I would like to take a moment to remind everyone that I can’t stand drama. I avoid it like the plague. I also avoid hospitals as much as possible. That being said, several family members have needed emergency medical care in the last few weeks and I am so very thankful that they were available when home remedies were not enough.
Perhaps you recall this post recognizing my 11 year anniversary with Alpha? What I didn’t mention is what we did on that wonderful occasion…we went to the emergency room! Let’s back up a few days…
The week of Christmas I start noticing my left nipple was getting very tender. I figured Zeta was teething and he must have bitten me. No big deal. Then the morning of the 23rd I tried to nurse him on that side and it was horrible pain. It didn’t feel like a plugged duct but I couldn’t see a clogged pore either. Regardless, I decided to give that side a break and pump the milk out. It was dramatically worse by the evening. My amazingly kind hearted home birth midwife came out at 10pm to help me and bring me a “get better boob kit”. At this point I couldnt stand to have my nipple even rub against my shirt. Christmas Eve was terrible and Christmas Day was worse! It was agonizing pain that I wouldn’t wish on anybody!
By the 26th, our anniversary, I was tapped out. I was emotionally exhausted, sleep deprived, and still in tremendous pain. I called my obgyn but they were closed until after the new year and told me to go to the ER. Hooray
Luckily, the ER was empty so I was seen right away! I explained everything to them and waited. After an hour and explaining my problem to about 5 different people, they said I had mastitis, a breast infection. I was told to take ibuprofen and their antibiotics and keep pumping. I explained that I was very confident that it was NOT mastitis, I didn’t need an antibiotic, and I was in too much pain to continue pumping. I am by no means a pill popper! I worship my YL oils and think Tylenol is the devil! For me to ask for prescription pain medication means I am in a shit load of pain and have exhausted all other options.
I had to beg for the pain meds and they eventually agreed to give me a few Vicodin to get me through the weekend. The triage nurse came back with my pills: a Vicodin, an ibuprofen, and an antibiotic. I asked her if I could hold off on the antibiotic as a last resort considering that I was pretty sure it wasn’t mastitis and that my body doesn’t tolerate antibiotics well (upset stomach, diarrhea, yeast infection, et cetera). I said I would fill the prescription and if I started having infection symptoms I would happily take them. She went to ask the doctor… NOPE. Take it. In an effort to get the hell outta Dodge, I tongued the antibiotic and spit it out when she left the room.
The discharge nurse went over my paperwork with me. She reassured me that Vicodin was safe for Zeta, who was nursing on my right side through this whole ordeal. But then she goes to page 2 and says that because of the mastitis I have to pump and dump so Zeta won’t get sick. To be crystal clear I asked her again: Vicodin is safe for him? (she said yes) but I had to pump and dump the breast milk because of the <nonexistent> mastitis? (she said yes again). In case you are unaware, properly trained breastfeeding advocates all agree that you should nurse through mastitis. I went with the “Agree to disagree” strategy. It’s not my job to educate the hospital staff about breastfeeding, assuming they would even listen to me. On our way out, my triage nurse stopped us to make sure I was told to pump and dump the “infected” milk. Oy vey!
At home, I decided I would only hand express milk instead of pumping so my poor nipple could have a break. What a difference that made! 24 hours later my blister was at least ten times better! Hand expression, essentially milking yourself, is time consuming but I could get about 2 oz each session with minimal pain #thankyouvicodin. By the next day the blister had surfaced in that time and I was able to pop it and drain the fluid. By the 28th I could nurse Zeta on that side for a few minutes with only minor discomfort. Hallelujah!
Zeta and I bedshare so I can’t take the Vicodin at night. I could potentially sleep too deeply and roll on top of him or harm him some other way. I am only going to take ibuprofen tomorrow and nurse him to see if it’s bearable. Vicodin makes me tired and I don’t have time for tired with a baby and toddler at home. Not to mention it contains acetaminophen and I believe acetaminophen is evil!
In the end, I am grateful for the ER’s help but sad that I had to beg for pain management, disappointed that they were ignorant in basic breastfeeding knowledge, appalled that they forced antibiotics on me against my wishes, and angry that I had to deceive them to avoid taking a drug I was uncomfortable with.
By the way, it’s been 3 days and I still have not shown any signs of mastitis. Going their route I would have been taking that antibiotic and wreaking havoc on my body for nothing. I am not stupid or unreasonable though- I have been applying an antibiotic ointment to the nipple since the blister drained in hopes of avoiding infection. Hopefully we can get back to the schedule before the schedule gets back at us.