I have realized, that for whatever reason, I did not post much in the first month after I was diagnosed. I think I was in shock. I think I was also a bit timid about blogging. Sometimes I’d like to just forget those early days of diagnosis, and then other times I think….well, maybe I should write down what I remember before I totally forget. Then someday when my kids really want to know the details I can refer to my written account.
I’m going to write in segments because if I write it all tonight this post will be WAY too long. I’ll just write a little bit everyday until I feel like I’ve gotten it all covered.
I vaguely remember the first time I thought I had a plugged duct. I remember walking around in a Baby GAP, it must have been around Thanksgiving, and we were Christmas shopping. As a breastfeeding mom I would quite often push on my breast to feel which side I needed to nurse on. I sometimes would forget I was in public and do this. I remember pushing on my left breast and thinking….”boy, this plugged duct is annoying.” I remember thinking I was leaking too because it felt hot and moist on that side….which isn’t all that uncommon for a breastfeeding mom except that Elijah was about 10 months and I really wasn’t leaking very much at that point. I had had many plugged ducts and usually I would just nurse extra on that side and it would resolve itself. I had actually had a mole removed off my left side a month or so previously so I thought I had somehow overcompensated and not fed enough on the right side. I figured it would resolve ina few days.
Around Thanksgiving I mentioned to my cousin who is a physicians assistant that I had a plugged duct that was not resolving and it was making me frustrated. By this time the breast was warm, had some reddish patches and had a weird lumpiness to it. Very much like a plugged duct but not yet mastitis because the rest of my body did not have a fever.
I called to my midwife’s office to see if I could get in. I wanted to go to a woman. I didn’t realize there was actually a female doctor I could see at this office since I had only gone to the midwives. The receptionist told me there was nothing before Christmas. So I decided to go to my family doctor. I figured if I was going to show a man my breast I would at least go to someone I knew and felt comfortable with. We agreed it looked like a plugged duct. I knew all the tricks to getting a plugged duct out…..warm compress, warm showers, massage. I left more determined to get the plug out.
Over Christmas break I traveled to Atlanta to visit my sister, who is a La Leche League Leader and lactation consultant by the way. She mentioned trying ibuprofin to reduce swelling. Over break I would scan web sites reading about mastitis and plugged ducts. I couldn’t figure out why my breast had a fever and nothing else did if it was mastitis. By now my breast was hot, red and the whole breast was swollen. I could see the pores in my breast were making this pitted texture. I also had some of the classic streaking symptoms of mastitis.
On one web site it mentioned a trick to getting out a plugged duct. If you took boiling water and put a little in the bottom of a glass, then put your breast in the glass, as it cooled it would cause a suction and this would pull the plug out. I tried this several times, but no plug came out. Not only that but it is painful. I don’t recommend it! I also searched my nipple for blisters as described on some sites, but found nothing.
When I returned home I once again called my midwife. They still couldn’t get me in for several weeks. I thought….”well by then it will be gone”. I’d never had a plugged duct last very long so instead I asked for some suggestions from the nurse. (You’d think after six weeks it might occur to me that it was not going to resolve on its own!) She called back and said the midwife recommended lecithin and echenacia. So I headed off to the local health food store and started taking both of them.
During that time I was also with some friends and one of them mentioned that she had struggled with some plugged ducts and recommended some homeopathics. So I went back to the local health food store and got them.
After taking these things for a week or so I thought it was looking a bit better. I took one of my children to see our family doctor and he asked how the plugged duct was doing and I told him it was still there but I thought it was improving. I think if I had said it still was there he would have taken a look, but since I thought it had signs of improving he didn’t press the issue.
To be continued…..