Mom Claims Epidural was Stuck in Back for Days After Giving Birth

Pierre Van ZylHeal, Learn, News + Discoveries, Pregnancy, Women’s Health

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Most women expect pregnancy and childbirth to be difficult, while post-birth is where you can start to enjoy the baby that you brought into this world. This was not the case for Selena Gray, because post-birth was when her nightmare began.

Gray, 18, from Milton, Florida, delivered a healthy baby girl on June 26, 2019. She named her Serenity, a beautiful but ironic name given the circumstances. Selena Gray suffered for four days as a multitude of doctors tried and failed to remove an epidural that was stuck in her back. During labor, the epidural became lodged and knotted around her spine and wouldn’t come out, leaving Gray in agony. [1]

Her story began in Sacred Heart Hospital where Gray received the epidural the day before she gave birth to Serenity.

“I had great labor,” Gray said, “I didn’t notice any problems until the nurse went to go pull out the epidural string. That’s when the whole journey began.”

Epidurals are given by threading a small tube or catheter into the lower back and administering medications through the tube during the birth [2]. However, Gray’s catheter had somehow looped itself into her spine. 

“I got scared. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to walk again,” Gray said, “I’m young, I didn’t even really know what an epidural was.”

By then, Gray’s back was becoming increasingly painful. Her family advocated for her, demanding the hospital staff to help. They were promised a doctor, but no doctor arrived.

“The pain,” Gray said. “I just couldn’t even explain it.” It was so intense, she wasn’t able to get into a wheelchair, even with the assistance of her father and boyfriend at the same time. 

After getting fed up with the hospital staff, her father suggested Gray should transfer out of Sacred Heart to receive care elsewhere. Her stepmother, Patricia Alvarado, called an ambulance to transfer the new mother, but just like the doctor, no ambulance came. 

To make matters worse, a hospital caseworker stopped Gray from leaving, saying she couldn’t be released with the epidural still in her back. At this point, Alvarado had it. She called the Baptist Hospital, which was nearby, and explained Gray’s situation. Baptist Hospital immediately sent an ambulance and brought Gray to their facility.

Unfortunately, Gray’s troubles were far from over. The doctors at Baptist were so perplexed by her condition, they didn’t want to touch her. They decided to refer her to the University Health Shands Hospital, which is in Gainesville, a six-hour ride away. Fortunately, Stillhorse RV, Boats, & 18-wheeler sponsored the cost of her transportation and drove her there safely in an ambulance. 

During those six hours, Gray lay her side the entire time to alleviate the pain. When she arrived, the hospital was packed. She was checked in and told to wait for a CT scan.

After the CT scan was completed, the doctors told her their plan: they will give her more pain medication and then try to remove the epidural using the outside string. If that didn’t work, she would have to go into surgery. Gray was anxious about Plan B since it would be her first time undergoing an operation. 

“I just started praying that when they pull it, it loosens up and comes right out,” said Gray. 

On June 28, the staff successfully removed the epidural without surgery. The next day, Gray was released and went home.

Throughout these chaotic days, Gray updated her friends and followers on Facebook, and finally posted the happy news of her release.  

“I thank everyone for all their prayers and I thank God that Shands Hospital was able to remove the epidural out my back last night; they had to make an incision leaving me with stitches but I’m on the road to recovery.” [3] 

These posts by Gray and her family have gone viral as people send their prayers, sympathies, and well-wishes. Some women in the comments offer advice and encouragement from their own awful birthing experiences. 

However, the happy ending was short-lived. Alvarado posted the following on her own Facebook account: “Selena came home yesterday, and currently could not walk without a walker. She can’t stand up and hold Serenity at the same time.

“This morning which is Day 6 is a completely different story. She is in such agonizing pain; she couldn’t use the walker to get up. She had to be lifted up off the couch, and is crying in pain.” [4]

Worst of all, Gray is unable to pick up her new baby. Serenity has to be given to her every time. Thankfully, her family has been supportive during this process and helps Gray take care of her infant.

Gray worries about her recovery. Since her case is so rare, there is no precedent to give her any expectations. The good news is, she has already made some progress.

“I was terrified, and I still kind of am,” Gray said. “Every morning when I wake up, it’s like a restart. I’m just taking it day by day.”

She summarizes her experience with a simple warning for other pregnant women: “Be safe. If you plan on getting an epidural, make sure you do your research.”

While complications like this lodged epidural catheter are rare [5], it can’t be discounted. Everyone should know the benefits and risks of an epidural. If you would like to learn more, check out this article: Should I Use an Epidural for Pain Relief During Labor?

Sources:

  1. Mom claims epidural was stuck in back for days after giving birth https://www.foxnews.com/health/mom-claims-epidural-stuck-in-back-for-days
  2. Using Epidural Anesthesia During Labor: Benefits and Risks https://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/epidural/
  3. Selena Gray https://www.facebook.com/Selenaflawlesss
  4. Patricia Alvarado https://www.facebook.com/heat343
  5. Removing a trapped epidural catheter: Concerns https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3371514/
  6. Image Credit: FOX10 Phoenix (Photo courtesy of Selena Gray via Facebook)

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