One Year Ago

As my day started on Friday, February 20th, just one year ago, I never anticipated that by early the next morning I would be a patient in the intensive care unit (ICU) of my local hospital. 

One Year AgoInstead, I was excited!! My fianc√©, Chris, was flying down from Illinois to visit me in Florida. Chris couldn’t come down the weekend of Valentine’s Day, due to his work schedule, so he planned to fly down the following weekend.

To say I was excited about his arrival would be an understatement. We had been counting down to his visit. Chris and I hadn’t seen each other since January 2 (the longest we had been apart since our first date in July). How I got through a day of teaching my first graders, I don’t know.  I couldn’t wait to pick him up at the airport.

My day went pretty quickly; however, trouble started around 2:25 p.m. that afternoon. At that moment, a headache came on, quick and strong. I had over 30 children in my classroom ready to be dismissed at the back drive (where parents drove and picked them up). I was losing my patience quickly, partly because each time I turned my head, I had this pulsing sensation in my head. I took a couple of Motrin before I left school and hoped they would take effect soon. 

After I left the kids at the dismissal point with another teacher covering for me, I headed home so I could walk my dog, Daisy Mae, and then head to the airport to get Chris. Once at the airport, not only did I still have a headache, but it was worse. (Despite it being close to an hour since I took the Motrin earlier.) So, in a scramble (and after realizing Chris’s flight was delayed by 15 minutes), I went to gift shop and bought more Motrin and took 2 of them.

Chris and I spent time with each other, but I could tell he was worried about my headache that wouldn’t go away. He encouraged me to go to the doctor, but I said I would be fine. It was a weird bug, and I was sure I’d feel better in the morning. We had dinner and then hung out on the couch. But by 9 p.m., not only was my headache still there (not one Motrin ever worked) but I was also tired and wanted to lay down. Chris, again, encouraged me to see the doctor right then. I said no. So, he went to the guest room as I went to my bedroom.

Soon after getting in my room, I was freezing cold. I was in my PJs and under the covers and couldn’t get warm. I tried to sleep but with an awful headache that only seemed to get worse combined with feverish chills, I could not.

Around 11 p.m. I had to use the restroom. I found it difficult walking there, as I was dizzy and unsteady. As soon as I sat on the toilet, I threw up every where and couldn’t seem to stop. I knew that I needed to see a doctor and soon. I had never been this sick before in my life. As I held onto the wall and furniture, I changed my PJ pants which now how a ton of vomit on them. Unsteadily, I then made my way to my bed.

I sat down, took my temperature (which was over 103), and yelled for Chris. I kept calling out for him until I heard him say he was on his way. He came immediately to see what was going on. I told him I thought I needed to see the doctor. After I told him what had been going one with me, he agreed. He put on his jacket and went outside to warm up my car. Then, he came and got me. I could barely walk. He had to help me to the car.

From there,  we went to the hospital ER, a short five-minute drive. I anticipated we would have to wait a while before being seen…isn’t that how it always is? Instead, after telling them what was going on, they brought me back in less than 5 minutes. I couldn’t walk anymore and they rolled me by wheelchair.

After that, my memory gets very fuzzy. I know someone mentioned spinal meningitis, but don’t remember when. Then, they asked me for a urine sample. They sent Chris in the bathroom with me to help. In our state at the time, neither of us thought to mention we weren’t married and were waiting to be intimate until we were. However, Chris was a perfect gentleman and helped me on and off the toilet but hid his eyes the whole time.

The next thing I remember is being cold and put in a room where it seemed like we waited forever. Chris says they gave me drugs that knocked me out.

Around 5 a.m. or so, the doctors determined I had spinal meningitis and admitted me to the hospital. Soon after, the nurses moved me to a room in ICU. While that was going on, Chris had the task of notifying my parents about what was going on. I can only imagine his angst in making that phone call, much less my parents receiving it. Chris had only met my parents once before. I’m sure his call was quite a shock.

I spent nearly a week in ICU. While doing a CT scan, the doctors discovered a hole in my skull. I ended up being transferred to a hospital in Gainesville so they could better determine the course of my care. I was released briefly but then readmitted for neurosurgery less than two weeks later to correct the problem.

In all, I was away from work for two and a half months. It was a difficult time for my family, friends, Chris, and me. I am so grateful that God was there for us! I had many friends praying for me and people I didn’t know also added their prayers. I never want to scare my family or Chris again like that if possible.

It was a year ago, but doesn’t seem like that long. I do have one side effect of that surgery, an inability to smell (I can taste for those wondering). But, all in all, if that is the payment I need so that I can live, I’ll manage. Life is good and wonderful! A few months later, Chris and I were married, and we are very happy. I hope this next year, though, is a bit less eventful.

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