Theresa Fuller's Story

It was February 2001 when my third healthy little girl Natalie was born. Being pregnant was the healthiest time of my life I always felt well never had any problems with protein or high blood pressure. I was home on the 6th post natal day with Steven, Ashleigh Lauren and Natalie, it was a sunny day, and we took the girls for a walk to the local milk bar and came home and had lunch. The out patient nurse had been that morning to check my blood pressure and the baby, everything was fine.

Later in the afternoon I was sitting outside in the sunshine with my brother and his family when I felt an extremely bad headache develop. I told Jodie, my sister in law and we went inside and I took some medication to try to relieve it. It seemed nothing would help the headache and I even put my sunglasses on inside as I found the light quite irritating. I was very annoyed at developing a headache and reluctantly took myself off to bed. Steve woke me to feed Natalie during the night, I took more Panadol than I should have but nothing appeared to settle this headache.

When I awoke Monday morning Steve started our usual routine of getting Ashleigh ready for school, when I finally got out of bed I took myself to the bathroom where I noticed that I could not see properly. I had lost my peripheral vision. I became very scared and emotional at this point. I told Steve about my vision and being his cool and calm self he said that he would take Ashleigh to school and then we would go to our GP. I remember sitting in the waiting room for one of the doctors for what seemed like ages, all the time I had this all consuming headache which by this stage had reduced me to tears.

Upon seeing the Doctor, she took my blood pressure and did urine tests and advised Steve to take me to the hospital straight away. Just prior to leaving she shone her small light in my eyes to check my pupils, at this point I am most annoyed thinking this doctor is over the top, I cannot believe she is making me go to hospital when all I want is something to get rid of this headache. I managed to sit at her desk and call mum asking her to meet us at the hospital, I hung up and then realised something was wrong, I could see Lauren and Steve and then I fell and alI I thought was ‘NO’, I believed I was dying.

I didn’t realise what was happening but I started fitting. The ambulance was called and I was taken to Monash Medical Centre. It was here that I had several further fits and numerous tests that I thankfully cannot remember. What I do recall saying to a doctor is “can you stop this because all I want to do is raise my children”. I know this time was extremely stressful for Steve, the girls and our extended family.

No one could decide if I needed a neurologist or a gynaecologist, after much testing a questioning it was decided that I had post natal eclampsia. All I can say is, I felt like I had been hit on the head by a truck. My head felt very heavy and I found it difficult to react, even walk. I now know that I was on anti fitting medication which really slowed me down. My daughter was readmitted to hospital with me for bonding and feeding, but in all honesty I was that exhausted and sick I should have just rested. I insisted on my mum sitting with us from 8.00am to 8.00pm so she could do all but feed Natalie anyway. I would not allow anyone other than my family to visit and I felt so sick, this unfortunately upset a few friends.

The medication was very strong and I was quite groggy, I remember one evening trying to feed Natalie and nearly dropping her on the hospital floor, I found this very upsetting. I was given the best of care and attention however I do believe that Natalie should have been cared for at home with my family as I found by morning I was exhausted from lack of sleep which I needed at this point. I am absolutely in love with my three girls and a brief separation at this point would not have affected either of our well being, but when you are vulnerable you tend to do as you are told.

I was finally released from hospital a week later I was very weak and groggy from the anti fitting medication. Steve took control as such, he insisted that we bottle feed Natalie as he and the rest of the family could help feed her. I wasn’t able to be at home alone with the children or bath them by myself for fear of it happening again. I was very lucky that I had many family members and friends who were willing to spend time with us during the day while Steve was at work. I could not drive the car for three months so I had several kind mums from Don Bosco Primary school in Narre Warren help get Ashleigh to and from school. I had weekly then fortnightly visits to my GP.

Unfortunately I developed hepatitis of the liver due to the anti fitting drugs, I realised something else was wrong when I developed a rash all over my body. It was at this point I stopped taking all the medications and started regular blood tests to ensure my liver function was returning to normal. I was very thankful to Steve for insisting that I bottle feed Natalie as I wouldn’t have wanted the worry or the possibility that this had affected her in any way. It took a good 6 months for me to recover from all the different situations I found myself in after the birth of Natalie. I had many doctors all assisting and caring for my wellbeing. I was asked on many occasions if I was depressed, but not once did I feel this way I just felt very lucky to be alive, have three healthy children and a very supportive husband and family.