I Got Really Sick (And Almost Died)

5:01 PM

If you're looking for a blog post with a lot of pictures or thoughtful commentary, this is not the blog post for you! This is going to be a long winded text only post. I guess I should also preface this post by saying that this might be depressing and triggering for some people. Use your better judgement and consider if you really want to read through this entire thing. I don't really mean to be unpleasant or sound upset, but I did go through some thing traumatic. So pardon me if I don't feel like being bubbly and happy while writing this post. 

Friday, September 7th
My mental health was struggling at the beginning of the day. I kept on putting it to the back of my mind. Maybe I've just been stressed and if I keep myself busy I won't feel bad. I had a lot of responsibilities for the day. I had to bring my dad to his doctor appointments and I had a dinner to attend with my coworkers at the end of the night.

After coming home from bringing my dad to his doctor's appointment, I laid in bed feeling completely miserable. I felt hot and cold at the same time, a feeling that I didn't even know was possible. Should I cancel the dinner that I had planned for the night? I refused. I won't let my struggles get the better of me. I went to dinner and had a great time.

Saturday, September 8th
My stomach felt like it was in knots. Once again I was feeling hot and cold at the same time. From the neck up it felt like a desert and from the neck down it was Antarctica. Maybe I should check my temperature? Sure enough I had a fever. I took some Tylenol and waited for my fever to go down. Then the diarrhea came. I felt myself rushing to go to the bathroom every few minutes. Was it the stomach flu? I wondered. It should go away soon. No need to panic. I've gotten the stomach flu before and survived.

Four hours had passed and my fever wasn't going down. Time to take more Tylenol. No need to panic! Ice packs usually help to bring down the temperature. I scavenged the medicine cabinet and found my 99 cent polar bear printed cool pack (that I bought from Diaso). I filled it up with ice and plopped it on my forehead. I thought it was my imagination but I heard the ice inside popping and melting under the heat of my head. It wasn't my imagination. The ice pack had completely melted. Time to change the ice and take more Tylenol.

The days seemed to go by quickly. The fever was going on strong and the diarrhea was persistent. I felt nauseated, but refused to throw up. No need to panic. This will go away soon, but maybe I should go to the doctor just in case?

Monday, September 10 (At the Doctor's Office)
The doctor and the nurse were quite pleasant and accommodating. You have an abnormally high temperature. Take this Advil. You think it's food poisoning? What have you eaten recently? Pepto-bismol or Immodium might help with the diarrhea. Have you taken it yet? Also please give us a urine sample. You might also want to consider getting a blood test and giving us a stool sample. You haven't been this sick in a long time. If you take the Advil and still have a fever by tomorrow, it might not be a bad idea to go to the Emergency room. They might give you an IV to make sure you're not being dehydrated by the diarrhea. 

The next day my fever still persists and the diarrhea was still present even after taking Pepto-bismol and Immodium. Maybe I should go to the Emergency Room now.

Tuesday, September 11 (At the Emergency Room)
You think you might have food poisoning? What did you eat recently? Well that aside, we should start an IV to make sure you are getting your fluids. Also we're going to give you some anti-nausea medication. Please provide us with a urine and stool sample. We're also going to take some blood. 

After several tests, I was discharged with a prescription of antibiotics, anti-nausea medication, and ibuprofen. This is a lot of medications. Maybe I should read through all the side effects and interactions. 

Wednesday, September 12. (The day I almost died.)
Maybe the antibiotics are starting to work! My fever is slowly going down. It's not completely gone, but it's at least starting to go down. The only thing left was the nausea. The room felt like it was spinning and I wanted to throw up. Maybe I should take the anti-nausea medication. 

Taking the anti-nausea medication was a big mistake. It started with an innocent cough. Next thing I knew, all the air was sucked out of my lungs. I was in a full blown asthma attack. I haven't had asthma since I was a kid. It felt like I was breathing air through a straw. Every moment I was gasping for air, I started getting light headed. I reached out for my rescue asthma inhaler, an instrument I haven't had to use in years. Maybe this was a good time to panic.

Then I remembered the side effects and interactions of the medications I was taking. Clearly stated in the interactions on the drug information packet: You should not take albuterol with this medication because it can cause an increase in heart rate which can cause heart attacks. I was at a loss of what to do. Did I want to suffocate to death? Or should I just accept the possibility of having a heart attack? I chose heart attack.

I pressed down on my inhaler. Nothing happened. Maybe this was a sign from the universe that I shouldn't be using the inhaler. I was on the verge of blacking out. Everything was turning dark in my peripheral vision. One more chance. If nothing happens if I press down again, then I'll just accept the signs that I shouldn't be using the inhaler. I pressed down hard and the medication was immediately released into my mouth. I could breathe again! 

But now my heart was beating out of my chest. My arms felt heavy and the repeating thumping of my heart was starting to cause severe chest pains. Was this what a heart attack felt like? At this point, I was able to get my mom's attention. She was clearly concerned. 

I laid down on my bed and with my wheezing breath I said, "Can you stay with me while I sleep, in case I stop breathing? If I stop breathing, bring me to the Emergency Room okay?' 

It was at this point, I fell asleep or at least passed out. I couldn't tell. 

I just remember waking up to the sound of my cell phone ringing loudly. It felt really good to know that I was still alive. There was no greater joy than to wake up hearing that cell phone tone ringing loudly after a near death experience. It was the ER doctor that treated me the day before.

"The lab checked your stool sample and it's Salmonella poisoning! For the most part, the antibiotics should clear up any of the bacterial infection. Just remember to finish taking all the antibiotics and you should make a speedy recovery."

I explained to him the events that had just transpired and my experience with the anti-nausea medication.

"Sounds like an allergic reaction. You should stop taking the anti-nausea medication. If you have any other breathing issues, I would say come back immediately." 

We exchanged pleasantries before I hung up. I felt relieved to know that I had Salmonella poisoning. I didn't have to wonder or guess if it was anything else. Now I just had to finish my medications and hopefully get better. 

After my diagnosis, my life started going back to normal. I was starting to get better. Or at least, I thought. I still didn't acknowledge the fact that I almost died. I sort of brushed it aside because I was afraid. In a way, my psyche was trying to get me to acknowledge the fear and trauma I went through during my allergic reaction. I started getting nightmares and sleep paralysis. 

Trauma Related Nightmares and Sleep Paralysis
I would sleep pretty often while I was sick. A side effect of the ibuprofen was drowsiness. I would be sitting down and then end up falling asleep. This became pretty common for me. Another common occurrences were nightmares. 

I know that nightmares are supposed to be scary for most people, but for me, it's hard to really scare me. I don't feel afraid of my own nightmares. One of my reoccurring nightmares, after my near death experience, was of a shadow figure. I would be laying down in complete darkness, unable to move. I would move my eyes over to the obscure corner and see a shadow staring back at me. Then I would suddenly be unable to breathe. I would panic all over again wondering if I was having another allergic reaction. Logically, I knew that it was impossible because I wasn't taking the anti-nausea medication anymore. So I would force myself out of my sleep paralysis state by going back to sleep. It often worked. I would wake up feeling in a panic state and then I would calm myself down.

I was beginning to get annoyed with myself. I was getting tired of the nightmares and the sleep paralysis moments. I knew that the cause of my sleep disturbances was because I still hadn't dealt with the trauma that came with my allergic reaction. 

I made a deal with myself to address all the trauma. I acknowledged the fact that something traumatic happened to me. That I was afraid that something similar was going to happen again. I had a good cry and acknowledged that, although things were upsetting and scary, that I had to find a point where I was eventually going to be okay. I can not stay in this mental state of being afraid. 

After all of that, my nightmares and sleep paralysis completely went away. I think it was because I was able to face my trauma head on and acknowledge what had happened to me. I know that in some cases, people are unable to do so. I'm just an odd case. I'm going to cite my knowledge of psychology (my field of study) and my previous research into coping mechanisms of traumatic accidents for my ability to cope with traumatic situations. I've read a lot of articles and participated in research in how people cope with traumatic situations and applied it to my own life and experiences. In a way, I'm glad that I was able to find a way to cope with my situation. 

The Angry Red Bumps Appear
I had just finished my antibiotics. I woke up to find a cluster of little red bumps all over my hands and the tops of my feet. What is going on? Should I be worried? I promptly walked over to the sink and began washing my hands thoroughly, believing that I could make the bumps go away if I washed my hands enough. 

The bumps stayed. It began spreading to my arms and eventually my legs. I was terrified all over again. Although angry and hot to the touch, the bumps didn't really itch on the first day. I had a doctor's appointment coming up on Saturday. Maybe I'll ask what is going on then. 

On the second day, the bumps became even angrier. Now they itched and began forming in large clusters. I refused to scratch them. I refused to put anything to soothe the itch. (Mainly because I was afraid that I was going to make the situation even worse by putting anything on it.) I just allowed the bumps to run its course. They traveled and made themselves at home all over my arms and legs. It was a miserable feeling. I was hot and itchy at the same time and I had no idea what was going on. 

Allergic Reaction Part II / At the Doctor's Office Again
I've become somewhat of a regular at my doctor's office at this point. Everybody seems to know me by name. It's a relatively small office and I'm often the youngest person in the room. The doctor saw me promptly. 

I updated my doctor on my situation from the Emergency Room, my allergic reaction, and my final diagnosis of Salmonella poisoning. I then showed the bumps and patches.

What kind of medications were you taking? The doctor concluded that I was having a mild allergic reaction to the antibiotic medication that I was prescribed. Once again, it was an allergic reaction to a medication. My doctor acknowledged the fact that it must have been tough being allergic to 2 out of the 3 medications that I was prescribed. At this point I had sort of gotten over the fact that I was suddenly allergic to so many things that I was unaware of. 

I could have died from the allergic reactions, but some how I survived it all. It was this realization that made me feel much better. Although I was placed in a tough situation, I was able to come out of it even stronger than before. I left the doctor's office feeling some what accomplished and hopeful.

Where We Are At Now
After all of this, I am now feeling so much better! All I want is to go back to work and continue my life. Although, I am not able to go back to work just yet. The Department of Public Health has to declare me Salmonella free before I can go back to work. I just sent in my samples to be tested for Salmonella. I currently have my fingers crossed and that I will be Salmonella free.

I hope to feel better soon.

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