I woke up from a nap at 2 p.m., grasping my chest with my right hand. I could not breathe. I gasped, desperate to get any amount of air into my lungs. It was hopeless, useless. My lungs were bailing on me.
My dad called the RACE (Rapid Assessment of Critical Events) team to come to assess me. Upon examination, it was determined that my intercostals and diaphragm (the muscles of breathing) were way too weak because of my being underweight. And so, I was unable to breathe properly. I was instantly given an oxygen mask.
The next day, I still could not breathe, despite the oxygen mask. I also developed a harsh cough. The doctor discovered that I had caught pneumonia. He was hesitant to give me antibiotics because of my small size, but he realized that since my immune system was too weak, I could have very well died from the pneumonia. So, I was started on a potent antibiotic to battle the pneumonia. I thought that my life could not get any worse...
Later that day, the doctor revealed that my blood tests showed an abnormally low hemoglobin count. I was severely anemic, and my body was not able to produce enough blood on its own. I need a blood transfusion, and fast. And a blood transfusion was what I got. However, my body rejected the new blood, so I got a fever.
The next day, I woke up again with severe shortness of breathe. I was so scared, and so was my family. The doctor came and informed me that the only way I would be able to breathe again was to have a breathing tube inserted. This is basically a long tube attached to a machine (called a ventilator). It provides the patient with a means of 'breathing' - it basically does the breathing for you and is a form of life support. You cannot talk with this tube in.
The nurses took me - on my bed - to the ICU. I watched in agony as the doctor prevented my parents from entering the room. They both had tears streaming down their faces.
"MOM! DAD! Don't leave me! I'm scared!" I said, hardly able to catch my breath.
"Just relax. Breathe. Breathe", the nurse said.
Well, if I COULD breathe, we wouldn't be here now, would we?!
That was the last thing I remember before I was totally knocked out (the doctor gave me a sedative needle to put me to sleep so that he could insert the breathing tube).
Two days later, I was very uncomfortable with the tube. I called for the doctor (using a clipboard and pen to communicate with everyone), and demanded that he remove the tube. He said that he should not because I still needed it. However, my persistence drove him crazy, so he removed it.
Three days later, I was literally dying. I could not breathe at all. Despite being 100% on the oxygen mask, my body did not have any energy to breathe. The doctor rushed in.
"If you want her to live - even for a few more hours - we need to insert the breathing tube again", he told my parents.
And so there I was again, with a breathing tube down my throat. This time, my case was so severe that the doctor put me on a heavy sedative to keep me asleep (the breathing tube causes tremendous pain for the patient). That was May 9, 2012. Meanwhile, I was still receiving the antibiotics for my pneumonia. My hemoglobin was still low, so I had to receive 3 more blood transfusions.
I was - literally - put to sleep for the entire month of May. Oh, yes. But there was something else wrong with me at the time. My kidneys had shut down. The solution?