On September 13th I headed to the beach for a work related conference. I was SOO looking forward to three nights of "mommy vacation" in a quiet room and a bed to myself. Plus, this was my third trip to this conference, one that I have enjoyed every year, so I was pumped.
I arrived at the hotel, checked into my room, headed to the restaurant to grab some dinner and a glass of wine, and started to feel a bit "blah". Thought for sure that I'd just picked up another daycare cold and that I'd suffer through it. The next day, Monday, I felt awful. I made it through the day, but left the last session early to go rest. I ordered room service for dinner. A bowl of clam chowder and a roll... which would last me for the next two days of meals.
|Sick in my beautiful, coastal hotel room|
Tuesday I went down to the conference for breakfast, but had to leave about half an hour into the first keynote session... and spent the rest of the day in bed with what I'm assuming were chills and aches from a fever. Wednesday morning I didn't even try. I just got out of bed, packed up my stuff, and drove home... hoping that I could make it back safety.
On Thursday I went to the doctor. He looked, listened, etc, etc. and told me that I had Bronchitis. He pretty much told me that I had to suffer through it and that it would go away eventually. BUT if I got symptom A, B, or C to come back. I never got any of these additional symptoms, but by Monday I was still feeling AWFUL. I could barely move, I had an awful cough, I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep all day. By this point I had been out of work for a week. My daughter was getting a bit scared (she cried one morning and told my husband how much she missed her mommy). So, that morning we dropped off the kids at daycare and I had Jacob take me to Urgent Care for a second opinion on this whole Bronchitis thing.
I don't know how long we waited in the waiting room. As I mentioned, I just wanted to sleep. I may have very well fallen asleep. Everything around this stage in the story is a bit foggy. When we were called back they did the usual scale, blood pressure, check oxygen level thing... but something wasn't right. They checked my oxygen twice (I think with two different devices) and then called an ambulance. With in minutes I was hooked up to an oxygen tank, in a hospital gown, on a gurney in the back of an ambulance headed to the ER.
Turns out that I had developed pneumonia and was in "respiratory failure" (this bit was not made clear to me until after I was released from the ICU). My oxygen levels were in the mid-80% range. Hospital staff refused to let me move for about 24 hours as every time I did my levels decreased. I had a nose tub oxygenation device AND a face mask for the first day/night. The doctor told me that if my levels didn't increase that they would have to intubate. I took LOTS of deep breaths after that point and thankfully it never came to that. But that first night was awful. I couldn't sleep with all of the oxygen being pumped into my nose and mouth. Plus I still had a horrible cough and "waking up" coughing in the middle of the night with a mask on your face leads to some real claustrophobic type of feelings.
|View from the ICU|
By the middle of the second day I was off of the face mask and finally walking around a little bit. My oxygen levels had reached the mid-90% range, but I still had to wear my nose tubing while they slowly decreased the amount of oxygen that was getting pumped into me to make sure that my lungs were fully capable of working on their own. The second night I only had to "sleep" with the nose tubes. I was thankful.
Day three, I started walking up and down the halls with my nurse. The nose tubes were removed and I was steadily breathing on my own again. My oxygen levels stayed up there and so that doctors agreed that I could be discharged from the ICU and moved to a "regular" hospital room... where I spent my last night and got to take a shower (Hallelujah! I will never again to Urgent Care without taking a shower first!).
I was discharged the following day (Thursday) and was pretty much on bed rest for another week. In the end, I was out of work for 3 weeks... and probably should have stayed out longer. It took much more time than that for my lungs to strengthen up again (I had to skip another 5k that I'd signed up for, and put my workouts on hold for about 2 months while I recovered), plus, I lost about 15 pounds... in a week... and was really, really weak. I have also been told that now I am more susceptible to developing pneumonia in the future, so that I have to be extra careful and cautious when I get ill. I may end up buying myself one of those finger tip oxygen reader things... I don't want to ever repeat that experience again!
|Goodbye hospital bed!|
I was so thankful for Jacob and our child care provider during this whole process. Jacob worked remotely from the hospital room in the mornings and then went to the office in the afternoons... and then came back in the evenings. Our daycare provider kept the kids for two overnights so that Jacob could be there with me. I was so thankful for that. It gets pretty lonely in the ICU, especially when you don't really know/understand what's happening to you or how bad of a situation you are in.
When the nurse in my "regular" room told her colleague at shift change that I had been "admitted in respiratory failure" I'm sure that my heart skipped a beat. I hadn't known that things were that bad... seeing an 80% reading on an oxygen monitor doesn't mean anything to a lay-person... at least, not to this one.