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What a Difference a Year Makes

Approximately one year ago, I was lying in a hospital bed in the ICU fighting for my life against a myriad of illnesses. I was too weak to get out of bed by myself and had acute delirium. While I don’t feel 100% me yet, I am nearly recovered.

My biggest issue is getting my brain to work. I still have memory issues and trouble finding my words when I talk to people. However, my physical strength and stamina are improving day by day. While it’s frustrating to not be able to think of a simple word, it is gratifying to be able to lift something that’s been beyond my ability for a year. For example, I tried and failed to lift a frying pan shortly after I was released from the hospital. A few days ago, I was able to lift and load a full case of copy paper into my car.

Last week, I worked outreach at a charitable event benefiting Joplin NALA (Neighborhood Adult Literacy Action). It was a great event, but it was also a lot of work for everyone involved. My coworker and I hefted tables, a tent, and a heavy box filled all of our flyers, applications, and giveaways. We were outside in the heat for over three hours, setting up, working the event, and breaking everything down before loading it all into her SUV.

I was exhausted, but I made it. My stamina has improved to where I was able to do my share and be productive. Last year at this time, I had to stop and rest while walking from my living room to my kitchen. Exhaustion weighed on me like an elephant. At the time, I didn’t realize how sick I was.

On September 11, 2021, at the insistence of my family and the assurance from my stepdaughter (who is an RN) that I had pneumonia and something else she couldn’t diagnose, I went to one of my local clinics. My husband drove me because there was no way I could drive myself. It was a Saturday, and I was there an hour before the clinic opened.

The nurse practitioner on duty refused to listen to me about the pneumonia and informed me that she could test me for COVID or strep throat, my choice. I knew I didn’t have COVID because my stepdaughter had tested me the day before. I was tested for strep, and it was positive. The NP gave me prescriptions for antibiotics and Prednisone. She told me to watch my carbs because Prednisone raises your blood sugar, and I’m diabetic.

The Prednisone did more than raise my blood sugar. I should have refused it and will from now on. While it wasn’t the cause of all of my illnesses, it did put me into ketoacidosis. On September 16, 2021, I went to a different clinic location, desperate for medical help after I was once again unable to get in to see my doctor.

My legs and feet had turned purple, and I could not get a breath. The Physician’s Assistant there wasted no time in calling an ambulance. I was admitted to Mercy Hospital Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, near death. My blood sugar reading, which usually hovered around a healthy 100, was 468.

I hadn’t eaten anything that day. In fact, I’d barely eaten anything for several days. I had strep throat, double pneumonia, ketoacidosis, sepsis, and failing kidneys. I also had acute delirium on and off, but that involved seeing beautiful glitter and flower petals float through the room, so I’m not complaining about that.

I won’t go into my experience in the hospital. Let’s just say that some of the staff treated me better than others. Not all nurses are nice. I fervently hope to never go back under any circumstances.

Here I am, a year later. A survivor. My stamina is nearly normal, a deep breath only causes mild discomfort, my hair is growing back, and my A1C is right where it belongs at 6.3. My blood sugar the morning of this writing was 92, right where it should be. My doctor told me she couldn’t be happier with my miraculous recovery.

Overall, I’m almost back to my normal life. Even though I still have a few issues, I feel pretty good. I have all kinds of fun adventures planned before the end of the year. I’m traveling to Minneapolis and Jefferson City for business, attending the OCW Conference in Eureka Springs, participating in Joplin Writers’ Faire, and looking forward to the Women’s Get-away Writers’ Retreat. I’m also hoping to attend part of the OWL conference in Branson, but it overlaps my Minneapolis trip, so that probably won’t be possible this year.

The most important upcoming event in the near future is Grandparents’ Day at my granddaughter’s school. It’s in a couple of weeks, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. This is my first Grandparents’ Day, and I’m probably more excited about it than she is. I’m beyond thankful to be here to attend.

I may not be the strongest flower in the field, but I’m blooming anyway.

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