[The Brazil Times nameplate] Overcast ~ 53°F  
High: 61°F ~ Low: 48°F
Monday, May 2, 2016

Area family copes with dreadful illness

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Dispennett family, Jacob, Alexa, Lana, Isaac and Rob.
Imagine the world's worst migraine headache. The sensitivity to light, sound, motion and especially odors, creating a miserable experience for anyone who suffers. Then add the worst case of morning sickness with nausea, vomiting, extreme fatigue and mood swings. Now, imagine that these symptoms last for several months, often to the end of the pregnancy.

This is what the Dispennett family has been dealing with for the last four months.

Lana Dispennett has a rare condition, Hyperemesis Gravidarum. It is found in only 0.5 percent of pregnant women.

It usually affects first-time mothers, and can last for up to five months or to the end of the pregnancy. Lana is special, she has had HG with her third and now, fourth child.

"I've had morning sickness, and this is so completely different," Lana said. "In fact, this time I've had it worse than I did with the last pregnancy."

At 20 weeks into her pregnancy, Lana feels that HG is finally beginning to subside.

"This week is the first time I've sat upright, taken a real shower, and enjoyed being with my family in almost four months," Lana said.

A registered nurse, Lana worked with post-partum mothers, and had heard of this condition before. She never dreamed she would have it herself.

"This usually strikes younger mothers, not ones that have already had children," Lana said. "This is such a debilitating condition that if you suffer from it, you usually end up hospitalized."

Lana was hospitalized with her third child, Isaac, and had to be fed intravenously. She was also hospitalized in July with this child.

The condition causes such extreme nausea and vomiting that those who suffer from it end up losing more than 10 percent of their total body weight. HG can result in many complications for the mother that can include dehydration, fever and abdominal pain, blood pressure changes and vitamin deficiencies.

In addition, many babies born to women who have HG have low birth weight.

The physical problems associated with this condition aside, HG has a tremendous impact on the entire family, mentally, physically and emotionally.

"I had decided to stay home with my children after Isaac, (2) was born," Lana said. "I home schooled Jacob, (14) and Alexa, (12) and we were all so very close. Then I got HG again, and it all fell apart."

Lana's husband Rob is a preacher for the Knightsville Church of Christ, and was able to fill in during her time of need, but that was not without its own share of problems.

"Isaac was such a mommy's boy that when Lana got sick, I couldn't get him to eat," Rob said. "He cried and cried for his mother and it took a long time for him to want my help."

According to Rob, the sudden loss of his wife, best friend and mother of his children was devastating.

"She was so incredibly ill," Rob said. "She moved into Jacob's room because it was the farthest from the noise of the household. She had the shades drawn and the room was always dark because light hurt her eyes. We had to start eating outside because the smell of food would make her vomit and she wouldn't be able to stop. We couldn't talk to her, or see her and that was really hard on us. I couldn't hold her or do anything to help her feel better and I've never felt so helpless."

"I didn't care," Lana said. "I was so deathly ill that I was only thinking of myself. I didn't care that Rob had to do all the chores, take care of the children and work himself. I was so inside myself, and constantly vomiting that I just didn't have the strength to allow myself to feel for them."

This type of illness also lends itself to massive guilt when the afflicted person starts to feel better.

"I feel so bad for them now," Lana said. "They were troopers, and yet, they were so concerned for me and I didn't even want to see or speak with them. In fact, one day Rob came into the bedroom, quickly, and I just looked at him and growled 'What do you want?' He said that he wanted to talk to me, and I just told him 'You let the smells in.' he left and I felt guilty, and then I got sick and just didn't care anymore."

The HG got so bad that Lana's doctor prescribed her medication to ease the nausea and vomiting, and she didn't even care that it might affect the baby.

"I feel guilty now," Lana said. "But at the time, I just wanted it to stop. Now I feel guilty that I took drugs that might affect the baby's health. I felt so many emotions during these last four months. I was angry that this happened again. I was angry that instead of being excited about the new baby, buying baby clothes and decorating the baby's room, I was stuck in bed. The time I had with my other children before the baby comes has been lost. I was afraid that I was so sick that I'd lose this child and afraid at times that I would die, or that I wouldn't die and just be stuck like this forever. Time drags when you are this sick."

One of the hardest things for the Dispennett family was accepting help. Help from each other and from their large church family.

Rob and Lana Dispennett have giving natures, and have professions devoted to giving to others. So it was very hard to find themselves on the receiving end of the offers of help.

"I don't know what we would've done without the church family," Rob said. "They cooked dinner for us, took the kids on outings and even raised funds to help pay the medical bills."

Raising funds for the medical bills was a huge relief to the Dispennett family. Their insurance policy doesn't cover any pregnancy related expenses, and they were scrambling to pay for the delivery before it happened so that they could get a reduced rate.

"The doctors and the hospital really worked with us," Rob said. "We were scrambling because the medicine that Lana was taking to stop the vomiting cost almost $4,000 a month. She had to have it, and the church raising money to help us was such a blessing."

Blessings are something that the Dispennett family doesn't take for granted, neither is good health.

"I have so much empathy for single parents or those caring for an invalid," Rob said. "I was so overwhelmed that I felt I was in a fog for a while. Trying to be everything for everyone and do it all myself was overwhelming."

With Lana coming to the half way mark of her pregnancy, they can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

"We are seeing the doctor this week, and we may learn whether we are having a daughter or a son," Lana said. "At this point, we just want a healthy baby."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: