Sherri Clark

My name is Sherri Clark. I live in northeast Ohio, and this is the story of my life's changing moment. I was scheduled to have a c-section on May 14, 2007, because of a condition called placenta previa. Basically, the placenta was blocking my sons entrance into the world. I ended up going into labor on May 12th, a Saturday, so he was born at 2:31 pm, weighing 6 lbs. 13 oz. It was a good medical experience, or so I thought at the time, as I healed really well and was very happy. The nurse even commented that I was the poster child for a good c-section recovery. (know she doesn't think that anymore!) By Wednesday, I was telling people I couldn't wait to do it again. Then Thursday night came and the downhill spiral started. I had always had night sweats after having my three previous children, so I wasn't surprised or concerned when I had one that night, not even when I had one Friday night. But on Saturday, I woke up early not feeling right. There was a mass on my left side on my abdomen, which itself was now flaming hot, red and swollen. By noon I had a day sweat and just was feeling blah, and the medicine I was sent home from the hospital with (motrin 800 mg) was just not taking any of my feelings of unhealthiness away. I decided to go to the ER. I was diagnosed at the ER with cellulitis and sent home with a RX for Augmentin. At least now I could get better,right? Well, Sunday came and went with the same feelings and problems. I called my OB on Monday morning and got an appt. She decided to send me for a CT as she thought I had an abcess on my left side of my abdomen. I was sent home after the CT with RX of Keflex and not told what the CT showed, as only my doctor could tell me that, but was told that if I was going home, it couldn't be anything serious. I remember sitting in a chair thinking-"I can't believe there is nothing there- my doctor felt it, too. I guess they would know, not me." Gut instincts kicking in, but I'm no doctor, right? So Tuesday comes and my newborn has an appt. and tests to go for and I get home after all that about 2-3 pm. Sometime around 5pm, I have this stabbing pain in my left side that made me get up and go look at in the mirror. I was shocked to see black and blue marks in that area. My first thought was "Oh, thats not good" , so I called my husband in to look at it, as I can't get a good look at it since my abdomen is so swollen. I ask him if it looked like that yesterday and he says no. We start questioning ourselves at this point. Is this normal, does this mean its getting better, is it worse??? We call my OB and I tell her I"m worried, I am getting scared. She says "If you're worried, I am worried, If you're scared, I'm scared." She said go to ER and tell them I am directly admitting you. I will get an Infectious Disease person to come look at you. Don't race, but get there as soon as you safely can, and I will see you there. I never see or talk to her again. I sit in that hospital for almost two days before someone takes this seriously. I was diagnosed on Saturday with Cellulitis, and that's all I was treated for. I really don't think anyone had any idea how bad this was because one nurse said she had seen worse cases of cellulitis than mine, so don't worry. So I didn't. BIG mistake. I should have DEMANDED that someone SHOW UP. All in All, from my newborns discharge to my exit out of this hospital, 4 doctors failed to show up in a timely fashion, 2 of them not at all. My Ob had a partner, so she came on Wed. and Thurs. mornings, but she hadn't seen me at the office on Monday. She actually said to me that they can call for doctors to come see me, but they have no control over whether anyone actually shows up. WHAT?!??!! If that was the case, what the heck do we even have hospitals for? I couldn't believe it. I should have laid a tongue lashing on her, but I didn't . I will not be intimidated by any person EVER again. This woman was about to leave my room when I, me, a non medical person, asked if anyone was going to culture my wound. She says "I guess I could do that" YEAH-gee-REALLY- do you think you could, just maybe, take some effort here? It was only after she stuck that culture stick into that black and blue area that she possibly realized this wasn't good. I didn't feel anything, it was all dead. It must have gone in about 2 inches. You need a surgeon up here, she says. And that is when I said well, no one else has shown up when they were supposed to , how do I know this one will. Thats when she told me she has no control over them. From everything I've read about this bacteria, she should have RUN and found a surgeon right then and there. I sat there at least 6 more hours before the surgeon came. She took one second to say I needed surgery NOW! I believe this woman saved my life, as she then took me to surgery and then had me lifeflighted to another hospital where they took me to surgery, too, and removed my whole lower abdomen, from under my belly button to my original c-section scar, and from hip to hip. She told my family that I probably would have died if they waited another day. Needless to say, I won't be going back to that hospital ever again. I didn't have any idea when I fully woke up that my next few weeks of life were going to be so emotionally trying. I was told I had a 50% chance of survival that first day I awoke. Not very comforting. The every 8 hour dressing changes were something I wish I could forget. My first day on the VAC machine was a welcome change because I knew it only needed to be changed every 3-4 days. Although ,that first day was very painful, but I was not shy about getting pain meds. No martyrs here. I also knew I could go home a couple days later if it all went well. Getting that thing on meant getting home. I had my oldest sons high school graduation on Sunday and I had been determined since I found out my due date that I was not going to miss it. I prayed to GOD that I wouldn't miss it because of this. I hadn't seen my newborn in days as he wasn't allowed on the floor, and I had 2 other children that really haven't been away from me more than once in their lives for more than a week. I HAD to get out of there. I was delayed by a allergic reaction to Cipro, but I got to go home on Saturday. The graduation was GREAT- as my son was one of three Valedictorians. I couldn't have been more happy for him. Luckily through it all, my newborn was unaffected. It still creeps me out to think he had his open wounds (the umbilical cord and the circumcision) and I was breastfeeding him those early days, laying him on my belly to feed him. I thank GOD it was only me, as it would had been my fault if he had contracted it from me by being so close to my infection site. All along I was told to continue breastfeeding him, which I did. The nurses after my surgeries pumped for me until I could do it myself. Some of it had to be thrown away because of the medicines I took, but I did get to continue it on, which was very important to me. My VAC machine stayed on for five weeks, requiring 2 changes per week at the hospital. I had alot of help from family and friends to get me there. The people in my community were AWESOME help. I stayed on the VAC until my wound looked ready enough for reconstructive surgery. I had my surgery on July 2nd. I didn't require any skin grafts, which I will be always grateful for. I did have to have my belly button moved back to a normal spot, and the JP drains I had in were the worst pain I had since I went home due to over stitching, but I will take this scar over anything else that could have happened. I consider myself a very lucky person. I read new stories all the time on this website, and I know I have been a lucky one. It could have taken so much more from me, and I don't even want to think of the damage it would have done at home if I didn't survive. After all has been said and done now, I am doing great. Except for the emotional pain that lingers, I am in pretty good shape. Grateful for everyone who cared about me and my family. I didn't have to cook for over TWO months. So many people I will always remember as being kind and caring. This was the best part of growing up in a small town. I hope that is something my kids will remember, too. I am forever a changed person. In almost all ways , better. Everything has its purpose and reasons. Most of the time, we don't understand them. I hope through all of this I come away with greater understanding of who I am, and who others are. I take everyday as it comes, look forward to tomorrow but live today for today. I try to see the best in all of us, forgiving endlessly, as I would like to be. I recommend reading "tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom. I read it 2 years ago, and it is an awesome book. It has taken on more of an understanding, but I have loved it from the first day I read it. I reread it alot. I can't say that about any other book I've read. If it doesn't have an impact on you, read it again until it does, but I don't think that would be necessary! If anyone needs to talk or VENT, my email is in the contact page, as I would love to be able to help anyone through this. To those whose lives have been devestated by this, may you find some peace and understanding. I firmly believe you will appreciate the little things in life and learn that LOVE is what its all about. May God Bless You ALL!