I’ve made it to the hospital and now it’s October 6th 2016. I spent 5 days in the Huntsville ICU. Then I was transferred by life flight to the Memorial Hermann in Downtown Houston and was in ICU there for 2 weeks. Next I was moved out of ICU for a few days until I could be transferred to a long-term care hospital to begin physical rehab and continue dialysis. Once dialysis was no longer necessary I was transferred to TIRR, inpatient rehab for a few weeks, just about 2 months of hospitalization.
All this information comes from Thomas’s saved texts, his and others memory. From my previous posts, I have completely lost my mind from stress and the influence of the psychiatric medications I was on and have taken 800+ pills, without my knowing what I was doing. 3 hours have passed before I arrive at the emergency room and by the mercy of God I am still alive.
I’m in the ER, Thomas’ heart is breaking, he is confused and overwhelmed with grief. He tried to contact family and friends but it’s the middle of the night so he kept trying. He texted a wrong number with the details and the person was so moved they texted him back “Prayers to you and your family…unfortunately I am not the person you are trying to contact, I wanted you to know I am praying for you and your wife. Heartfelt apologies for the situation you are going thru and I send positive thoughts that everything works out and your wife recovers in all ways”
Once he got in touch with a few people the horrible news began to spread and the hearts of my family and friends were also breaking. In the ER they intubated me because I was unable to breathe on my own. Too much time had passed to pump my stomach. Lots of test were run and early in the morning I was transferred to the ICU. Almost as soon as we got up there I began to crash and code. The nurses and staff were yelling at Thomas to decide either to let me go or to save me. I can’t imagine what this was causing him to feel. I am so thankful a friend had arrived to be with him during this decision. He was in shock, they kept yelling, he said to save me and shortly after that then my vital signs improved. God saved me again with Thomas’s love.
Our precious family and friends arrive to support Thomas, my brothers both travel to the hospital from Louisiana and Wyoming. My in-laws came home from vacation to support Thomas then to stay at our place to take care of our dogs for the whole time I was in the hospital. Thomas set up camp in the ICU waiting room for the duration and so many friends were by his side to support him and be there with me. I am so thankful for everyone. Thomas stood by me when he thought we were over and he stayed optimistic when everyone including the doctors thought there was no chance. Many prayers were spoken, God heard them and answered them. A Facebook page was started to pray for me and everyone I know and many people I don’t know started praying intensely.
Everyone thinks I must have wanted to die, why else would someone swallow 800+ pills. Until I woke up and could comprehend things and speak, that’s what everybody thought. There were so many emotions Fear, Love, Anger, Worry, Stress and Trauma and I was responsible for all of it. Even though I had no idea what I was doing, it still happened and those who love me are now traumatized, especially Thomas. How strong he was for me and how unimaginable this nightmare was for him.
Poison Control was contacted for guidance, they were going on trial and error because an overdose of this magnitude hadn’t been reported for treatment before. I was very critical for a long time, Thomas reports it was minute by minute then hour by hour. Saturday morning, I woke up and was agitated (I’m not aware of this), breathing tube still in but by Saturday afternoon my lungs were failing my body temperature was dropping and oxygen saturation was in the 40’s. Thomas, my family and friends were told to say goodbye to me and that there was most likely severe brain damage. This was the most painful and devastating feeling for everyone. From what Thomas says everyone was called and they all told me goodbye. Then instead of leaving God saved me again, my vital signs improved and I was OK for a little while. My kidneys began to fail, dialysis was started, everything started to look very bad again.
On Sunday, my pancreas began to fail from all the blood pressure medications I took. The doctors were concerned that my pancreas would die and become necrotic and there was talk of removing it if I stabilized. An unbelievable amount of insulin and glucose was pumped into me to try and repair the pancreas damage. The process was started to life flight me to the medical center in downtown Houston where a pancreas expert was. It took all day Monday to get approval for the transfer and then a long time to get me stable enough to move, it was touch and go. Whenever I was moved or turned my blood pressure would crash. God came through again and let me be stable enough to call the helicopter, it took more than an hour to get me loaded and take off and only about 20 minutes to get downtown.
Thank God for Thomas’s unwavering love for me and all the love and prayers my family and friends gave to both of us.
My kidney function started to worsen and continuous dialysis was started. I became extremely swollen and gained a lot of water weight. Thomas stayed focused on my care. The nurses taught him what all the numbers, alarms and machines were and he went into medical management mode and this occupied his mind. He tried to stay positive but there were times that he just completely lost it. The insulin and glucose infusions continued for about a week with only 1 mishap, the glucose bag ran out and the insulin was still infusing, my blood sugar dropped to a very dangerous low. God saved me again. Each time I was on my way out and things were looking really bad, my vital signs would perk back up. God was in control now.
Thomas’s parents brought our RV to a campsite near the hospital. He and my brothers stayed in the RV and took turns sitting with me and watching over me. One day, Thomas entered my room and saw a very large amount of blood all over me and a nurse holding pressure on my neck. They rushed him out and explained that while trying to insert a central catheter in my neck my carotid artery was cut and they were rushing me to surgery to try and repair it. God saw me and the surgeon thru this too. I didn’t have a stroke, bleed out or any other complication, a true miracle.
The next days they tried to wean me off the ventilator before a tracheostomy would have to be performed. There was good progress and a lot of backsliding. I was eventually able to breathe on my own and the vent was removed. The dialysis was tapered down to daily then every other day then 3 times a week as my kidneys began to wake up. Thomas said we finally went from hour by hour to day by day. An MRI was done and they determined there was no brain damage, another miracle. Everyone tells me I was awake for several days before I realized that I was awake. In the beginning, I just stared into space, no eye movement and was unable to follow commands. After a few days I began to arouse, could mumble but did not make any sense. Then I started talking gibberish using some very colorful words I won’t use here.
Thomas says I was convinced that we were involved in some type of war game. I must have thought I was in a war because of the nonstop helicopter traffic at the hospital. I thought Thomas had signed me up for these medical tests and I was extremely upset and wanted to leave. I was certain they were injecting soapy water in my veins and stomach and on and on with crazier and crazier stories. One of my friends was trying to feed me and all I could say was the color of the food, not what it was. Thomas must have thought oh my gosh she survived but to what extent and he is still thinking I want a divorce, how stressful and unsettling this must have been. I’m sure he was thinking I would have to live in a nursing home for the rest of my life.
I finally woke up and knew who I was on October 23nd. I knew who Thomas was and told him I loved him. He asked if I wanted a divorce which confused me because I had no idea what he was talking about. I thought he wanted a divorce for a bit but he explained that I had asked him for a divorce. I told him there is no way I want a divorce and he was so happy and relieved.
There were so many IV’s and lines in every available vein, my arms, hands, neck, groin, everywhere. I was shocked and confused to see them all. I had become extremely week during all of this, I couldn’t touch my face, feed myself or even turn from side to side. I asked Thomas for a pillow from home, he brought one from the RV and I was so weak, I could not even push the pillow down with my head. My body was so cold all the time, there were not enough blankets to keep me warm. The Therapy team came to get me up and asked me to sit on the side of the bed and try to stand. I couldn’t, they didn’t believe me but I really couldn’t. Several staff lifted me into a chair to sit and my upper body just folded down onto my legs, so they strapped me to the chair. They say my body was working so hard to recover that it burned up all my muscle and I believe that. I was a weak as an infant. I lost 47 pounds from my normal weight and a whole lot more from the water weight I gained.
They moved me to the intermediate care unit and began to try and find a long-term care hospital I could go to until dialysis could be stopped. Thomas gently tried to explain what had happened and why I was in the hospital, I was devastated. I couldn’t believe what he was telling me. He took it very slow and only told me a little bit at a time. I’m sure to this day he hasn’t told me everything. All the doctors told us that there was no medical or earthly reason I survived. They all said that it was absolutely God working and they were just amazed.
I was transferred to a long-term care hospital in Spring where I stayed for a little more than 2 weeks. They did some very mild physical therapy with me and dialysis. The 90 & 100-year olds were running circles around me. I was the weakest person in the therapy room for sure. My blood pressure would drop every time they tried to stand me up which hindered my recovery. Now that I was no longer critical, Thomas started going home and my brother Brad would stay with me when he was gone. I had to have someone with me all the time because I couldn’t do anything for myself and the staff made it clear they weren’t going to help. Between Thomas and Brad and friends, I was well taken care of. They all had to help me with things they never imagined they would have to do, but because they love me they did it willingly. I’m a very lucky girl.
The staff was horrible and unprofessional. I suppose they thought my family and friends could handle everything. There were many examples of how bad they were but one stands out. I was still too weak to get to the bedside commode.. lets just say there was a bed pan, the nurse left me completely exposed, the door to my room had a window, there was a flower delivery.. the nurse and flower delivery guy had a 5 minute conversation outside the window, the delivery guy got an eye full. It was violating and humiliating. When Thomas came back from lunch I was upset and then he was upset when I told him what happened.
The biggest problem I had was with the dialysis there. The dialysis crew paid no attention to the patients, they spent their time gossiping and talking about weekend and cooking plans. Someone would come around every once in a while and write down all the blood pressures, alarms would go off and no reaction from staff. Dialysis is a life-threatening procedure and very uncomfortable. It is very cold in the room, it takes 4-5 hours to complete. I don’t know how to explain the weirdness your body experiences but let’s say its unsettling. During a treatment towards the end of the 4 hours I could feel the life draining out of me and all I could do is whisper “help, help”. The funny lady next to me hollered at the staff “hey quit gossiping and come check on this lady she needs help” someone came and noticed my blood pressure was 40’s/20’s extremely low. They flipped my bed head side down, so that I was upside down and started pouring saline into me to raise my blood pressure. I was horrified. God and the funny lady next to me saved me this time.
When I was taken back to my room, I was so upset and worried. I couldn’t believe that I survived the unsurvivable only to let these people kill me. I prayed and prayed and pleaded and cried and prayed harder than I ever have “please heal my kidneys” “please heal my kidneys”. All of a sudden, my body from my knees to my head turned bright red and very hot, this lasted for a few minutes. It felt so strange but also comforting. I pushed the call light but of course no one came. I had to have 1 more dialysis treatment to remove all the fluid they had to give me to raise my blood pressure. My kidney labs came down and dialysis was stopped. God saved me 1 more time and this time I felt it and knew it and it was wonderful.
I was able to be transferred to TIRR in The Woodlands where I stayed for 2 weeks working on physical strength. My blood pressure would still drop when I stood so they would always stand beside me to catch me if I fell. The only way to fix this problem was to build some muscle back. This rehab was unbelievably difficult but I did everything I was told to do and never gave up. I was able to go from minimal staggering with a walker and assistance to being able to walk very short distances without a walker. Now that the emergent part of this seems to be over, Thomas is now able to begin to process his feelings. This whole experience has traumatized him and the memories are difficult for him to talk about.
I was finally able to go home and be with my wonderful husband and start our life over, depression free. During the many times God saved me he must have also erased my depression because I am fully recovered from that. I am happy and positive. I don’t have 1 single thought of depression, sadness, anxiety or anything negative. I am thankful every morning that I wake up and am trying every day to use the blessings God gave me.
I am so grateful to be alive. I am so thankful Thomas never gave up on me when everything was looking like he should. I am so thankful to be well. I am so amazed by the love and support we were given. God knew I had no intention to harm myself. All of my organs are working properly. I will always have to be careful with my kidneys which is not easy but I’ll take it. Now the challenge is to continue to get stronger. Overcoming complete weakness is no easy task but I’m dedicated to getting strong again and working on it every day.
I can’t say enough how strange this journey is for me. Even with everything I’ve been told and writing this, I can’t make any connection to these events. It truly is like I’m writing about someone else and it’s very difficult. I do feel compelled to keep writing about it and my hope is that it can help even just one person survive.
The next post will be more about recovering and processing everything.