Friday, January 17, 2014

Recovery in Maternity Ward.

Time to move down stairs to Maternity...

On day 8 after the delivery of my daughter the staff in ICU started talking to me about moving down to Maternity Ward so that I could be closer to my baby. The OB didn't want the doctors to move me, as he didn't think the midwives would be able to handle all my care at that point. I had to agree with him. I liked the security of having the attendants around if something should happen. Up until that point I had only stood three times assisted by two other people, and only been out of bed to sit in a chair once. I had stood assisted long enough for them to get a wheel chair under me to take me to have a shower, which was done in the chair, and that was the first time going on a toilet as well. All the time I had the security that if I fell there would be people strong enough to help get me up.

Anyway the decision to move me down was made; However the midwives were worried about caring for me as I had so many issues, so they put me in the private room closest to the nurses station, and sent me with my own ICU nurse. The poor nurse had hardly anything to do. I didn't need anything, I wasn't interested in eating, I couldn't sleep, and obs where only every two hours. So we spent most of her time talking while she held my baby.

However that night when her shift was over was when I actually needed her- I needed to use the toilet. The nurse that I had assisting me during the night shift was in her 60's and she wasn't sure she could help me, so she went and asked another nurse to assist her. The nurse she brought back was in her 70's. So I had these two elderly women helping me to the toilet, I felt like I should have been helping them to the toilet! Oh and the joys of having someone else wipe your bottom for you simply cannot be explained in text!

Here is a picture of the walking frame I used while learning to walk again.

The Nursing staff at Maternity were very lovely, and treated me really well. I think mostly because they felt so sorry for me. At that point I had staples in holding my stomach together, stoma bag collecting the lymphatic fluid pouring out of my groin incision, a bladder bag to help my bladder heal, a drip, and two drainage bags collecting the excess blood and gunk(technical name) from my wound. So even rolling over in the bed was a task no stay untangled. Then there was the vomiting- I had trouble keeping anything down, if they heard me vomit the nurse would rush in and put a pillow on my stomach and hold it down with their body weight to help easy the pain. I would have felt sorry for me too.

Some of the miscommunications from Doctors was a bit challenging. After 14 days post-op, I was due to have a test to see if my bladder was healed enough for me to have my bag out, well one of the doctors told the night nurses that I needed to be nil by mouth for the test (wrong information) So the night nurses gave me my medication (Pain relief) and then took the water away for the night. Shortly after I vomited and lost the medication and the water. By the time morning came I was dehydrated. Feeling very weak, and even though they had then worked out the mistake, by that time I wasn't able to keep any water down, or medication, or pain relief, and in a world of pain from the vomiting. So then I needed to be started on a drip, to get my hydration back up, which included a drip of panadol ( I didn't know they had it in drip form!), electrolytes, and minerals to help pick me back up. After all of that it turned out that the test hadn't even been booked for that day.

During the healing process there where many shattering moments for me. One of which was failing my bladder test. My bladder hadn't healed enough and was leaking into my body, so I had to keep my bladder bag in for longer, which for me was really a dignity issue, and I really longed to just be able to just go to the toilet. In the end I kept the the bag for 7 weeks, and when it finally came out, my muscles where quite sore because the bladder hadn't been used for so long, and my body had to rebuild my walking muscles because I had to get up many times more to go to the toilet. :)

The vomiting didn't stop once I got home it continues which again was both painful and unpleasant, I would vomit for so many reasons, anytime I went to the toilet I would vomit, in many ways it was a bad joke, the pain medication would clog me up, so I would then have to take something to make me regular, then I would have to take something to help control the vomiting, and all I wanted to do was go to the toilet!

Bleeding was another issues. It was finally time for me to go home, I had arranged for someone to come and get me and take me home. I had showered and put on clothes for the first time in 4 weeks, I was wearing underwear even which I had only been able to do for the last 3 days, due to all the drains and bags. I went to the toilet and then I started bleeding from the vagina. I hadn't had any bleeding at all the whole time I was there. Dread went through me, I was ready to go home, I finally arrived at the day that I could leave the hospital. I couldn't leave on my own steam, but I could be wheeled out of there, and now this. The doctor was called and checked me, they wanted me to stay for longer to work out what it was, they did an internal and couldn't find anything; and the lady did say however that they couldn't make me stay. I decided to go home anyway, hoping that it was a one-off. Well it wasn't. Every time I went to the toilet I would bleed, and it wasn't just a light bleed, blood would actually pour out of me. It sounded like I was peeing, but of course I wasn't because I couldn't pee. It was blood. So two days later the bleeding wouldn't stop so I had to go back into hospital. That was a crushing moment, I just wanted this journey to end, I wanted to get better and start dealing with the changes in my life. Anyway after a night in the hospital and a few tests it was discovered that I had blood pooling inside of me from all the operations- there must have been an opening in the top of my internal wound that was allowing the pooling blood to come out. The doctors said there was nothing that they could really do about it, they could go in and try and drain it out, but then they risked damage to my bowel, and I really didn't want to have that, so the best idea was to leave and let my body reabsorb the pooling blood, and release the rest.
I'm now 6 months out from the trauma and it has finally stopped.

Breastfeeding was also very problematic, and I wasn't able to establish a breastfeeding relationship with Marcella which has been one of the most crushing parts of this journey for me. I have previously breastfed all the other 6 children for at least 4 months, and when I learnt what my boy needed nutritionally I fed them until 24 months. I had other NICU babies and had experience with teaching babies to breastfeed, expressing, tube feeding, and so on. I wasn't an unexperienced mother that just gave up. Marcella was quite good at attaching for a prem bub, but tired easily, but because of all that went on my milk just never came in properly; I was exhausted with very little strength. I really needed someone to be with me every couple of hours to express, and help me feed marcella. Some of the NICU nurses were so nice and would stand next to me for the almost hour it took to feed Marcella using a supply line, other NICU nurses where not so good, and told me that I was holding my baby back trying to breastfeed her. Some nurses made sure that as soon as it was morning they would bring the baby down to me because I could walk up there, whilst other nurses didn't bring her down, even when they were phoned my nurses several times to bring the baby down! I remember one day I didn't get to see Marcella from 9pm - 4pm when someone came to visit me, and walked up to the nicu and got her for me. Now 6 months on it still breaks my heart that I can't breastfeed. I did try relactating but was unsuccessful. I'm sure that I probably could have got there if I had the tools that I needed to at the beginning of the journey.

I think the greatest heartbreak for me is that I can't have any more babies. Yes I've been through all of this pain, hurt, worry and stress, but I would do in again in a heart beat for another blessing. I think that some of the issues bonding with Marcella, are things that I couldn't do with Marcella, like breastfeeding wouldn't worry me as much if there was the prospect of having another one. I think I will grieve this hurt for a long time to come still.


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