Self Magazine’s article about Carol is one of tragedy and triumph. Carol never dreamed she would have a problem during her pregnancy. Yet, her feet, ring finger, sight and part of her left arm are gone. Like most pregnant women, her previous two pregnancies were uneventful (albeit nine months apart) and this one appeared to be as well. However the pain that awoke her in the middle of the night was the beginning of a cascade of events that would change her life forever. At first she thought she had a urinary tract infection or perhaps it was a kidney stone. Carol was a medical assistant by training and her husband Scott, a dentist, so she was familiar with medical problems and procedures. She went to the emergency room and was kept overnight. Nothing appeared unusual.

Twelve days later, she awoke feeling weak and aching all over. She had a temperature of 102, called her OB physician and was instructed to take Tylenol.® The fever rose to 103 despite cold baths and other holistic measures that family members provided. She developed premature contractions and presented to the labor room doubled over in pain. She also had diarrhea. While the nurses prepared her room, she was given pain meds and then relaxed. Scott turned away from Carol momentarily to call her mother and when he turned back the nurse and doctor announced that Carol’s blood pressure had dropped dramatically as well as the baby’s heart beat. An emergency C/Section saved the baby’s life, however, Carol’s was in limbo.  Unbeknownst to Scott, the medical staff was fighting for Carol’s life because she was septic. Sepsis is a very aggressive infection that takes over the body and produces horrific effects and it usually caused by bacteria called Group A Streptococcus.

The road to recovery was long and painful. Carol remained in the hospital 97 days after her daughter’s birth. Three years later she remains blind, walks with artificial feet but is surrounded by the love of friends and family. I share this story to empower pregnant women to become more alert about their pregnancy.  What are the lessons learned?

  1. Any fever should never be ignored and if it is 100 or higher, a face-to-face evaluation with a medical provider is necessary.
  2. The advice of taking Tylenol for a fever of 102 without a medical visit was unconscionable.
  3. Never leave a hospital without receiving a diagnosis. Carol thought she had a urinary tract infection during the first hospital admission. Did she have a urine culture and if so, what did it show?

Carol Carol says “Every day is good because I’m here.” I couldn’t agree with her more.