In August of 2019, shortly before I was supposed to start my junior year of college, I was admitted to the hospital. I had been having flu-like symptoms for almost a week and just when I thought I was getting better, my fever would spike again. I had a terrible headache behind my eye that wouldn’t go away no matter what I did and then my neck started getting sore. So we went to the ER out of fear that I had meningitis.
We got to the ER and my fever was up to 103°. They immediately ruled out meningitis, but realized something was seriously wrong and got me into a gown and started drawing vials and vials of blood. One of my worst fears is having blood drawn or IVs put in. I remember lying on the bed while nurses held down both of my arms. One of them putting an IV in my right hand, the other drawing blood out of my left elbow while I sobbed and almost fainted. After drawing blood out of my left elbow, they added another IV. Just laying in the ER, I had gone through 3 bags of IV fluid. Then my blood pressure dropped from its usual 116/70 to 85/44 within minutes. That’s when I was admitted to the hospital for observation overnight.
The hospitalist came up once I was in my room and said that I should have gone to the hospital earlier because I could have gotten septic shock. I thought he said that I “could” have, not that I was septic. I ended up being stuck there for 4 days, as they woke me up at what seemed like every hour to draw blood to check my cell counts and test for tick borne illnesses. They gave me doxycycline to treat a tick borne illness even though there was no evidence of one. They started administering the antibiotic through my IV, but it hurt so bad and felt like they were pumpIng lead through my veins. My Dad had to run back and forth to wet a washcloth of me to keep my vein open, but it didn’t help. They decided to give it to me orally, but they didn’t tell me that it would make me nauseous and that I had to take it with food so I ended up violently throwing up. I still had a fever and they would let my Tylenol lapse before giving me more, so by the time they came back in, I was shaking uncontrollably like I was having a seizure. My teeth chattering together. I was allowed to leave the hospital once my white blood cell count dropped back down and my fever broke. No one told me I had sepsis while I was in the hospital. I didn’t know until a case manager from my insurance company called to ask me about my hospitalization for sepsis.
I was so angry that no one told me what was going on with my body because the experience was so traumatic, but I wasn’t clued in to what was going on. Then I had my post hospital check up with my PCP and she didn’t read the notes regarding my hospitalization and thought I was just there for “observation”. I snapped at her and said that I wasn’t there for “observation”; I had sepsis and Ii was stuck there for 4 days, not just 1 night. Then she tried to assume I had mono after coming to the conclusion that the mono test listed on my chart was old. It was truly an invalidating experience that made me lose faith in every aspect of our health care system.