A Summer Like No Other

June 2009 began with an asthmatic bronchitis diagnosis for me. I was on antibiotics when I left for a week cruise to Alaska with my family. When I returned, I had contracted another respiratory illness that left me coughing, achy, headachy, weak, out of breath, and feverish. A few days later I went to urgent care where they diagnosed me with pneumonia. I was unable to keep down the medications, so they admitted me into the hospital from the ER. That was June 23rd, and they told me I would be in the hospital for 3-5 days. The last thing I remember was a day later in the hospital, having lunch. The following day I was unable to maintain my oxygenation above 88%, my fever would not break, and I was getting progressively sicker. They moved me to ICU. A day later, after a Bi-PAP machine failed to help my progressively worsening breathing, I was put in a drug induced coma and intubated. What they said would take a few days ended up being six weeks in a coma. They tested me for every illness they could imgine. I came up negative for everything except bilateral pneumonia. They never discovered what type of pneumonia I had, be it viral, bacterial, or fungal. I even came up negative for the flu and Legionaires disese. Soon my diagnosis changed to ARDS. Weeks went by and no change to my condition. Everyone was prepared for the worst. The ventilator settings were at their maximum, and they had me on every drug known to the medical field. But my lungs continued to suffer.

Eventually they were able to bring me out of the coma while still on the ventilator. When I awoke in August, I could not move my muscles, eat, speak, or do anything at all for myself. Because of the tracheostomy and ventilator, I had to mouth my words and try to communicate without speaking for weeks. I was disoriented and hallucinating badly from the remnants of the coma-inducing drugs in my system. They began PT and OT immediately at my bedside. A few days later, my trach got dislodged and I coded. It took them 45 minutes to revive me. Then, three weeks after that, I developed ICU-acquired MRSA pneumonia, a staff infection, and herpetic lesions in my trachea. I almost died a third time! I asked for a Do Not Recussitate order to be placed on me and said my goodbyes. To everyone's surprise, I survived. I remained in ICU for another four or five weeks, was moved to a Long Term Acute Care hospital, and then to a rehabilitation hospital to relearn how to walk, bathe, etc. I have been recovering at home since late November, 2009. I've lost over 50 lbs due to being on a feeding tube for so long. I am still on oxygen 24 hours a day by way of a trans tracheal system, but have regained all of my strength. I tire easily and am winded often, but my doctor expects a full recovery. I go back to work in August, 2010. I am thankful to be alive and to find everyday activities relatively easy again. I look forward to the future and try not to take one moment for granted. I am thankful to all of my health care professionals, family, and friends for sticking by me through every moment of this ordeal. I could not have managed without every one of them.
iw8forsno iw8forsno
3 Responses Jul 9, 2010

How are you now? It's been 5 years for me and I can do everything now that I could do before the illness. I can't wear a bikini anymore because I'm self conscious of my feeding tube scar on my tummy

I had almost the same thing happen to me last December.I am so happy to find people who had the same experience then I .I feel so bless to be alive,i will post my story soon.

I see what you mean, about our stories being similar. I only lost 41 lbs, and I pulled my own tubes out. I was actually getting sick in December, but with bronchitis being an old acquaintance, just put it off. I missed enough work to po my supervisor. And I loved my job. I won't be able to go back, because I was a phone monkey (I worked in a call center). The coughing is too bad, and the call center is like first grade, everybody shares. I agree with you- without my brother and my friends, I would have been gone. My doctors and nurses were wonderful, but they tried to give up. My brother wouldn't let them. I'm grateful, but I can't understand why, out of 5 people admitted with ARDS, was I the only one left.