Getting My Feet Back Under Me

Posted by Nikki DiSalvo on

Well hello. It's been a while. My plan was to post once a week, but I'm starting to learn that my life right now is not conducive to being set up around any definite plans. From one day to the next, one minute to the next even, I can go from feeling great to not being able to sit up on the couch without a supreme amount of effort. Trying to gather my thoughts and motor skills enough to type out a blog post often feels like an insurmountable task these days. But here I am, I'm doing it! It's so tempting to ridicule myself for being proud of such small accomplishments, but I know it's all these little things that are going to eventually add up to a bigger picture of health. 

It's so hard to forgive your body when you feel like it's letting you down. I was recently in the hospital for 5 days, due initially, to the flu. The flu. I've had the flu before. It sucks, but you get over it with plenty of rest and fluids and all that normal stuff. Not this time. On a Sunday I woke up feeling like maybe I was getting a chest cold, I had a tickling/burning feeling in my chest like I had been coughing for a few days but I hadn't. That was the only symptom I really had, aside from being a little more run down than usual and having a really low-grade fever on and off. And it just hung out like that through Tuesday. Then Tuesday night I was on my way home from work when I started having that too familiar feeling that I was going to have a Lyme attack. Very similar to what my husband and I have described in previous posts, all the shivering and inability to talk, Bell's Palsy (weakness of the facial nerves that causes drooping on one side--I usually feel it at the corner of my mouth and it's often the first sign that an attack is imminent) and muscle spasms. Luckily I was close to my parents' house and I was able to get there quickly enough and ride it out there. My parents had never witnessed one of these attacks before and I think it really scared them to see it firsthand. Afterward I felt bad for saddling them with the responsibility of looking after me while this happened, but I know they were glad to be there for me when I needed them. They were so sweet. They did their best to massage out the muscle spasms, got me a warm rice sock for my neck (which always stiffens really painfully during these stupid episodes), and did everything they could to keep me comfortable. It was a pretty short attack and I was able to rest in my sister's bed for a while until I regained some strength and my words, and my husband took me home. I woke up the next morning feeling decent, not any more sick than I had been since Sunday. I had agreed to stay at work late so the parents of the kids I nanny for could go see a show. Late in the evening my chest started to feel more constricted and the burning worsened, but I still didn't have much of a cough or anything. Then my voice started to go. By the time I got home around 11pm I didn't have much of a voice to speak of (ha, no pun intended), so I made some tea, spread Vick's Vaporub on my chest and went to sleep. 

Around 1am I woke up feeling much worse. My chest felt like it was totally full of sand and tar and it was getting harder to breathe. I had extreme lethargy, I could hardly get my head off the pillow. I started having another Lyme attack that lasted maybe 10-15 minutes. I couldn't reach my phone and my husband had fallen asleep on the couch in the living room. And of course I had no voice, so there was no way to call out or make any noises to signal that I needed help. I somehow got through the attack and managed to grab a thermometer to take my temperature (I keep a thermometer by my bed because I try to take my temp when I wake up and when I go to bed; it runs low and I've been trying to monitor it). My temperature was a little over 101. Meanwhile my breathing was continuing to get worse. I managed to get myself out of bed and even into a bathrobe before stumbling out to the living room to wake my husband. I knew I needed help; I was not doing well. Walking was not doing me any favors. My husband was clearly alarmed by my condition and he held me up to walk me back to bed. I passed out briefly a few times while we were walking back to the bedroom. He decided this was one of those times when a 911 call was definitely necessary. Good thing he did! Even though I didn't really want to go to the Emergency Department, it was 100% needed. I had sepsis, and that is no joke. At one point in the hospital my blood pressure got down to 60/40 and my heart rate was up to 170. By the time all was said and done after those 5 days of being admitted, I ended up with a list of problems including; Influenza A, sepsis, staph pneumonia, hypokalemia, hypocalcemia, lactic acidosis, thrombocytopenia, oral thrush, and an allergic reaction to Tamiflu. 

The general consensus has been that because of the Lyme, my immune system was just not in a place to deal with the initial flu. Aaaand I didn't help myself at all by working long hours while I was sick. I've been taught to take extra precaution, as much as I dislike both the inconvenience and the reminder that my body isn't well. There is so much more to say, about that whole experience and about what has happened since (hint hint: I finally saw an LLMD who was able to give me some real HOPE!!). But for now, I want to publish this post before I run out of steam completely. I saw this while I was in the hospital (while on oxygen) and it has really stayed with me ...

Be Well,