You might have been wondering where I’ve been for the past few weeks. A couple are a fuzzy memory for me but, despite the current Pandemic crisis, things are looking up for sure.
On February 27th I felt fine. Had brunch with a friend and then came home. Later that afternoon I told Joel, my husband, that I wasn’t feeling well and I needed a nap. Later I woke up shivering violently to the point where it made me vomit. “Great,” I thought, “I’ve got the damned flu. Oh well.”
I bundled up and hunkered down for the night – until I got sick again, fell in the bathroom and couldn’t get up for quite a while as my balance was totally screwed.
By the next morning things were no better. Shortly after noon Joel told me I needed to go to the ER. I said “Oh no, it’s just the flu.” Luckily he disagreed. At the time I was, apparently quite delirious. Even coordinating myself to get somewhat dressed was beyond my capabilities. But we managed and off to the ER we went.
I should have realized, when the triage nurse rapidly found a cot for me, that something was seriously wrong – but I just wanted a warm blanket and to stop shivering so violently. Joel stayed close by throughout. People came and went checking my vitals, taking blood samples and then taking me to the bathroom to provide a urine sample. I still just wanted that blanket I was SOOO cold.
You know you’re really sick when you don’t care who does what to you or how. After a while they moved me to an observation room and the doctor on duty came in to say she thought I might have meningitis so they were going to ship me to the larger Regional Hospital in Saint John. I just said “ok”. I didn’t care. I think I asked Joel to scoot home and grab my cell phone so I could let him know where I was and what was going on – because he did do that.
After a while two paramedics showed up and loaded me on a gurney for the jaunt, by ambulance, into the city. It was a long trip (about 45 minutes) and I remember thinking that I was glad I wasn’t in critical condition or having a heart attack of suffering from a severe injury. Once there the two delivered me to a room in the ER department and away they went with my thanks for their care.
I won’t delight you with the details of some of my symptoms; suffice it to say things were most unpleasant throughout the night. I was hooked up to an IV fluid bag so my many hasty trips down the hall to the nearest bathroom were awkward at best. Let’s leave it at that.
It was a long, lonely night but at that point I was so sick I didn’t care if I lived or died. In the morning Joel came in to visit and bring me some clean PJs – a blessed relief. While he was there (thank goodness) an orderly came in to say I was being admitted and moved up to the 4th floor – and away we went.
Once up there more tests were conducted, more blood taken, more vitals charted – and I asked for more warm blankets as I still couldn’t stop shivering. Again, I’ll skip the details but several hours later the doctor in charge of my situation came to see me. He told me that I did not have meningitis (whew!) but that I had sepsis – a whole body/blood infection. For treatment I would need lots of IV fluids, rest and massive doses of antibiotics. Then he asked if I’d be ok returning to the Sussex Health Centre as their acute care facilities could handle my needs. If I’d had the strength I’d have leapt up and kissed him (I didn’t). What joy to be closer to home (making it easier for Joel and friends to visit if they wanted – even Harley!) And I loved the idea of being cared for by people who might know me.
Later that evening another pair of paramedics showed up and loaded me up for the return trip to Sussex. I don’t remember a lot of it – a bit of conversation about how important the Sussex Health Centre is to the overall system. One of them told me a story about a trip they made bringing a heart attack victim from somewhere near Miramichi to the Heart Centre in Saint John. As they neared Sussex (in the middle of the night) the patient was experiencing distress and needed medications that the EMTs weren’t allowed to administer. So they stopped in Sussex where the ER doctors and nurses tended to the patient, administered the medications and stabilized him for the remainder of the trip to Saint John. The EMT told me that if they hadn’t been able to do that, the patient would most likely have died. He had nothing but praise for the SHC personnel.
Meanwhile, back to “it’s all about me”. Again, I’ll spare you the gory details. I went on to spend the next eight days in a fog. I had IV fluids poured into me along with massive doses of antibiotics, anti-nausea medications, Tylenol for my nearly 40ºC fever, probiotics to offset the effects the antibiotics were having on my digestive system, a new and more potent blood thinner to replace the one I’d been on for years, and a beta blocker medication to deal with my now misbehaving heart. Who knew?
I am SO grateful to Dr. MacMullin, the nurses, LPNs, PRAs and other staff at the Sussex Health Centre without whose help I would not be here today. I am also grateful to my husband who realized that something was very wrong with me and insisted on dragging me in to the ER for help. A little longer and he might have been a widower.
While I was in the hospital my 70th birthday came and went with little fanfare – but it wasn’t high on my priority list either at the time. However, on the day Joel and Pam Goold arrived bearing gorgeous flowers to brighten my day. True confessions – I cried.
I was finally able to come home the next Sunday and I’ve been recuperating ever since. The sepsis was caused by an untreated bladder infection that spread throughout my body undetected until it was severe. The combination of being so ill and the required onslaught of strong medications has left me very weak but, after two weeks at home eating ‘real’ food and being gently cared for by ‘nurse’ Harley and hubby Joel, I am on the mend.
Today is Joel’s birthday so I managed to make a cake to share (since I didn’t get one on MY birthday – ehehehe) – a mutual favourite; chocolate devil’s food cake and boiled icing. Yummy.
Somehow I missed a lot of the panic about the pandemic. We are self-isolating anyway because I am still so weak that if a germ were to go by anywhere near me I’m sure I’d catch it. I can only hope that others will be similarly scrupulous about social distancing and only venture out for fresh air and the necessities protecting those vulnerable populations who have limited options.
I’m back and getting stronger every day so life goes on!