#HAWMC Day 8
What is an item you have kept with you that reminds you of an important time in your life?
I don’t know where I’ve kept this, but I have this picture. It was taken two months after my son was born in 2003. It’s a positive pregnancy test I took 26 Sept 2002.
I diagnosed myself to have a prolactin-producing pituitary tumor in 2000. You can read about that story here. With such a pituitary tumor, menses become irregular and fertility can be impaired. I was taking bromocriptine to lower my prolactin. The protocol was to stop bromocriptine when I confirm I’m pregnant.
I was in my second year of endocrinology fellowship when I got married January 2002. I got pregnant shortly after my honeymoon. But at 12 weeks, I had spotting. I went to see a friend who was in residency at obstetrics. She said let’s just do a quick trans-abdominal ultrasound. I remember how she suddenly became quiet. I asked her what was wrong. And she said I only see a gestational sac, I don’t see a fetus. It could be a blighted ovum. We proceeded to a transvaginal ultrasound, but the findings were the same. Eventually, I had to undergo a D & C. I was advised not to get pregnant for a few months.
And that is why I’ve kept this positive pregnancy test of Sept 2002. This second pregnancy I completed to term. My son was born May 2003.
My third pregnancy was again a blighted ovum. When I got pregnant a fourth time, my husband said this will be the last, be it a girl or boy. My second son was born in 2006.
During pregnancy, the pituitary gland enlarges. If you had a pituitary tumor, that enlarges too. I was afraid that I might develop pituitary apoplexy and lose my eyesight. But at the same time I was praying, as has been the case in several reports, that enlargement of the pituitary gland lead to the tumor outgrowing its blood supply. If that happens, the tumor will shrink.
When I began taking bromocriptine in 2000, I had read a book by Bernie Siegel, Peace, Love and Healing. In it he writes how children with cancer undergoing chemotherapy when asked to draw about their experiences drew either a positive or a negative picture. Those who drew negative pictures like that of a spider crawling into his body from the IV line did not get better as much as those who drew a positive picture like a spaceship bearing bullets that killed the cancer in the body. Bernie then discussed guided imagery. I figured I had nothing to lose following that. So every time I took my bromocriptine tablet, I would imagine it as a rocket going to my pituitary tumor and exploding there. When I got pregnant, I would close my eyes and imagine that blood supply getting cut off and the pituitary tumor shrinking.
That pituitary tumor has since disappeared! I have been off bromocriptine since 2007. I remember when I had that repeat MRI. The radiologist could hardly believe it! I used to have a 2 cm pituitary tumor. But the repeat scan only showed a pituitary stalk deviation, with no tumor. A repeat MRI after that, showed a normal pituitary.
As an endocrinologist, I see women with prolactinoma too. When they disclose their fear of not getting pregnant, I tell this story. I know, God has been good to me.