I got up Saturday morning ready for my normal bike ride. I was considering my two hour ride, but felt I should not be away that long as Karen was sick. So I did my 45 minute ride instead. When I got back, I tried to awaken Karen, but she was quite unresponsive. She was breathing fine but I could not wake her up. I tried to get her out of bed. In fact, I had her standing up and walking towards the bathroom.
She complained that she was about to fall, so I got her back in bed. I was growing concerned that she would not wake up and was unable to walk on her own. She has a deep dislike of hospitals so I “threatened” her that if she did not get up I would call 911 and have her taken to the hospital. She shook her head no and feel back to sleep.
I promised to give her a few hours to wake up on her own, so I went on with my Saturday chores. Three of the five grandchildren wanted breakfast and were being less than patient with poor Miriam who was trying to get them fed without bothering their mom. So I helped Miriam get her and her siblings breakfast.
The fall leaves from our trees had littered our front and back lawns. We don’t own a rake, but our lawnmower acts and an effective leaf vacuum. So I cleared both lawns of leaves.
When I was done, I checked on Karen and she was still in a deep sleep. This time when I tried to awaken her, she seemed confused and couldn’t make a simple sentence. I was now more than concerned. So I went downstairs to my computer to get the number of the hospital to seek their advice on what I should do.
After describing her symptoms, they said we should get her to the hospital as soon as possible. By this time, Nancy had called Karen’s friend who had come on Friday and she came over with a blood pressure kit to measure Karen’s blood pressure. Andrew was out shopping with Zoë so Nancy contacted him to get him back as soon as possible.
We could not get the blood pressure device to work but it really didn’t matter. I was going to get her to the hospital regardless of the results. When Andrew got home, Karen’s friend left the bedroom and stated she could not get a reading on Karen’s blood pressure. Andrew was unaware that the machine had failed and was convinced his mom had just died. I quickly explained the problem was with the machine and not Mom.
The hospital asked if we needed ambulance and I declined. I was sure she was not that sick and I was concerned about the cost of the ambulance. We called Linda, Karen’s sister, who lives nearby. Her husband, Trevor, is disabled and they have extra wheelchairs and a van equipped to transport someone in a wheelchair
I had Karen dressed and had her sitting up on the edge of the bed as we waited Linda and the wheelchair. Karen was awake but she was not lucid. She struggled remembering her name and how many children she had. When she tried to speak, words like Payson Hospital came out “Monson Popsicle”. She was obviously not in her usual frame of mind.
When Linda arrived we got Karen into the wheelchair and I asked Andrew and Linda to get her into the van while I changed my clothes. I was still wearing my ridiculous biking clothes and I didn’t want to be wandering the halls of the hospital looking like that.
When I was done, we decided I would drive the van with Karen and Andrew would take Linda home and then meet me at the hospital in my car. This way Andrew would take the van home once we were done at the ER and I would have a car at the hospital.
By the time I got to the hospital, successfully disconnected the wheelchair from the van, opened the van door, and lowered the ramp (sounds like it should all take be a few minutes, but it was a bit more complicated than I thought) Andrew was at the hospital. So we entered the ER together.
When we got back to the ER exam room, there seemed to be a number of people ready and anxious for Karen’s arrival. They were anxious because late Friday night they got back the lab results on Karen’s blood. She had sepsis!
This word, sepsis, alerted both me and Andrew. Five years ago, my step-mother died very quickly from sepsis. Once this massive blood infection permeated my step-mother’s body, her organs shut down and she died. So I had a conversation with the ER doctor explaining our concern with the diagnosis of sepsis.
They explained that Karen’s sepsis was the result for her pneumonia. (At this point, I apologize in advance to any reader who has more medical knowledge than I do, which would represent 99% of the world’s population, for the misstatements I will make throughout this narrative of all things medical.) Typically the kidneys filter the blood of such infections. But because Karen was so dehydrated from sleeping so long, her kidneys were failing and the poison in her blood was killing off the cells.
One of the more dangerous chemicals is potassium. We were told that a high potassium count can lead to heart failure. Her count was high, not out-of-this-world high, but high enough to keep the ER team concerned.
After about an hour of inserting IVs and pumping her body full of numerous clear fluids, Karen respond positively. She awoke from her deep sleep and was entirely coherent. We explained to her what had happened and she could only remember bits of pieces of what took place over the past few days.
Because of the shock to her system, the doctors decided to admit her to the hospital and send her to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where she could get all the attention necessary. She was awake and aware for the rest of Saturday evening and the doctors were very pleased she reacted so well to the treatment. She was weak, very weak, but she was progressing.
Click here to continue to follow Karen’s Health Journey.