It’s been a hell of a month. Just before Thanksgiving I was hospitalized for sepsis (a bacterial infection in your blood.) I had a high fever, low blood pressure, and fast heart rate. The pain was unbearable too. My whole body ached and I felt so weak. I cried for two days, partly due to the pain, but mostly from the frustration. Questions like: ‘Why am I sick again?’, ‘What did I do to deserve a life of constant illness?’, ‘Will I ever be recovered?’ circled in my head, spinning around like an uncontrollable top. I felt hopeless and completely discouraged.
While the sepsis improved through nightly IV antibiotics, my nutritional status continued to fail. At the time of my admission my electrolytes were dismal. For example, my phosphorus level was undetectable and my magnesium, calcium, and potassium all had to be replaced. As the doctors tried to replenish these, they found the oral route was insufficient. So they moved on to replacing it through my port (intravenously.)
With minimal improvement even from the IV electrolytes, it was determined I was a candidate for total parenteral nutrition (also known as TPN.) This type of nutrition is not processed in the gut, therefore is better absorbed by people like me. It is composed of broken down lipids, proteins, vitamins, and electrolytes. The nutrition runs for 24 hours a day through a port, which is as disrupting as it may sound. Even things like using the restroom and taking a shower are affected by the bag.
I struggled with thoughts of despair, inadequacy, and fear throughout this time. I felt like I was at my wits end with my health status. I was tired of being sick, tired of endless doctors appointments, tired of only having the energy to move from the bed to the couch, and tired of not working.
While recovering from all of this, we received news that my father in law passed away unexpectedly. It added sadness, stress, and more emotion to an already difficult season. We will miss Jack and his infectious laugh. His presence was always warm and friendly and he had a great way of telling stories.
Jack’s passing from an acute health condition made me appreciate the life I have and the chance to do all I can to improve my own status. I will continue to eat well, exercise, and get restful sleep as a way to combat the fact that life can end in a moments notice. I want to do what I can to remain healthy, even if I can’t control everything that happens to me.
In total I completed TPN for just over a week, then had my electrolytes rechecked. Luckily everything was good and I was able to return just to my regularly scheduled maintenance fluids instead of the full nutrition. The lactated ringers are much easier to manage. I only have to hook up to them for a few hours a week, instead of 24 hours a day as with the TPN.
Great news is I may even be able to stop the fluids in a few weeks! My doctor is going to discontinue me after 5 more weeks and see how I do. I am hopeful I am moving in the right direction and that I will not need the fluids in the future.
Overall I am feeling much better. I have started exercising again, which is an activity I truly missed over the past year. I am going slow (and not lifting any heavy weights above my head) until I feel stronger and healthier. But having the ability to go to the gym and feel productive is an amazing feeling. I don’t feel like I am at odds with my body anymore. I am working on talking to it better, feeding it better, and resting when I need. This combination seems to be facilitating healing.