I previously wrote a blog post about my struggles since having my baby: giving birth has left me disabled. Now it’s time for an update. It’s 3 months since I gave birth and I have finally a diagnosis which explains all of this pain. Group b strep has caused septic arthritis in my hip, leaving me with the need for 2 hip surgeries and a hip replacement. This is rare and pretty unheard of; the chances of you knowing someone who has had this is low. I’m in shock that it has happened to me and struggling to adjust to the changes we’ve had to make as a family.
I gave birth to my second baby on 9th May. I was happy and healthy. Fast forward a few weeks after that and I’d lost my ability to walk. I ended up using crutches to get around a few steps and now, 3 months on, have to rely on using a wheelchair or mobility scooter to get out and about with my kids.
I can’t walk properly because my right hip is completely ruined at the joint with septic arthritis. The cartlidge is now all gone and there’s a nasty infection in there, too. The rapid speed at which this has happened is so rare that even the doctors can’t believe it. It’s completely changed my life and really affected my mental health.
This is the sort of thing you read about and think wow that would never happen to me, though. Well, it has happened and it could happen to you. I’ve always been fit, healthy and active… I never expected this at all. Group B Strep is so common, most of us have it, and it’s pretty common that you hear about pregnant women receiving antibiotics because of it. If you think you or someone you know may have it, please don’t ignore it. Whilst septic arthritis from group b strep is rare, I’m proof it can happen, and I would hate this to happen to anyone else.
I didn’t even know I had Group B Strep. Whether I had it when I was pregnant with my first child I’ve no idea, but it wasn’t diagnosed. During my second pregnancy I had no reason to believe I had Group B strep, either, and it wasn’t until I was told by a consultant in the neonatal intensive care unit, after I’d had my baby, that I knew anything about it. The consultant informed me that baby Felix was born covered in Group B Strep and had been very lucky not to be infected as that would have made him incredibly poorly. I had no clue whatsoever I had Group B Strep during my pregnancy and hadn’t been on any antibiotics for it.
Although it was evident that I had Group B Strep because Felix was born covered in it, it wasn’t spoken about anymore after that. I didn’t hear anything about Group B Strep until I was discussing a hip replacement 3 months later.
Back in May, I didn’t leave hospital with my baby in the condition I’m in now. You could have assumed I looked normal, to be honest. Despite the pain I was in after giving birth, I even walked “like normal” just with a limp. Whenever in hospital, I brought it up that I was in a lot of pain, I was told that I was just experiencing what after labour pain feels like. What else was I to believe? It was a VBAC delivery with an episiotomy so I had no previous experience of what giving birth felt like. I had no reason to worry that what I felt was anything out of the ordinary. I just assumed I would feel fine and dandy in a few weeks time.
Since then, life has changed a lot. In June I had an X-RAY and around this time was when I needed to get crutches as my mobility had gotten so bad, I could hardly unaided walk at all. This was when I hadn’t even been able to leave the house apart from for appointments. I could only go door-to-door in a car and I was in so much pain. I felt so, so depressed and like my life was ruined.
The X-RAY revealed I had osteoarthritis in my right hip and a pretty bad case of it. To be told that at 28 years old was devastating but also quite confusing. I didn’t believe it, at first… I mean, how? I’d never had any previous symptoms of arthritis in my hip, or anywhere, at all, and I’d always been really active. I’d never had any problems with my hip or otherwise; always been fit and healthy. To find out I had that was really upsetting.
Something didn’t sit quite right with me though… to me it just didn’t make sense. How could I just have woken up one day after having my baby and felt this pain which was the arthritis despite never feeling it before? How could it be so bad (as shown in the X-RAY) that I never had any symptoms before? How could I go from walking with a limp to needing crutches around the house in less than a month?
It wasn’t until I saw an orthopaedic in July that I was told the osteroarthitis was irreversible and I would need a hip replacement. I cried in the waiting room scared for my children, my health and my future. I’m only 28, how on earth could I be needing a hip replacement? And what would this mean for me until I get the hip replacement? So many questions. Not to mention my partner hasn’t been able to return to work since he left for paternity leave as he’s had to care for me and our children so the prospect of a hip replacement worried us how we were going to manage financially.
Since then, it all has moved pretty fast (and scary) since I had the first appointment at the orthopaedics and had blood taken. The blood results were not so good, revealing I had an infection… and that, combined with an MRI scan of my hip, revealed that I had a nasty infection in my hip. The consultant worried I was ill and rang me with advice to go to hospital ASAP, I assume because he worried I may have sepsis. I was out at the park with my children at the time and it all came as a bit of a shock. Can you imagine? Go to hospital, what and just drop everything?? Am I really ill and should I be concerned??
The consultant was happy enough to give me some more time as I didn’t have any symptoms of feeling physically ill so the infection hadn’t hit hard yet (well, to the hip but not to how I felt in general).
The following week I was in hospital for a hip aspiration, this is where I had needles put inside me and pushed through into my hip to try to suck out some of the infection fluid. The fluid would then get sent off to a lab. However, they tried 3 times in radiology department using a scan to direct the needle in to do this and it was soooooo painful. After the failed and 3rd attempt, I was recommended to have it done under general anaesthetic the next day due to the discomfort it was causing. It was horrible and the pain afterwards, too, wasn’t great.
I have to go to hospital on August 5th and my first surgery is on August 7th. Before I get a hip replacement, though, I have to have my infected hip taken out and a “hip spacer” put in, which will slowly release antibiotics over a few months time. After that, the hip spacer will get taken out and a new hip replacement put in. I don’t know dates exactly, but I’ve estimated that it could be next year by the time I’m fully functionable again.
In the mean time, I’m struggling with my mental health, our finances are suffering and my partner has had to take a sabbatical leave from work. My eldest, who is 4 in October, has adjusted to the changes as best he can and bless him, it breaks my heart how much our life has changed. It hurts so much that I can’t look after him and do the things I used to do with him. I just wish so much I could run after him, play chase, look after him independently, pick him up, etc., all of this has been hard to accept.
Not just dealing with my toddler has been difficult with my mobility issues, but I also have a baby to look after. I’m not the mum I thought I was going to be.
Wearing a sling really helps bond with him and enables me to walk with crutches and carry him at the same time, but it’s not the same as wanting to be able to sooth him in my arms and walk around freely on my own 2 feet. I can’t get across the room quick if he is crying in his swing, I can’t pick him up from the bed or push him outside in a pram and take him for a walk. I’m not getting out to any playgroups, I rarely see friends and I feel so guilty for his first year of life… it’s so different to what I was doing with my first child and I can’t help but feel like he is missing out. I didn’t expect this life for him or for us at all, when I was pregnant I never, ever in a million years thought things would end up in this way.
I have good days and bad days… my bad days are filled with anger, anxiety, depression and sadness. The pain can be unbearable and hard to sleep at night, plus throw in the fact I am breastfeeding on demand means most nights I barely get any sleep at all. But the good days are good, and sometimes I can try to forget about the fact I am in this position without the ability to function like I used to.
I’ve recently hired a mobility scooter on long tern rent meaning I can go out and about locally… this helps a lot and means I can get out, and Eric likes riding with me, too! But we are very limited to where we can go. I am thinking about getting a wheelchair so we can use public transport, as we don’t drive and I’m unable to take the mobility scooter on buses and trains, but the problem with a wheelchair means we can’t take a pram as well and Ollie isn’t handsfree for Eric as he will be busy pushing me. It’s a lot of things to think about.
People ask me “does it hurt?” and all I have to say to that is yes, it hurts a LOT 24 hours a day. But I can’t just sit at home crying about it. I have to get out, I have to see my toddler having a good time, I need fresh air and I need quality time outside of the house with my family in order to stay positive. I wish all the time things were easier for us, that I was able to just go on a train whenever I wanted just like I used to, or hop on a bus to another park nearby that I haven’t took my toddler too for ages… but the reality is that I can’t do those things right now.
Having so much of my independence taken away at my age, as a mother of 2, is really difficult to deal with. I hate having to rely on my partner 24/7 to take care of me, get dressed, etc., and having to rely on crutches to help me walk, or having to use my mobility scooter to enable me to get out to the local playground with my toddler. I used to love spontaneous adventures and trips; that’s why I started my blog a few years ago and that’s what I miss so much. I niavely thought I wouldn’t have to consider accessible days out or places to go, or the need for disabled toilets.. I just didn’t think about it. I thought that won’t be us.
My life has changed dramatically in just a short period of time, some days I really struggle to accept those changes whilst keeping a smile on my face. My family keep me afloat whilst all of this mess is going on.
Most days I try to laugh and smile with my family, plan some fun things we can do outside of the house and not think about what is going on.
But the days are getting closer to when my first surgery is and I am really dreading it. I don’t want to be separated from my children, my partner and my home… and to think I have to do this not once but twice… it’s hard.
Living like this, with something that is so rare can be really lonely at times. Please do get in touch if you want to chat and have something in common with what I have mentioned, or know someone who is going through the same thing.
Thank you for reading xx