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Air in the brain from an epidural
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cashtiger posted:
My wife and I went to the hospital to have our son. The labor nurse checked my wife's dilation and said she was a 3 and said that she felt our son's head with her fingers and we were going to have a normal delivery. My wife's contractions kept coming and were about 3 minutes apart and the nurse asked her if she was ready for the epidural and my wife said yes and then the anesthesiologist showed up to give it to her. Then I was allowed back in the room and after about 4 to 5 minutes my wife started shaking all over so hard the bed was rattling. I got a nurse and she came in and said it was normal? After a few more minutes I got another nurse to check her and she said it was normal also. My wife shook violently for about 40 minutes. It was about 20 minutes after my stopped shaking the midwife showed up. She checked my wife's dilation and said she was about a 3 ½ to a 4 and that she felt what she thought was a hand. She explained several scenarios to us and said she needed to do an ultrasound to make sure things were in order for the delivery. She said during the ultrasound that our son was completely breach and what she thought was a hand was indeed a foot. The midwife said we would have to have a C-section and our son would be here within 2 hours so there was no rush of anyone. She went out and came back about 30 minutes later and said the surgeon was on the way and the anesthesiologist would be in to numb my wife up for the C-section. He came in and got the connection to the epidural and gave my wife the injection. Before he stood upright my wife said "I can't breathe", "I can't breathe", "I can't breathe", "I am dying". As those words passed through her lips she fell lifeless in the bed. They started screaming at my wife calling her name, shaking her arm violently, moving her head around and started chest compressions and during all this they lost my son's heartbeat also. When they lost it they grabbed the bed and rushed down the hall to the operating room. They took my son and he is alive and about 30 minutes later they got my wife to respond. They did X-rays on her chest and had me sign for 2 CT scans one with contrast and one without. Later when I was able to go to ICU to see my wife a nurse took me to the doctor in charge and she introduced herself to me and said she was treating my wife and she explained to me that when the anesthesiologist gave her the anesthesia he sent air up her spinal column into her brain causing her to code. All of the other doctors that approached me said that was not right and I must have misheard the ICU doctor and said it was impossible. My wife's OBGYN came the next day to see her and my son and asked where my wife was and I said ICU. He said she was responding and should be back from ICU by now. I told him what the ICU doctor had told me and he said I must have misheard her because that was impossible. He was head strong which was a good thing for us because he went above the ICU doctors head and called the head neurosurgeon to look at my wife's case. He called me later that evening and said my wife's CT scans looked like someone that had been in a bad car wreck. He ordered another CT scan to check for progress in the air dissipating. He came to see me the next day after the CT scan and said it was dissipating but it would take up to 4 weeks to be better. I told him that my wife's personality had changed and that her laugh was even different. He said that after 4 weeks that should reverse itself. Well it's been 4 weeks and it has not changed. She is having constant headaches, neck pain, back pain, vision loss at times, hearing loss at times, numbness in her hands and her personality has not returned to normal. My wife is about 125lbs now and before the pregnancy she was about 114lbs so you know her weight about the numbness part. My baby son seems normal but this is our first child so I am not sure. I am also worried that he may have brain damage. When will I be able to tell about him?
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lifes responded:
Dear Tiger,

I'm purposely using the last part of your name, because you need to think of the stamina, the strength, the skill, and the survival skills tigers have. I am first really sorry that all this happened to your son, your wife, and to you. Even though childbirth should be the happiest occasion, it is equally true that labor and delivery poses the greatest dangers to mother and baby.

HOWEVER, there is a big difference between the normal risks of Labor & Delvery, and risks that Staff introduce to the situation or create. I need to say here that I am NOT a doctor and I do NOT represent WebMD in any way. I will say I have experience in hospitals as a professional, BUT I am NOT speaking as a professional here on this forum. That said, I can give you information that can help you understand what possibly happened.

You should probably go hire an attorney, now, because he can get records etc. Do NOT tell the hospital or doctors that you are hiring an attorney.

Air can be introduced into any syringe. Professionals know to check for air, to push the plunger up and remove air, before inserting the needle into any 'port' that gives access to a vein, artery, or spinal fluid. "Air" travels through the blood or spinal fluid (depending on site of entry) and is called an air embolus or air embolism. It may be one bubble of air or many small, tiny, bubbles of air. In veins, the air can go to the heart or lungs, then brain. In spinal fluid, it goes directly to the brain.

In the heart / lungs, an air embolism can cause difficulty breathing, heart attack, brain damage if it continues to 'travel', and / or death. In the spinal fluid, it can cause seizures, stroke, or death. The 'shaking' may have been seizure activity, but I can't say for sure; it would depend on other symptoms. The second 'injection' obviously caused a catastrophic event.

Brain damage can be partly reversible--- BUT the brain is also unknown territory-- every patient responds differently. BUT it is very UNlikely your wife will have full recovery, simply because the brain IS so complex and is an area doctors cannot just fix.

The weight gain is very likely due to steriods, which they give to reduuce brain swelling, and to help the body and brain to heal. Steroids will later be reduced or discontinued, and her weight will probably come down.

BUT she will likely have many symptoms for a very long time. AND she may never be the same again in personality, etc.

I'd suggest a few things:

An attorney as soon as you can locate a good one.

Ask family--who can take care of your son full time.

Start asking about the best rehabilitation hospitals. She may need to go from hospital to rehab directly... probably weeks or months from now.

Find support for yourself. You'll need ongoing emotional support so you can help your wife.

Remember, she is not in control right now. She may cry one second, be angry the next second. This is beyond her control. She will tire easily. It is hard simply to think with a brain injury. She may say her brain "hurts", and it can 'hurt'. The headaches are from the brain injury.

I don't know what else to say except I'm sorry. The one ICU doc was probably trying to be honest--BUT please know, the hospital legal dept has probably told her to "shut up". From now on, make sure you ask names, write every name in a notebook, and notes about what that person said. And, do get an Attorney...

Lifes
 
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cashtiger replied to lifes's response:
Thank you for your reply. Most of what you said is what I was thinking but I was hoping I was wrong. I called the hospital asking for my wife's medical records and had to leave a message and that was 6 days ago and still not had a return phone call from them. The entire hospital stay was a nightmare and I have been writing things down so I will still have them fresh in my mind even though I don't think I will never forget what we have been through. My wife is Filipino and we have had a really hard time trying to explain to them what happened. I know my story from this point will sound made up but its true. My parents have been coming over to help with our son but both of them have terminal cancer and its really hard for them to help out. My only sibling has work hours that don't allow her to be available to help us but very little. I am disabled myself. I have a herniated disc that his shot in my lower back and a bulging disc right about it and have had 5 knee surgeries on my right knee. I can't bend over or stoop down because my right leg will not hold my weight. I am having to use a Boppy pillow in my lap to hold my son or either lay down in the bed and have him put beside me. I can't sit down with him or when I have him I can't stand with him. I am trying to be a rock for my family right now but I feel any day I will fall myself. I have being seeing a psychiatrist for years to treat my severe depression, anxiety attacks, panic attacks and bi-polar. Because of what happened to us both my wife and I missed the birth and my wife basically dying and being brought back neither of us have that parental connection to our son and its killing us. My wife is breastfeeding so that may bring her around with that connection sooner, I am praying for it at least. I am full of rage right now and all I can think of is what happened to us. I pray I can get it to the point where I can move on in my mind and heart to make the connection happen for me. As far as treatment I feel as if I am stuck and can't do anything about it. With my disability salary and my wife not working at the time we had to have emergency Medicaid to have our son so she does not have insurance and the hospital released her with her throwing up twice just a couple of hour before they basically pushed us out the door. I have to figure out a way to get her further treatment. I have contacted two lawyers so far and to me both seem incompetent to handle our case. I have asked everyone I know for a referral but so far that has not panned out. I will keep trying and hopefully be that Tiger you spoke of in your post. Thank you for your post. Gerald
 
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lifes replied to cashtiger's response:
Dear Gerald and wife,

Yes, you'll need to find your "inner Tiger"... being a Tiger rises up above all other adversity, you know? Plus, you need to teach your son the ways of being a Tiger... the good kind... but also the kind who knows the ways of survival and strength. I know it sounds silly... but... when you feel up against the wall, you need to also use your imaginative mind to help you through bad times. Could I suggest you google "image tiger" (without quotes) and find a picture of your favorite tiger. Right click on the picture and do "Save As" and then also, print it out... Tape it to your wall where you will see it every day... and when you look at it, think about what being a male tiger means to you... the qualities.

You can also use some imaginative skills to help with bonding with your son. When you look at his face, try to imagine him as he grows up... reaching for mommy's and daddy's hands to walk, as he looks "up" to you, as he grows into being a "little man" playing with trucks, and on to being in pre-school. Your boy will grow up very fast! So if you want to "bond", you need to use every "imagined feeling" you can feel right now.

Imagine feeling "This is my boy!" Imagine the greatest feeling of love you have ever, ever felt. Imagine the biggest sense of pride you have ever, ever felt! Hold him-- lots-- even if you need to recline or lay back against pillows on the bed... hold him against your chest... let him suck on your pinkie finger (clean finger of course LOL!)...Remind yourself how much you wanted this child; he didn't 'cause' what happened; he was a victim of the circumstances too, you know? Pat his back gently, lovingly, (just the same as you probably wish someone could do for you right now as you feel stressed out and sad about what happened). Put your hand lightly against his back and feel him breathing--- he is so tiny, but he survived a bad situation, and he NEEDS you, Gerald! He needs YOU. Do your very best to "imagine" loving him, and let your feelings catch up... You had a lot going on before, so it was hard to feel anything except fear, you know? But now both your wife and son are alive... let your loving feelings rise up above all that fear. It will be okay, you know?

You are right that breastfeeding helps moms "attach" to their babies. Suggest that she sings lulabyes and hums children's songs to him. Both of you should TALK and COO at him... interact with him. Touch his little hands, little fingers, little toes... glide your fingertip along his arms and legs, and think about how tiny he is now---but how fast he'll grow and thrive! And he has the 2 best people in the world-- mommy AND daddy to love him!

ALSO, talk about it-- with other dads, with your psychiatrist, with you dad, anyone who you think will be compassionate. Don't feel ashamed, AND, if you still feel like this in another month, DO talk to professionals. But, I'll tell you, it is hard to "connect" at first, even for moms. I was scared witless with my first baby (I'm the mom). But, I learned. I learned to love her and take care of her... I learned how to also take care of myself.

Now to my anger... They sent your wife home?? How is she now? Did she have any other seizures, loss of consciousness? Do the headaches continue? What did the docs prescribe?

I think as far as attorneys, you might find a larger law office--- OR -- an attorney of Filipino descent -- may be more eager to hear your story... . Contact the local Bar Association and ask for a referral with a free consult. Look for someone who has done Malpractice cases. I really hope you find someone-- I think in my non-professional opinion that you have a case, but I'm not a lawyer.

I understand about disabilities (I'm disabled too). I wish I had some magic answers..but I think The Tiger in you is wise and strong and caring... You'll be okay through this. And I'm sorry about your parents-- but I'm really glad they are getting to see and hold their grson.
 
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cashtiger replied to lifes's response:
Thank you so much for your words of inspiration. Sorry for not responding right back when you posted. As you can imagine things are super crazy right now. The day we were discharged from the hospital the nurse came in the room and helped my wife sit up on the side of the bed. My wife told her that she had a really bad headache, neck pain, back pain and felt dizzy and nauseated. When my stepmom heard her say that she grabbed a bed pan and held it in front of my wife and she threw up really bad. The nurse helped clean things up and got my wife a sublingual pill to help with her nausea. My wife kept complaining of the same symptoms and the nurse kept her sitting on the side of the bed. My wife threw up again all over the place. The nurse cleaned up again and got my wife to lie down in the bed again. She came back with a shot for nausea and put it in one of the butterflies in my wife's hands. After about five minutes my wife feel asleep and she slept for about two hours and the nurse came back in and woke her and helped her sit up on the side of the bed again. She asked my wife how she felt and she repeated all of the things she told her before except for being nauseated, I guess the shot worked. My wife told the nurse she felt like she was drowning and wanted to go outside for some fresh air. The nurse left and came back with a wheelchair and I took my wife outside for around fifteen minutes or so. I talked to her the entire time about how she was feeling. We went back up to the labor and delivery room and the nurse asked her if she threw up or felt like she was going too and my wife said no. The nurse said I will get your discharge papers and we had people coming in and out of our room so fast you would have thought it was on fire. They gave us pamphlets and papers with phone numbers on it and gave us some tips how to take care of our son and called transport and they took us outside that fast. Before transport arrived I asked the nurse where we were to follow up and she said try your family doctor. I asked her again but I explained it was for my wife's brain and what they had done to her. She said she didn't know and that she had no further instructions for us.



The entire time my wife was pregnant she read books, sung lullabies and talked to our son. I talked to him every day and would rub mom's tummy and he would come to my hand and press his back to my hand and I would massage him every day. We are doing the same now but we have not read him a book yet. We also played music for him every day, kid's songs, nursery rhymes, instrumental songs and I would put on the radio to our local rock and metal station. When we put on music for him now he cries to almost all of it except rock and metal and if he is being fussy and he is sleepy and fighting sleep I will hold him and play rock music for him and he will fall fast asleep in usually under five minutes.
My wife's current complaints, I don't like the way that sounds, my wife's symptoms are constant headaches, neck pain, back pain, at times she says her hearing goes in and out and her vision blurs, nausea and she tells me every day that she feels like she is drowning and goes outside our house to get in the open air. She is also saying that her hands and fingers are going numb still. My wife's personality has still not changed back. She is a different person with the changes and not her fun loving self, outgoing and I haven't been able to see if her laugh is still different yet because she has not laughed since she has been home. The neurosurgeon said all this would reverse itself in two to four weeks and in two days it will be four weeks.


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