The headache that followed was a force to be reckoned with. I couldn’t stand or sit, I could only lay and close my eyes and pray that the medication would take it away.
My husband had to leave to collect our children. I insisted that we try to keep life for them as normal and routine as possible, so for him to collect them from our friends and have them stay at our house for the night, seemed best.
As I lay struggling to sleep in the middle of the night, the midwife on duty that night, Sandra, came in and sat beside me on the bed. She stroked my brow and then whispered that tomorrow they would perform a procedure to help my headache. She tried to explain in French but it was a little too technical and my head was hurting too much to try to understand. She gave me some mild sedatives that allowed me to sleep.
When I woke the following morning, I was still unable to lift my head. My lower back was so sore from the epidural the previous day, that I struggled to get comfy at all.
A new midwife came in, Claude. She spoke amazing English, and although I’d understood what she had said in French, I felt she liked the opportunity to use her English – and I was more than happy to be her guinea pig!
Claude explained that the epidural the day before had pierced somewhere in my spinal column, which had caused the fluid there to leak out. This meant the fluid was leaking from around my skull and brain which was causing the horrendous pressure when I sat up or attempted to stand. It could be repaired with a “Blood Patch”. (I asked what blood patch was in French. It is actually the same, just you pronounce blood with an “ooooh” like in moo or pooh!)
A blood patch was similar to an epidural except instead of inserting a catheter and pumping numbing medication into your spinal area, they would pump fresh blood from my veins, into the area where the hole is, in the hope it will form a clot (or scab if you like) which plugs the hole. Therefore preventing the fluid leak and stopping the headaches.
Perhaps if you’ve not had an already botched epidural, surgery to remove a placenta, oh, and did I mention I’d lost a baby? I did not want another needle being shoved into my already bruised and battered spine. I did not want to go into theatre again. I just wanted to go home with my family and privately grieve the loss of my darling Arran.
But there wasn’t really another option.
So back off to the labour ward I went where a lovely midwife introduced herself as Mary Poppins. I still don’t know her real name and have met her several times since! She found an elastic band for my hair and joked about not being a hairdresser. It secretly felt so nice having someone touch my hair. I hadn’t brushed it since Thursday so I can’t imagine it was in the best of conditions. She also put a silly pointy surgical hat on my head and told me I looked like a dwarf. But a beautiful one. Bless her, she made me smile.
The anaesthetist was a young guy called Francois who was quite direct, but nice. He allowed me to lay down for the procedure as it was far too uncomfortable to stand up. I had a catheter put into my right arm to drain the blood directly into my back. As Francois pushed against my spine, I cried. It was so painful. He apologised but it wasn’t his fault.
As usual I worked myself into a complete hyperventilating snotty mess and another midwife had to come in to hold my hand.
I again felt the pinch of the general anaesthetic and a lot of pressure in my back. There was a problem with my blood draining and Mary Poppins shouted in a very un Mary Poppin like fashion, “Oh shit!” Through my moaning and heavy breathing I told her I understood and that she spoke very good English. We all managed a laugh.
The anaesthetist told me to tell him when I felt pain. But I couldn’t feel any more pain than the soreness I already felt. And then it was over. Just like that. I remember thinking “that wasn’t so bad!” I was just so incredibly relieved it was over and I would soon be home with my boys.
The anaesthetist helped to lay me on my back and then leant over to tell me I would need to lay on my back like this for 24 hours. I was somewhat distracted by his big beautiful blue eyes. Against the blue of his face mask they were twinkling like little rock pools at the beach. I was mesmerised and I have to admit, completely switched off from what he was saying!
After he left the room, Mary Poppins came and settled me in. I looked up at her and said dreamily, “Francois has such beautiful blue eyes”. She laughed and turned to reveal Francois sitting right behind her, completing paperwork. I was mortified. She announced in French, “Did you hear that Francois?” He nodded and smiled coyly. “Dr Beaux Yeux!” She giggled.
Oh yes, Dr Beaux Yeux or Mr Beautiful Eyes, sat there for what seemed like an eternity, filling out paperwork, before he casually stood and came over to me and wished me a speedy recovery. Thankfully he had removed his face mask by then so that I could focus on his mouth rather than “those” eyes…
And then I was left, on my own in the room to recover. My back was so sore and I was so uncomfortable. This would be a long hour of recovery. I had been allowed my phone, so I did what I had done every day since arriving in hospital and every day in the run up to it actually, and found comfort and distraction in my Ed Sheeran playlist.
I prayed that this procedure was the last, and that this blood patch had managed to fix the hole in my spine. I just wondered who was going to fix the hole in my heart…