Pregnancy reveals chronic liver disease, CHM shares $80,000

By Rachel Glover, Mesa, Ariz.

From the September 2018 issue of Heartfelt Magazine.

My husband, Michael, and I became CHM members in Jan. 2015. We were thankful to find this affordable healthcare cost solution and we enjoy reading Heartfelt Magazine each month.

Michael and I were ecstatic to discover in Sept. 2016 that I was pregnant with our first child. We wanted to try a home birth with an experienced midwife.

During the Christmas season I experienced itching all over my body. After some online research we concluded that it was probably hormonal itching due to the pregnancy.

Nothing to be alarmed about, or so we thought.

However, the itching grew worse and we began to suspect intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP), a disorder in which pregnancy hormones impair liver function; it usually disappears shortly after giving birth. My midwife also had become concerned.

The events that followed happened so rapidly that it made my head spin: the midwife ordered extra lab work; the test results confirmed ICP; I was put under the care of an OB/GYN and was immediately scheduled to see a maternal fetal medicine doctor.

The doctor said he’d only seen one other patient with bile acid levels higher than mine and that I’d need to be induced the following week. Because of ICP, my womb had become a toxic environment and there was a high risk of stillbirth.

Crestfallen because we’d set our hopes on a low-intervention birth, we nevertheless knew the doctor’s recommendation was our little one’s best chance at survival.

Despite many decisions to make in such a short time, we had peace because we felt the prayers of God’s people.

Micaiah Ray Glover was born on April 7, 2017 at 36 weeks gestation and five pounds, nine ounces. By God’s grace, he was healthy and there were no birth complications! My junior high-age stepdaughter, Emmalyn, flew in during her spring break in order to see her new brother while still a newborn. That was an added blessing and help during a challenging time.

However, six weeks after the birth my itching had still not gone away and was actually getting worse. I had become jaundiced and had lost all of my pregnancy weight, plus 10 pounds. I had no appetite and was losing more sleep than usual for a mother of a newborn.

At my six-week postnatal checkup I was referred to a liver specialist. I scheduled an appointment with a physician’s assistant the following week. The day after, she called and instructed me to go directly to the emergency room.

Something was seriously wrong with my liver.

After six long days in the hospital, I was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a rare and chronic disease that damages bile ducts inside and outside the liver. I underwent two procedures to get my bile flowing normally again.

Over the next two months my skin color normalized and the itching went away.

The staff at the hospital where I gave birth was familiar with CHM. They offered a discount of $15,000 if we paid quickly. I called CHM to verify that was the correct thing to do. We also received discounts from the OB/GYN and anesthesiologist. (Editor’s note: Please notify CHM immediately if your healthcare provider sets a deadline on a discount of 40 percent or more.)

Though I also received excellent medical care from the hospital where I’d gone to the emergency room, their billing staff wasn’t as easy to work with. Unfortunately, since it was an emergency I didn’t have time to contact CHM before being treated, but I remembered tips from Heartfelt Magazine and felt confident talking with the hospital staff.

The staff, however, said they didn’t give discounts to CHM members. I called the ministry and was assured that it was going to be OK; I had done my best and CHM would share the bills regardless of whether there was a discount.

At first I was intimidated about keeping track of my expenses and submitting bills and paperwork to the ministry. The ministry staff was patient and gracious in answering my questions and, once I got used to it, sending the information was easier than I anticipated. I even started a filing system to keep track of what was submitted, what was shared, on what we needed to make monthly payments, etc. (Editor’s note: A sample medical bill log for tracking healthcare expenses—maternity or otherwise—is available on our Forms & documents page.)

In all, CHM members shared over $80,000 in medical bills!

Today I still struggle with PSC and fatigue, its primary symptom. I have relapsed a couple of times and had another procedure performed in April 2018. Not much is known about PSC or what causes it, so we’re trying different options with my diet to see what may help.

My condition has humbled me because I’d always been a high-energy person. Now I’m grateful for the days I have energy whenever they occur. Micaiah is a typical active one-year-old and I do my best to keep up with him!

The journey has been frightening. When I was diagnosed with ICP we had to accept that our son might be stillborn. After learning about the PSC I wrestled with the fact that I might not live long enough to see him become an adult.

However, no matter what happens we know that God still works all things together for our good. We’re so thankful for everyone who prayed for us and I’m also grateful for the late diagnosis of ICP that enabled me to enjoy most of my pregnancy.

We love CHM and tell many people about the ministry. Some of my healthcare providers who hadn’t heard about CHM before were intrigued and said they wanted to learn more. After hearing my story, even our tax accountant was amazed by how much the ministry helped our family.

Thank you, CHM staff and members, and may God bless you as you do the work of His kingdom.

Editor's note: For more information about CHM and pregnancy, see CHM’s sample medical bill log and Gold program maternity guide.

©2019 Christian Healthcare Ministries. All rights reserved.