Medical Bracelet

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

2016 sucked and I spent most of that year more bummed out than usual. It gets worse through out the year and I spend most of the month of December not feeling so great.  I did manage to do a few fun things like go to a party at my bike shop, go to a party with my favorite dev team and attend a Producer’s Guild screening.

My husband got sick a day or two after the bike shop party and I started feeling bad around the same time. I go to urgent care get some meds and still don’t feel good for a few days. I get worse and head to urgent care again. My last post on Facebook is less than 12 hours from my admission to Cedars-Sinai:

We both have the FLU – Lee got it first on Sunday, I got misdiagnosed at urgent care with bronchitis Wednesday (12/21). Went to the same urgent care I took Lee to because I kept getting worse. Lee is feeling better and I hurt all over and can’t stop coughing.

December 25, 2016 at 9:01am

Later that evening, I would wake up coughing up blood and my husband would rush me to the hospital.

Christmas Day, 2016 was the first day of the rest of my life. It is a confluence of good luck and skill that I am here today. If Lee hadn’t taken me to the hospital when he did and to the hospital he did, I would be dead.

I don’t remember much of anything after going to bed Christmas day. I believe that it is due to a combination of my low oxygen levels and the trauma that my body went through that blocks my memory.  Most of the rest of this is pulled from my medical records and accounts from Husband and my parents. I have a vague memory of being in the car on the way to the hospital and got a flash of being asked to accept the intubation when I was readmitted at the end of February.

Normally, at the hospital, they do a little triage and then make you wait to see a doctor. As soon as my oxygen levels were tested in triage, the nurses moved into action. I was immediately pulled into the emergency room and intubated. My pleural cavity was so full of fluid from the pneumonia I had on top of the flu, that my lungs were not able to function properly. I had less than 20% of my lung capacity.

I had acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is a “nicer” way to say that my lungs weren’t working – they were failing to provide oxygen and were crumpled up at the top of my chest cavity. I was put on ECMO almost immediately. ECMO is, essentially, an artificial (and external) lung so don’t go look at that link if you are squeamish.  The hospital is one of two in town that has the facilities and a certified doctor to perform the ECMO insertion. My surgeon went on vacation after my surgery. If I had gone in a few hours later, I might have missed him and died. My surgeon saved me a couple of times over the course of my stay.

I had an amazing staff of doctors and nurses that took care of me:

  • my pulmonologist who is now my primary care doctor
  • my infectious diseases specialist
  • my cardio thoracic surgeon
  • The nurse from the Midwest whose name I NEVER knew, but whose face I remember clearly upon waking up on the hospital.
  • The doctors who stayed with me all night and day to check my oxygenation & thinner levels every hour, on the hour, to make sure I didn’t get a blood clot

I’m not ready to talk more about my stay yet but I’ll not beat around the bush, my heart stopped at one point early on.

I died.

I’m glad I don’t remember much.