Michael Madajski


December 23, I began experiencing a slight cough, and by 12/27/23 I was in an ambulance on my way to the hospital unable to breathe with a blood oxygen saturation of 84%. I was waiting for my girlfriend to return from CA. I am an asthmatic and this was the occasion where no amount of rescue inhaler or nebulizer treatment had any positive effect on my breathing condition. I let it go a little too long but to my defense tried to access an Urgent Care that despite opening at 8am already had 30 people waiting. My lungs had worsened significantly and even with max oxygen in an ambulance , I struggled to breathe feeling as through I was suffocating.

My girlfriend could not call an ambulance for me in NV as she was still driving in from CA. Crazy that they couldn’t transfer her somehow. She was able to contact my daughter who called the ambulance. I was unable to get it together enough to call for myself. It had to have been horrible for her. I made it to the hospital and I was admitted quickly as soon as they had a bed.

They had no idea what was going on. Tests for Covid and flu were negative. They assumed a severe bacterial infection and started giving me gallons of antibiotics that had no effect on a high WBC count. Meanwhile I was receiving other blood draws for many many things including arterial blood gases and it was determined my lactic acid was 3 times what it should be. They did a blood culture. They were giving me breathing treatments every hour and I had two ports for medication and an IV. I was receiving solumedrol pushed every two hours. And nothing was helping. My blood pressure was sky high. 02 super low with max oxygen. Heart rate elevated to minimal 160 resting. I did not want to code. And then it all got worse.

At some point my girlfriend, daughter and ex wife arrived. It’s all a blur. I’m told the duration of the arrival at the hospital until all that happened to this point was 6 hours. Made no sense to me. My sense of time was super distorted. I had CT scans, X-rays, tons of breathing treatments, steroids, other medications and nothing was helping. I was now in ICU. I felt it I had arrived at the crossroads and I felt I was reaching a point of delirium and begged them to intubate me. I was suffocating, dying. My advanced directive had been discussed prior to this at some point, and luckily they finally heard me. I had no idea if I would wake up, or if I’d be able to get off of a ventilator but at this point I didn’t care. I had to try for the sake of my family. That’s it. I didn’t matter- they did.

After I consented to being intubated- it was chaos- screaming, alarms, commands being shouted and 17 people working on me at once I was told. Clothes being ripped off. IVs being started. So many things happening at once and so overwhelming. I had no idea what was happening but suddenly I realized I couldn’t move if I wanted to, and just let it all happen. This was followed by a strange twilight sleep of short duration where I worried I would be conscious for the entire ordeal. Then lights out.

I woke up partially extubated, 48 hours later in ICU. The tube in my throat was removed, but there was still one in my nose that went down my throat, which was also being removed. My first thought was I’m alive- not I’m awake. I think that each time I now “wake up” now it’s “I’m alive” because I had never had that sensation before and can’t shake it. I was informed I had a viral strain of pneumonia that turned into severe sepsis and almost septic shock just prior to being intubated. (Sepsis and Pneumonia) The treatment for the severe viral sepsis had begun while I was intubated – fluid IV bolus, and commenced from start to end for 6 days round the clock. They saved my life. My organs were protected. For the entire hospitalization, I still received breathing treatments every 1-2 hours that never worked due the exaggerated immune response and endothelial cell dysfunction and solumedrol pushed every two hours, which also never was effective for similar reasons, in addition to multiple meds to try to control the extreme cardiac symptoms I developed as a consequence of the sepsis treatment. I had over 50 lab draws, CT scans, echocardiograms, X-rays and was fortunate enough to have been cared for by numerous exceptional human beings. I was and am very lucky.

I spent just over 7 days hospitalized for viral sepsis that came about from a viral pneumonia strain including two days on life support- but I survived. Today I am about four days post discharge. I am very weak, I can barely walk, I am having cognitive and pain issues and have great concerns for my future. I lost virtually all muscle mass. I used to be able to toss around 50# no problem. Today I struggle to lift 5#. My previous physical and cognitive functioning were excellent. I don’t feel I am what I was before and may never be, but today I am alive and I survived severe viral sepsis.

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