Posted on March 2nd, 2018
The beginning of my soon to be hellish experience began just days before rushing to the ER, unknowingly being hours from dying. It all started about 4-5 days prior to going to the ER. I felt a tightness in my chest the first day things felt off, but I just assumed I needed to crack my sternum since the feeling was very familiar with the pressure in my chest that I get when I need to pop it. Try as I may, I couldn’t get it to crack enough to give me much relief.
I must’ve tried to crack my sternum and back a few times an hour for 2-3 days and it just got progressively worse as time went on. By the end of the third day I started feeling sick to my stomach and vomited alongside the slight feeling that a cold might be coming on. Kind of wooshy headed and my sinuses just felt off, but again I just assumed it was something common since I was at my girlfriends house at the time who had a few cats, which I am somewhat allergic to. So I thought it was just allergies and the nausea/vomiting was nothing out of the norm for me since I’ve dealt with stomach issues for years and am diagnosed with GERD alongside anxiety issues that made me feel sick often.
The following day I woke up needing to throw up and came home. I laid around all day in bed watching Netflix, just trying to feel better, but the vomiting just became more frequent and much more violent. At this point my chest had really tightened up significantly to the point where I couldn’t find a comfortable position to lay and had to toss and turn every few minutes, but I persevered. Half way through the night its like a switch flipped and I began to vomit in 10-15 minute intervals and was no longer able to eat even a bite of food and found it extremely difficult to even hold down a sip of water. I suffered throughout the night and the next day it was just more of the same thing, I was praying for some sort of relief and figured it would pass soon, it had to. I never have these symptoms for more than a day or two normally and get sick almost every winter, so I thought it was just a bad bug.
I made it through that day into the night and at this point it started to feel like an elephant was sitting on my chest and I was exhausted from all the vomiting and not being able to get any rest. At 4am I said enough is enough. I called my mother and asked her to take me to the local emergency room and went on my way. I could barely stand and I definitely couldn’t stand upright due to the extreme pain in my chest. I walked into the ER and was instantly taken into the back for an EKG to make sure I wasn’t having a heart attack because of how my chest pain was and shortly after was given a room in the ICU surprisingly, since usually you have to wait hours to be seen in the ERs in my area, Baltimore, MD.
Little did I know that this room would be my new home for the following week. After a series of tests and being poked and prodded more than a pincushion and had to take a CT scan, MRI, and x-rays, all the while screaming in pain when lifting my arms any higher than my heart from the tightness in my chest and as I breathed in, my results came in… I had an extreme case of bacterial pneumonia that I had NO idea that I had that inherently caused the sepsis. (Sepsis and Pneumonia)
When my blood results came back from the lab I was told my white blood count was 38! So my body was literally killing itself trying to fight off everything. The normal white blood count is apparently around 10, and up to 14/16 if you have a pretty bad infection. The doctors told me that if I had waited a few more hours or a day more that I would have died… My heart rate was at 120+ bpm the entire time I was there until my last two days it finally started to normalize. The hospital food was absolutely horrible, so I had issues eating the entire time I was there and almost couldn’t get discharged on my last day because my sodium level was elevated, but it was because I had my parents bring me Burger King so that I could finally eat something since I was finally feeling better, hahaha. But, the first few nights in the ICU I was having very vivid hallucinations when I would close my eyes that were actually pretty amazing and indescribable. It was about the only good thing that happened the entire time. I had to do breathing treatments with a nebuliser that hooked right into the wall behind my bed that had a very odd tasting liquid in it that vaporized as I breathed through it to help with my lungs. I wouldn’t wish what I had to go through even on my worst enemy.
I have shattered my pelvic bone in a car accident. I’ve also had surgery on my top and bottom jaw breaking them in 8 places, removing bone, shifting it into position to fix a severe underbite, and secured with titanium plates which made me unable to eat solid food for three months. Among many other injuries and nothing compared to the pain and misery that sepsis caused me. I legitimately thought I was going to die. In fact I WISHED I would hurry up and die. But, I survived and lived to tell the tale!
One third of people who get sepsis die apparently, but I fought through it and came out on top luckily. They also noticed while I was there that I had very unusually enlarged/swollen lymph nodes all throughout my body and feared that I had lymphoma or leukemia. I had to go get tests done three months after being discharged to see if the swelling would go down and was just a side effect of everything else I had going on. So I went and got the tests done and was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, thankfully, instead of the cancers they told me I could have. That was a horrifying three months needing to wait to have the tests done, all the while not knowing if I was dying for another reason now. But here I am. If I can do it, so can you! Never give up fighting and don’t lose hope.