On the drive down to the coast I tell Matt that I'm feeling pretty tired and that perhaps I've over done it in getting packed up to head to the beach house. Don't get me wrong - I haven't done much. Matt has done all the heavy lifting and I have just packed a few grocery items and my own clothes, Matt has then transferred everything to the car. Just quietly - I wish it was like this all the time. My lazy side loves it! Matt and I agree I should take it really easy on the weekend just resting inside. I'll get to the beach during the week.
Matt's sister and her family are already at the beach house when we arrive. They help Matt unload the car and have got things set up for us, so all I need to do when I get there is heat up the pre-made dinners we bought in advance (knowing that I wouldn't be my usual self in the kitchen this holiday) and settle into the couch.
The following day is a Saturday. The weather is AMAZING! But I stick to the plan. Matt and everyone else head off to the beach and I settle in at the house. My belly button wound is annoying me because it is still oozing. After my other surgeries I didn't have any ooze. This one was oozing while I was at the hospital and hasn't stopped. My sister in law and I decide it would be a good idea to get some sun on it to try and dry it out a bit. So I sit on the deck with my belly slightly exposed to try to get some sun on the belly button.
I'm not here long before Matt comes back to the house and says he thinks I would like it the beach. He will carry a camp chair down for me and walk slowly with me (the full 100 metres) to the beach. I think this sounds completely manageable and quickly apply some sunscreen to all my exposed limbs and face.
The beach is beautiful. It is a really warm day for spring. My nephews are having a great time in the surf, digging in the sand and playing beach soccer. Our dog, Rocky, loves the beach. He is greeting all the other dogs on the beach and then running back to sit under my camp chair in the shade. I'm still trying to get some sun on my belly button and other wounds to try and dry them out a bit.
After an hour we head home and I head to bed. I need about two hours rest before I'm up again. That afternoon Matt's Dad and his partner arrive too. I'm grateful everyone else is taking care of meals. I'm able to take it very easy.
The following day, based on the success of the earlier beach trip, Matt convinces me to join the family in a trip to the nature reserve, where everyone can fish, swim and play in the sand (except Rocky - no dogs allowed). It is only 300 - 400 metres into the reserve. I'm slow moving, but get there. In my attempts to dry out my belly button wound I've managed to get a ridiculous sunburn on a portion of my belly - making me even stiffer when getting in and out of chairs. After a couple of hours sitting in my camp chair enjoying the view, I need to get home. I feel so tired. This time, after we are home I sleep for three hours.
That night I say to Matt "I feel like I'm going backwards". I pull out my discharge information forms and look at the things that might happen and require further medical attention. The only thing I have is a sore abdomen - but I can't figure out if it just recovering normal sore, or extra sore.
Overnight, this changes when I wake up and feel wetness around me in the bed. At first I think I'm bleeding, but then the smell hits me. My belly button has started super oozing and it is super disgusting. In what is now a Paterson~Prior family classic I ask Matt to "smell my fingers" that are covered in ooze. He is suitably grossed out.
Offensive ooze from wounds is definitely on the seek medical attention list. During the day I had looked up the hospitals - just in case we needed them. I ring the Byron Bay emergency number and explain my symptoms and my surgery. They tell me I should come in. I then tell them that I'm still pregnant. With this information they recommend I go to the Tweed Hospital instead as they have ultrasound equipment. I then ring the Tweed Hospital emergency to see if they think Byron would be able to handle it, or if I'll need the ultrasound. The triage nurse tells me I should just see a doctor tomorrow. I decide to ring 13 HEALTH. The nurse strongly recommends I get to the Tweed Hospital and says if the pain is too much in a car, we should call an ambulance.
At 2am ish Matt and I head off on a 40 minute drive to Tweed Heads. As I hobble into emergency the triage nurse is up on her feet and asking if I'm okay. As I get closer her I explain the situation and she says "I remember you from the phone". I'm through to her little office, she is taking my temp - it is high. I'm literally oozing. It really is disgusting. Within minutes I'm in an emergency room bed. I can't believe it, only an hour ago this same nurse told me I could just see a doctor the next day.
From this point it is a bit of blur. There is again needles in and blood out. This time they have these two weird glass bottles. I say to the doctor "I've been in hospital a bit lately and had a lot of blood tests, but those bottles are a bit different, what are they for?" The doctor tells me the that the bottles are for blood cultures. They will literally put those bottle in ovens and see what they grow. Gross.
Physical inspection of the infected area, that is my belly button, is a problem. The best indicators of infection (other than ooze) are hot areas and redness. Of course my sunburn has meant neither of these symptoms are detectible as the whole area is red and hot. It is a bit of laughing point for the medical staff. They are all curious as to how I sunburned just that one area.
The emergency room doctor has arranged for some pain relief (more morphine) and is searching for IV antibiotics that are safe to give during early pregnancy. Because I am worried about all the drugs I'm being administered she explains that some drugs that are okay when the baby is developing in early pregnancy are not ideal in late pregnancy - morphine being an example (apparently you can suck that stuff down in early pregnancy, but at the end the baby gets the same effect, so basically comes out asleep - that can be a problem). Matt is convinced to go back to the beach house as I'm going to be in emergency until the gynaecologist can see me. The doctor thinks I'll be in for a couple of days. At one point the doctor tells me I may even need another surgery to wash out my abdomen depending on the extent of the infection.
My belly button is pouring out this stinky fluid and I keep folding up my hospital gown to absorb it. I'm running out of gown. The nurses change over and I ask my new nurse if I can new gown and perhaps a dressing to absorb the ooze. Once this is taken care of I can rest.
I'm eventually wheeled out to ultrasound. I am disappointed that the sonographer only has instructions to look for the infection collection and not to see if the baby is still okay. He finds a collection, deep under the belly button, but it isn't too big. He thinks now that the ooze has found a way out that I should improve.
Back in emergency it is a few more hours before the gynaecologist comes in to see me. He takes a look at my wound and cleans it up again. He asks me all the questions about the other symptoms. Since I woke up with the infection I've started bleeding more heavily again, including some small clots. The gynaecologist advises he is going to have me admitted to the women's ward so that I can have more IV antibiotics and see a surgeon consultant.
Matt arrives back at the hospital just in time to come with me up to the women's ward. I meet my new nurse and ask her about changing my dressing. I ask her if there is possibly a way we can dress it with something with a little less stickiness. My damn sunburn is killing me every time the dressing needs to be changed! She immediately understands and provides me with my very own supply of not so sticky tape and sterile bandages that are just big enough that the tape doesn't need to touch the sunburn! Brilliant!
Matt hangs with me for a few hours and then head back to the beach house. I settle in for the night.