Swollen ankles, as soon as the doctor said that about Sybil, I knew she was going to have pre-eclampsia and that she would die. And then I shuddered and could not stop crying. I was so frustrated when the fancy doctor wrote it off, frustrated as time was ticking and I knew there was no turning back. I looked at their faces as they panned the room and it was grim. I knew she was about to seize before she did. And why? Why did I know all these horrid symptoms? Because I had pre-eclampsia, I was induced and treated and monitored and was ok, I never developed eclampsia. But in hindsight it was scary as Hell, to read over the symptoms and what happens. It is scary because the symptoms aren’t anything outstanding- swollen ankles (like many pregnant women have) and maybe headaches if your pressure is up. I had many more symptoms, but thought they were part of pregnancy- swollen face and arms also, pain in my upper abdomen and super high pressure, and then vomiting eventually. I know now no one would retain an extra 20 pounds of water weight in one week, even if it is July. But at the time, I never knew how serious this was. And while many viewers think of well childbirth was rough in Edwardian England, there are women today who do not survive pre-eclampsia/eclampsia. There are women who get medical help too late, who don’t live close enough to medical care, women who have no idea what they are feeling isn’t normal pregnancy stuff and then it’s too late.
This is the second UK show to focus on eclampsia (Call the Midwife did also), and there more people who are aware the better.
As a survivor I will never see a show or read a story about pre-eclampsia, I will never see a NICU on tv, without crying, without going back there. It was the most traumatic experience in my life.
So thank you Downton Abbey, thanks for putting eclampsia back in the face of millions, like that old public service announcement used to say the more you know..