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Lung & Respiratory Disorders / COPD Message Board

Lung & Respiratory Disorders / COPD Board Index

In January 2016, I was 7 months pregnant, and began to run a high temperature and a chronic cough. I went to my general practitioner and was told that I had bacterial pneumonia, and was prescribed a Z-Pak and a broncho diolater, for treatment. Additionally, I was told to utilize acetaminophen to control my high fever. I began my treatment regimen and returned to work, for the next several days.

Rather than improving, my condition steadily deteriorated. I was injesting a solid diet of cough drops, and had begged my husband to run out and buy a humidifier, feeling desperate for relief. Prior to becoming ill, I was a very healthy 33 year old female, just approaching my 7th month of pregnancy.

On a Friday night, several days into my antibiotic treatment regimen, I commented to my husband that my ribs felt broken, from my coughing, and my 9 year old daughter begged for him to take me to the ER. I sat in the crowded waiting room for about an hour, prior to being nudged by my husband to alert the attendant to the fact that I was 7 months pregnant, and finding it very difficult to breathe.

My memory is void of what happened, past having my vitals taken, at St. Luke's hospital. The last memory that I have there is being told that they were going to find me a room. Fast forward about 2 weeks, and I found myself waking up at an entirely different hospital, in a different state; I had been flown to UNMC, for severe pneumonia and acetaminophen overdose, had been put into a medically induced coma, was put on ECMO, and had my baby delivered via C-section, while I was "asleep".

The antibiotics had not been working on me, because the general practitioner had errored in his diagnosis. I did have pneumonia, but it was viral in nature and was caused by H1N1. In a desperate attempt to control my 102 degree fever, I had misread the acetaminophen dosing instruction and had overdosed on the medication, as well.

I was told upon awaking that UNMC received me in very poor condition. They immediately intubated me, and I was extremely panicked, feeling as though I was suffocating. They then started me on many different antibiotics, still believing that my condition was bacterial, in nature. They also did a precautionary swab, and had the hospital's infectious disease staff attending to my condition. The swab took a few days to culture, and upon realization that my pneumonia was viral, they immediately began anti-virals. By this time, my lungs were completely whited out, on x-ray, and my vitals were very poor.

I was told that my heart rate was sustained up in the 150's, and that my blood pressure was extremely low. The decision was made to put me in a medically induced coma, at this time, due to me fighting my treatment. Apparently, I was frantic and scared, and was in danger of pulling out my IV's and tubes. After inducing the coma, my son was delivered via C-section, 3 months prior to his due date (he's now a very healthy 4 month old). My condition continued to deteriorate, even after giving birth, thus my husband and physicians decided to put me on ECMO, which ultimately saved my life.

ECMO was a device that filtered and oxygenated my blood, allowing my lungs to rest. When I woke up, I had wounds, which are now small scars, on each of my legs, in my groin area, from where the tubes were inserted into my femoral arteries. I also have scars on each of my legs, from where the ECMO tubes were securely sutured into my flesh, to keep them from moving.

My time spent in the coma was riddled with the worst "nightmares" of my life. They were hostage type plots, and one was very psychological in nature, and took place in a hospital. When I awoke, I was highly paranoid and didn't trust the hospital staff. I was convinced that they had tried to kill me, as my "nightmares" were extremely real feeling, to me.

When I awoke, my husband was standing in front of me, and with a big smile on his face said "Hi!". This was and probably will remain the best feeling of my life! I awoke unable to talk, due to having been intubated for over 2 weeks. I desperately wanted to communicate with my husband, but had no voice. Next, I tried to write, but had no strength or dexterity, which was extremely difficult for me. My vision was blurry, and I felt "foggy" and drugged. I later learned that I had been on 28 different medications, including narcotics, barbituates, and many potent antibiotics, which the medications accounted for my hallucinations/dreams/paranoia. It took me a couple of days to be able to talk, albeit very weakly, and longer to be able to write very well.

I do not recall being in pain at all, until I got up to walk. I did not feel weak at all, which is surprising after a couple of weeks of bed rest, however my C-section cite was still very sore. Within a couple of days of waking, I was walking unaided, just a bit slow.

I now feel back to normal for the most part. My heart rate is slowly going back to normal, and resting it is now at around 85. I do have some mild numbness in my extremities, which I am beginning to feel will stay with me. I also began losing my hair, in large clumps, at around 2 1/2 months, after leaving the hospital. My hair is still shedding, and is at least 50% thinner, however I have been assured that it will grow back.

I am hoping that I can connect with someone else that may have been in my position, or help someone that finds themselves in my position, in the future. I have accepted what happened to me, after about a month of very bad psychological turmoil (panic attacks, detachment, and mild depression). I can honestly say that the road to recovery is very difficult, but if you have a will to live, it goes relatively quickly. I now feel like my "old self" again, and am looking forward to a long and prosperous life with my family.

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