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Frank Ackerman

Survivor

I spent my 43rd birthday (December 8, 2014) at the Essex lodge in Essex, Vermont with my husband Kieth. It was probably one of the best birthday surprises I have ever had. When we got up to the room there was champagne and a card from the resort, I knew it was going to be a great birthday weekend.

The next day we went and enjoyed the outdoor hot tub and indoor pool. Now think about it, December in Vermont, I do believe it was about 10 above, but the hot water and the cool air was so relaxing. We ate, spent quality time together and did the outdoor hot tub for three days. After all this fun, it was time to drive back to New Hampshire, so I could go back to work. The rest of December was uneventful health wise, just felt a little achy, however as we came in to January of 2015.

I started eating Tylenol like candy because my whole body hurt and I was using the inhalers as I could not breath very good, well. Unfortunately  I took too much of the Tylenol to control the pain this body was in, and I got what they called “Tylenol Liver Toxicity.” On January 6th, 2015, Kieth had to take me to Parkland Medical Center in Derry, NH, because I was vomiting, confused, could not walk properly and was complaining of extreme pain. This put me in the hospital for three days on fluids and IV pain medication because this caused great pain in the liver, as the liver had to be flushed out. I was told that I could not take Tylenol anymore, and my body does like NSAIDs, so I was pretty much out of luck.

As the next month and a half went on, I was just feeling like I had a constant chest cold and a nasty cough that would not get better. I finally went to the primary doctor and they gave me Zithromax. I remember telling her that this antibiotic really does not do much for me, and I think there is something more serious wrong because of my symptoms and I was coughing up brown sputum. She said, you will be just fine, take the antibiotics and drink plenty of fluids and get rest. Well two weeks later I still felt just horrible and I was running a 100-degree fever, so I went back to the doctor, and she put me on another round, and again I said, “There is something more serious.” I was just pushed off and she said this should do it.

On March 20, 2015, Kieth took me to the Emergency Room at Parkland Medical Center near our house, as I was constantly coughing, still had a fever and was having trouble breathing. After waiting two hours, I was examined by the doctor, and this ER doctor said, you just got through two rounds of antibiotics, just follow your doctor’s orders. There were no tests done, they were not concerned with the 100-degree fever and basically just said to go home. The next three days I felt like my entire body was on fire, and I was coughing so much that I did not sleep.

On March 23, 2015 around 3:30PM Kieth came home from work (by this time I was out of it and no memory of any conversations with him) and he thought I was having an asthma attack, so he gave me my inhaler, went to take a shower. About 10 minutes later, Kieth came out and I was on the floor, gasping for air, my whole body was ridged, my feet were purple, and my lips were blue, he immediately called 911 and within minutes the police and EMS were at my house. Of course, the police thought it was a drug overdose! And the paramedics said, “Are you kidding? Look at him”.

I was rushed to Parkland Medical Center again, they immediately took my temperature and it was 106.1, which I was told is deathly high.
After doing their usual tests, they found out that I was in septic shock from pneumonia. (Sepsis and Pneumonia) My white blood cells were 20,500, I had acute kidney and respiratory failure, my blood pressure was 86/40 and I was intubated. They spend the next 4-6 hours spraying me with cold water to try and get my fever down and I was put on massive fluids. This raised the blood pressure up, but the fever was not going down. They finally got me stabilized to go the ICU where I was put in a medically induced coma (besides already being in one) to try and get the fever down and to see if I would improve. They told Kieth that I was not going to make it through the night, however I did and the fever came down but I was unresponsive.

After 27 days in a coma, they finally stopped the drugs and I started to wake up. I slightly remember the tube and thinking, I can’t swallow or talk, what the heck happened. After the tube was taken out later that day, my muscles were atrophied. I could hardly talk and could not lift any limbs. After another 6 days in bed, they got me up to try and walk, and my oxygen plummeted. That is when they said that I would not recover from this and I would probably have to go into long-term care.

After another 2 weeks in the hospital, I was walking, and I forced them to let me go so I could go back to work. This was the worse decision I ever made. During 2015 I was hospitalized at least 20 more times because I would fall, stop breathing had massive vertigo; I eventually lost my job as my brain could not comprehend my accounting job anymore, and on October 3, 2015 I left my employment.

As the days went on, I just got worse, having a pacemaker implanted in April of 2016 due to bradycardia. They determined that the high fever damaged my heart and this was causing the falls and such. Then in October of 2016 I had two mild strokes that left me totally debilitated. I had friends that moved me to Montana where I could get better care. This is when Kieth left as he could not handle seeing me so sick.

As of December 2016, I have been in a skilled nursing facility, where I have been getting better every day; however, I still cannot walk, and seizures have started, and I was diagnosed with progressive remitting multiple sclerosis on October 3, 2017. I plan to work as hard as I can to get better, so I can go back to work; however, I have been told that I will be limited for the rest of my life.

This has been a huge struggle for me, sometimes I think “Why did I live through this? Why did God not take me?” I do know I am here for a reason, and God does not give you anything you cannot handle, and I am looking forward to the future to wear I can be productive again. I still wonder what my life would have been like if I would have gotten the proper care for the pneumonia and not passed off. Thank you for reading my story.
Frank J Ackerman

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