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I woke up the other day with the front of my nightgown entirely soaked. My body was aching, my left breast was throbbing and engorged, and I was freezing.
Was I getting sick? Was this the flu? I needed to figure out what was going on, but first I had to relieve the pressure in my boob, or surely it would explode.
My son is 10 months old and he co-sleeps with my husband and me. He had nursed for the last time at about 3 a.m., two hours before, but he never turns down milk. I picked him up and latched him on. The pain that shot from my breast with every suckle was unbearable! I pursed my lips together, squeezed my eyes shut, and prayed for time to go quickly.
He nursed for a few minutes before falling back to sleep. When I put him down, the engorgement hadn't been relieved at all. I woke my husband up to let him know that I needed help. He was going to have to help me get our daughter to school, and I didn't think I would be able to take care of the baby, either. Of course he had an important meeting first thing that morning that he couldn't miss, but fortunately it was still early enough to come up with a plan- B.
I asked him to find my breast relief pad and warm it up so I could put that in my bra. He put a heating pad on chest, and another blanket on top of the one I was already using. Even with my robe on over my pajamas, I was still cold. I took some ibuprofen and starting thinking about whether I should go to the emergency room or not.
My husband got dressed to do school drop off and go to his meeting, put the baby in his crib, and left the door open so his mom could come in without me having to go downstairs. He promised to come right home after his meeting so we could go to the doctor. Meanwhile, I stayed in the bed, shivering and sweating. Fortunately, my son was content with his Cheerios until my mother-in-law came.
The entire time I was in bed, I had to go to the bathroom, but couldn't muster up the energy to make it down the steps. Between the pain, the cold, and needing to go, I was miserable.
My doctor's office was open so I called to see if I could get an emergency appointment. My doctor wasn't available but the receptionist said she would pass the message along and I'd get a callback quickly. The ibuprofen hadn't done anything, so I took some acetaminophen. The heating pad on my chest did relieve some of the pain, though.
My husband came home and made me some hot tea. He helped me get down the stairs to the bathroom. As he went to get my tea, I was barely able to wash my hands afterwards. I laid on the floor because I felt I was going to pass out. I had gotten hot and sweaty like it feels when you're about to faint.
When he came upstairs, my husband sat on the floor with me until I was able to get enough energy to stand up and he walked me up the stairs to the bedroom. That's when we decided not to wait for the doctor to call me back and picked an appointment slot at our local urgent care clinic.
I couldn't put my pants on. I felt exhausted and didn't have the physical capacity to get dressed, but we needed to leave for urgent care. My husband helped me put on jogging pants and a tank top, and we slowly made it to the car. As he drove to the clinic, I was shaking in my seat the entire time. We finally got there and found a parking spot right in front of the building, thank goodness!
I was able to walk to the front door, but as soon as I got in, I collapsed in a chair in the lobby. I checked in from my chair, calling out my information to the receptionist, and was called back a few minutes later. The nursing assistant checked my blood pressure and gave me a flu test. When the physician came in, she did a quick exam of my breast and diagnosed me with mastitis.
Because I was in the early stages, I would have been good to go home with antibiotics, but my blood pressure was really low. The physician wanted to check with the ER doctor to make sure I could go home. While she was waiting for him to call back, she had me drink cup after cup of cold water to try to bring my blood pressure up. He suggested aggressively treating the mastitis with meds immediately and letting me go home to monitor on my own.
I got a shot right there in the office, and left with a prescription for more antibiotics to be taken every 6 hours for 10 days.
My blood pressure finally went up to a place where the urgent care physician felt comfortable sending me home. After the shot and the water, I felt a little more like myself and walked to the car without a problem. We headed to the pharmacy to pick up my meds, and then home so I could get more rest.
Thankfully, my mastitis was caught early on. What I went through was nothing compared to what some women deal with when they get it. The scariest part of mastitis is the fear that the bacteria could get in the blood and your body could go into septic shock. I'm grateful that I didn't get to that point, but it was a great reminder to take health issues seriously. Even as a busy mom, if I don't feel well, I don't have to push through it or overlook it.
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