My name is V Leigh, and my story begins on day 2 of my post partum hospital stay following my first of 2 c-sections, due to CPD of my baby’s head size.
After the passing of my previous 2 babies at age 6 weeks old, a year apart, from 2 different causes: girl, born at 8 #2, 19″ long, succumbed to pneumonia and heart issues, and boy, born at 8 #8 20″, from SIDS (crib death), I was encouraged to try breast feeding by my Marcus Welby type older, sage OB doctor, and did so. My abdominal incision was a “bikini cut”, made by 2 different residents in my beloved and trusted doctor’s out of town absence.
The left side healed without any problem, but the right side, the side cut by the resident I never trusted for some unknown reason, became warm and tender to the touch, but I also developed mastitis, and started spiking a nocturnal temp. I was isolated in a private room, at the gyn half of the OB-Gyn floor, closer to the nurses’ station. My beautiful baby girl was kept and bottle fed in the nursery until she was 2 weeks old, at which time my then spouse and her dad was asked was there anyone in the family to whom our baby could be released, because she was “eating them out of house and home.” His maternal aunt agreed to take her until my release home.
The scars from the myriad of reinserted IVs are still visible with the naked eye, these 44 years later. Cultures were obtained from my incision, urine, and breast milk, before spinal fluid was to be tested. I informed the staff of my allergy to PCN and such type antibiotics, so I was started on other combinations. Nothing seemed to be working.
It was a rainy October, and outside appeared perpetually dark and dreary looking to me. Whenever I’d try to wake up I couldn’t tell if it was night time or day?
My once healthy-to-ravenous appetite completely left me nearly anorexic. Nausea reared its ugly head and I was given injections to ward it off as well.
I was in quite a lot of pain, and stayed sedated around the clock as the successful antibiotic combination was being sought.
The nurses had to keep moving my IV because my veins quickly collapsed from the strong antibiotics running through them. It soon became evident my next site would be below the ankle. I don’t know when PICC lines were first invented, but surely not as of Oct. of 1972, because no one suggested it, and my doctor’s were reluctant to mention any type of cut down, unless faced with no other alternative.
I was delirious from time to time, so when I realized I had a moment of lucidity, I asked a nurse to dial my stepmother’s number in the wee morning hours in Chicago. I felt the need to speak with someone in my family, to tell exactly what was going on, and I didn’t want to worry my dear, sweet, elderly grandmother who raised me…all she knew was, I had a girl via c-sec. (Sepsis and Pregnancy & Childbirth) My then husband and I agreed not to worry her with more details until he had some good news to give her.
I was on strong pain Rxs, Demerol with phenergan became my best friends.
Finally after four weeks, a total of 30 days being confined to the hospital, one morning around 4 a.m. or so, I opened my eyes and there stood my trustworthy resident, the one who made the left half incision, benevolently looking down on me. He gave a small smile as I opened my eyes. He told me how he was so grateful to see me come around. He said he had prayed for and over me when none of the initial antibiotic combos seemed to work at permanently keeping my temp down. Yes he assured me, I was certainly a sight for sore eyes. Two days before my discharge home, I was able to keep down solid food and pass a bowel movement.
On the day of release, I was given two Tylenol with codeine for pain, and sent home with the 2 Jackson Pratt drainage bulbs, one sewn into each side of my new incision.
Once the cultures revealed the true source of the infection, and spiked night time temps, I had to be taken back to the OR, again put under anesthesia, incision re-opened and flushed out, and drainage tubes secured on each side.
The official word, “sepsis” was never used, but looking back now, after going on to become a registered nurse, I am confident that is exactly what ravaged my body.
My pre-delivery weight was a rotund 170 pounds. My discharge home from the hospital weight was a svelte 130 pounds, exactly my graduation from high school weight.
I thank God and give Him all the glory, honor and praise for sparing my life.
I have been married to my current husband 37 years and had another son, who is himself, now a contributing to society adult, married with 2 young children of his own.
God is so good!