A Frightening Illness Has Resulted in a Lengthy Hospitalization

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by Mary Shaniqua |

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It’s been several weeks since my last column, because I was unfortunately hospitalized at the beginning of February. I was hoping to have been discharged by now, but sadly I’m still here.

Last month, I contracted an infection that resulted in some horrible symptoms. I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that some of the symptoms I experienced are usually associated with the end of life. It was terribly unpleasant.

The infection also caused extreme fatigue and dehydration, which led to a sickle cell crisis. At that point, I came to the hospital for medical intervention to help my body fight the infection and crisis simultaneously.

In the beginning, I wasn’t worried. I thought I’d feel a little run-down, and then it would pass. But the infection symptoms immediately made me feel awful. I don’t remember ever having an infection that caused me to feel so sick so quickly. By the second and third days, I not only felt significantly worse, but I developed additional symptoms that alarmed me due to their association with the final stages of life.

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In retrospect, it probably sounds ridiculous because I hadn’t been diagnosed with a terminal illness. But I’ve had many bouts of illness — including a pulmonary embolism, multiple ICU admissions, acute chest syndrome, and requiring a CPAP ventilator to breathe — and none have made me feel the way I did a few weeks ago. This time, it felt like my body was shutting down.

I was extremely weak and fatigued. Basic tasks became onerous for me. Even changing my position in bed was difficult. I couldn’t speak, and I was quite confused. I had zero appetite and struggled to even sip water. These issues exacerbated my fears about what was happening to me.

Since I couldn’t eat or drink for days, I guess a sickle cell crisis was inevitable. Dehydration is a major trigger, and I was severely dehydrated. I was violently vomiting, so taking any kind of oral NSAID or opioid for pain relief wasn’t an option.

I was already stuck in bed at home due to fatigue, but because I couldn’t mitigate the crisis pain with medications or fluids, I simply continued to suffer. By the third day of this, I physically couldn’t take it anymore. Realizing I was only getting worse, I sought medical intervention.

Coming to the hospital was a tough decision for me, as I was seriously worried about COVID-19. Ultimately, the first responders I contacted strongly advised me to go with them via ambulance to the hospital. I’ve now been here for about four weeks.

My treatment has consisted of two courses of antibiotics, a top-up blood transfusion, IV fluids, a blood exchange, and various pain medications. I’ve now beaten the infection, but I remain in crisis. My pain level seems to be stuck at a seven or eight out of 10. Hopefully, I will beat the crisis soon and be able to go home.

I will keep you posted on my progress.

Note: Sickle Cell Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell disease.


Marshall Jones avatar

Marshall Jones

I pray you get better soon!

K Patel avatar

K Patel

Days back, my daughter had undergone a similar crisis. She is back home and joined her college. She is in teaching profession. I pray for your speedy recovery! I am sure you shall be back to a normal life soon!


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