June 09, 2011

My Super-Sick Adventure

Here is what has been going on with me lately.  If you aren't interested in "The Whole Story", you can skip to the "abridged version" at the end.  :)

A couple of weeks ago I was having symptoms of a UTI over the weekend.  On Monday morning I called the doctor and they got me in that day.  I was given Bactrim (standard anti-biotic for UTI's) to treat the infection and told to come back at the end of the week to follow up. 

By Thursday I had finished the Bactrim but instead of feeling better I was feeling worse.... I still had all the symptoms plus severe "flank pain."  I thought it might be a kidney stone. 

On Friday I returned to the doctor and she said, "Since the anti-biotic didn't help, I think it might be a kidney stone.  We need more tests."  So they sent me out for blood work (cultures, which take a few days) and a CT scan to check for more kidney stones, etc.  She said a kidney stone can cause a blockage leading to a kidney infection.  This worried me.  This was Friday afternoon and I was feeling a bit better, thinking I had probably passed a kidney stone and was on the "up and up."  (Kidney stones can cause the same symptoms as a UTI, plus pain.)

I felt pretty good on Saturday but by evening I had a high fever/violent shivering, severe head ache, nausea and low back pain, which continued all day Sunday.  In my mind I was thinking, "I must have a kidney infection.  I have to go back to the doctor on Monday morning."

On Monday morning I realized it was a holiday (Memorial Day) and the doctor's office was closed, so I asked Jay to take me to Urgent Care.  The doctor there diagnosed a kidney infection and I was immediately put on IV anti-biotics.  Over an hour later I still had a high fever and had not responded as they expected me to.  The doctor came back in and said, "You are really sick and we have done all we are equipped to do.  We are sending you to the hospital.  Right now.  In an ambulance."  I was a little freaked out, but mostly just so sick that I didn't care what they did to me... I just wanted to get better.  Fast! 

I arrived in the ER and heard the paramedic say to the admitting nurse, "They are worried about Sepsis."  I know that term and that freaked me out even more.  I spent the next couple of hours in the ER getting poked and prodded, and was given a nice dose of Valium and Morphine that made me feel pretty darn good for a little while. 

I spent the rest of the week at Banner Gateway Medical Center (great hospital) where they pumped me full of fluids (I was quite dehydrated) until I was so swollen I couldn't make a fist, several different kind of IV anti-biotics (and lactobacillus to combat those), phosphates (?) and magnesium to get my levels back to normal, morphine and percocet for the headaches, Zofran for the nausea, and Tylenol for the high fevers.  They did several more CT scans, drew blood several times a day (from my pathetic/difficult veins) and became frustrated when my fevers did not abate and my white blood cell count didn't go back to normal.  And worried when a CT scan showed on a spot on my kidney that looked like an absess that would need to be drained by inserting a giant needle into my side!  Ouch!  Thank goodness further tests showed it was JUST a spot of infection.  Whew!

They called in the infectious disease specialist (what a character!  Dr. House anyone?) who asked a million seemingly random questions about my health, history, and life-style, plus examined, poked and prodded.  I was officially diagnosed with Pyelonephritis (kidney infection), pre-sepsis, anemia, and.... pneumonia.  Yes, pneumonia, which apparently was a result of some of the extra IV fluids entering my lungs.  They altered my medicines to target the pneumonia as well and called it good.  (I kept telling all the doctors and nurses that I was having trouble breathing and I was wheezing.  They said thing like, "Well, I listened to your lungs and they are clear.  It's probably just post-nasal drip/stress/anxiety, etc."  Yeah, right.) 

I finally got to go home on Saturday with my arms looking like they belonged to a heroine addict, 10 more days worth of oral anti-biotics (levaquin), and zofran for the continued nausea, and they told me to stay hydrated and expect to feel like garbage for a couple more weeks.  Great.  Thank goodness I'm feeling much better today... I even drove to the doctor!  The nausea and light-headedness are gone, as are the headaches, and....unfortunately, I got my appetite back.  Darn. 

Now they have to figure out why I'm anemic, I have to follow up with a urologist, and probably have a colonoscopy.  I feel like I have aged 10 years in 2 weeks. 

A word of advice.... DON'T GET SICK

During the ambulance ride, the paramedic asked, "Are you normally fair skinned?"  I replied (through my chattering teeth), "Yes, why?"  He replied, "Well, you are really pale and I just wanted to make sure that is normal for you or if there is something else going on."  I almost laughed.  Yes, I am fair-skinned, but I think I was probably extra pale considering what was going on in my body.

Dr. Oommen, the infectious disease specialist, after doing a preliminary evaluation left the room to check out my test results/charts.  A few minutes later he opened the door and poked his head and said, "Do you have any hobbies?"  I almost laughed out loud.  Was he making conversation?  I was surprised and confused and couldn't think of anything, though I know I have hobbies, so I didn't respond immediately.  He must have noticed I was confused, so she said, "You know, like hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, mountain climbing...."  Then I did laugh.  "Uh, no," I said.  "Nothing like that." 

"Do you do anything outdoors?" 
I said, "Well, I jog." 
"Have you ever had valley fever?"
"Not that I know of."
"Have you had a cold?"
"No, not lately."
"Has anyone in your household been sick recently?"
"Have you been in a wind storm?"
(By this time the curiosity was about to kill me.) "No, why?"
"Oh, well, you have pneumonia." 
(This is how you break it to me?)  "Huh?"
"Apparently it's just because of all the extra fluids... some got in your lungs."
"So, now what?"
"Oh, I'm just changing one of your anti-biotics to one that will target pneumonia too." 
"Pneumonia!  I've been wheezing and no one would believe me!"
"Well, I believe you.  See you tomorrow."  And he shut the door. 

- I got a UTI and was given Bactrim for it (pretty standard for a UTI).
- The infection happened to be resistant to Bactrim.
- The UTI turned into a kidney infection.
- I spent 6 days in the hospital, got pneumonia on top of the infection, and almost got sepsis.
- I'm home now and mostly recovered.  I think.
- Being sick sucks.


  1. Your experience sounds dreadful and frightening! I'm so sorry, but glad you are on the mend.

  2. I'm so sorry! That must have been really scary for you and your family. Hope you continue to do better!

  3. I am so glad you are better! What a crazy ride you had!!! Sounds like a terrific Doctor though.


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