Divorce by Epidural

The Epidural Machine - AKA, My Wife's Best Friend
Creative Commons License photo credit: Lunchbox Photography

Divorce is common enough these days without having added, unnecessary external pressure. The fact is that just about everything baby-related, from conception to parenting of adult children, can put stress on a marriage. Even having difficulty trying to conceive can strain a marriage.

Pregnancy, too, can be a trying time. A woman’s emotions can rage wildly, and many men just aren’t emotionally equipped to handle it. Once you get through it, you can be facing postpartum depression and sleep deprivation, two things that can also greatly hamper a marriage.

One couple in Connecticut recently demonstrated another way that pregnancy can interfere with a marriage. A woman in that state filed suit against a hospital, claiming that abuse of epidural medication by hospital staff led to the breakup of her marriage.

That’s right: she says that the theft of labor pain meds ruined her marriage.

How does that work, exactly? Well, the woman was admitted into Stamford Hospital not long after her water broke in October, 2006. Hospital staff recommended that the woman’s husband go home to rest and eat, as it would likely be hours before labor really got going. The woman was left by herself to sleep.

This is where it gets strange. A Physician’s Assistant came into the room and removed the epidural apparatus. He pretended to be on the woman’s medical team, intending to steal the epidural medication for his ailing dog.

The woman experienced anxiety, physical pain because the epidural medication was gone, and emotional distress because of being questioned by hospital staff. The husband testified in the court case that, because he wasn’t there when this all happened, the woman began to distrust him and ended their marital intimacy.

The couple sought $15,000 in damages due to the breakdown of their marriage. The jury dismissed the case. (The Physician’s Assistant in question lost his credentials shortly after the incident, and has not been allowed to practice in the medical field).

So, what do you think? Were they just in it for the money, or did the missing epidural really ruin their marriage?

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