HG Hero - Dr Tony Nicoll
HG Hero - Dr Tony Nicoll
Dr Tony Nicoll of Dundee, Scotland, is my medical HG hero! He is an extraordinary person and I am delighted that he recently won a gold award in the ‘Outstanding Individual (Non-Clinical)’ category of the NHS Tayside Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) Awards. I struggle to imagine that there could possibly be a more deserving winner.
Dr Nicoll always goes above and beyond to ensure that every patient under his care is thoroughly looked after. He is an expert in the treatment of HG (hyperemesis gravidarum) – amongst many other things! - and in applying his knowledge he is consistently calm, warm, sympathetic, trustworthy and reassuring. He truly wants to help hyperemesis sufferers suffer less, and is genuinely concerned for his patients’ physical and emotional well-being.
Without Dr Nicoll’s unfaltering care I am not sure how I would have survived my second pregnancy!
My First Pregnancy
In 2009 I was pregnant with my first baby and suffering severely with HG. In spite of being completely bed bound with no quality of life and unable to even turn my head or talk without being sick for months on end I was repeatedly told by several medical professionals that my sickness was ‘normal’. Not one of them checked my urine for ketones or suggested rehydration via IV fluids during the first few months, and the battle at any point for effective medication was pointless and distressing.
Over and over again I was made to feel guilty for considering any medication during pregnancy – of course I didn’t WANT to have to take medication, but having your body in starvation mode and being unable to do anything but lie still in a dark room battling non-stop intense nausea/vomiting during pregnancy is also not healthy - for you or your baby!
Those dark months were utter hell, both physically and mentally. I knew no better so had to accept what I was told and battle on through the torture of 24/7 relentless sickness month after month. All day every day I would just countdown to when I was asleep as it was the only time I could escape the sickness. The fact that this is SUPPOSED to be one of a woman’s happiest times of her life makes HG all the harder to deal with, and when most people dismiss your symptoms as ‘morning sickness’, suggesting traditional (and useless!) remedies such as ginger, and crackers, etc. this makes things impossibly worse. It is NOT ‘acute morning sickness’! I was SO thirsty, and SO hungry - ALL THE TIME - and yet couldn’t drink or eat a thing, not even water, without throwing up. Even though I wasn’t keeping anything down I would still dry wretch or throw up bile. With no relief at any point. It was horrific.
Duchess of Cambridge
Three years later, when the Duchess of Cambridge fell pregnant for the first time, there were a few intense days when I did many interviews about HG for newspapers and radio stations and, crucially, the volunteer work I do with Pregnancy Sickness Support was also featured on STV news. It was watching this news article on the TV that helped me realise who I needed to speak to for decent care if I was to face being pregnant again to give Joseph, my first born, a sibling. My now hero, Dr Tony Nicoll, was featured in the same article giving the medical expert information and was clearly very ‘HG friendly’! I am not sure my little three year old Theo would be here today if it wasn’t