Swollen eyes, Migraine, Nerve damage

After Surgery it was very difficult because I had taken way too many medicines: Pain relief, hormones and anesthesia. So was difficult to recover from those medicines. I peed through a catheter for two days and that was very scary. About a week after the surgery I went to ER with a very intense migraine and was treated with morphine. After surgery I had difficulty to move one of the legs for about a month, the nerve seemed to be damaged and I was afraid that would be permanent but I ended up recovering.

It was also difficult to take care of the baby by myself under this circumstances but we made it through. Yes everything was much harder than I expected.

-Jaqueline Lèbre Bacellar

Muscle pain after emergency anesthesia

Another thing I wish I had known to expect was the seizing, shooting pain in my neck and shoulders in the 48 hours following emergency surgery. It was worse by far than the pain of my incision, (which was excruciating) and I couldn’t move or stretch my muscles out. All I could do was sit propped up uncomfortably in bed feeling like I'd been slung around like a whiplash victim.

Apparently for safety they have to strap your arms out to the sides like Jesus on the cross when you go under general anesthesia. Being restrained in this unnatural pose for more than an hour frequently results in excruciating neck and shoulder pain for all types of emergency surgery patients. I'm not sure what they could do differently to prevent this from happening, perhaps just handle their patient more gently, but I wish I had known at the time why I was in such pain.

-Katrina Nevin

Nausea reaction to Epidural

After the surgery, and when the epidural's two parts were wearing off, I discovered that the medication made me extremely nauseated. I had to lie in the bed with my eyes closed for long periods of time or I felt horrible. Once the medication wore off I felt better in that way, but then could feel the pain from the surgery. I had to take milder pain medications due to my previous reaction, and had to take it a little more often. That helped me recover physically.

-Amber Hunt

Spinal Headache reaction to Epidural

They had a hard time placing the epidural but they got it eventually and she was in my arms before I knew it. The happiness overpowered everything that happened before. But then the spinal headache came...it was awful. I couldn't stand without vomiting. I had to lay flat for the first few weeks of my newborns life. All that helped me was lying flat and when I needed to get up (bathroom, shower etc) I had to make a plan so that I was quick and would hopefully not get sick from the pain. It was a lot harder than I expected. (Failed blood patch and I refused to try for a second one.)

-Elizabeth Francis

Photo by John Reine

Betadine Allergy Rash (and the healing properties of Breast Milk!)

Surgeons cover the area they are going to cut with a layer of Betadine before they begin surgery. This is to prevent infection and kill bacteria. So after I was wheeled into the OR they painted my belly with Betadine Surgical Scrub and then proceeded with their surgery. After they had stitched everything back up they left the Betadine on my skin. This is common practice, but it had huge ramifications for me in the days that followed.

Two days after my surgery I was able to stand up and move around a bit so I took a hot shower for the first time and I carefully washed off all the yellow/brown staining from the Betadine. Three hours later I noticed a red rash starting to appear all over my abdomen, from the incision upward to above my belly button and around the sides of my waist. A couple hours after that I noticed that the rash was itchy. Shortly thereafter I was in a world of pain. I’ve had poison ivy or poison oak rashes and this was similar but ten times worse because of the location. I mentioned it to several of the nurses caring for my baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and after showing the rash to them somebody said “oh yeah that’s a Betadine allergy”.

I was in a huge amount of pain, the incision from my surgery felt like it was being re-opened and my skin was extremely tender and horrifically itchy at the same time. Touching it hurt. My clothes brushing against me as I moved hurt. Itching it hurt but also perversely made it feel better.

Finally a nurse said “oh have you tried breast milk? BREAST MILK FIXES EVERYTHING.” Strange as it sounded I was desperate so I took some of the milk I'd just pumped and dabbed it all over my skin. Immediately I felt relief! That whole night and day I applied my milk to the rash multiple times and the change was amazing. The itching disappeared literally overnight.

To be on the safe side you need to use cool water and rinse that yellow stain off your skin as quickly as possible to avoid having a reaction. I had it on me for around 30 hours and it was really, really bad. Not everybody will have a reaction and some women I talked to seemed to have less extreme reactions than me, maybe they showered sooner than I did or maybe I'm just extra sensitive.

-Katrina Nevin

Removing the catheter and getting out of bed

The very next day after the birth, the nurse came into my room very early, I think about 7am, which had felt like I had only been asleep for 15 minutes and she pulled open the curtains. She asked if I had stood already. I said of course not, I had just had surgery the day before. She tried to make me stand, but I played the language card. I could get away with this until my husband arrived a little while later. The nurse returned when he was there. I now didn't have a choice, I had to get up. I advised my husband I still had the catheter in. That didn't phase this nurse at all. She marched right over, took the covers off me and pulled the catheter out so quickly I didn't have a chance to say “boo”. I was then told to stand. Immediately I felt blood pouring out of me. I sat down, they got me some special underpants that are basically diapers and I was cleaned up. I had to walk that day, and right then. This nurse was from this moment on known as nurse Ratchet to me. First she wakes me up, then she rips out the catheter and then makes we walk to the bathroom. Clearly she had no sympathy whatsoever, or so I thought. However once it was done and over with she left me alone.

-Karen Hiemer