Veronica Downey


I remember…just feeling so sick. Looking back? I never ever believed my entire life would change. I had a high fever, had been coughing for days. I put myself on antibiotics after a failed trip on a Friday with a nurse at my doctor’s office said “it’s a virus”. I was sure 48 hours later when I had a friend take me to the ER that it was bronchitis. I remember my vitals being taken. And then the man said “one second” and left. That’s not good right?

When he came back he was pale and told me to just sit on the gurney next to him. I did. I do not clearly remember another detail – only flashes of memory and nightmares – for over a month. I had Legionnaires pneumonia somehow, and was septic. (Sepsis and Pneumonia)

I remember flashes. Usually terrifying. I remember being mocked horribly by an MA. But she was the one cleaning my most private…functions. I needed her. So I didn’t say a thing. And they even outright told me “so I should believe you over the nurses I TRAINED?” I was powerless. My only parent died almost a year to that die to cancer. I was alone and terrified and didn’t understand what was being done to me. It was in 2019 – but it affects me every single day still.

I got out of the hospital about 6 weeks later. I was a zombie. Nothing was real. There was no floor. There was nothing I felt existed. I believed I could simply wake up if I did die. I didn’t believe my actions were real – so I didn’t know consequences were. I grabbed pills of my sisters and swallowed them. Not to die! To restart my day. I thank God she saw me and I was taken to the ER where I tripped and tripped and tripped. I had no idea what was real or fake. I was given no resources. My sister (my only relative now – and since then) was given nothing. No one said she may end up suicidal. You may want to get therapy. She literally almost died”. Nobody.

I was given a 28% chance of survival and told I had about 12 hours left. One of my lungs was closed. The other was quickly closing. I write this separating myself from my trauma. Because if I get too close to it? I feel insane. I have no other words I guess. I just wish someone had known or told me this would be – that almost dying would change me forever. I feel cheated. I feel like I was also treated deeply poorly by certain medical “professionals”. I had MAs and nurses that I realize now bullied me terribly. When I was most helpless and needed people, I ended up being – sometimes – most abused. I will never forget that MA – the one I needed to clean my ass for me – push my feeding tube cleaner in my face while I cried. “You’re afraid of this? Haha. I’ll have to remember that”. Yeah. Make a patient who doesn’t even remember her mother is dead or where her home is terrified of you.

I have – I guess that’s all. Patient advocacy is so important. We know we won’t be believed. Why would we be? Me and my very faulty brain and memory against nurses? It was pointless to try to fight them eventually. I’ll always remember how much I was made to feel like their worst patient ever – like the whole 2 hours I was awake out of 24 per day was such an evil strain on them. I’m in the health care field. I want to not have one more patient with the experiences I had. No one should ever be afraid of the people taking care of them. No one should be literally dying and fight their way back just to be treated like a pain in the ass. I know my PTSD is severe still. I just want…to not be afraid anymore.

Covid has terrified me. I’m terrified every time I cough or even have post nasal drip. My lungs are very poor. I know this. But being terrified every single day that I’ll die – it’s too much. I thought it would go away. It does not. Nor do the memories. Ideally? I want people to know what it’s like. To be this sick. To need help. And to make sure no one ever goes through any of the hell I had to. Sepsis itself is horrifying. You don’t need to add vicious health care “professionals” to make it harder. I’d love to see gains in the understanding of the minds and behaviors of sepsis patients. When we are our sickest and not acting like perfect patients, please know why. Our fevers are over 104 degrees, we are not in the same “world” you are. Hallucinations and etc are terrifying. We want to be treated kindly and not roughly. Know we are terrified and very ill. I guess that’s it? I can’t talk about this to anyone. My only person – my sister – she can’t hear it. She apologizes and tells me to stop. She’s had trauma worse than me. I won’t bother her.

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