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Pregnancy and Parenting

Unfortunately It Happened to Me
A story about a new mother's experiences with an extremely unusual form of sacroiliitis.

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A month before the birth of our child, I found it very difficult to do things, like sit, walk lay down and to get up. I spoke to my obstetrician about this and he advised that this was normal, that everyone is like this, so I did not think any more of it. Then finally the day came. It was the 21st of May at 12:30am when I started my first contraction. We did not go to the hospital until 9am that morning as the contractions were every 10 minutes apart, but I was able to handle them. When we got to the hospital, we stayed in our room until 1pm, when they took us over to the labour ward. There were some difficulties, so I had to have an epidural, but finally on 22nd may (her due date) at 12:25am our beautiful daughter was born. We went back to the ward at 2am and I slept, as I felt exhausted.

I was up again at 11am and walking around, feeling proud of what we had brought into the world, she was beautiful. At 2pm, I started to experience a fair bit of pain when I tried to move and walk, but I thought that this was a normal thing to be feeling after giving birth. By 5pm that night, I was unable to walk at all and any slight movement would send severe pain down my legs, even wriggling my toes caused this. My husband notified the staff and they thought that it was just some sciatic pain that people can experience after giving birth. But that night, I knew it was more that that as the pain was horrendous, I was not even able to move my toes, let alone my legs.

I deteriorated over night and this is when they knew that there could be a problem. I had an MRI as they wanted to check that there was no damage done with the epidural, this came back fine, mind you, it was a terrible experience being moved onto the MRI table, I even blacked out due to the pain, though the hospital staff appeared to think that I may have been over reacting about the pain that I was feeling, as they would not give me anything for it.

It wasnít for another few days until they put me on morphine, as the pain was unbearable, and even then some of the nurses did not think I was as bad as I was making out to be. I had every possible doctor and specialist come in to see me, as well as physios, and no one could explain what was wrong, but the physio though that it may be the sacro-iliac joint causing problems, but the specialists did not agree. I then started to get terrible spasm which would rip through my right leg, all the way down to my toes, it look like waves in the ocean rippling towards the sand.

Then, the head of pain management came in to see me as no one could explain or understand what was wrong with me. He had to sedate me to be able to x-ray my pelvis and leg as they thought that I might have broken my pelvis giving birth. Apparently, I screamed out in pain under sedation, which alarmed the pain management specialist, as there should be no reaction to pain or movement under sedation. This is when they transferred me to critical care, as the spasms were much worse. This is where I spent the next four days. The critical care unit was disgusted with my condition as I had not been cleaned properly in the labour ward (this is due to me not being able to shower and the nurses were giving me sponge baths) and I had not been to the toilet for 12 days (I had a catheter put in the labour ward as I was unable to get up, even then they first made me try and sit on a bed pan which was incredibly painful) and they wondered why I was not feeling like eating anything. The critical care unit had to give me an enema under sedation, which was degrading, so that I could clean out my system. They also placed me on a drug that was so strong; someone has to sit by my side telling me to breathe, as I would stop breathing. It was a self-administering drug, that would release every 5 minutes, but whenever I had a spasm, I would press the button, which seemed like every thirty seconds. I do not remember much, only what friends and family have told me, but one friend pulled back my bedding when she watched my face and saw my heart rate go through the roof. She was shocked at how my leg was rippling due to the intensity of the muscle spasms.

Eventually they made the spasms subside, and I was able to return back to the ward where after a few more days, I had to try and move out of bed and into a wheelchair, as I could not walk. When I returned to the ward, the labour ward advised my husband that my daughter was to be discharged, as she was not a paying patient, she was only 2 weeks old and my husband was staying with me overnight for the whole duration of my ordeal. My husband and family were disgusted by this and spoke with the head of the hospital who advised that this was their decision and that our daughter could remain in the hospital, but the nursing staff would not look after her. This was another horrendous situation that we did not need to deal with seeing as I was bed ridden. Basically, the family was placed on a roster system to assist with looking after our daughter while I was rehabilitating.

I had physios work with me every day, and after being in hospital for one month, I was finally allowed home.

I was in a wheelchair for a further two months and had to have friends and family stay with me all the time while my husband had to work, as I was unable to walk due to the damage to my sacroiliac joint. I had been diagnosed as having an extremely unusual form of sacroiliitis. This was not fully determined though until after I left hospital and had further x-rays done, as the x-rays done in hospital was inconclusive as my bowels were full. I still donít understand why these were not followed up. I then had to go to physio and hydrotherapy for several months to build up my muscles, as there was so much deterioration.

Eventually, I was able to use a walking frame for a further few months until I was able to weight bear. Then, I had to use a walking stick, as I was still very wobbly. So, after giving birth, I was not able to walk unaided for five months.

I hate the fact that I do not remember anything for the first two months due to the medication that they had me one, and for the fact that I was not able to breast feed due to the medication, and for the fact that I was also not allowed to hold my daughter due to the large quantities of medication, but I am thankful for the beautiful daughter that I have. We love her with all of our heart as all through this, she did not scream once, cry once or even keep us awake. She is our beautiful little angel who will always be so special to me, regardless of what I went through. I would also like to sincerely thank my husband, my family and friends (you know who you are) who stuck by me and helped us through this very difficult time where others chose not to.

©Ursula Muir send email

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Inflammatory & Infectious Disorders: Sacroiliitis

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