Back in January of 2016, I was working third shift as a registered nurse for a nursing home. I had just finished my shift when two first shift nurses came to me and told me I didn’t look well, and they suggested I rest for awhile in one of the spare beds before driving home. I was extra tired so I went and laid down. One of the nurses came back to wake me up later on, but I still felt really tired so I told her I would rest a bit more. I slept until it was time to start my shift again so I clocked back in and went to work.
About for hours into the shift my young son came by. He had finished his work day and he always walked over to my place of employment to pick up our only car and go home. He came in to get the keys and said “are you all right mamma?” I just said “I can’t do this”. One of the other nurses over to and told my son to take me home, that I wasn’t well. I don’t know what I did during the four hours I worked. All I remember is going home and laying down on the sofa my uniform. The next thing I knew I was in the hospital.
I had sepsis with pneumococcal pneumonia and MRSA in my lungs. (Sepsis and Pneumonia, Sepsis and MRSA), Sepsis and Antimicrobial/Antibiotic Resistance) I was very sick but it didn’t sink in. I was in a regular room, I had been in the ICU, but I couldn’t remember being there. My throat was incredibly sore, but I didn’t know why. They brought me food, but I couldn’t eat anything. It hurt too much. A friend came to visit me and later on she told me that it was a very strange visit because I had no reaction to seeing her. I remembered her visit, and I thought I was showing her how happy I was to see her, but I guess it was just in my mind.
When I got out of the hospital, it still didn’t register how very sick I’d been and still was. I had some strange energy, so I went to my best friend, Carol’s house. I took her grocery shopping (she doesn’t drive, she is 20 years older than me and I was 54 at the time this happened). I unloaded her groceries and put them away for her. The next day (day two out of the hospital) I went back to work. By the end of the week I started to feel bad again, but I didn’t think I had any short term disability (later I would find out that I did have it, but no one offered to tell me). I kept on working but I struggled profoundly. I have chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia (I’ve been ill with them since I was 26) and I even before the sepsis I would have to rest in my car for an hour on my lunch break, but after the sepsis I started having to rest for two hours.
Eventually, I was fired because my boss said I was sleeping on company time and to be honest I want sure if I always clocked out and in. I stayed so tired that it left me confused a lot. I didn’t feel like going back to work and I applied for unemployment but I couldn’t keep up with trying to get it (it seemed too hard to get) and so I took out a loan on my car for enough money that I could stay home and rest for a few months. By September I thought I was ready to go to work again. I got a job with a home health agency and tried to work. It was very difficult to learn new things and I was still so very tired, I kept at it for several months, then I went to part time and eventually I was fired from this job too because I just couldn’t keep up, but I tried.
Sepsis traumatized me physically, emotionally and mentally. I had been on disability for 8 years before I went back to work as a nurse. I worked 6 or 7 years before I feel ill with sepsis. When I lost the home health job I just went to the social security office and I told them I couldn’t work anymore. They put me on an expedited disability while they reviewed my case. I found out that I was one month and two weeks away from my option to go back on disability ending. I would have had to apply for disability all over again. God was truly looking over and protecting me, because I had no idea what I was doing. I’m still on disability and I’m still extremely tired. I have some amnesia and I have trouble with my short term memory and with processing Information and just trouble in general with thinking clearly. Covid-19 had made me very scared and anxious all the time. I’m thankful to be alive. I know it could have been so much worse.