"Hold the elevator!" the skinny woman with bleached blonde hair and a huge scar that ran from her throat down into her spaghetti-strapped top hollered.
When we walked off the elevator, she asked why I was bald and I explained about the massive doses of Diflucan (Disseminated Coccidiomycosis) and how I contracted it (fires throughout Southern California in 2003). I asked about her amazing scar and she said:
This is from an open heart surgery (I figured, I told her) that started with a botched cesarean 3 years ago.
My heart stopped.
Article after article - blog spot after blog spot - talks about how GREAT cesareans are, how PAIN-FREE cesareans are, how it is merely a CHOICE that women can make. More and more distressed, my own writings cannot even contain my angst about the entire situation.
Then the Universe brings this woman into my world just when a story - her story - needed to be told. She said she knew I was supposed to be in her life from the second she entered the elevator. She begged me to tell every part of her story I could.
I took notes.
Again, I couldn't make this up if I tried.
- Mom on bedrest for 8 weeks due to baby being deep in the pelvis and her legs feeling like they are going to split apart (separation of the pubic symphasis? she didn't know the term)
- Prior to cesarean, antibiotics given - one that was supposed to be run over 2 hours was run in 20 minutes - mom had to have counter meds given before surgery could begin
- Scheduled cesarean for baby "too deep" in the pelvis - they said there was no way for the baby to get through because he was too low. (?!?!?)
- Baby born and mom in hospital for 48 hours before discharge
- 6 hours after discharge, mom re-admitted to hospital with 104.9 fever - she didn't leave hospital again for 65 days
- 5 antibiotics given over several days
- somewhere between day 3 and 10, she had a D&C (fever wouldn't relent) and a placental fragment was found in pathology
- by day 10 postpartum, a red raised area at least 6 inches high ran from belly button to cesarean incision - all the way across
- fever climbed to 105.9 and mom taken to surgery again
- abdomen opened and two grapefruit-sized cysts of infection opened and drained - uterus and one tube removed
- infection continued to spread and mom had a heart attack - open heart surgery showed severe mitral valve damage and the valve replaced
- mom had a stroke
- body rejected valve replacement and second open heart surgery saw mom code on the table. During the resuscitation with the defibrillator, her foot was touching a piece of metal and the shock blew a baseball-sized hole in her outer heel
- on life support after that surgery, once she came out of her 6 day coma, she couldn't get anyone to pay attention to her foot pain until she got the vent removed and screamed, "What the fuck is wrong with my foot?!?" The nurses came in and saw, for the first time, that she had been burned and then needed to tend to the infection in her foot so she wouldn't lose her foot. The wound is still open 2.5 years later (I saw it with my own eyes).
She was discharged on day 67 postpartum.
- In 3 years, she has had 10 surgeries including 2 open heart surgeries and another to remove her ovary that had been attached to the tube that was removed. Wanting to remove the other tube and ovary, they were so adhered to the bowel/intestines and liver (kidney?), they were virtually estrangulated by adhesions, so they were left alone.
Her child that was born by cesarean has just begun to call her mom. Her husband left her during one of her hospital stays, taking the child with him. She is 30 years old.
I asked if she would have a cesarean again. And, besides how she has grown and changed from all the lessons, she wouldn't recommend a cesarean to ANYONE unless they or the baby was in the process of dying. She said I had to tell everyone the lies they tell.
No, she isn't suing, but she is getting everything paid for in spades.
She has several feet thick records that she is going to share with me as well as pictures of the infections and her in a coma and her foot before healing. She said I could share anything here. She begged me to.
Let's hear her story deep in our souls.