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Mastitis : A Lesson in Listening to my Body

Doctor's OfficeI was in those first few moments of bliss where your mind cannot tell if you are in a dream or reality.  My husband and I were on a beautiful island resort; drinks were flowing and I was commenting how wonderful the water felt as we sat at the swim up bar. 

Moments later I awoke only to find I was not basking away in a pool; but my 103.4 degree temperature had caused me to sweat through my pajamas and blankets.  In that instant I knew I had mastitis.  My entire body ached so bad that I felt as if I couldn’t move. 

During the night, my breast became so painful that I could no longer bring my 7 month old daughter anywhere near it to nurse.  I had the perfect trifecta of constant pain, intense throbbing and burning in my breast. 

Warning Signs and Treatment

This should not have come as a shock as the day before I had the tell-tale symptoms; achy body, fever and pain in my left breast.  Unfortunately I ignored the symptoms, convinced I was getting the flu and it would go away on it’s own.  My son had been sick the day before and the last thing I wanted to do was sit at the doctor’s office, just to have them tell me I had the common flu, which had no cure. 

With the help of my parents I made my way to the Minute Clinic (of course it was Saturday!) and the doctor looked at me, took my temperature and told me she really should send me to the ER.  She measured the infection, a very visible red splotch, which was 9″ by 5″.  She told me I should be thankful that after 24+ hours it hadn’t spread outside of my breast into the rest of my body.  I was sent home and instructed to continue to breastfeed, which put me into tears, take 10 days of a strong antibiotics and make sure the infection did not spread.

The next 48 hours were a blur. I was thankful that with my husband out of town for work, the kids and I were staying with my parents.  There was no way I would have been able to care for them.  I had actually told the doctor that after two non-medicated childbirths, this was more painful.  She looked at me as if this was common knowledge, and said, “yes, it is”. 

A Painful Lesson Learned

So, as I sit here, antibiotics finished and finally feeling like myself, what lesson have I learned?  I learned that I completely ignored my instincts.  As moms, I think we’ve nailed it when caring for others.  But when it comes to our own health, we put it far on the back burner.  The phrase that keeps ringing through my head is, “I really should send you to the ER”.  I cannot imagine what I would have done with my kids if I was sent to the hospital.  I was so concerned about parenting, going to work, etc. that I refused to go to the doctor the day before.  The irony is that if I was put in the hospital, none of that would have mattered. 

Moms, please listen to your bodies.  We cannot care for others if we cannot care for ourselves.  Thankfully this was something that was easily treatable and cleared up relatively quickly.  Next time I know to listen to my gut and not take my health for granted.

Mastitis Symptoms: (WebMD)

  • Tenderness/swelling, body aches, fatigue, breast engorgement, fever/chills, lump in breast, persistent fever, puss draining, redness/swelling/pain that does not disappear after breastfeeding, red spot.

Please note, I am not a doctor, so please contact a medical professional if you have any questions or concerns. 

Have you been diagnosed with Mastitis? How did you manage? 

 

 

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