The Road Back From Death

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I’ve been a bit absent on this blog the last few months, but with good reason. Some of you readers who follow me on Facebook know I went into the hospital mid-May. I hadn’t been feeling good for several weeks and I was suddenly gaining a lot of weight. I finally went to the emergency room after not being able to get into my regular doctor, and it was a good thing I did.

Turns out my body was retaining so much fluid that my heart and lungs were starting to drown from it.

They sent me over to the main branch of the hospital system to have a pericardial window done. Basically what happened is they made an incision about 3-4 inches long just below my breasts, in the center of my chest. This gave them access to my heart. Then they made a secondary hole next to the incision, and threaded a drainage tube through it. With this, they drained out the excess fluid from my chest (just under 2 liters total). I’m told my heart did stop once, but thankfully, they were able to jumpstart it.

Unfortunately, it seemed my lungs were more damaged than thought and I ended up spending almost 2 weeks on the ventilator, with the machine breathing for me. For most of this time, I was in a coma-like state. I don’t really remember much from those weeks.

During this time period, I felt like I was going insane from the sounds of the oxygen being piped down the tube. That’s all I heard, though sometimes in my medicated state, it sounded like Banshees were screaming inside my head.

At one point, I remember screaming to God to either take me now or end this madness of the noise and let me breathe on my own. The next thing I remember was my gramma was there. She was holding me in her arms, stroking my hair and kissing my head, as if she was trying to soothe me. Then my mom appeared and cradled my face in her hands. She kissed me on the forehead, smiled at me and said, “Darling, it’s not your time, yet.” She then reached out and shoved me backwards really hard.

The next thing I remember is waking up in the room, fully alert for the first time since I went into the hospital.

The TV was on to the news channel and as I started paying attention to it, I realized they were saying it was May 26th. I had lost twelve days of my life.

Somehow, the next day, they determined my lungs had gotten strong enough to come off the ventilator. I was so happy to get that tube out of my throat – though I still had to wear an oxygen tube externally to help me learn to breathe on my own. The next two weeks I spent in the hospital relearning how to breathe, swallow, talk, and even walk. I also had to wear a “fall risk” bracelet at all times.

I’ve now been out for a month and I have to take 12 medications a day. Some for my heart and blood pressure, some for my thyroid condition. And a few others, like my water pill, to keep the fluid from building up until my thyroid can be controlled. The only problem is that my kidneys were slightly damaged trying to rid all that previous buildup, so I walk this fine line between keeping the fluid from my heart and not making my kidneys worse.

I also have to follow a extremely low salt diet to keep the fluid retention at bay. This means not adding salt to anything and limiting my intake of processed foods that already have salt in them. It also means I can’t eat fast food anymore. The funny thing is that since I rarely eat salt anymore, everything tastes like salt. Cheese, pizza, lunch meat — all I taste is salt.

But at least I’m alive. Any inconveniences I can deal with.

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Comments: 4

  1. Jeff Wetherington July 21, 2012 at 12:03 am

    So glad you’re home recuperating and recovering. Keeping you in my thoughts :)

  2. Jessy July 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Wow Michelle, I’m very glad you are ok. I’ve been thinking about you and wondering what had happen. Thanks for this blog. It really puts things into prospective. It also explains what happen to my mom, although the situations were very different. My mom had a lot of water retention in her abdomen, they were gonna take it out 1 leter a week or so but desided to try to get what they could the day she passed. While having double pnomonia and a bad liver and kidney from drinking the daring of the retention fluid created a worse situation leading to her passing. As I said before the situations are different but now I see how serious water retention is. Again I’m very glad you are ok. Prayers on a safe recovery. Miss you.

  3. Jim July 23, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Fall Risk. So you’re still OK in three seasons?

    Wait…isn’t your birthday in the…fall?

    She tripped over a Napoleonic-era board game. I guess you could say it was a fall Risk. YEEEAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!

    OK, I’m done :)

  4. Heather Selby July 24, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    This is an awesome blog.All though I don’t know you-you are in my prayers. What a strong will to live you have shown!!

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