By Alyce Collins
THIS WOMAN was left begging nurses to KILL HER after a C-SECTION left her in crippling pain which medics said was ‘normal’ until THREE DAYS later when an X-ray revealed she was DYING OF SEPSIS – and after emergency life-saving surgery she was shocked to find she had a STOMA BAG which she admits made her want to VOMIT.
Lawyer, Adelle Ingram (33) from Melbourne, Australia, and her husband Trent (33), were married in 2015 and were excited to become parents when they found out they were expecting their first child in early 2018.
Adelle had always feared natural birth and knew she wanted a caesarean rather than a vaginal birth long before becoming pregnant. At 38 weeks, on October 15, 2018, Adelle was admitted to hospital for a routine c-section and the couple’s son, Lincoln, was born weighing 7lb 11oz.
In the days that followed the c-section, Adelle developed severe abdominal pain which only grew worse and she showed no signs of recovering. As Adelle’s pain intensified, she felt a ‘popping’ sensation in her abdomen when she moved. Nurses insisted it was normal, and without having any previous experience of recovering from a caesarean, Adelle hoped they were right.
Three days after surgery, nurses had given Adelle the maximum amount of morphine permitted but the pain was still unbearable, and she was even asking the nurses to kill her to end her suffering. By this point, doctors knew there must be something wrong so they sent Adelle for an X-ray and CT scan, only to discover that her bowel had burst, which was allowing gas to flow freely and four inches of her bowel had died which was causing sepsis.
Within 45 minutes of the scans, Adelle was being rushed for emergency surgery to clean out her insides to remove the sepsis, and part of her small intestine was stitched to the outside of her abdomen, requiring an ostomy bag.
Adelle only became lucid enough to understand she’d had serious surgery a week later, and she was informed that her body had a rare reaction to the epidural or the opioids she received after the c-section, causing her colon to dilate, known as Ogilvie syndrome. The new mother not only had to become accustomed to parenthood but also learn to live with a stoma.
“Trent and I had been trying to get pregnant for two and a half years, and when I found out I was pregnant we were over the moon,” said Adelle.
“From the beginning however, I was incredibly apprehensive because I’ve always had a fear of natural birth. At six weeks I made my midwife promise me that she would give me a c-section because I couldn’t go through natural birth.
“My son was born in October 2018 and the c-section was far more violent than I had anticipated. In my head it was a smooth process, but my experience was of so much tugging and pulling. I recall shaking throughout and I wouldn’t let my husband leave my side, not even to cut the cord.
“The first day was a blur, probably due to the shock and the strong pain killers. I remember trying to breastfeed and how much it hurt and how hard it was to get right. Beyond that, I don’t remember much except the pain.
“The pain intensified over the days that followed and I remember thinking no one was listening, they just kept dismissing my pain as normal and upping the pain relief. I didn’t realise that the pain was abnormal because I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel after a c-section.
“I believed them when they said that it was probably just my bowel being lazy and that everything would start working soon. They made me roll onto my right side because they told me that this helps the bowel move. I required two nurses to move me onto my side to do this and I moaned in pain the entire time.
“I only lasted 30 seconds and had to be moved back onto my back because the pain was too intense. They even made me get out of bed several times to make me walk and get the bowel moving but I just screamed in pain. It was unlike anything I’ve ever felt.
“When I was rolled onto my side there was a popping sensation. It was like a popcorn machine going off inside my abdomen, except with each pop the pain would render me motionless.
“I couldn’t move without wishing I was dead. I even asked the nurses to kill me at one stage and I meant it. I didn’t want to be alive because I couldn’t take the pain. The morphine was upped until they couldn’t give me anymore and still the pain persisted. It was only at this point that they jumped to action and realised that there was something terribly wrong.
“By the end of the third day I was sent for an X-ray which showed free flowing gas, an indication of a ruptured bowel. The subsequent CT scan confirmed a bowel perforation and about four inches of my bowel had died. I was found to be dying of sepsis by this point.
“Emergency surgery began 45 minutes later but surgeons were called in from neighbouring hospitals to perform the specialist surgery as I was too sick to be transferred. They cleaned out my insides to remove the sepsis and my surgeon told me my insides looked like I’d been hit by a truck.
“I was in surgery for almost six hours and my husband, parents and newborn were left in my hospital room alone. Eventually they were told that I would be transferred to an ICU in a different hospital after the operation. My parents had to leave my husband with our three-day-old baby to be at the ICU when I arrived.
“My husband couldn’t leave until he knew how to bathe Lincoln, change nappies, bottle feed and burp him. No one could tell him how I was except that I was very sick and now had an ostomy bag which saved my life.”
Adelle spent three days in the ICU before spending a month on the ward where she learned about her ostomy bag and had to learn how to walk again after her abdominal muscles were cut during surgery. Adelle is now at risk of abdominal adhesions and bowel blockages for the rest of her life because of what she went through.
Since recovering in hospital, Adelle started sharing her experience on Instagram, @overnight_ostomate to come to terms with what happened and has connected with other women with an ostomy and who have been through other types of birth trauma.
“I don’t remember my days in the ICU and I didn’t realise I had an ostomy until my stoma nurse came to change the bag for the first time seven days after surgery. I couldn’t look at the stoma, I wanted to vomit when I first saw it,” said Adelle.
“I had to learn to walk again because my abdominal muscles had been cut through. I couldn’t wash myself for the first three weeks. You lose all inhibitions when you’re that sick, I just sat naked while my husband milked my breasts using breast pumps and washed me. But through the hell we endured, my husband never left my side.
“I struggled for months and I cried every day for different reasons. For the trauma we endured and shouldn’t have. For the time I lost with my baby and the experiences I missed out on.
“It’s difficult to work out how you’re supposed to move on with your life after almost losing it. Before, I had no concept of how precious life was and how quickly it can be taken away. Your concept of what is important shifts and it changes you from the person you were before. I am still trying to figure out who I am now, but it gets easier as time goes on.
“Everything was so jumbled in my mind, so I began documenting my story on Instagram as a way of recovering. Through this, I met other people like me with an ostomy and others who had also experienced different types of birth trauma.
“It still upsets me very deeply but I’m so happy to have survived and now I get to see my son grow up, which is all a parent really wants in life.”
To see more, visit www.instagram.com/overnight_ostomate