Reflections on motherhood...


Sunday, July 31, 2011

This cannot be happening

I thought I was done with this mastitis thing.  Turns out the mastitis had other ideas.

Let me just run through the course of events thus far.  After getting needles stuck in my boob, I seemed to be on the road to recovery.  The doc even confirmed this on Tuesday morning when I saw him for one last check up and ultrasound.  On Thursday evening, I took the last of my antibiotics.  On Friday morning, at around 4am, I woke with a familiar pain in my boob, and that familiar vomity, feverish feeling.  I took a couple of panadols and tried to go back to sleep, hoping against hope that when I woke up I would be fine and it would just be a bad dream.

It wasn't just a bad dream.  It was the beginning of a nightmare.  I thought I'd skip all the bullshit and go straight to A&E, so by about 9.30am (after dropping Milkbaby at creche) I was (once again) a shivering, teary wreck in the Emergency Department of Wellington Hospital.

Time for a science lesson.

This is the bacteria that usually causes mastitis:

Staphylococcus aureus
You treat that kind of mastitis with an antibiotic called Flucloxacillin.

The type of mastitis I had was caused by this:
Streptococcus pneumoniae
Unfortunately, Flucloxacillin is not really very effective against Streptococcus pneumoniae.  It's what they pumped into me during my last hospital visit and what I'd been taking for the two weeks since getting out of hospital.

As I've already said, Streptococcus pneumoniae is not your usual mastitis-causing bacteria.  You're more likely to find it causing pneumonia (in case you hadn't guessed), meningitis and ear infections.  It needs to be treated with a different antibiotic: Ceftriaxone.

Now I bet you're wondering how the crack doctors worked this out.  Well, the stuff they extracted from my boob when they stuck it with needles was sent to the lab.  And the results were right there, on file.  And I suggested to the Emergency Doctor that he dig the results out.  He came back looking like he'd made the discovery of the week.  

So the results had been there all along.  Only no one checked that the antibiotic was the right one for the bacteria.  Or the lab didn't send my results back to the specialist.  Or the specialist never looked at the results.  Or I never asked the specialist whatever happened to those tests they did.  

What happened to me over the weekend is a good demonstration of how one little systems error can have very serious consequences.

To be continued...

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