Christina White

Survivor

I’m 34. I had gone back to work after having influenza B in February 2018. (Sepsis and Influenza) I was in a meeting and this cough came out of nowhere. By the end of two days, I had tried every cough syrup and could not sleep because the cough was so bad. I went to the closest ER to get checked and get some stronger cough suppressant. They took an x-ray and saw no pneumonia.

I went home and tried to rest. Several hours later I had a little wheezing, so I went to the Urgent Care and they skipped the x-ray since I had just had one, gave me a steroid and breathing treatment and sent me home. I lay in bed close to midnight with an ice pack on my chest that hurt terribly bad from what I thought was coughing. I got the worst stabbing back pain I’ve ever felt that I got more ice for that. I lay there feeling like my heart was racing and it was getting harder to breathe. I got immediately back to the ER choking on every cough and they immediately took me back, with oxygen.

Hours later another x-ray revealed pneumonia in my right lung almost completely. (Sepsis and Pneumonia) I was admitted into a room and continued to be more and more uncomfortable, extremely hot, stabbing pain behind my lung and I cried to my nurse. My heart rate continued to race and I required more oxygen even though they were trying to dial it back. She came back and said they were going to move me to the ICU for better 1-on-1 care. When I was moved there, they gave me a quick rundown about fluid around my lung and having to intubate me. I prayed for myself and the doctors and only remember flashes of memory for the next 8 days before being taken off sedation.

Doctor came in and said good news, we know what was causing the sepsis, strep! Now we can treat it appropriately. My fever never started until I was in the ICU and it hovered near 105/106′ for a day. I was delirious at one point. I began raising my arms up to the sky and scared my nurse, she had never seen anything like that. There was so much fluid around my lung, it took several days to drain from my side and the mucus that was secreted so I could breath was constantly being suctioned out. When the infection had cleared, thank God I had no organ or brain damage. I was able to breathe on my own on day 8, one day after no longer under sedation.

I continued to have severe pain behind my lung, and just sitting in a chair and moving back to the hospital bed made me so hot and it was so hard to breath, focusing on long slow breaths to get my heart rate back down was all I could do to relax. I started the next day walking the hall with a walker and was so off balance. It took 3 days before I could move without it, but my legs felt like jello. After my blood work and count looked good and lungs were clear besides a cavity that they needed to watch to close over several months, I was allowed to leave the hospital with a PICC line, to return for the next week daily for antibiotics IV,  then pill form for the next two months.

Besides the PTSD, side effects I was unaware that may happen were. Day 9, the skin at the top of my fingers bubbled and began to peel from the tips all the way to my palms. I had a severe rash on my feet up to my knees on day 10, itched so badly I used cold cloths and slathered cortisone to relieve it. The itching stopped, but bumps lingered for weeks. My feet peeled like my hands day 13. I could not lay on my right side for weeks because of soreness from the chest tube, empynema and pleurisy. It was sore every time I coughed for at least a month. (Sepsis and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Sepsis and Post-Sepsis Syndrome)

I was out of breath walking just a short distance, but by 2 months I could jog again! I thought I was over side effects and then my hair began to shed brush fulls for an entire month. I had no idea it was related. I also needed an antibiotic to clear up some surface bacteria that created bumps on my face around my nose and cheeks where you could imagine tape and oxygen masks sitting. It’s one year later and I hardly cry about this anymore and I just ran 5 miles and was hardly out of breath! I still get sore on my side after long workouts like the 5 miles, but that is it and from what I read, it should gradually go away. I did develop some wrist pain I never had and am now reading joint pain is a side effect, hurts in a push up position, but chiropractic work is good for that.
Thankful I am a survivor and yes, if I have a symptom, I am at the doctor’s right away for anything!