October 20, 2022

Summer of Sepsis, part 1

 I am stuck in a pain cycle right now and it is KILLER. My meds aren't touching it and I've tried some alternative meds and nothing. It sucks because I can't eat, I can't sleep, I can't work. I mean, I'm sort of doing those things, but not very successfully. It's absolutely maddening. 

So of course I'm going to hop onto ye olde' blog and complain. OF COURSE I AM. 

In other news, I guess it's as good a time as any to talk about my Summer of Sepsis. Yes, that is what I'm calling it for the rest of my life, because it was a BIG HUGE DEAL and is still affecting my health. I have permanent damage to my lungs, spleen, liver, and kidneys. It's also why I'm currently stuck in a pain cycle. LIFE IS SO SUPER DUPER FUN. On to the story... 


On June 15th, I was scheduled for a surgical repair of my guts. There was about an inch of my esophagus that needed to be removed, where it meets the stomach, due to prolonged damage from a number of factors. I also had some growths in my intestines that needed to be removed. 

The surgery is very safe, though intense, and required quite a bit of pre-op preparations which were followed to the letter. 

However, we are talking about ME, and my tendency to be medically *ExTrA* did not disappoint. 

The first thing the surgeons noticed was an overabundance of scarring which was essentially locking my organs in place. My liver, spleen, and left lung were the most damaged. 

It was also noted that a previous surgery was done in a manner not commonly practiced anymore. Again, not wrong, but not ideal. 

My surgeons cleaned up as much damage as possible, made some corrections, then continued with their original mission. The surgery was successful and I went to recovery, where I stayed an extra night due to the complications. I was discharged, with oxygen orders, after an uneventful 48 hours. 

At home, on Saturday the 18th, I started feeling unwell. I figured it was due to the typical after-surgery care... when the "good drugs" are officially out of your system and you are adjusting to the discomfort of the healing process. 

I was ALSO being monitored remotely via medical devices and apps, which I will say right now were a godsend and literally saved my life. The app started to ping my surgeon because my pulse rate and blood pressure were wildly varied. Then I started having difficulty breathing, despite being on oxygen.

Saturday was bad, but Sunday was worse. 

I read through all my patient materials again and again. I figured I was having gas pains. Or maybe I was drinking my water too quickly and swallowing too much air. Maybe I wasn't drinking enough and was dehydrated. I was doing my best to troubleshoot the situation. Then my left shoulder exploded. 

 A sharp, sudden pain burst behind my left breast and traveled down my side and across my belly. I screamed in pain and fell to my knees. I started to cry and it took Troy, Blayne, and Taylor to get me into bed. I took as many pain meds as I could and started eating Gas-X chewables like they were candy. 

The shoulder explosion began to repeat on loop and Sunday night was spent in agony. 

On Monday morning, I called the surgeon to request more pain meds. The nurse I spoke with was kind, but firm, that no more prescription pain meds would be called in. (tangent 1: You see, in a NORMAL world, I 100% agree with the nurse. But in a CAROLINE world, where a person has an extremely high pain and drug tolerance, I do not agree with the nurse.) I tried to convey my issues, but it is hard to talk when you are in pain, on drugs, and exhausted. The phone call ended and I lay in my bed wondering if a trip to the ER would be dramatic or not.  (tangent 2: when you have a decades-long history of being written off by doctors as "dramatic" you will for the rest of your life wonder if you are actually feeling what you are feeling.)

As I was lying in bed, feeling like death, a phone call came in. It was another nurse from the surgeon's office. She had pulled my monitors and based on the information, they wanted me to head to the Emergency Room since I was having trouble breathing. 

Permission was all I needed. 

However, I was at home with Taylor and Blayne, my two non-driver people and there was no way I could drive myself because I was on oxygen and could barely stand upright with the help of my walker and a person. So I called Daniel and Thaddeus, who were both working at McDonald's, and said "I need one of you to drive me to the ER. Right. Now." There was a bit of a kerfuffle in the background, but soon enough, Daniel was back at the house and helped me get into the car. 

He raced me to the ER, and dropped me and Taylor off, before heading back to work. I hobbled into the emergency room, bent over in pain, and told them I had had surgery at this location, five days ago, and I can't breathe and my doctor said to come in. 

I must have looked terrible because I was immediately taken back to a room for further examination. Things started to get a little hazy here because I was placed on a morphine drip. Labs were drawn and I had a CT scan. I must have dozed off a bit, because I remember being woken by a nurse who was telling me they were going to take me back for surgery NOW. 

And I said to him, "I'm so happy there's something wrong." 

And he said, "Yes, there is something very, very wrong. You should have come in sooner."

And that is the last thing I remember. Lying in a bed, telling a guy I was happy there was something wrong with me, with Taylor sitting in a chair in the corner of the room, wide-eyed and scared.