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Dean

Age at interview: 43
Brief Outline: Dean's wife (Alison ' Interview 09) was checked regularly for high blood pressure through her 4th pregnancy. At 32 weeks she had pneumonia and multiple pulmonary embolisms. When Alison was induced she developed a very rare condition, Amniotic Fluid Embolism. She haemorrhaged and had to have a hysterectomy to save her life.
Background: Dean is a sheet metal worker. He is married with 5 children. White British.

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Dean and his wife (Alison – Interview 09) had three children and were expecting their 4th child. His wife had developed gestational diabetes during her last pregnancy and her previous babies had been large. The early pregnancy went well but things started to go wrong when she developed a chest infection and multiple pulmonary embolisms (blood clots) about five weeks before her due date. She spent some time in hospital receiving a drug called Fragmin (dalteparin). Because she was on this blood-thinning drug, her doctors were very concerned that she did not have a caesarian-section, so they decided to induce the baby at 37 weeks.
 
As her labour progressed, Dean’s wife began to feel very unwell as she developed Amniotic Fluid Embolism (AFE), a very rare complication of pregnancy in which amniotic fluid, fetal cells, hair, or other debris enters the mother's blood stream via the placental bed of the womb and triggers an allergic reaction. Her baby’s heart rate dropped and the doctors had to perform an emergency caesarian-section to deliver her. The baby was unwell and sent to the neo-natal ward where she stayed for nine days suffering respiratory distress syndrome, jaundice and sepsis. While the caesarean was initially straight forward, within 30 minutes of the operation Dean’s wife had developed bleeding from virtually every part of her body, especially from the operation site, as a result of the AFE. The doctors were ultimately forced to do a hysterectomy to try and stop the bleeding. Alison was extremely unwell and Dean was told to pray for a miracle. 
 
His wife was kept asleep for four to five days and was ultimately in intensive care (ICU) for eight days and two days in the high dependency unit (HDU). The interview took place almost two years on from leaving hospital. His wife and their daughter are now doing fine, but Dean still occasionally has flashbacks. 
 
 

Dean said he still has flashbacks of his wife’s emergency, over two years after the event.

Dean said he still has flashbacks of his wife’s emergency, over two years after the event.

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And so, yes, it’s not nice. I get flashbacks every now and again. They used to be really bad, really, really bad, because visions are, meant to be a happy time picking your baby up. I get, You know, your brothers and the siblings come along, and I thought I hope it’s not all like it is visions of her being whizzed passed me, my wife. Doctors and nurses running and all of a sudden me baby is whizzed straight past and she’s going to special care baby unit, you know, in an incubator. It’s not nice.
 
No.
 
And that’s what visions come back all the time and haunt me.
 
Still, three years on?
 
Yes. They do…. they’re not as bad let’s be fair I seem to block them out straight away, because I don’t like it, because when I’m working, on particular jobs, I have to concentrate on, and they go bang [claps hands] just like that. It’s horrible. It’s not nice. I would like to see someone to get rid of it.
 
Have you talked to anyone about?
 
No. You. Only you. 
 
Did no one offer you any counselling?
 
No. I would like some I must admit. I suppose being a man you don’t want none, you know, but at the end of day everyone wants this help at the end of the day if there’s a problem. You know, they may be able to get rid of them. The real of them… the vision… your daughter going past and all of a sudden your wife going past. It’s not nice. It should have been a happy time but luckily the one out there, she’s a monster, she’s nearly two and a half, [wife] she’s here. You know. Sort of she’s got to wear stockings now for the rest of her life, which is not nice. But what I keep saying to her, [wife] is, “Okay, now you’re wearing stockings now, or you can’t have a drink, like a glass of wine or whatever, or you can’t fly, you know. What would these women who have died from it, what would they give to be in your shoes and their husbands to be with them, yes. So think yourself grateful and lucky that you’re here. Because those women ain’t. “And they’re not. Right. You know, husbands bringing up their children by their selves. My wife was lucky that someone turned round and said it isn’t me. If someone said I’ve got to wear stockings. Or can’t have a drink again. Or can’t fly. Yes, so, and. You know, so I do tell her off. But then obviously, she obviously down I can’t do this and I can’t do that. You know, but I then put her in her place. So I tell her, you know, all these dads and little kiddies go and visit their mums at graveside because they aren’t around. It can’t be fair. That’s the way I see it.
 
 

Dean’s baby was in NICU while his wife was in Intensive Care. He established a routine spending...

Dean’s baby was in NICU while his wife was in Intensive Care. He established a routine spending...

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And then I decided to take a walk down the corridor and go and see [daughter], you know, and she was pretty good. She was really good actually. I didn’t pick her up, actually, I didn’t want to pick her up. Not because I didn’t want to. It’s because they look so small, they’ve got tubes sticking out of them and little hat on all that shit on. And obviously I was touching her through the holes and everything. 
 
But I wanted to get into a routine. So I was basically spending two or three hours with [daughter], back up at the hospital, back up the corridor to Intensive Care and just back and forth. They found me somewhere to sleep in Intensive Care obviously then. Because they were refurbishing the ward, what do you all it, where all the parents stay, or whatever they’re called. In the special care baby unit, I had a bed there. You know, and they were feeding me. They were looking after me. Letting me have showers, you know, it was great. It really was good. 
 
I made friends with basically the whole hospital. And they found me like, not park benches, but somewhere no one comes down here. You know, you get some kip for a couple of hours. I was a vagrant, bags and everything. And like bags of food, they used to give me papers in the morning, you know. And they looked after obviously [wife]. 
 
And two days after [daughter] was born, and [wife] obviously had that, obviously the loss of blood and everything, she had to go back in and have another operation to remove the packing.

Okay.
 
And to me that was worse, because they had to re-open, and because they had to re-open her, what they had to do was basically thicken her blood again, which is dangerous, because obviously that causes clots, you know, so that was that was really, really bad and that was 8 o’clock in the morning she was, she was going down for that. So my brother in law, [brother in law], with me, he turned up, we had something to drink, but I didn’t have something to drink,, and we waited for an hour and a half, [name],obviously she was the anaesthetist, she turned up and said she was perfect, she was good. They said they was a little bit worried because obviously they had opening her up, if it had been like a normal blood, and they obviously had to thicken it up a little bit, you know. Because Warfarin obviously thins your blood.
 
Yes.
 
So she’s had some cuts herself, and it doesn’t stop bleeding. You know, so, yes, so.
 
Did they explain all that to you, all about the blood clotting and stuff, what was going on or did you …?
 
Yes.
 
They explained quite clearly.
 
She was in Intensive Care.
 
Yes, okay.
 
You know, and that Intensive Care was something else. It’s like I said to you, it’s like a space ship. There was someone at the bed, or at the end of the bed all the time. And obviously buttons and God knows what else is behind her. They was just great people. They were just amazing people. That is the best hospital of all. It is, not just, obviously they saved [daughter], which I didn’t know until ten days later, that they’d kept from me, was that she was actually born with septicaemia.
 
Right.
 
I did ask questions after a few hours, why did she have like a drip in her arm. And they said, “That’s just normal standard practice, if they come in Intensive Care.” Which it probably is, but
 

Dean still has intense flashbacks to his wife’s emergency. He has never had counselling, but...

Dean still has intense flashbacks to his wife’s emergency. He has never had counselling, but...

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And so, yes, it’s not nice. I get flashbacks every now and again. They used to be really bad, really, really bad, because visions are, meant to be a happy time picking your baby up. I get, You know, your brothers and the siblings come along, and I thought I hope it’s not all like it is visions of her being whizzed passed me, my wife. Doctors and nurses running and all of a sudden me baby is whizzed straight past and she’s going to special care baby unit, you know, in an incubator. It’s not nice.
 
No.
 
And that’s what visions come back all the time and haunt me.
 
Still, three years on?
 
Yes. They do…. they’re not as bad let’s be fair I seem to block them out straight away, because I don’t like it, because when I’m working, on particular jobs, I have to concentrate on, and they go bang, just like that. It’s horrible. It’s not nice. I would like to see someone to get rid of it.
 
Have you talked to anyone about?
 
No. You. Only you. 
 
Did no one offer you any counselling?
 
No. I would like some I must admit. I suppose being a man you don’t want none, you know, but at the end of day everyone wants this help at the end of the day if there’s a problem. You know, they may be able to get rid of them. The real of them… the vision… your daughter going past and all of a sudden your wife going past. It’s not nice. It should have been a happy time but luckily the one out there, she’s a monster, she’s nearly two and a half, [wife] she’s here. You know. Sort of she’s got to wear stockings now for the rest of her life, which is not nice. But what I keep saying to her, [wife] is, “Okay, now you’re wearing stockings now, or you can’t have a drink, like a glass of wine or whatever, or you can’t fly, you know. What would these women who have died from it, what would they give to be in your shoes and their husbands to be with them, yes. So think yourself grateful and lucky that you’re here. Because those women ain’t” and they’re not. Right. You know, husbands bringing up their children by their selves. My wife was lucky that someone turned round and said it isn’t me. If someone said I’ve got to wear stockings. Or can’t have a drink again. Or can’t fly. Yes, so, and. You know, so I do tell her off. But then obviously, she obviously down I can’t do this and I can’t do that. You know, but I then put her in her place. So I tell her, you know, all these dads and little kiddies go and visit their mums at graveside because they aren’t around. It can’t be fair. That’s the way I see it.
 
 

Dean's wife developed amniotic fluid embolism and was sent to intensive care. He thought it was...

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Dean's wife developed amniotic fluid embolism and was sent to intensive care. He thought it was...

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That night, it was half past two, they were taking her down to Intensive Care, so I went in there and it was like a space ship, something out of Star Trek. It was just amazing. And then, they said, “Do you want to go and see her?” I said, “I’m not too sure.” Because she was like on the bed and it looked like hundred doctors around her and she was just swollen. You know, for somebody who was that size, so swollen, that’s fine, you know. And I just took one look and I just come back out, because I couldn’t like face seeing her like that so. And she had tubes obviously everywhere.
 
And it was a pretty rough night. For a week she had, by the sides of the bed she had, a bit like tubs of blood, either side. They were just dripping, they were filling them up. They had these, what are they called, when you put them, when you put the blood and so on?
 
Like a bag?
 
Yes. Well she had two bags either side and they were just draining down.
 
Okay.
 
And it was all just coming back out, so that’s all it was continuously doing, you know, and that was half two, three o’clock in the morning. My brother in law and sister in law went. I stayed there and they let me sleep there. Which is in a separate room for visitors coming. They let me sleep there.
 
Next to the Intensive Care Unit?
 
Obviously not in there. Made me a cup of tea. So I laid down. Obviously I’m not sleeping. I could go in there any time I wanted. All I had to do was knock on the door and they would come and get me. Obviously I managed to get to sleep I don’t know for about an hour and then, a fellow come and woke me up in the morning about 6 o’clock in the morning and he goes, “Do you want to come and see her?” I said, “Yes.”
 
And the first thing I looked at, I didn’t looked at her, I looked at these two tubes of blood, and when I see them say 3 o’clock in the morning they were just pouring out and now they was only dripping. So basically the clotting agent which they had made was obviously started to work. Which was really, really good. And that made me happy because of that. But it just didn’t look like her. It really didn’t. It was awful.
 
Because of the swelling or was she red as well?
 
Yes, she had like red eyes. It was like something out of a horror movie, it really was bad. She had tubes just sticking everywhere. It’s not a nice sight. It ain’t for anyone you know.
 

And then, I’d seen her, and they turned round and said, “She’s holding her own at the moment.” And I see another woman, she was an anaesthetist. She was fantastic she was. She was great. She sort of reassured me. She said, “The next 48 hours is basically critical for her.” But she had made that 24 hours. And when the doctor turned round and said, “All you can do is pray, if she lasts the night.” You know, and obviously she did last the night.  

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