Candida Akins, Madison

I gave birth at 32 weeks to two beautiful babies on July 3, 2005.  Shortly after giving birth, I became very ill. I stayed in the hospital for seven days with a high fever and high blood pressure, drenched with sweat. The doctors tested me for everything because they did not know what could possibly be wrong; they even thought I had hepatitis at one point because ALL of my blood work was abnormal.


On day six, the fever disappeared and I was discharged on day seven. I went home, but I was still sick. I tried to do my best as a new mother, but I just could not do anything without feeling sick. I began to feel as if I could not walk very far without having shortness of breath. My body was swollen and I could not sleep at night. I would jump up during the middle of the night gasping for air because I could not breathe.

I knew something wasn't right. Finally, I called my OB-GYN and my family physician. I went to see both of them and I made several trips to the local emergency room to only be diagnosed with postpartum depression. I felt so sad because I could not enjoy my babies like I wanted to. I was in so much pain that I could not hold my babies for very long. By this time, I was barely making steps without shortness of breath, I couldn't eat without vomiting (busted a blood vessel in my eye because of severe vomiting), and my legs were severely swollen, along with my belly. 

After convincing someone at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital (TMH) that I was not depressed, I finally was evaluated for possible congestive heart failure.  I was seconds away from dying by now!  I was home for a month suffering before I was initially diagnosed with Post-Partum Cardiomyopathy (PPCM).  My body was shutting down completely, and I was in so much pain.

Once I made it to TMH for an evaluation, I was immediately taken for testing.  The first test was an echocardiogram.  My EF was 5-10 %( normal range 60-65%)!  I had a heart murmur and I was in congestive heart failure.  My family immediately rushed to the hospital to be with me.  They were terrified because they had watched me for an entire month going through phases of death.  It was a sight to see, especially by my loved ones.

I was immediately admitted to ICU because I was in critical condition.  It was not clear if I would make it.  I remembered being placed in ICU and given medication that night.   I also remember seeing a bright light for hours.  I am certain it was God!  He was watching over me and healing my body.  I was 140lbs that night, but that morning I was 120lbs.  I lost 20lbs of fluid overnight. 

The doctors could not believe that I was improving so soon and healing without any complications.  Eventually, I was well enough to go home.  I was referred to a cardiologist in the hospital and I was scheduled to meet with him periodically to monitor my heart problem. 

Six months passed and I received the news from my doctor that I was not improving as expected, and I would possibly need an implant.

 I went to my appointment and I felt confident that I would fight this disease.  I was still taking my medicine and suffering from the leg fatigue and pain.  My doctor at Mayo Clinic took me off the eight meds down to two per day. 

He looked at me and said, "I am going to do everything that I could to help you heal".  I was so afraid and sad because I was so young and experiencing this type of illness and crisis. 

One year passed and I was still here on earth with my babies. My church was praying for me as well as my family and friends.  My pastor speaks of this today.  He often talks about how the church was fasting and praying for my healing. 

Today, ten years later, I have another set of twins and my EF is 55-60%.  I am still taking two meds per day and I am healthy!  I did not have a reoccurrence with my second pregnancy, but my EF declined a little I made it through delivery without any complications.  God knew exactly what He was doing for me.  My first doctor told me I would die if I had more kids, but God wasn't ready for me.  I believe there is a purpose here on earth for me.  I will graduate from college next week with a bachelor's degree after all.  Ten years ago I fought for this moment to share with someone else.  I fought for my life to raise my kids and raise awareness!  To all of the PPCM mommies, keep fighting and keep the faith!



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