Kate Middleton’s pregnancy illness has been a bizarre and grueling look into the sideshow that often surrounds the Royal Family, as the Duchess of Cambridge’s rare complication has set off a domino effect of sad events, including the suicide of an attending nurse who was pranked by Australian DJs during the royal’s hospitalization.
But Hyperemesis Gravidarum — frequently abbreviated as HG — is a serious illness for sufferers like Kate Middleton (star Holly Madison was also recently hospitalized for symptoms of the condition), and if the media attention is any indication, few understand the gravity of HG.
Molly Atkins is a longtime internet friend of mine as well as prominent and vocal advocate for women who are afflicted with Hyperemesis Gravidarum during their pregnancies. Her extensive research and experience with HG prompted her to start a blog titled Knocked Up, Knocked Over, with the hopes of reaching out to women who have discovered they have the condition and struggle to find resources and support while battling its devastating and potentially life-threatening effects.
Molly agreed to answer some questions about her experiences with the disease brought into the spotlight by Kate Middleton’s sudden hospitalization, as well as explain what Hyperemesis Gravidarum is like from the perspective of a sufferer — medically, professionally, and personally.
While many assume HG is “just morning sickness” — singer Morrissey recently commented about the Duchess’ hospitalization and indicated as such — Molly explains that the extremes of the condition are far more dangerous and life-altering than garden-variety pregnancy nausea. (Which, as all moms know, is no walk in the park.)
Below are some questions we asked Molly about her HG struggle and her answers.
Inquisitr: What is HG and how does it differ from morning sickness?
While it is technically true that HG is an extreme form of morning sickness, comparing the two is like saying that a tsunami is an extreme form of ripples in a pond. For women with HG, the vomiting becomes so severe that they lose significant weight, can vomit bile and even blood from tears in the esophagus and stomach lining, and worse, experience malnutrition and dehydration that can threaten their lives. [Author’s note: Death can also result, and Charlotte Bronte is believed to have died from HG complications at the age of 38.]
Inquisitr: Don’t most women cope with it without medical help? Does pregnancy nausea really warrant a hospital trip?
I am really glad you asked that. Most women with morning sickness cope just fine without medical help. Ginger tea, acupuncture, and nibbling crackers can really help with morning sickness, but the important thing to remember is that morning sickness is often simply a normal part of pregnancy. Hyperemesis is not a normal part of pregnancy, and because of how serious it can get if left untreated, it’s important to treat it aggressively to prevent harm to the mother and baby.
Another point I would like to make is that many women with HG carry a tremendous amount of guilt for their illness. I remember when I was sick [during my first pregnancy], apologizing to everyone for being such a bother. I felt so guilty for how sick I was that I delayed seeking treatment and tride to hide just how sick I was.
I didn’t realize at the time that I had HG, and I told myself that all women get sick when they’re pregnant. I scolded myself for not being able to tough it out like everyone else. Because I delayed in seeking more aggressive treatment, my illness became so bad that I began to contemplate suicide. I will forever be thankful for the home health nurse that knew to watch for signs of depression. They immediately switched my medication and admitted me to the hospital, and I am certain that their quick action saved my life.
Inquisitr: What effect does Hyperemesis Gravidarum have on a woman’s life?
You know, there are so many aspects of HG that impact a woman’s life because of how debilitating it is. Aside from suddenly finding themselves unable to work, unable to care for other children, and unable to participate in their normal daily activities, it can be shocking to have to deal with the reality of the illness itself.
I remember feeling completely overwhelmed when I was suddenly expected to have to manage my IV lines and know how to handle my PICC line. I’m not a doctor, so I made mistakes. I remember having to do a saline flush one night on my IV and suddenly realizing that I had forgotten to push the air out of my syringe before starting the flush. I remember sitting there looking at that tube, seeing 3 inches of air in there and thinking, “What do I do now? Doesn’t air in an IV kill you?”