I have two holes in my belly. One is the bellybutton Dr. Epstein left me with when he delivered me 44 years ago; it’s an innie, and it’s fine. The other one is the ugly result of a botched C-section when I had Moose nearly 5 years ago. It’s in the middle of an inevitable scar, and it looks like a giant crater in my gut. The crater was itching and twinging this evening. I am never happy to be reminded of the medical malpractice for which I was not allowed to seek redress.
Ancient History: When I had Wild Thing nearly 8 years ago, he had to be delivered by emergency C-section because I was deathly ill and he was in bad shape, too. It was a vertical incision necessitated by the urgency of the delivery. That incision healed well, and I eventually got over the trauma of a vertical scar. I mean, I’ll never wear a bikini, so no big deal.
Modern History: When I got pregnant with Moose, there was no question that I would be a repeat C-section. My medical history prevented me from being a candidate for VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). Fine. We scheduled the c-section for a morning when my OB/GYN, Dr. H., could operate with her partner, Dr. B. The surgery went smoothly, but the wound started oozing and seeping through the staples shortly thereafter. Why? Because Dr. B convinced Dr. H not to put drains in the incision. Dr. B said that drains were rarely used anymore and usually not necessary for proper wound-healing.
Dr. B, you are incompetent. I was a morbidly obese obstetric patient who had been on powerful blood thinners for months preceding delivery. I took straight heparin right before delivery and bleeding was going to be an issue. You should have put a damn drain in my belly for a couple of days. You didn’t, and I ended up with a giant hole that took six months to heal (and poorly). Technically, I developed a seroma beneath the incision. [A seroma is a collection of fluid (plasma, lymph, and serous fluid: ew, gross) that often occurs in surgery sites.] The seroma was the size of a small doughnut, and it needed daily attention for the first four months of Moose’s life. Finally, I delivered a child that was healthy enough to come home from the hospital, but my incision was a mess.
I had to go for wound care every single, goddamn day for four months. Most days I went to Dr. H’s office; some days I had to go to the hospital’s wound-care clinic. It was a huge challenge managing 2 wiggly boys and an infant while I was supposed to be lying down for the tech to debride the wound yet again. Dr. B wanted me to go back into surgery to revise the incision. Absolutely out of the question. The wound healed very slowly, despite daily care. After four months, the hole was smaller but still not healed. Wound care went from daily visits to every other day to three times per week, then two.
Six months post-partum the wound was officially “healed”. I was left with a 1/2-3/4″ indentation in the middle of my lower abdomen. It looks like a second belly button, and I hate it. WineGuy thinks it’s funny, but it looks like a butt-crack to me. If I ever lose all the weight I should, I am going in for a tummy tuck and liposuction, and I’m going to get rid of that hole.
The redress part? Dr. H and Dr. B are colleagues of my husband in a tight-knit medical community in a relatively small town. Even though the OBs clearly erred in failing to insert a drain into my incision, I could not sue them for malpractice without irrevocably damaging my husband’s reputation and livelihood. WineGuy would not even allow me to speak my mind and chew them out for doing such a shitty job for fear of repercussions. I held on to my anger for a very long time. I’m mostly over it now, but I NEVER, EVER recommend anyone to Dr. H &B’s medical practice anymore. I send everyone to my friend, Dr. K, a nice Jewish OB.