Terri Harper

Survivor

Posted on September 14th, 2018

On Sunday July 1st, 2018, it was like any other day. I felt fine and cleaned the house most of the day. Later that evening I was feeling really tired. I just figured it was from cleaning. I started feeling really cold and was shivering. I went to bed and woke up the next morning and felt like I was getting the flu. I was achy and not myself. I noticed my foot was a little red and swollen.

My husband took me to a clinic and they were very concerned. I had a fever and my oxygen was low. They called an ambulance and immediately took me to the hospital. They started running tests. A few hours later my whole foot and part of my leg was bright red. They found that I had cellulitis caused by a cut on my foot. (Sepsis and Cellulitis)  My oxygen was dropping even more and I was struggling to breathe. They decided to admit me. The next day, after more tests they found that I had severe sepsis and ARDS. They put me in ICU.

The doctor came in and explained everything and I just couldn’t believe what was happening. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to me. They told my husband and family that I need to be on a ventilator. I was so scared! So many things were running through my mind. Was I going to live or die? No one knew what was going to happen but we all just hoped and prayed for the best. I was on the ventilator for 3 days and mostly sedated. When they took me off of it I was relieved. I thought I was okay and going to get to go home soon! Later, the doctor came in and was still concerned. He talked about putting me on the ventilator again if I didn’t improve. I was terrified and begging not to be put on it again. They monitored me for a few more days. Eventually, I was getting better and was able to breathe with very little help with the oxygen tube.

On July 10, 2018 my husband went in for his scheduled surgery. He was unable to postpone. Luckily, it was just an overnight stay for him. I was so happy the nurses let me go see him before and after his surgery. They would wheel me to his room and come get me to take me back to my room. It’s not often you see couples in the hospital at the same time and I was very thankful that I was feeling better to be by his side after he spent the whole time in the hospital with me. On July 11, 2018, we were both planning to get released. We were so happy to get to go home. I was anxiously waiting for them to come take my picc line out because I knew that was the only thing left to do.

A few hours went by and then the nurse came in. She asked if I was ready to go home and of course I was like YES!!! She told me to lean back so she could take the picc line out. I laid back and wasn’t scared or feeling nervous at all. Just excited to get to go home. She then said okay it’s out. I immediately felt weird and could barely breathe. I felt gurgling in my chest. She told me I was okay and that it may be anxiety. I then told her I couldn’t breathe and felt like I was going to faint. She knew something else was wrong so she called for the Emergency Response Team. The next thing I remember is the doctor standing over me and an oxygen mask on my face. I remember hurting so bad. It felt like something was sitting on my chest. I felt like I was going to die or something. It was such a scary feeling. I was in so much pain. My lower half of my body was numb. I couldn’t move anything but my hands and head. They immediately rushed me for a CT scan and hooked me up to monitors. They told me I was in respiratory failure and had an air embolism from the picc line being taken out. They took me back to ICU where they could monitor me over night.

I was doing better and was released the next day. After everything that I have went through I ended up experiencing PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome) and anxiety. (Sepsis and PTSD)  My life has completely changed. I am still experiencing anxiety everyday. I think back to everything that happened. I am thankful to be here today to share my story with you. I seem to be doing much better although I experience quite a bit of “brain fog” as well. I want to thank the ARDS Foundation, Sepsis Alliance, and the Begin Again Foundation. I have found helpful information as well as funding to help with my expenses. They’re truly amazing! I would love to be a part of the ARDS Foundation, Sepsis Alliance, and the Begin Again foundation so I can help others in any way I can. I am always reading the latest information on their website. I appreciate everything they do!

“Remember to Breathe”

-Terri Harper