on.

 Whose idea was this? This pointless exercise of letters foretelling more letters that contained stickers that needed to be stuck!!

To soften the aggressive marketing that was about to be unleashed, I was sent a  little “free” gift.  Then the next wave of letters and instructions came. They were more complicated and sneaky, but through the op-shop of new junk on offer, the million-dollar carrot was dangled. Dazed with the hope of potential win (I was now in the final group of potential winners – the letter said so!) I got confused and stuck the wrong sticker in the wrong place and then books and poorly made things-you-don’t-really-need started arriving, followed swiftly by the bill. The price was exorbitant and I felt trapped. This whole relationship with the Readers Digest was getting out of hand. In a moment of clarity I decided to send the junk back and start boycotting the whole process.

 I now ride out the subscription period hoping the letter-box shakes, aggressive outbursts and sticker aversion ( I now even struggle to post ordinary letters and bills) will subside.





The New Religion

22 03 2009

We have hit a new low as a society; God is dead and in His place the cosmetic surgeon reigns supreme. Unquestioningly, we have blindly obeyed and embraced the sacred truths and laws of the Beauty Cult. The religious discourse has been borrowed by large food and cosmetic companies as a means of promoting their products and services and controlling their consumers. In a society that has become increasingly more secular, a spiritual void has formed. The collective consciousness about good and evil that was once completely understood within the Judeo-Christian paradigm needed to be renegotiated within the context of a new framework. The guilty pleasures of giving into the temptation of a chocolate biscuit, to the brave spiritualised journey of outer self-improvement have become the more typical focus within popular culture. The signs of sin; gluttony, laziness, giving in to temptation, tanning, and the worst of all, ageing can be restored, redeemed and delivered through the purchase of products or under the expertise of the surgeon.

 

Extreme Make-over, The Swan, Plastic Surgery Before and After and The Biggest Loser all repeat the same narrative; a person is a miserable defect until plastic surgery changed their life. This leads to the logical conclusion that there is no excuse to be ugly. Obtaining this sort of perfected, man-sculpted beauty however, comes with an exorbitant price tag. Are we creating a new social hierarchy based on people’s ability to purchase the right nose, mouth, breasts and jaw line etc? Will the Mercedes car, or luxury watch be replaced by a top surgeon’s signature shnoz as the symbol of our power and wealth? I suppose the good news is that men won’t need to purchase that expensive sports Jaguar to compensate for being less well endowed, when they can elect to get their penises enlarged for a fraction of the cost!





Thin Places in Dreams

16 03 2009

After reading Alison’s post at “Thin Places” (which happens to be a really wonderful post – go read it!) I began thinking about “thin places.”

Thin places are moments in time space where we are closer to having an encounter with God and the spirit realm. I often wonder if in our dreams we often have thin places where we can have deep questions answered and can be reached by God. It sometimes can feel like a gateway between two realms. 

I have had two really full-on spiritual dreams. One was when I was eighteen; I dreamt that a spirit went into me and I went to hell. There was no-one there, no actual fire consuming my flesh although I could see flames all over my body and the sound of burning fire filled my ears. The actual fear, pain and torment though came from the utter loneliness of hell. It was relationally desolate and I began to scream out the name of Jesus. I was then taken to a path where I was walking hand in hand with Jesus.  I knew when I woke up it was more than a dream resulting from too much consumption of cheese (damm that tryptophan!) but a warning from God. I was at a cross-roads in my life and when I retold the dream to my parents a few nights later I was shaking with the gravity of the dream.

The other dream was coming face to face with demons. They were looking at me, I wanted to look away and to break their gaze but I couldn’t.  I have never felt such deep, penetrative HATE in all my life. The hate in their eyes could actually rip the flesh from my body. It was terrifying. I had a new perspectative of where I fitted in the food chain from their perspective after that. And the scripture that states that the “enemy  is a roaring lion waiting to devour us” made a lot more sense.

So are dreams thin places where God and other spirits can communicate with us? What are your experiences of dreams?