NEGLIGENCE

Hospital horrors caused major fistula, mum narrates

Doctors, nurses unfeeling, incompetent, unavailable, ignored her pain, botched surgeries

In Summary

• Chantelle Petit got fistula following childbirth complications

• She narrates her ordeal on Twitter thread 

A pregnant woman
A pregnant woman
Image: FILE

Chantelle Petit gave birth to a baby girl on New Year’s Day, after which both her and her baby Boo Boo had complications for a month. She narrated her 'Maternal Negligence' story on a Twitter thread on Monday.

IN LABOUR

“Labour started early that day. The contractions woke me up. When I went to the loo to pee, I saw brown, slimy discharge after wiping myself. This didn't look right. I remember my gynae told me if I see anything different, I should know I'm in labour,” she started off.

When she arrived at the hospital, she found her gynaecologist was on leave after his daughter was met with an accident. The hospital had only two on-call in-house gynaecologists, who wanted to take her to the emergency room to examine her and see whether she was really in labour.

“I refused because I knew I was in labour and I didn't want to waste any time. We argued a bit with the receptionist until she realised I was indeed in labour.”

She was wheeled to the maternity ward’s delivery room where she waited to be examined.

“The [doctor] came and examined my vagina and cervix to see how far I had dilated.”

They did this by putting their fingers in the vagina with gloves, and depending on how many fingers can fit, they get an estimate of how many centimetres a woman has dilated.

The doctor examined her between 11:30 or 12:00 p.m.

“When he removed his hand, the glove was full of the brown discharge I mentioned above. Dripping with a bit of blood. The guy looked at me and told me my baby had pooped and was in distress.”

 

The doctor told her she had to do an emergency cesarean because the baby was in distress. The baby’s heartbeat was there, though a bit low, she was moving and had pooped.

“He told my family to pay the deposit and open my in-patient file so that I could be booked for theatre.”

On the day of her delivery, Chantelle explains there were around 80 women giving birth too, 20 of whom had their own doctors, which meant 60 women’s babies were to be delivered by just two doctors.

Chantelle’s deposit had been paid and the file opened a half hour later, they paid for the cesarean.

“The doctor told us that there were only two theaters available that day and the only time I could get my [cesarean] done was 5.30pm. 5.5 hours after being declared an emergency.”

CONTRACTIONS BEGIN

Chantelle explains the pain being unbearable.

“I begged for an epidural countless times but I couldn't get one. My family took turns comforting me in the delivery room until my sister who volunteered to be in the room with me arrived.”

She felt the contractions every five minutes for an hour. The doctor kept checking on how much I had dilated which caused  pain, and she asked him to stop.

“He stormed off and shouted at my [family].”

Chantelle had feared going under the knife, and so was terrified of getting a cesarean, but said she would do whatever was required of her.

The contractions started to get more unbearable, she begged one of the nurses to call the doctors but they refused to take her seriously.

“She would walk in and out and just smile at me saying I'm okay. Deep down I knew I wasn't. I felt like I wanted to push. I could feel my baby's head in my vagina. It feels very strange.”

Chantelle’s sister carried on pleading with the nurse, who then called the doctor. The doctor found she was nine centimetres dilated, which meant she wouldn’t have to go under the knife.

To her horror, the doctor left her again saying that she hadn’t dilated enough.

“I could still feel my baby's head in my vagina. It felt like she was pushing herself out. It was painful and uncomfortable but they weren't listening to me.”

She fully dilated by 2.30pm and the doctors told her it was time to push. She explains having pushed for around an hour till the baby came. Her baby was delivered by a nurse who gave her an episiotomy.

“An episiotomy is when they cut the vagina to create more room for the baby. This is stitched up after the birth process is done.”

The baby was born at 2.6 kgs, Chantelle was fully dilated at 10 cm when she pushed out the baby.

“When she came out, I instructed my sis to go check on what they were doing to her. I told her I'll be fine. Mind you, at this point I was so low on energy, I was seeing stars because I hadn't eaten.”

THE FIRST SURGERY

Chantelle was put under anesthesia during the episiotomy and she blacked out, thinking that the procedure would be done by the time she gets up. They left her on the delivery bed for three hours.

“I eventually woke up, my leg was numb. I asked the nurse to call someone to untie my leg. She came maybe 20 minutes later. They then told my family I was awake. I did not know why my family members had this shocked look on their faces.”

Her bed was filled with blood, her placenta was exposed for everyone to see and to her absolute horror they found a 3rd degree tear on her.

“The gentlemen handed me over to a female [gynaecologist] who scheduled me for surgery the following day with a tear specialist to stitch the 3rd degree tear & episiotomy because the other dudes weren't able to stitch anything.”

She explains having to prepare herself mentally for the surgery, never having undergone it before.  Her surgery was scheduled for the following day at 10am but it occurred at 3pm, the whole thing lasted around 45 minutes.  

“I was forced to walk the day after surgery to avoid blood clots without support. I couldn't feel my thighs but there was a sharp pain.”

She complained about the pain to the doctors but they told her it was because she wasn’t rinsing the “poop off the wound properly”.

She was pressured to sit with and feed her baby at the newborn ward. Despite being unable to sit, the doctors didn’t care and told her she was exaggerating.

“Mom guilt was setting in. They made me feel like a horrible mom because I wasn't able to produce enough milk."

She explains having slept only eight hours that week.

“I was tired! That NBU had become my life. Walking in & out of my room to go sit at the NBU to take care of my baby. When I'd ask the nurses to assist me when unwell, they'd respond like I was bothering them.”

Three days after the surgery, she was discharged without checking her wound if she’d been healed. When she complained about the pain, they told her to “just clean the wound well with the shower.”

THE FISTULA DIAGNOSES 

She explained the pain was not normal but not no avail, she decided to remain at the hospital with her baby as a lodger when horror was to strike again.

“One day as I was in my room during lunch, I went to pee. When I removed my panties, I found grains and lumps on my pad. I thought it was normal but my gut told me I had to ask. Luckily I bumped into the nurse who delivered my boo on the way back.”

The nurse was shocked and told her to wait for the gynaecologist. Chantelle was diagnosed with fistula and she would require yet another surgery.

THE SECOND SURGERY

“Turns out the grains and lumps were poop. I had poop coming out of my vagina. I didn't understand how this was possible. I was confused, sad, shocked and in denial. Felt like I was going nuts.”

Chantelle had Recto-Vaginal Fitsula (RVF), which is when there is a hole that links the vagina and rectum allowing gas and poop to pass through each time.

“This resulted from a backfired 3rd degree tear surgery. My tear went all the way from my sphincter to the inside of my [vagina]. My perineum was damaged as well.”

Chantelle experienced severe pain when passing stool post  surgery.

“You know that kind that makes you wonder why you're alive? I used to spend two hours in the loo passing stool as big as a 40 bob coin. Felt like childbirth all over again but 100 times more painful.”

Her fistula was a result of being pressured to sit at the NBU for long hours which caused her stitches to rip.

“How did they rip? In a scissor like motion. The stitches cut through my flesh kama makasi. So inside this fistula hole, I had hundreds of tiny little tears.”

She was recommended a third surgery of which she became sceptical and got a second opinion from another gynaecologist. She was told that while fistula heals on its own, she would need to get surgery because her hole was 4cm.

“My first thought was how will I pay for this? I went to that hospital knowing I'd spend max 120k. My baby's bill on that day was 300k, mine was 180k. I didn't have insurance, there's a 12-month waiting period so they couldn't cover this pregnancy.”

THE THIRD SURGERY

She decided to go forth with the surgery after being told the surgeon was the best in Africa and this was an opportunity not to be missed. She was on diapers for two weeks, the new doctor found a way for her to be off the diapers.

 “They did the 3rd surgery. Stitched my rectum so that poop stops going through my vagina. My surgeon told me he expected some stitches to backfire because at this point my vagina flesh was so bad. He said it looked like cake icing.”

The first time she passed stool through her vagina was following a meal at Java with her family.

“The thing about a birth injury like mine is you get incontinence. The inability to control poop. This day was the first day I passed a huge piece of shit through my vagina. I couldn't control it. I was screaming my sister started crying with me. That toilet felt like a big black hole “

To her relief, the new doctor would review her on a regular basis.

“I saw a different side of the medical industry after being handed over to him.”

IN HINDSIGHT

Chantelle explains that days later another doctor told her that is her right as a patient to ask to be transferred if the hospital can't perform its duty with immediate effect.

"Had I known my rights, I would've asked the Dr to transfer me to the nearest hospital the minute he said the words "no theater available at the moment." 

She explains that if you want proper healthcare,  get a private doctor.

“It's expensive for sure and so unfortunate that this is the only way to get proper treatment in this country.”