"I could have died."
This is what sportscaster Patricia Bermudez-Hizon realized, mere days after giving birth to a healthy baby girl on January 11.
It wasn't because of any complication during childbirth — rather it was a post-birth condition that started with a headache but turned real scary, real fast.
In a phone interview with GMA News Online, the former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) courtside reporter detailed her ordeal as she suffered through a rare condition called postpartum preeclampsia.
Alarmingly, it started with what she described as a "normal headache."
"When I was going through the preeclampsia, I was just having a headache. I wanted to throw up, but you know, it could have been because I lacked sleep," she said.
The night she returned home with her newborn daughter and husband, former PBA player Vince Hizon, she noticed that her feet had started to swell.
The following day, she said it was "so bad," even her face was swelling. She sent a message to her doctors telling them about her symptoms, and with their prompting, she called her husband and was rushed to the hospital.
"My throat felt like it was closing 'cause I was swollen. But then I wasn’t swollen at all before the pregnancy, it was days after the pregnancy that I started swelling up," she narrated. "It was getting harder to breathe."
Upon their arrival to the hospital, medical staff told her that they needed to monitor her liver and kidneys. Because they didn't want her to panic, Patricia said they "downplayed the entire situation."
She asked them, “Why liver and kidneys? I’m complaining of breathing so shouldn’t it be my heart?”
"Apparently my organs were failing at that time," she said.
From where Vince was standing, it was a rush of tense car rides and alarming medical terms.
When his wife called her saying that she was having difficulty breathing, he hurried home and took them both to the hospital.
"It was only then we realized her blood pressure was too high. That’s when all the other factors kicked in," Vince recalled. "It got very real, very fast."
"Her blood pressure shot up from her normal which is about 90/50. She went to 130, and then she went to 160. And then they were putting the oxygen through the nostrils and the IV, and she had two or three drips. And then it peaked at 190," he continued.
It was at this point that Patricia risked stroke, seizures, and even death.
Doctors administered medicines that would lower her blood pressure, slow down her heart rate, and stop the protein from leaking from her body and into her urine.
Thankfully, she was eventually stabilized — but the emotional toll will probably leave scars.
"Apart from the emotional, you can actually recover from preeclampsia. It's so funny ano, you can recover from it, but you can also die from it," Patricia said.
At 42 and now with three children, Patricia considers herself to be a fit and healthy person.
This just goes to show how the condition can hit any mother who's just given birth, something that she wishes to emphasize.
"Wala siyang pinipili eh. Really there is no known cause for it, it just happens," she said.
She tells women: don't brush off your symptoms.
"In a blink of an eye you can have that. That’s why I keep getting emotional every time I think about it. I could have just ignored it. It was easy to just ignore it. It was easy to just go to bed. For some reason, and I’m so grateful, I was able to let my doctor know," she said.
Patricia said she will have to live with her condition for a while. She's expected to be cleared of it come April, but for now, she has to take it easy.
She monitors her blood pressure three to four times a day, and should her heart rate go higher than they want it to be, she has to lie down and rest. She also has several maintenance medicines to take.
Vince meanwhile was reminded of how precious life is because of the incident.
"It really just happened so quick and it once again proves how fleeting and how fragile life is. It can be taken away so fast, I’m just having an attitude of gratitude right now," he said.
"Just as happy as we are about having our new baby daughter, we could have easily been planning a funeral right now, and that’s so sad, so scary."
—JCB, GMA News