Monday, October 13, 2008

Use your words.

Words have an incredible amount of power. One of the reasons I struggle to write about what's happened with my health this past years is that I have wanted so badly to get the words right, to say things in just the right way. I've been almost desperate in my hope that what I went through will not be repeated in the lives of others. It's something I think about, obsess about and many times I've sat in front of the computer in a cold sweat trying to get out what I want so much to say.

Today I found a comment left by Emma that I'd missed because I'm having some spam issues with my email. She left it regarding the post below, where I talked about some of the warning signs for postpartum infection. (linked below) She's absolutely right that low grade fevers are still important - most of the time when I checked mine it was 99 degrees. It was only when I was deathly ill that it spiked high, and by then I was desperate for help. She's also correct about the bleeding. Even though I bled profusely on the delivery table, my postpartum bleeding stopped before I left the hospital. That should have been a huge warning sign to my care providers.

She wrote:

I want to tell you thank you for putting your story out there. I'd read your blog when I was pregnant, and when I started feeling Not Right after the birth, I remembered it. I got help pretty quickly, and I think I may be on the road to being okay -- I've got a ways to go yet, but at least I'm starting to improve, and we've got a Plan B in place. A couple things I want to add to your discussion of symptoms, if that's okay:

Bleeding too little can be a sign of trouble too, as surely as bleeding too much. I stopped bleeding two days after the birth, and didn't think anything of it. Turns out I was still bleeding, but it was all building up in my uterus instead of coming out -- not good.Even a low-grade fever can be a trouble sign when coupled with other symptoms. I thought I couldn't have an infection, because surely I'd have a higher fever instead of piddling around in the 99s. Again, wrong.Postpartum infections are serious and scary. Your story helped me get out of this one with my uterus and my sanity intact, and I thank you. I hope that's some comfort to you, that you've helped at least one woman.

When I read her comment, a dam broke within me. On one of my visits to the doctor, before my D & C, a doctor commented that she'd seen another woman the day before who was also fighting a persistent uterine infection. That woman haunts me in my sleep, as I can't shake the questions of whether she's ok, whether she finally got rid of the infection and if she still has her uterus. I have laid awake at night, wondering how many new moms are facing a danger they don't even realize, chalking their soreness and fatigue up to delivery and having a newborn.

My illness was costly, and has affected every aspect of my life in some way. My health, job, home, finances, marriage, relationship with my children, etc. have all been affected in some way and there has been a reminder of at least a portion of that every day. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel from a physical standpoint, though my immune system is shot from months of fighting illness, months of antibiotics and two surgeries. I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, though I know the hardest work is mental and emotional.

Emma, I am so relieved to know you are doing better and glad to know that you'll follow up until you're sure the infection is completely gone. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to let me know my story helped, that what I went through wasn't for nothing. It hasn't been easy to write about all of it, but I kept thinking that if I could help just one woman, if I could keep just one family from going through what we did, it was worth every second I spent sweating over what to say.

Most of us don't really get to find out if something we did made a difference. Thank you for telling me that I have - it's just the kind of salve this wounded spirit of mine needed today.

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