Trigger warning: Please be advised the following narrative contains graphic content relating to blood.
"I think these symptoms line up with an issue from your c-section." I met with a doctor in Lincoln, Nebraska and after reviewing my symptom timeline, he believed my side effects was sourcing from my delivery with Trax. He listened closely, brainstormed out loud with me, and made no promises as I left his office. I loved that. Many doctors I spoke to previously believed my issue was current, which is why Endometriosis was a plausible idea at the time.
My doctor's plan was to do a saline sonogram and take a closer look at my uterus. I liked this approach. It was new, but I was also scared to death of how painful it might be. My Google search of the procedure did not ease any nerves.
a painful pelvic ultrasound
On sonogram day, I clenched the sheet and asked the technician how much it would hurt. I was nauseous as heck thinking about catheters and sharp tools. The technician started with an ultrasound and I about gagged. Every movement felt like a jagged blow to my pelvis. I gritted my teeth as the tears started to flow. The technician was surprised and now understood why I was nervous to begin with.
She called my doctor in to conduct the sonogram. As he entered the room, his eyes hit the monitor. "I don't think I need to see more. You have an abnormal pocket on your uterus and it's free flowing with fluid." Back in his office, he sketched a photo of what he saw on the screen. I attached it below. He drew stitching around the pocket he saw.
abnormal pocket on my uterus
Normally, he wouldn't suggest fixing the uterus, but because of my extreme symptoms he recommended a robotic laparoscopy. My doctor would go in, reshape my uterus, and do a biopsy. He believed they did not catch this abnormality in my previous laparscopy because they did not pass through my uterine wall. I collapsed to tears in my car. An answer. Thank you Jesus. I could not wait to be free of pain. The surgery was scheduled a few weeks later.
The surgery went well. The biopsy came back with nothing, an okay sign to me. My stomach was covered in bumpy red scars and gray sticker goop, from all the wires fastened to my belly. Overall though, I felt good. I was happy to run back to my old life as soon as possible.
My doctor mentioned he believed my c-setion scar from 2019 healed improperly and that's what created the abnormal pocket. It was a bit ironic. I was recovering from my surgery in the same hospital I delivered my baby.
abnormal uterine bleeding begins
For a handful of weeks, I felt alright. I was learning how to back off pain killers and return to my ibuprofen routine. I even made it to North Carolina for our family trip in May!
On week three of recovery, I was back in my hometown with husband and son at my in-laws. I started to bleed a bit, but it wasn't much so I carried on with my day.
The following night, I woke up at midnight to my bed soaked in blood. I didn't panic, panic. I know post delivery and post surgery there are oftentimes random bouts of bleeding. Although, when I stood up, blood was dripping fast down my legs. I took a shower, cleaned up the bed, and carpet. I called our local ER just to be safe.
Trey makes a 911 call.
Once on the phone, the bleeding had slowed. I described a few cups of blood and since I wasn't losing much anymore, I decided to go in the next day if it got worse. The following morning, I called my doctor in Lincoln. I was prescribed medication to slow the bleeding. I took it twice that day and that night, but then I began to pass blood clots.
When I woke up the next day, I walked out of our room and stood motionless. On my last step, it felt like I had just given birth to a baby and it fell to the floor. I lost my breath as I looked down and saw a clot the size of one of my organs.
Blood continued to pour down my legs. I tried to walk a few steps but the pools of blood around me started to cover my feet. I didn't want to traipse through the entire house. I waved my hand at my sister-in-law. "I can't get it to stop," as I attempted to sop up the blood with a blanket.
the blood clots grew bigger
She grabbed a couple towels and wiped up some of the blood on the floor. I tried wrapping the towel around my waist for pressure. The blood didn't stop. By this time, my husband, Trey, saw what was going on and asked if I wanted to get in the shower. I did a few steps, but my feet were stained with blood and I began passing more clots the size of golf balls.
We thought about jumping in the car to head to the ER, but I just envisioned someone's car getting wrecked with this bloody mess. Trey called for an ambulance. I took big deep breaths. I really didn't want to psych myself out. A few minutes had passed, blood was still seeping out, and I shimmied my way down to the floor to sit. Within a few seconds I was pretty nauseous and dizzy. I remember laying my head on my sister-in-law's lap and closing my eyes.
The fire station was only about two blocks from our house. I could hear the sirens blaring down the street. An EMT came inside and took a look. He said, "I know this looks like a lot of blood, but it isn't as much as it looks okay?" I was able to walk outside with their help and scoot onto a stretcher.
A blurry ambulance ride
In the ambulance, I zoned in and out. I could feel clots continuing to pass, it was next level disgusting. I was conscious most of the drive to Grand Island, but as we entered town my organs tightened and immediately felt overworked. I had always imagined people passing out to feel light, pain-free, a moment of stillness. However, when I could no longer keep my eyes open, my body went into uproar. Every inch of my skin was not mine. It tingled, burned, and demanded energy I didn't have. I heard the EMT shout to the driver, "Light it up!"
The sirens rang in my ear like a parade. Wake up Logan. I squinted my eyes and attempted to glance out the window. Billboards on Highway 281, we were almost there. I sunk deep into my body the rest of the ride. It was exhausting and sickening to keep my eyes open. As we arrived, I fixated on the rattling of the wheels on the stretcher. The tiny bumps. The grim hallways. The muffled voices.
They rolled me into a room and hooked me up to replace the blood I lost. I faintly remember seeing Trey, "How are you?" he asked. Not good. I was so mad at my body. Why is good news always followed with bad?
a stay in the intensive care unit
The nurses prepared to place a balloon, in order to control the bleed. When the doctor walked in, I knew it was time. He first placed a catheter and I screamed for several minutes. The pain was similar to a steak knife rotating clockwise, circle after circle. Placing the balloon was just as bad.
A while later, they transferred me up to the ICU. I continued to bleed, but it definitely slowed down. I spoke with a doctor, which was hard because I had to recount my health history from the last few months. He recommended an embolization, which would block my blood vessels with tiny gelatin sponges. I wasn't convinced. I'd experienced many of these 'fixes' and this new idea sounded like a science experiment. The embolization was not a permanent solution.
Trey and I were on the same page, we wanted them to take my uterus out. That seemed to have the greatest possible outcome and it was the source of most of my problems. However, we spoke with my doctor in Lincoln and he too agreed, the embolization was the best route to take. The next afternoon they reeled me into horridly cold white procedure room. I stared up at the glaring white head lamp, hoping I didn't make a stupid mistake.
Thanks for popping by y'all. I am slowly making my way through storytelling my last year and the medical events that transpired from my c-section complication. Please share this with a mama who may be going through something similar! I will be posting part three here shortly.
My knees were tucked up to my chin and the tie dye comforter was clenched in my knuckles. I squeezed my eyes and thanked God we had a babysitter to watch Trax. As I buried my face into a pillow, the sharp cramping in my pelvis turned into a pulsing stab.
I texted my husband at work and said we may need to go to the ER. I deleted the words as soon as I finished them. Maybe I can swig another ibuprofen and wait this out. After I took the pill, I headed to the closet to change clothes just in case. Another bolting cramp made me sink down the wall to the floor. Once it passed, I wobbled back over to my phone and rewrote the text. Send.
Hey y’all. It’s been a minute. I took a handful of months off writing while I was in and out of the hospital. I’m happy to be back though :) I missed writing. Let’s jump back into my first ER visit…
That was my first trip to the ER, which was roughly five weeks after my OBGYN told me I might have Endometriosis. The fall of 2020, I started experiencing rough pelvic pain, which also meant I could not have sex. As November of 2021 arrived, the pain persisted and that area of my body became sore to the touch.
I had also received an abnormal pap smear in 2019 when I was pregnant with my son and they suggested retesting in the future. So, I scheduled a yearly pelvic exam, unaware of how long my doctor would actually keep me at the clinic.
Flash forward to the appointment, where the string of excruciating tests began. My OBGYN was concerned and I had every test done the gynecology floor could offer. A culture, STD panel, and various swabs. Unfortunately, all results were negative. Little did I know, that these gut wrenching symptoms were from a complication from my c-section in 2019.
My doctor recommended an abdominal ultrasound. It felt like a special kind of hell as the technician kneaded into my belly for a good look at each organ. To this day, I’ve had seven ultrasounds and each time, I wish I swished four ibuprofen beforehand.
The ultrasound showed no abnormalities. At this point, my OBGYN was convinced I had Endometriosis. My scans were clean, what else would it be? The only way to diagnose Endometriosis is to surgically check for lesions with a laparoscopy. My doctor mentioned most surgeons do not want to schedule a surgery until it is certain the pain won’t resolve on its own. She referred me to pelvic floor therapy for eight weeks. If therapy didn't help, we'd schedule the surgery.
In total, I went through five weeks of physical therapy. I was told for Endometriosis patients, these exercises would alleviate the pain. At week three, my pain was at an all time high. I wouldn’t dare miss a window to take ibuprofen and the guilt of becoming less active with my toddler strongly set in.
My body constantly ached and months of tight, gnawing back pain made its first appearance after a couple of PT sessions. I voiced my concerns to my physical therapist. I was then told…
“Pain is normal for this therapy and it will get worse before it gets better.”
“Could your skin be hurting because your bath water is too hot?”
“I believe these are muscle spasms in your pelvis, not Endometriosis.”
“This will not be a six week recovery. It will take months.”
This is how I ended up at the ER. I had my first period since therapy started and combined with my existing symptoms, nothing would numb the sharp cramps surging through my body. I was admitted, given pain meds, and rolled in for an abdominal CT (x-ray).
Next, I spent three hours waiting to get another abdominal ultrasound. They wanted to try a pelvic ultrasound, but I was reluctant. The pain meds were barely covering my symptoms, I couldn’t imagine something prodding around internally. I made the right choice too because the ultrasound felt like nails being dragged across my belly button. Back in my room, a doctor came in to let me know both the x-ray and ultrasound were clean.
“The pain may be caused by your cycle and you should follow up with your OBGYN in case it is Endometriosis.”
I couldn’t believe we sat in the ER for six hours, with toddler in tow, just to hear I should follow up with my doctor. What will happen when the pain medication wears off, I thought.
The ER doctor recommended I take Ibuprofen with Tylenol. I sunk down in the chair and realized it was going to be a fight for anyone to believe me. However, this was just the event I needed to convince my OBGYN to schedule the laparoscopy to look for Endometriosis.
My surgery was scheduled for April 4th. My dad came down to Tennessee to help with Trax and our hospital bags were packed. I prayed and prayed for them to find something. Anything. It didn’t need to be Endometriosis. I just needed to know what was causing this pain.
I arrived at the hospital, they put me under, and did the diagnostic laparoscopy. Immediately, when I woke up I asked what they had found. A nurse replied, “They didn’t find anything, no.” Still out of it from the anesthesia, hot tears flooded my face and I threw a hysterical fit.
What do you mean you cut me open and saw NOTHING?
I remember them wheeling me out to the car where Trey was. I tried to fake some composure. I’m not sure how much of the crying rage he witnessed in the hospital room, but I didn't feel like embarrassing him more.
For the rest of the evening, I sat in bed drifting in and out on painkillers wondering if I made the whole thing up. Am I the girl on tv who believed so badly she was in pain that her body mimicked her thoughts? Will I live this way well into my 30’s?
The following morning, I rose and organized every cluttered corner of my room. I then landed deep in a sea of Endometriosis research and special treatment centers. “If a doctor isn’t very familiar with Endometriosis, it is possible for them to miss common signs like discoloration and lesions deeper than performed during a normal laparoscopy." That could be it.
I frantically began to put together a case file for an Endometriosis specialist in Atlanta. A few days had passed and the incision pain had subsided. Although, my normal pelvic pain symptoms resurfaced.
They fiercely settled back into my body. When my first period came back after surgery, it was then when the pain was no longer manageable with ibuprofen. It was like bulky river stones were stacked at the bottom of my spine. Cramps yanked hard at my pelvic muscles. We loaded up the car and headed for another ER. This time, we drove to a nearby town hoping for a better doctor.
The nurses there were very kind. They ran similar scans to my previous visits and I finally allowed a vaginal ultrasound. If the surgeon didn't see something during the laparoscopy, maybe they will see it with this. The ultrasound was nauseating, but I held onto the fact it may uncover something new.
Trey, Trax, and I waited in a hospital bed to hear the results. A women OBGYN entered the room and by the look on her face, you could tell she didn't have any answers. She referred me to a Gastroenterologist and mentioned the source of pain could be due to constipation from surgery or a digestive issue. I was livid. Then I thought to myself, "I made this whole thing up."
We returned home and I struggled to get out of bed the next couple days because the pain continued. My mother-in-law had graciously come down to Tennessee to help with Trax after my dad headed home. She suggested we drive to Nebraska and find a new doctor. A couple days later, we made the 13 hour drive and I scheduled an appointment with a doctor in Lincoln.
Thanks for coming by guys. It has been a tough 2022. My hope in writing this is to reach other mamas who have had c-sections and are struggling with extreme pelvic pain. My symptoms showed up slowly. My first symptom appeared a year post c-section. Please pay attention to your bodies, mamas.
On January 1st, I'll be posting Part Two. The last year has been a bitter ride of learning about c-sections and the impact they have on your body. Please read along if you or someone you know is experiencing similar symptoms and are looking for answers!
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