Last Saturday I was sitting in the recliner in my parents’ living room in a daze of illness as mom got off the phone with 911. I heard mom say, “We are supposed to unlock the front door, put the animals in their cages and pack Valen’s medicines in a bag.” I felt so weak as I tried to mutter to dad what meds I needed to take with me. I faintly said to mom, “jewelry,” and she came over and removed my necklace and ring. Mom pulled the living room table away from where I was seated to clear the path from me to their front door. Dad was sprinkling kitty litter on the front steps in hopes to create traction because they were covered with ice. It felt like déjà vu, surreal yet very familiar as the front door opened and I heard a man loudly say, “Ambulance.”
I handed the emergency medical technician my detailed medical spreadsheet and tried to explain this sudden onset of illness. I had stomach pain, began to dry heave, was very weak and had uncontrollable tremors. I immediately took my temperature and it was 99.7. My nephrologist instructs me that anytime I have a fever I must go to the emergency room. The abrupt onset combined with the severe symptoms told me that immediate action needed to be taken.
The EMT’s wrapped me in blankets, secured me in a patient-carrying device and carried me to the ambulance. They then strapped me on a gurney and lifted me up into the ambulance. They proceeded to place heat packs under both armpits, between my legs and on the back of my neck because my body was constantly shaking. We then began the trek to York Hospital.
Upon arrival to the emergency room I was placed in a private room because I am a transplant patient. An IV was administered; blood work and blood cultures were drawn. My temperature was rising; I had low blood pressure and high heart rate. Once blood work results were received and combined with my symptoms, it was determined that I had pancreatitis and sepsis, a blood infection. They quickly hydrated me through my IV and started me on a broad-spectrum antibiotic.
The test results indicated that I had a urinary tract infection (UTI) however my body did not present any symptoms. The transplant medicines that I take made my body suppress the symptoms of the UTI and I did not feel ill until the infection got into my blood stream. The doctors at the hospital commended me on several occasions for being so aware of my body and for taking immediate action because if I had waited longer my health would have only gotten worse by the hour as sepsis is very dangerous if untreated. It can attack your organs and spread to fresh wounds, like the incision site from my recent two back surgeries. Fortunately my body responded very well to the IV antibiotics and the results of my blood work tests have shown improvement. They released me from the hospital on Tuesday on oral antibiotics in hopes that they will completely kill the infection.
This year has consisted of two back surgeries, a spinal fluid leak, sepsis, pancreatitis, and three hospital stays in a time span of five weeks. I am reminded it is imperative to be aware of and listen to our bodies, as only we know them best. Also, immunosuppressant medicine can mask symptoms that would normally present themselves in a healthy person. My dear husband was praising me on the telephone for knowing ‘when to hold em’ and when to fold em’ in regards to taking action immediately when I am not feeling well. I am now back at my parents’ house recovering and I remain confident that our body’s mission is to heal; we just have to guide it in the right direction.