Tuesday, March 29 2011, was just like any other weeknight at our house. At the time, I was 30 years old. I had just gotten my four babies tucked into bed for the night. We are the parents of four small children…twin boys, and two little girls. I had just given birth to my daughter four months before, and was recovering well from a c-section.
I had been feeling pretty good until that night, when I noticed my palms were really itchy. No matter how much I scratched, they still itched like crazy! It kept me awake most of the night, and by the next morning my hands and fingers were very swollen, my palms were bright red, and my feet were red and itchy too. I was also running a low grade fever and just didn’t feel good at all. It was day 3 of my period and I was using tampons, but I didn’t think anything of it. I went to the emergency room that afternoon and was diagnosed with a rash and sent home.
By Thursday, I was worse. My hands were itching so bad it was almost unbearable, and they were so swollen that I could barely use them. My fever had climbed to 101 degrees, and I felt like I had the flu. That night was awful. I had body aches, chills, and itching all night. The only way I could relieve the intense itching was to soak my hands and feet in icy cold water, which only made the chills worse. I was miserable. I can remember my baby girl waking up for a feeding, and I just prayed, “God, please help me take care of my baby.” And He did..I made it through the night, and I woke my boys up for school on Friday morning. But, I could hardly use my hands to help them get dressed, and I felt dizzy anytime I stood up or tried to walk. Jay had come home from work by that time and he drove the boys to school for me and had me rest for most of the day. I just kept feeling worse though.
By 11:00pm Friday night, I could barely hold my head up, I had chills so bad that I was shaking uncontrollably, and my entire body ached badly. My temperature was up to 102, and Jay insisted that we go back to the emergency room. I didn’t want to go, but he called my mom to come over and stay with the kids, and we got in the car. It was then that I started having trouble breathing. I was gasping and couldn’t catch my breath, and I was terrified when we got to the hospital. A nurse took my vitals and said my temperature was 103 degrees. My entire body was covered in a rash by then, and my eyes were bloodshot. They gave me oxygen, and there were doctors and nurses in and out. I remember getting confused and disoriented and not knowing if I was awake or asleep. My arms and legs hurt so bad. Then, my blood pressure dropped to 50/40 and I passed out.
I was admitted to the hospital early Saturday morning on April 2, 2011. Later that day, my doctor diagnosed me with Toxic Shock Syndrome. I was moved to the intensive care unit because my blood pressure was so low and my heart rate was in the 140s. In the ICU, they tried to put in a PICC line, or permanent i.v., into my arm, but due to the swelling and infection, the lidocaine was not taking effect and it was too painful. One of my tests came back, I believe it was “creatine” and there was so much muscle tissue in my blood from the shaking and chills, that it was comparable to someone who had been in a car accident! I was so afraid of dying and leaving my children and husband behind! Prayer was the only thing that saved me, I know that. An incredibly knowledgeable doctor, and a wonderful husband who insisted we go to the hospital RIGHT THEN had a lot to do with it too, I believe!
I spent about a week in the hospital, and was released on I.V. antibiotics for 10 days. I had a recurrance in June of 2011, but since I knew the signs, we caught it fast and it was treatable with antibiotics. I am doing well now, and staying busy with my beautiful family. I still have problems with swelling, pain in my joints, and my skin is damaged from the toxins and the peeling of skin that came afterwards. I still have nightmares about the whole ordeal, and I’m afraid of getting sick again. But, I will never forget how lucky I am to be alive! I don’t ever want to take another day for granted! Life is just too precious!