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Anesthesia-What anesthesia? My story- so long you may need popcorn. and a drink. and a bathroom...

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
My story isn’t an easy one to tell. I don’t know anyone who has experienced anything like this, nor do I ever want to meet anyone who has. Not because I am unfriendly but because that means that they went through something horrendous and life changing.
My labor started at 2:00am on my exact due date, October 10, 2010. The pains were every 20 minutes and not really a big deal. I was the only one awake so I took a bath, painted my nails. I was very calm. At 9:00am I called my doctor’s office and told them I was having contractions so I was going to cancel my appointment and just go to the hospital whenever the pains got 3 minutes apart like he told me. I then laid down to take a nap. The doctor’s office called back around noon and said go ahead to hospital so doc can check you. We lived in a very small town and we only had one doctor that delivered babies so he just wanted a time frame.

I went in, doc checked me, I was only at a 2. I thought for sure I was farther – lol! He broke my water and he left. The contractions started in hard core at that time. I was having back labor. Serious pain. Back labor is no joke! Since it’s a small hospital, they do not do epidurals. They only meds they give you is Staydol and it wasn’t putting a dent in the pain. I thought my back was breaking.
Finally at about 6pm doc came back because I was at an 8. My family was there and I was still in excruciating pain. Finally about 6:30pm or so I was at a 9 and doc said the reason I was in so much pain was because baby was facing the wrong way, so he turned him. Immediate relief! At that time, I remember my LD nurse saying that the anesthesiologist told her that if they needed him, give him plenty of notice because he was 25 minutes away at a birthday party.

Everything was fine; I said I needed to start pushing. I noticed they brought in the baby isolette and started setting it up. Family members were leaving the room. Doc was checking my pushing and then all of a sudden I noticed that doc and nurse were very quiet. No more talking or joking around. I saw the nurse shake her head at the doc and I said immediately- what is wrong? Doc said “Cord is out and I can’t push it back in. How far away is anesthesia?” Nurse said, “25 minutes.” Nurse ran out of the room and came back with a blue bundle. I was in shock and in excruciating pain while doc was trying to push cord back up into my uterus. As that time, I noticed him poke me with this little thing 4 or five times and then the next thing I know I am looking down and I see him slice me with a scalpel. He says, “Can you feel that?” I scream “F*ck yes, I can feel that!” I immediately try to cover up my wound to keep him from doing it again. He looks at me and says, “If I don’t do this, your baby is going to die.” I looked at my hands covered in blood, heard my mom and doc say, “No don’t touch it.” I felt myself slip out of my body, and say, “Ok do it.” Doc then told my husband to hold me down with my arms over my head. He completed the c-section right there. No sterile environment. No anesthesia.

I remember hearing myself scream, feeling his hands inside my body like he was ripping me apart. I remember looking into my husband’s eyes trying to stay calm; my mind was begging itself to just pass out. I remember the doc telling a nurse to get my mom out of there. I remember telling my husband that I was going to die. I remember the doc saying, “Hit the code button and bring me something for mom.” I remember feeling my eyes roll back in my head. I vaguely remember coming to and hearing the doctor yelling at my baby and then my husband-“What is his name. What is the baby’s name?” My husband told him, “Shane”. I hear the doc yell, “Come on Shane BREATHE. BREATHE DAMN IT BREATHE.” I can still remember hearing that first cry and telling myself I can go back to sleep now. I remember being happy it was a boy. We purposely didn’t find out but that’s what I wanted. I woke up again a few minutes later to a man rubbing my forehead. I remember hearing the doc tell my husband that he was going to take care of me. I remember trying to sit up because I really had to pee and trying to tell someone. Come to find out, the doc had cut through my bladder and that’s what I was feeling. I remember them wheeling me into the ER, kind of passing my family in the hall way. I guess I told my daughter that I was dying.

I know that after the surgery I woke up and doc told me what happened and that I was at extreme risk for infection because nothing was sterile. My bladder was cut and opened up inside me. He said he did his best to get my insides all cleaned up. He double stitched my uterus incase I wanted to have another baby. Then they told me that my son was life flighted an hour and half away to another hospital with a level 4 NICU. He had been without oxygen for a total of 6 minutes and had actually been ‘dead’. It took 2 epi shots and lots of CPR to make him come to. The last thing they heard he was breathing on his own but had a stage one brain bleed.

I was in ICU for a week. I had 24/7 antibiotics- 4 different kinds, I believe. Had to have 2 blood transfusions and a permanent catheter for 6 weeks. My son was in NICU for 2 weeks. I finally got to see him after 7 days. They had done extensive testing on him, and several ultrasounds on his organs. His brain bleed healed itself and he was perfect. No lasting effects. Seeing him lying that little crib was the most amazing sight. I will never forget the surrealty of that moment. My son was fine and all mine.

I was actually brave enough to have another baby. I have been blessed with another son. He is 5 months old. I had a planned c-section with a wonderful new doctor in a big city hospital. We prepared mentally for the surgery for the whole pregnancy. My new OB had meetings with the anesthesiologist and nurses who would be in the OR with me during my surgery. No one had dealt with anything like this and no one knew how I would react. It was so peaceful. No one spoke unless I did first. I didn’t even know that surgery started until they said, “Here is your son.” I lived through it. Every doctor, every nurse who hears my story or has read my medical records is in shock and awe of what I went through. They equate me to a soldier on the battle field. My therapist said, “I’ve heard a lot of stories in my years but that is the bravest f*cking thing I have ever heard.” She treats soldiers coming back from war so I find it ironic that she thinks I am a hero. As much as anyone thinks I am brave, I can only say that if it was your baby you would have made the same decision that I did.

I didn’t get any infections. My son had no lasting effects. So why am I suffering so badly? I can’t sleep and have a hard time leaving my sons to do anything but go to work. I don’t let them sleep alone. I am always scared they are going to die if I am not there to protect them. I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I have PTSD and am seeing a therapist. It’s hard to admit to it, since everything turned out so well. I need help so I can have healthy relationships with my children and I can stop being angry all the time. I treat my husband badly and I have to be in control all of the time. It’s not fair to any of us.

For anyone that read all of this thank you. I know its long but writing it was part of my therapy. Wish me luck – I know I’ll need it!
post #2 of 14

Wow!  You had pretty much the riskiest c-section possible.  I am so glad that you and your son are physically okay, but no one should wonder at that experience causing lasting trauma to everyone in the room, most particularly to you and your husband.


Have you had any therapy about this?  Have you been able to ask the hospital any questions about your experience? 

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
I just finally admitted that I have a problem. I was ashamed in a way, I guess. I was ashamed because I felt this way and my son was fine. I thought that I had no right to feel this way because I suffered no great loss- he is truly perfect. I've recently learned that the inability to talk about the trauma is also part of the PTSD.

My husband says he is fine and I believe him. He said that once the doctor told him that I was going to be fine, he knew he would be too. Men are weird. : ) My thereapist said it's easier for him because even though he saw and heard horrific things and had to partake in them, he has no pain associated with the memories.

My doctor, who I love and have no ill feelings towards at all, has had his own issues. He still hears my screams in his head. He said that they are unlike any screams he has ever heard before in his life. He actually won Family Practice Doctor of the Year for our state this year. Ironically, they (the hospital staff) asked that I write a letter on behalf of his nomination. I feel that I owe him my son's life. He could have refused to cut me and if he would have, then my baby would not be here today. He, my quick thinking doctor, is my hero.

The nurse who was in there with us has become a friend. She claims that I am the "bravest baddest b*itch she knows and that I have changed her life." and that "not a day goes by that she doesn't think about that day". I think she may have a little PTSD of her own. Like I said in my post above, people may say Im brave but anyone would have done it to save their child's life. I would willingly do it again.

I have not talked to the hospital. I know that afterwards they all had many meetings about my scare. Every nurse was involved in my care that day, and so were other staff memebers like the pharmacist and office workers. Alot of them came into the room and froze because I guess it "looked like a war zone and a blood bath". They had never seen anything like it before. I know that the anesthesiologist was either fired or quit a month later.

Now that I have come to terms with having PTSD I wish that I could file a malpractice suit against the hospital and the anesthesiologist. Not having someone who could administer anesthesia in a 5 minute radius is unnacceptable to me. I don't want this to happen to anyone else. Sadly, my state has a 2 year statute of limitations on malpractice suits. I wasn't fully aware I had any issues until after the 2 year window. I think that time frame needs to be looked at. I am thinking about trying to do something to have it changed for trauma survivors. It's quite unfair/unrealistic. My son can file a suit but why? There's nothing wrong with him. I just want this to NOT happen to anyone else. Although I know it's not common- no one I know has ever heard of it- that doesn't mean it couldn't happen again.
post #4 of 14

You had an entire major abdominal surgery with inadequate anesthesia.  That's traumatic.  No one should be telling you otherwise.  It's kind of like surviving a car accident.


I think what happened to you speaks to a number of problems at the hospital - they sound very small.  They may be inadequately staffed for potential emergencies of all kinds.  If every nurse they had was involved in your care, and there was no one on the premises who could do anesthesia at all, then there's a lot of situations that they just aren't adequately equipped to handle.  Your experience should have triggered an institutional morbidity review, which should have discussed, in detail, everything that happened that day, and how it could be prevented from ever happening again.  I don't know whether you'd feel better if you asked about that - if you have a therapist, discuss it in therapy before asking.

post #5 of 14
The rule in most small hospitals I know of is 20 min radius for being on-call. That would have been too long. 5 or 10 min might have been too long. No one anywhere ever wants anything like that to happen ever. It was not malpractice. It was horrific and awful but necessary. Comparing it to war- even soldiers who believe in what they are doing and saved lives etc still get PTSD (fairly often). Suing people won't make you feel better or undue what happened or make it less likely. That is going to take time and work and it sounds like you are already making the right choices with beginning therapy, and that is where to focus your energy. Awful things happen and sometimes with no rhyme or reason or answers but healing is possible.
post #6 of 14

And I thought I had a traumatic csec!!!  I guess I don't understand why they didn't turn you upside down to keep the pressure of the cord?  Maybe mag to stop the contractions?  Why in the world would the dr go straight to field surgery?

post #7 of 14

I was an OB RN for 10 years and now have been a midwife for 15 years.  Unfortunately, the anesthesia coverage problem in small community hospitals is a very real problem and my opinion is that it is not very likely to change in the near future.  As heart breaking as your story is, it's hard to believe that this traumatic scenario happens with more regularity in the USA than most people know.  The reason this problem will not change is because it costs too much for most small community hospitals. Take it from me, the eternal pessimist, the life-long cynic, but due to my extensive experience with obstetrics--I'm very much a realist.  Hospitals are NOT in business to help people or to take care of them.  Hospitals are in business to first and foremost make money. It was perfectly explained in a debate on television once.  If a hospital cuts nursing staff by 20% they will save (for example) 1 millions dollars a year.  But, research shows, poor nurse staffing increases the likelihood of more patient deaths.  But the hospital's malpractice insurance will cover the lawsuits for the extra deaths caused by the negligence of short-staffing without having to pay any more money for insurance.  It is a 1 million dollar revenue for the hospital and to the family member of those that die, well, they won't know the difference. It's for this reason that if you actually did try to sue the hospital, I believe, no malpractice lawyer would've taken your case because they are aware of this fact. Let me share a true story regarding lack of anesthesia coverage at our local hospital.  It happened on a Sunday.  A first time mom was in labor.  The fetal heart rate wasn't terrible, but was showing changes that concerned the OB and he recommended a C-section.  The patient refused.  The heart rate recovered.  A few hours later while the patient was pushing the heart rate started to plummet, she started bleeding profusely, the OB (rightly) assumed the placenta was tearing away.  The only anesthesiologist was in the OR with an emergency.  The other anesthesiologist was being called from home.  The OB knew the baby would be dead if they waited.  He used forceps to pull the baby out (it was very high up in the  uterus).  There was a big rip in her uterus and vagina, but the baby was born alive.  By the time anesthesia got there, the woman almost bled to death.  Long story short, she survived another 8 hours then died from complications of the hemorrhage. It has been this way in many (not all) hospitals for the 25 years I've practiced.  I don't know how this will change. I know of 4 other women who had C-sections without anesthesia.  There should be a support group for you and the rest of the women that have suffered this trauma.

post #8 of 14
Suing can make things like this less likely to happen again, because it gets the hospital's insurer involved. The problem is, to sue, you have to have harm. For my money, unanesthetized surgery is harm, but in civil court, you may need something more concrete. I assure you, had you been permanently injured or suffered a major infection, that hospital could be shut down by now.

Small, community hospitals are mostly run by non profit corporations, whoch doesn't mean that they don't make money, or aren't motivated by money, butyou can make a strong public argument that they have a responsibility to the community in a different way that a for-profit corporation. Or, if this one isn't a non-profit, you can argue that a focus on the bottom line put you in danger. While for profit hospitals do exist to make money, they do that by selling patient care. If patients choose to go elsewhere, or their insurers jack their premiums, they can't make money.

I'm a cynic too, but it is possible to make a difference.
post #9 of 14

MeepyCat I once thought the way you do. I don't mean to be condescending, but my 55 years does count for something.  Also my 25 years working in and with the health care system here in the USA and seeing the intimate workings of how the machinery runs.  I'm no lawyer, but in suing a health care provider I think you must #1 prove that you were harmed, but most importantly #2 that the hospital did something way out of bounds of what would be considered reasonable "community standards" followed by other hospitals.  People that keep statistics would know better than me, but in my experience most small community hospitals have only one anesthesiologist on during off hours. THAT is why this way of doing things will not change.  I am only one nurse and I know of 4 cases of C-section without anesthesia and the other case I discussed above.  And if I included the number of times I was present during a C-section that was started under spinal anesthesia and the patient was screaming that she felt everything and the doctors didn't stop I would included dozens more.  But, I digress, because Survivor 2010 is still left with unresolved anger, fear and feelings of disillusion.  I DO think, Survivor, that it would provide a modicum of resolution if you were to win a lawsuit and make you feel something good came out of your pain--that this would reduce the risk of the same thing happening again.  But, that's not possible. I think, if you were able to get your message out somehow and start an online support group for others with this trauma, you would help others and help yourself overcome what must feel like a profound sense of helplessness you felt as you lay there experiencing the worst trauma so that your son could live.  For what it's worth.  In my opinion, what your doctor did was courageous, not malpractice.  Did you say he was a Family Practice Doc?  He had a split second choice to make and I believe he made the right one.

post #10 of 14
Community hospitals would shut their OB units if they had to have everyone in-house and women would have to drive an hour or more to see anyone with OB expertise. I don't know if that's better, some people can't wait an hour
post #11 of 14
I'm so very sorry you experienced that. It sounds utterly horrific. And I'm so thankful you and your baby made it through healthy. I hope that you're getting good support from your therapist! I'll be praying for comfort and healing for you.

I'm sorry you're feeling such strong anxiety now with your children. I understand a little bit in that I'm scared to leave my daughter with anyone because of my own negative experiences as a child. It's stifling to feel so trapped in that fear. Perhaps your therapist can help you formulate some cognitions (similar to affirmations but not so positive) to start repeating? Mine has been helping me get control of anxiety that way. For example, "I am learning to accept DD's changing sleep patterns" is one that I've been using.

Ultimately, as you know, you can't change what happened, but you can choose how you react to it. You're brave for acknowledging and admitting the problem and seeking help!! That can be one of the hardest things.

Hang in there, mama.
post #12 of 14

Oh, my, I cried reading your story, how horrible!


Being treated for your anxiety will help you SO MUCH. I also experienced severe anxiety, after my fourth baby was born, and I never got help. Let anyone help you who is willing. And if someone tries to belittle your feelings, give them a big F U.

post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your input. I am still coping one day at a time. Trying to resolve the anger and the anxiety. Therapy is helping.

I think I was misunderstood…about suing- I didn’t want money out of it- I want it to not happen again. I want there to be a anesthesiologist within 5 minutes of the OB area if there is a woman in labor. If a doc is there to deliver a baby then anesthesiologist should be ready to act. That’s just my opinion. I don’t want anyone else to go through this. My OB- a family practice doctor- is my absolute hero. I wouldn’t sue him in a million years. I helped support his nomination for doctor of the year- no way would I ever EVER want anything bad to happen to him. Without him, my son would be dead. Dear Lord no—no malpractice on his end at all.

As for the idea of starting a support group- that is wonderful!!! Maybe I will do that when I am better. Maybe that’s what I am supposed to do with my life- help other women? I have searched for one and trust me when I say there is NOTHING out there! This forum is what I found. Nothing else. I have thought about the whole PTSD support group but most of those are filled with war veterans and even though I was traumatized, I am no hero, so I am not sure how comfortable I would be there.
post #14 of 14
You are a hero. You say any woman would agree, but I think some would not. You are on the same level as that doctor. You should hold yourself in the same esteem - what you went through saved your baby's life.

My good friend went through a similar experience. She had an emergancy c-section. She had a spinal placed, but when they shifted her to the table it became malpositioned. She felt the whole surgery, from first cut to staples. The pain was so intense she couldn't make words, just cry and moan. Her husband thought she was just upset about the c-section. Nobody realized it was pain. Their focus was on the baby that was slipping away. Only when she started to scream with the staples (closure) did they realize what was happening and put her under. She says it was by far the most horrific experience in her life, but that she would do it again to save her son's life. She is a hero to me.

Unreasonable fear is part of PTSD. I suffer from this due to my last birth, and I still sometimes wonder if my youngest is so sweet because she will not be with us for long. (She is three.) I'm sure you are working on coping strategies with your therapist. Just know you are not alone.
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