Hi, I'm new here

Hi glad to have found this community. Im 29 years old (was 28 at the time) I was in ICU for 15 days total. Here is my story, will try to keep it brief!

In October 2012 my baby was born at home, everything was perfect. The following day I started with a pain in my left side. Midwife checked me, said I was fine perhaps afterpains, pain got worse, saw out of hours GP said it might have been pulled muscle. I was in so much pain, felt sick, couldnt eat, hot cold shivery, in and out of bath and shower all day. At 7pm phoned ambulence, operator said my symptoms didnt sound life threatening so asked my husband to drive me to A&E. Was given morphine, did nothing. Did not feel well enough to feed my baby. Was taken to maternity for observation. Couldnt produce a urine sample (very strange), tried to eat some toast. Had an ultrasound, nothing. I was in so much pain I just wanted to be put to sleep. I was told I needed a CT scan as they didnt know what was wrong but I was deteriorating too quickly so I had my stomach pumped, was taken to the gastro dept and was cut vertically from below my ribs to bikini line as drs thought it was ruptured bowel or stomach ulcer.

Turns out a cysyt had strangulated my ovary, it cut off the blood supply and it had died. My body was trying to deal with it and was tired from giving birth and I became infected with severe group A strep sepsis which lead to multi organ failure, disseminated intravascular coagulopathy, actue kidney injury requiring dialysis, type 1 respiratory failure secondary to pulmonary oedema +/- ARDS, moderately impaired left ventricular function and a large wound which required extensive debridement and skin grafting.

I spent 12 days in ICU in and out on conciousness, hazy memories of visitors. I couldnt understand why everyone was being so nice to me, i didnt realise how close to death I had been. I was uspet that i was missing my babies first weeks in the world. But I knew I was poorly and that I was in the safest place I could be. I really struggled with my breathing. The skin around my wound all over my tummy and down one leg had gone black and died. The staples were removed and I stared looking at my insides for 5 weeks until I was well enough to have a general anasthetic and have it debrided and a vac dressing put on. After I left icu i spent a week on the gynocology ward, then one night i just couldnt breathe, i couldnt get enough air in, this time i knew i was dying, i was scared, i thought of my family and said my prayers. i was bagged and tube down throat, rushed to icu again where i had 10 litres of fluid taken off my body, my lungs had filled with fluid because my heart and kidneys wernt working which is why i couldnt breathe. stayed in icu for another 3 days. moved to cardiology, moved to a surgical ward as the noro virus was going around. finally didnt need dialysis anymore after 5 weeks. got to advanced wound care ward. was able to go home for chirstmas dinner. then in jan i had from skin graft from leg to tummy and it healed within a week. leg was SO painfull though.

i was in hospital almost 8 weeks. i didnt see my daughters aged 19 months and 3 years for 4 weeks, and i really missed my new baby. my husband got 2 months compassionate leave from work and used another month of annual leave to help out. the dressing changes were the worst pain ive ever felt and i had entonox and cried every time. my worst fear that i still sometimes get panic attacks about now is not being able to breathe. the dialysis made me feel so ill.

its now 7 months on. im doing amazingly well. sometimes i get tired and achey but im thinking about starting work and exercise again. ive had to get better with 3 babies under 4 to look after! im seeing a psycologist but i dont feel traumatised. The year before I had a traumatic emergency caesarean and i had PTSD it was awful but i worked through it and I think thats why ive been able to manage this as well as i have. dont get me wrong its been horrendous but ive made alot of informed decisions - i challenged a dr on his diagnosis, i declined alot of medications and wouldnt let anyone touch me unless i had a full explaination.

The icing on my cake is that from 12 weeks post partum i have been exclusively breastfeeding my baby, for the first 3 weeks i kept trying to express what i could but had to throw it away because of my medications. (yes even when i was on the ventilator, i have photos to prove it) after that i just kept expressing daily and sending the milk home to my baby. when i got home i just kept trying and trying, letting baby latch even if there was nothing there and eventually after being home 4 weeks i could satisfy his needs. he was supplemented with donor breast milk in the meantime and have done ever since.

the first night i got home i slept like a log, it was so quiet, i held my husbands hand as we were both still in a state of shock and just so happy we were together again. i may have had some trouble sleeping in the following weeks and did not have the strength to lay on my side, i kept feeling as if a nurse or someone was moving towards me and it made me jump. but i was also woken regularly by baby who needed feeding. i sleep well now.

it almost feels like it was a bad dream now except i have the scars to prove it. ive decided against reconstructive surgery, declined heart medication so i can breastfeed and my kidneys are almost working properly again. getting my strength back by walking up to school with a double push chair everyday.

its been a nightmare, its not fair, but i have achieved so much and i belive its strengthend my family and faith. my tummys is being written up in a wound care jornal as its so interesting lol. im going to the hospital to see if i can help other women who want to breastfeed whilst in the general hospital so they dont meet the barriers i did. and im writing an article on relactation for breastfeeding matters magazine.

Ive got a second chance at life and i want to make a difference whilst taking in every precious moment with my young family :)

5 Replies

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  • Thanks for bravely sharing your amazing story. Just quickly wanted to express my admiration for your commitment to breastfeeding in such difficult circumstances, you should feel very proud of yourself.

  • Thank you barbs58 :)

  • Wow what an amazing story, I am a health care professional working in Intensive Care and I understand every word you say about your stay and conditions along the way. I also deal with many patients and relatives post intensive care at our rehabilitation group and follow up. What is inceredible is your strength and determination to be positive and move on. This is so difficult after such a traumatic time. I realise that you have your very precious children and this often is the reason that keeps people going. Thank you for your story when talking to other patients it is so difficult to explain the importance of having goals and allowing time to recover, dont look back and remember how far you have come on a weekly basis. Best wishes

  • What an amazing story, and a wonderful person you must be. I am in awe really of what you have shown you have done: being able to take care of your children, having one at home after a previous emergency Caesarean section, expressing milk whilst in ITU, relactating etc.

    My story is similar and so different - I went at 30 and came out at 31, was in for 3 months including 3 weeks in ITU. As a single parent, my daughter was in care while I was in hospital, and I agreed with the local authority's plan to place her for adoption as I believe that an adoptive family would be a far better upbringing for her than a disabled mum with lots of problems.I saw her for the last time when I had been home for 6 months and she has now been adopted. I miss her every day but because I love her so much I had to do the best thing for her regardless how hard for me.

    But I too have had my faith strengthened and have an unflinching belief in how lucky I have been, and am grateful on a daily basis for what has happened versus what might have happened.I have new and stronger friendships now than I ever had. I see my family as they really are. I just don't do self pity or recriminations. I see the same spirit in you despite the terrible injuries inflicted on you however necessary.

    I disagree with the health professional above at looking back on a weekly basis - this would be soul-destroying. Looking back at chunks of a month or two is far better for your recovery and healing. The physio I work with says recovery should only be measured in 6 week blocks, especially neurological recovery.

    I wish you the very best and that your children continue to be a beautiful source of joy.

  • WOW. after reading your story, all i can say is, wow. You are an amazing woman and truly an inspiration. Your family are extremely lucky to have such a strong and wonderful mother. all the best for the future.

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