Postpartum Preeclampsia Led to Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome

May 12, 2023 By Marina Ryder

Postpartum Preeclampsia Led to Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome

My pregnancy was going relatively well and I had my second son on a Saturday afternoon via c-section.

The following 3 days at the clinic I started to feel back pain and began to swell which intensified day by day. Everyone told me it was because of the surgery I just had, and I was discharged to go home.

The following day (4 days postpartum), I woke up at home in so much pain that I could not even stand up. I thought maybe something went wrong during the spinal but I was very wrong about what was happening to me. I started feeling very unwell very shortly after and around midday we took my blood pressure at home. It was elevated at 160/90 with a pulse of just 43. After a lot of back and forth with several doctors, I ended up in A&E - by the evening my blood pressure reached 190/10 mmHg and I had the most excruciating headache I ever experienced. When the blood and urine tests came back we found out I had both liver and kidney damage. The values for my liver enzymes and kidney function were 3-4 times higher than normal. I was given medication for the BP and I was put on magnesium immediately.

That night I was transferred to ICU at a terrible state and stayed there for 3 days. That was the worst experience of my life. Countless tests, pain and discomfort, several medications, and the fear of the unknown all while I just had my baby boy... I came to the realisation that was not going to be a short stay at the hospital.

When the doctors thought I was more stable, I was transferred to the Maternity unit at the same hospital. 4 days later, I woke up and I could not see. I was in shock and so confused as to what has suddenly happened to me while I was supposed to be recovering and getting better. After the MRI scan, I was diagnosed with PRES (posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome) as a result of preeclampsia. I was again put on magnesium and waited for my eyesight to come back which it thankfully did 4 days later.

At the ICU, I was given the medication to stop my milk production and I never got the chance to breastfeed my baby boy. I spent 2 weeks at the hospital away from both my babies and I was sent home with more medication and tests for monitoring. 6 months later and my body just started to fully recover, however the mental strain it left is something more challenging. I wish there was more awareness about postpartum preeclampsia and the risks associated with it as I was also not aware of it until it happened to me.