Tuesday, September 10, 2013

February 2006: I signed my life for the better

Tuesday, September 10: Describe a distinct moment when your life took a turn.

The exact date was February 16, 2006. This was the day I asked my mom to drive me downtown to the hospital where I had no idea that I'd be staying there for 7.5 weeks. I had no idea how much my life was going to change. Three days later, I had a tracheostomy and became ventilator dependent. 24/7. I signed the consent forms for that. My now pulmonologist said if i didn't do this procedure i would maybe live 2 more months and at that point I was already really struggling to live. My CO2 levels were extremely high. All the doctors and nurses couldn't believe how coherent I was. I wasn't ready to die. I was 23. I saw the look of fear on my mom's face. Shoot, I was scared myself. I signed my name with faith that God was going to take care of me and trusting that going to be on the vent would be for the better.

So here we are seven years later and I am ALIVE! Praise be to God. I view my life as BV (before vent)/ AV (after vent). BV, I was {very} independent. I went everywhere by myself, scooting along in my wheelchair. I was a college student. I was young, more vain, trying to "find" out who I was and fit it with the social crowd. My days were filled with homework, typing papers in the computer lab, volunteering, shopping for the next cutest shirt, and guys, guys, guys were on my mind. On the outside, it seemed I had everything together, but no, that was not reality.
19 or 20 yrs old

From 2003 to 2006, my health was surely declining. After being hospitalized with pneumonia in the Fall's of 2003 and 2004, I kept struggling to breathe and sleep. After two different sleep studies, I learned I had sleep apnea, where you stop breathing when you sleep. No wonder I was waking up so groggy and with a massive, pounding headache every.single.morning. In 2005, I started needing to use oxygen through my nose and carry a couple extra oxygen tanks in my pink backpack whenever I went out, usually to school. Gah, I felt like an elderly person.

Back to February 2006, that first week of being on the vent was horrifying. I was in ICU that first week and then got moved to the rehab floor which proved to be horrifying as well; 10 patients for one nurse most likely. A few code blues, infection in my blood, waiting 45 minutes to go pee, a mean respiratory therapist, ya know, just another day in the rehab! I had to learn how to talk with the ventilator which was scary the first few times I tried. It seemed as though a mad rush of cold air was running past my vocal chords through my mouth and nose, I couldn't control it. My vocal and throat muscles had to re-gain strength. I worked with a sweetheart of a speech therapist to get stronger and be able to eat and drink normally again, but not before I had a feeding tube (g-tube) placed in my stomach after 2 attempts!
my friend colleen and I, 2006. I was at about 70 lbs

Since learning to live & accept living with a ventilator, my independence has been slashed by 90%. I can't go anywhere alone. This fact really depresses me sometimes if I let it. I would say losing that freedom is the most life changing affect of being ventilator dependent. You would think that have a hole in your throat, breathing through a plastic trache and having tubes attached to you is worse, maybe at first, yes, but I got pretty used to it and you deal with it. Honestly, I viewed those tubes as chains that locked me down in a prison and really, it did lock me down in a mental prison of depression. I had/have a choice to be grateful for the ventilator and for plastic as they both have helped save my life. I may not be able to go out alone, but I am still able to live my life and do things I enjoy doing. I am still able to celebrate life's simple, funny, cherished moments and get to spend them with my amazing family and friends. I still get to praise God for the miracles He has worked in my life. My faith and the vent have enabled me to keep living seven years and hopefully more, later.





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12 comments:

Chelsee W said...

You a so tiny. Thanks for sharing this, I hope your health continues to improve!

Sam said...

Your so strong for going through everything that you have! Sometimes I'm reminded how great God is :D

holli said...

You're alive and well and a blessing to us everyday! I'm glad you signed those papers and here to tell your story. Love ya! xoxo

Brittany Ruth said...

Wow you are so awesome to tell your story so candidly. Keep on keeping on. What an inspiration!

Paulina said...

I love hearing these great positive stories! Its amazing what will power can do. You can beat so many odds that way.

Sue // As It Seems said...

You are amazing Britt!

Christina @ The Murrayed Life said...

Wow. What an amazingly tough choice you had at that moment. And what an inspiration you are for being here sharing it!

Lynne said...

I appreciate that you are willing to share your struggles. I hope you know what an encouragement you are to others who are struggling with issues, whether or not those issues are health-related. You have certainly taken what would have been an end point for lots of folks and made it into a beginning point of the rest of your life.

Martha Woods said...

You are incredibly brave to share your story! I hope your health continues to improve. You are really an inspiration, you are so upbeat and see the positive in everything!

P.S. I nominated you for a Versatile Blogger award, you can find details on my blog :)

Stephanie @ Shades of Color Art said...

I know you will have more years to live your life! You are so an inspiration for everyone! :)

Natalie Best-Groth said...

Baby girl you are so strong and I admire that in you! Love you girl! xoxo

Steve and Estella said...

I read your entire blog and I am so impressed of how amazing of a person you are! You have been through so many life altering trials, and still continue to see the positive in all things. I really admire that! I am a RN in the ICU and your story really helped me better prepare myself for the nurse that I am always trying to be: compassionate and caring for my patients. I get so busy with having a couple patients that I forget to stop and think about emotionally how my patients must be feeling. Thank you for sharing your story.
-Estella
P.S. you are GORGEOUS!!!