Diane R

I am a 37-year-old woman married to a wonderful man for the past 3 years. I have a 10-year-old daughter from my previous marriage and a 23-year-old stepdaughter, who welcomed their new baby brother in March of 2002. My pregnancy was fairly routine; because of my age we had all of the pre-natal testing and were assured that everything was fine. We anxiously awaited the birth of our son. Approximately 3 weeks before delivery, I noticed an extremely inflamed perineum. I contacted my OB's office, they informed me that this was normal and not to worry. I also tested positive for strep B at around 20 weeks. My husband is a family physician and placed trust in the medical staff to provide me with the best quality of care. I never "used" my husband as a physician. I would not allow him to look at my perineum for fear that he would never again be interested in me as a woman. Now the horror starts, I delivered my son at 3 am. The OB stated that I did a wonderful job pushing. But something felt different, I told him the pain was much different from my daughter's birth. 24 hours later I developed shaking chills, and a fever of 101.2. I was told that it was probably my milk coming in. A CBC was obtained and a White Blood Cell count of 20,000 was revealed. However, neither my husband nor I were informed of this. At home I continued to run fevers and developed extreme vaginal pain. I thought that it was not unusual and did not contact my OB until 2 days later. He said to come in the next day at 1pm. He admitted me to the hospital with cellullitus of the episotomy site. I had an ID consult and from there it becomes blurry. I was a train wreck, sepsis set in, bilateral pneumonia, pulmonary edema, coma, ARDS, hypertension, and I was ventilator dependent. My family stood vigil as multi organ failure was setting in. Approximately 36 hours after the NF diagnosis was documented, they took me to the OR. I am an old respiratory therapist, the worst nightmare would be to wake up on a ventilator. And it was a nightmare. I also hallucinated that my newborn son died, that he was kidnapped, that my husband was conspiring with the nurses, that the nurses were trying to kill me, that there was a shoot out at my house, these are just a few of the hallucinations that still haunt me when I close my eyes. When I was extubated, they brought my son into the SICU in an incubator. I would not believe that he was alive unless I saw him. My poor family was told day after day that I probably would not make the next. Even one of my husbands friends, another MD, who came to my hospital room at 2am when I was having my worst night, was told by the medical director, "Why did you bother to get out of bed, the changes you are going to make will not matter, she'll be dead by the am". I am positive that if it were not for my husband I would be dead now. He would not give up, and he did not accept the fatalist's attitudes. He stepped on more than a few toes, thank god. After release, I received at home PT from my best friend. I needed around the clock care, and I could not care for my son. It's been 8 months now and I have 2/3 of my vagina, decreased lung capacity, a scarred urethra, and posttraumatic stress syndrome. I have many questions. I don't ask why me anymore, I ask can I help prevent this from happening to another person. Is there a link between Step B and NF, has Step A mutated? Is an inflamed perineum a sign of NF? Is there suture material that is suspect for infection? Is there testing postpartum that can more clearly identify infections, ie. blood cultures? I don't know, but I will not stop trying to find answers.