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Interview 14

Age at interview: 35
Brief Outline: Had a planned caesarean in 2005. Had a complication (placenta accreta) after she'd delivered and had to have a hysterectomy. Following hysterectomy, was in ICU for nearly 2 days, then spent 2 days in her own room in the hospital with her new baby. Discharged herself and has had no problems since.
Background: Occupation: nurse. Marital status: married. Number of children: 2. Ethnic background: British-African.

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She had a planned caesarean but had complications after delivering her healthy baby.

She had a planned caesarean but had complications after delivering her healthy baby.

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And we went in and I had my regional injections and I was awake, laying on the table to have my baby delivered.

So half way through I realised I couldn't breathe properly so I said to the anaesthetist, "I'm finding it difficult to breathe." So she was like, "ok" and then she gave me an oxygen mask to help me breathe. By this time my son had been delivered, no problems delivering him and I think the nurse had him in the corner. I could see him getting wiped down and everything. My husband was over there and they were still getting on with probably trying to, I thought, trying to stitch me up and get me off the couch or whatever. So, and then I could hear my son crying. They showed me my son when they delivered him and he was crying and he looked well and he was big, 7lbs 9oz.

And so, as I said, I said to the anaesthetist, "I can't, I'm finding it difficult to breathe." There must have been a few, by this time I was losing a lot of blood because they couldn't stop my bleeding so there must have been a few faces sort of thinking, we're in trouble here, you know we're can't stop her bleeding.

Thursday morning the consultant, the ITU consultant and the consultant that done the operation and another consultant who's also an obstetric gynaecologist came up to me and they began to tell me what happened. So she began to explain that what had happened was that I'd had a placenta accreta which they didn't even know. I'd had quite a lot of scans because of complications I had because of sickness and him being breached but they didn't pick up that that was happening. And she said that's quite normal. Sometimes you know, it will take a very good technician to pick up such a thing and it can be missed. 

 

She slept very little in intensive care because of the lighting, medications and visits from...

She slept very little in intensive care because of the lighting, medications and visits from...

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Throughout the Thursday I had so many people come in and out, while I was in ITU on the Wednesday when I just come round I didn't get any sleep at all because of, I don't know why, because the light was on I just didn't get any sleep.

The Thursday I didn't get any sleep, when they took me into that room because the fluorescent light was on ahead, on top of me, adjacent to me where the sluice room was, a fluorescent light was on. On the left hand side of me there was a door with a light shining right through and also I think with the effect of the morphine I wasn't getting any sleep; I couldn't like, you know, settle at all.  

I was awake all throughout the day because I had so many people in and out, and also because I had my own visitors come in and out and they had to come in because they had to help me with my son. And the nurse, midwives come in and out so I didn't get any sleep throughout the day and I didn't get any sleep throughout the night and this was going on til Friday.   

So she said, "what I want to do is I want to give you some sleeping tablets, and you can at least just have half an hour's sleep because you haven't slept and you're snappy at everybody and you're very anxious at everything." So I said, "ok". So she gave me a sleeping tablet. 

And throughout that night a midwife, I think it was about three or four o'clock in the morning, one midwife walked in, and stood right up next to me and woke me up, said, "Hello, hello my name is [midwife's name] and I'm the midwife looking after you." So I opened my eyes and she was right in my face and she wore glasses, and I think my head was spinning because I had actually got a bit of sleep I think, but she woke me up before I had got enough and my head was very spinning. And she was right in front of me so I said to her, "Can you just go and stand over there and put the light on?"

I said to her, she might have thought I was a bit strange, but I couldn't focus on her cos she was very close to me. And she said, "Oh, I'm the midwife that's looking after you, she said, "it's three o'clock in the morning and I may be popping in and out." And I said, "Look I haven't had any sleep at all, and I just managed to get off and you've just woken me up so I don't need anything, if you could just let me sleep and then maybe in the morning you could talk to me." So she said to me "Um, well I do need to pop in and out." I said, "Ok, whatever."

 

After talking with the doctor and some tests, she discharged herself because she felt she'd be...

After talking with the doctor and some tests, she discharged herself because she felt she'd be...

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About two o'clock I think they did finally get the consultant down to come and see me and I said to him, "Look, I want to go home, I don't care what you got to say, I'm going home today." That's how I said it to him, you know. And he said to me, "Well, ok, let's review the situation." 

So he said to me, "Are you drinking?" I said, "I'm drinking plenty." And in other words I was drinking lots of water but the drip had been taken down. My urine was clear in the catheter and so he said to the midwife yeah, take down the catheter, so I was walking, mobile though I was in discomfort I was still mobile. I was doing everything for my son so I said to him, "Look I just need to get out of this place." So then he said to me, "I feel that you need to have some sort of psychological assessment." So I said to him, "I don't feel I need to have any psychological assessment. What I feel I need to do is to go home, have a shower, get some sleep. I haven't slept for four days. I've just had major surgery, double major surgery. How would you feel being in here, haven't slept, major surgery, you keep pumping me with this bloody morphine that I'm reacting to, and you're telling me about psychological assessment." I said, I'm not interested in psychological assessment." And he saw I was very serious so he left that.  

So he says to me, "Well you still have a bit of an infection." I said, "You can give me tablets for infection I can take at home, pain that I'm feeling you can give me some analgesia I can take that at home, there's no reason for me to be here." I've got major support, my mum is there, I have a fifteen-year-old daughter, my sister's there, my husband's there. I have friends who are willing to come and do things for him while I'm at home so it's not like I'm going home to do everything by myself, I'm not." I said, "I've got a network of support, let me go home." So he said, well he's a bit reluctant to discharge me, to let me go home because he doesn't know whether there's going to be complications, I suppose. I don't know what he was thinking, he didn't say. He would have liked me to stay in a bit more to sort of observe me. To make sure that I am eating properly, that my bowels is working properly. Obviously he worried about those complications, which at that time I didn't understand but on reflection I did understand his worry. So he said to me, if I want to discharge myself I can. He can't keep me here but I'd be going against medical advice, but he can't discharge me. He'd like to keep me in for the weekend till Monday.  

So I said, "Well, then I'm going to have to discharge myself because I feel, for my own sanity, I need to be in my own environment.

 

She wanted to focus on being well enough to be a good mother, wife and nurse instead of...

She wanted to focus on being well enough to be a good mother, wife and nurse instead of...

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My main focus was to get myself better and just get back to being a mother, a wife and a nurse. You know, I wanted those things back into my life. I didn't want to be bedridden, I didn't want to depend on people for everything. Your family will get fed up with you if you're constantly dependent on them, you know, so I really was, my focus was to get back to being me so I can enjoy my son and also you know I just prayed and say "Thank you God, thank you for my life."  

You know somebody mentioned, one of the nurses said to me back then, "You've just lost four days of your life and what are you going to, how are you going to cope with that?" And I thought to myself well, I may have lost four days of my life being in hospital, but I've got the rest of my life ahead of me. I'm only thirty-five. I still have loads to do, I still have to bring up my children you know and I'd like to see my children also finish school, go to university, get married, have children, become grandparents you know, so I'm not going to dwell on four days of my life. I'm now, I'm leaving this hospital, I'm not still in hospital so that was my focus, was for the future and just looking forward to things happening. 

 

Her husband talked more about his own feelings when she'd recovered, and is still dealing with...

Her husband talked more about his own feelings when she'd recovered, and is still dealing with...

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So he [husband] obviously wanted to see me get well as much as possible so he was very, he didn't talk about things a lot to me, when I was getting, when I was recovering. He kept a lot to himself, but once I got better and he opened up and he started talking about things, I realised that he was also struggling. Struggling in the sense that when he had to go through seeing me in intensive care, covered up with foil, with tubes coming out of my mouth and to the extent that he, you know, he thought he was going to lose me. How was he going to cope with children, mortgage, and you know obviously that must have played on his mind. And up to now he still gets recollection of what I went through and we talk about it and I always say to him that, you know, "Why don't you look at, when you do think about things like that, why don't you then look on the other side and say, well look at me now, look where I am now?" 

You know, he was worried that will my state of mind come back and you know state of mind surely must have come back now cos we're fighting sometimes [laughs]. You know, he has to deal with it in his way and he hasn't overcome it yet but he's still trying to deal with it all the time. 

He still needs time, to me, I'm very, at first I was very shocked to the extent that why should he still be dealing with the fact that, in fact, when we came home first couple of nights he would wake up in a cold sweat having had a dream about what had happened, you know to that extent. 

I've never had that so everybody's different, everybody will deal with it in their own way.

 

Her mother and her friends helped with cooking, cleaning and looking after her baby, so that she...

Her mother and her friends helped with cooking, cleaning and looking after her baby, so that she...

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The Sunday she [mother] came round again, she cooked and she cleaned, for the whole week she basically was just in and out of here as well as what, my Dad had travelled actually so he wasn't at home. And so she came in every day and bathed him [new baby] and she actually missed a day. The day that she did miss my friend phoned me and I said to her, well my mum can't come round today because she had to go to some meeting. So she asked if there's anything she could do, so I said, "Well come round and you can bath him for me." Because although if I had to, I could bath him, I really wasn't strong enough and I didn't want to bath him yet. 

So she came round and she bathed him and she fed him and he, you know, he is a good baby in the sense that, as long as you bathed him, you fed him, you cleaned him, he would sleep. And that's what he did. Right up til now, that's what he does, when you know you feed him, you bath him, he just sleeps so he wasn't much of a trouble.

So for the first two weeks my mother was helping me. I had some friends who came round and helped me with him. I had friends cook and my husband would go pick it up and bring it home, so the family had something to eat when my mum couldn't do anything. I had, you know, major support. 

And so I slept as well when they did things like in the day, I would sleep in the day and look after him at night. 

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