Sepsis. A word I hoped I’d never hear again. Since 2016, I’d been septic twice. It was awful each time, but nothing like this. It’s taken me some time to really work through the aftermath. Slowly but surely, I’m getting myself back.
I woke up on a Tuesday morning earlier this month and EVERYTHING HURT. I felt like I’d been beat up while I was sleeping. Even my toe nails hurt. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, and training pretty hard, so I honestly thought it was because I’d pushed myself a little too much. I got myself through my workout, which was harder than I expected. By the end, I was laying on the floor wondering WTF was happening?! I showered, and continued to get ready for the day. The more I did, the worse I felt. But being as stubborn as I am, I just pushed through. I was telling myself just to suck it up because I had things to do. My mom looked at me limping around, and I told her just not to talk to me because I knew if I acknowledged how terrible I was feeling, I wouldn’t be able to keep it together.
Eventually, I couldn’t keep it together and broke down crying. The pain had pushed me to the point where I just couldn’t handle it anymore. Mom gave me a hug and realized I was burning up. I took my temperature and immediately we realized one of our worst fears was coming true.
Long story short, with the high fever, pain and chills, I knew. While waiting for some meds for the fever in the ER, something happened that never had happened before. I could feel something changing in my body. I can’t really explain it well. I don’t really understand it much mself. It didn’t take long for me to realize what was going on; my body was shutting down. My extremities became numb. My teeth were chattering so hard from the fever I thought they were going to break. I was losing function of my body from the inside out.
In a way that I can’t explain, I felt my insides slowing down. It truly felt as if my body was letting go, and I wasn’t going to make it. It was as if my body was telling me “I give up, I can’t do this anymore”. I looked at my mom, and reminded her what my end of life wishes were; and to tell those I love that I loved them. I made sure she knew exactly what I wanted if I didn’t make it. She reminded me over and over that I wasn’t going anywhere, but deep down, I was trying to come to terms with this being the end of my life and this may be the last moments I had with my mom.
Slowly but surely, I regained some function. I could start to feel my hands again, and my teeth chattering started to die down. I believe with all my heart that getting the meds when I did were what essentially brought me back.
The rest of the week that I spent in the hospital is between a blur, and trying to forget. They removed my infected port, and needless to say, going under even light sedation was too much for my body. Even the minor surgery took a toll on me. I barely remember being in recovery; I was in and out so much my mom had to tell me what happened later. I was weak and tired. I hated every minute of being stuck in the hospital and not knowing what the outcome of this admission was going to be.
Its been about a week since being home, and I’m still not completely recovered. Currently rocking a highly annoying PICC line until I can get myself a shiny new port. Sure, the infection is gone and I’m almost done with antibiotics, but I’m still not right. The infection took something from me, mentally and physically. The antibiotics alone can and have been wreaking havoc. The exhaustion, running restrictions, and learning to live with the trauma I experienced throughout this ordeal hasn’t been easy.
I realized when I got home what I really went through. It’s taking me some time to work through dealing with the feelings of death and dying; the fear behind it, the grief behind it, and the overall scare that comes with living with chronic illness. I’ve been relatively stable for so long, this set back in itself has been rough as well. Right in the midst of training for the Hartford Half, my progress is halted. I have to sit and wonder, will I be able to do this? The unpredictability of illness is the only predictable thing about it. At the end of the day, I live waiting for the other shoe to drop. This month, it certainly dropped. I lived through something others have died from. I survived something that could have killed me. I was given this life because I’m strong enough to live it. (Though I’m getting tired and this life can be heavy at times.)
Every scar on my skin is a beautiful reminder of a moment when I didn’t give in, and I walked through fire. -Hannah Kerr
One positive thing that comes from a life like mine, is learning to live in the moment, and learning to be eternally grateful for the good days. I have a chance to do something great with this life. I will always wonder if I can handle what life throws at me. No matter what happens though, somehow I always make it through. It’s made me a stronger person because of it. It makes me hungrier for that finish line in October. It makes me work harder for those who are no longer with us. It makes me want to be the best version of myself. If the last few weeks have taught me anything, it’s that no matter what happens, I’ve got this.