I have a story to tell about the last week of my life up till this very morning. Before that I have to preface with a few comments about what you are about to read. This is not some great “Our Health Care system in decline” expose. I am not qualified to make those assessments.
This is about my own journey and in part, my wife’s (however if she chooses she can add her side of the equation). Names have been changed or omitted to make sure I didn’t violate any HIPA regulations and get anyone in trouble. Anyone I have issues with will be dealt with and we were back in the car separately.
As Amy and I are preparing to open our new business we did a test run. I had a kidney stone but as the pain was coming and going, I decided (against Amy’s sound advice) to go ahead and do it. I worked Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. By Thursday morning however, the pain was crippling. It was off the ER where I was scheduled for a surgical procedure to remove a very large 14mm kidney stone that was blocking the ureter plus 2 more that were still attached to the kidney.
The surgery was a success and I was sent home to mend that night.
On Friday, I was feeling pretty good until about 5 p.m. when a fever started to set in. At that time it was a little over a 100⁰. I couldn’t get warm. Forty five minutes later it was 103⁰ and we were headed back to the ER.
I was immediately admitted with Sepsis from E coli bacteria from an infected kidney. Because of Covid-19, No Visitors allowed. I was on my own. They started me on an IV antibiotic with a once every 24 hours dose. Again, by Saturday morning I was feeling slightly better but the fever kept coming. I was in bed under a pile of blankets (literally 5) and couldn’t stop shaking…shaking so hard my ribs hurt.
They used Tylenol to control it as best they could, but its’ effects were spotty. I would be okay one minute and shivering like some beach comer from Florida on a cold Montana winter morning. I made it through the day and was into the second dose of the antibiotic.
Then came Sunday and things went South. It started as a repeat of Saturday. Erratic temperatures…down…spike…down…spike and so it went. I was watching the golf match on TV when I got so chilled that I curled up in bed buried under blankets trying to not lose teeth from shivering. I am not making light here. At some point I passed out. What happened next was recounted to me from some of the Doctors and Nurses who were my caregivers and my wife.
One of my nurses whom I shall refer to as Jessica came in and found me on a routine bed check. She was trying to take my blood pressure but I wouldn’t allow her to move the blankets because I was so cold. She took my oral temperature. 105.5⁰. She immediately called the charge nurse, who I will refer to as Emily E. They jump into action and immediately moved me upstairs to the ICU where a team of doctors and nurses started working to try and save me.
I was losing the battle. They had to use the defib paddles on me twice and then kept doing whatever medical miracles they had available to them. I am told one nurse held a fan while another was spritzing me down with cool water. My only recollection of that moment was me telling the Doctor L that I had to throw up. The doctor told me to just go ahead and do it on the floor. My thought was “Really?” (My Mom would not have approved.) But hey, Doctor’s orders. He later told me he was afraid I would choke and they were more concerned with saving me.
My next memory was a room with a few health care workers, the chaplain and one addition, my wife by my bedside holding my hand. I thought “No visitors allowed why is she here”? You don’t really want to wake up to see your wife and the chaplain standing there. That could cut either way.
As it turns out, when I last spoke to her during the golf match I told her I was going to sleep and I would call her in the morning. She had gone to bed and was sleeping when a loud knock on the door woke her. It was the police. She needed to get to the hospital. Things weren’t looking good.
Our friend Sheila came and got her and delivered her to the hospital where they allowed her in to see me for what would maybe, be the last time. It was close but there was nothing calling me to the other side. I didn’t see any white light, but I didn’t feel any hot flames either. I was out there in just some nether region floating. The one voice I heard was Amy’s. I don’t know what all she was saying but I do recall distinctly her calling me back, telling me I had to stay. There was no way I could leave her. Then I passed back out.
They switched antibiotics and at a certain point my body started to respond. By Monday, I was on the mend. The recovery is slow. My body is hurting and bloated from the fluids they pumped into me in the effort to control my fever.
I got to meet most of the nurses and doctors that stepped up and figured it out, and in the end, saved my life. To me they are all HEROES. I am on day four of the new antibiotic and am surprisingly better. I am tired. Although physically drained, I would like to feel that I am on the road to a full recovery. I hope to go home soon.
I was left with the question of why not screen after a procedure such as this for signs of sepsis and E coli? It has to be less expensive than what I just went through and based on Facebook many others have had to a degree, similar experiences. It turns out there is no way to test for what happened to me until it happens.
The support has been unbelievable. From neighbors and friends to family, I guess I took for granted how many people actually care.
My child Violet stepped up big time. When I needed moral support, they were all over it.
My nieces, nephews and in laws, have all been tremendous.
My partner from the original Red Pies Anne LaCroix stepped up big time to help keep our project moving forward.
My wife is a true treasure and has been run through her own hell through all of this. If you see her, give her a hug or at least an acknowledgement. I believe that she drew me back from the edge of death with love and positive energy.
After breakfast today I am going to walk a few laps around the halls and then sit and play my guitar. This was the Sunrise this Morning. I hope that I am around for many more.
I wrote this, four days after nearly dying in the hospital. It is now two weeks later and I am feeling pretty darned good.
What have I learned? I learned that there are a lot of people out there that have had similar problems. I have learned that I have to listen when my body speaks and not blow it off as “I’ll be okay”. The most important thing that I learned is that there is a power of love out there. Sometimes you have to let it wash over you to know it’s there.