Tonight I was asked how my health was. It was by a friend who I haven’t seen in a few months, and truth is I am not particularly close to her, but will note that twice now, her and I have found ourselves in the same boat, if you will, in terms of our lives, specifically that of relationships. When I was broken, so was she. And tonight it was nice to find that here we both were, happily in new relationships, and finding the experience powerfully beautiful. Life is wonderful like that, sometimes.
Her question about my health led me to ponder. Yes, I had posted in November the information I had about the seriousness of the MRSA blood infection swimming through me. Yes, death was very much a possibility.
But I haven’t died, and think now is a good time to at least address that, especially since so many expressed their love, admiration, and support for me. I remain humbled by those who reacted to it, and simply can say, thank you.
Back in November, when first diagnosed with this and when I wrote the part one to this blog, there were still some questions that remained on the table.
To start, though, I want to address an important component to this entire situation. Very early on, when first finding this infection in my blood, and then in my bone marrow, it was suggested by my doctor I entered a hospital. She wanted me to do this because of the nature of the illness. Any outside illness could complicate treatment. Additionally, testing could be done faster, and in the end, it would mean less doctor visits. However, I asked her point-blank, if that was my only option. See, the truth is, I spent enough time in the hospital over the summer. And it’s depressing. If I had a short amount of time to live, I didn’t want it to be in a hospital. I wanted it to be out in the world, truly living. She, after carefully considering my request, decided that for the time being at least, she would treat me through her office, and promised to tell me when the quality of my care would be impacted negatively if I did not enter the hospital.
This meant lots of doctors visits.
The first step in all this, was to figure out which strain of MRSA had infected me. The strain alone would significantly alter the treatment options. For some strains, they knew which antibiotics generally were successful in fighting it, and in others, they hadn’t been successful at all. After giving up some serious blood, it was determined I had a common strain, known as USA 300, which, could be lethal, but only if the right circumstances were present.
One of these were, how far it was spread. At this point, we knew it was in my bone marrow, so, it had been there for a bit, infecting me and all areas in my body.
So, there were tests on my heart, my brain, my liver, my lungs and my kidneys. My brain was clear of it, thankfully, and the medication I was on for my mental illness, lithium, has been known to help prevent the spread of it into the brain. My lungs were infected somewhat, but my early treatment for what I thought was an asthma attack helped to keep them clear. My liver showed some damage from it, but nothing permanent nor life-threatening, and my kidneys were remarkably fine. My heart on the other hand, was not in that great of a place.
My family has a history of heart problems, and this naturally scared me. It appeared that my heart valves were weakened from the infection and if the antibiotics were not affective, I would very much be looking at a less than 25 percent chance of survival.
Beginning treatment was not fun. It included more than ten different pills, me giving myself my own shots, and a great deal of stress, sleep, feeling like death, and at times wondering if perhaps death was where my destiny lie.
But I didn’t die. The infection dissipated.
Certainly that doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t die from this. I just had a head cold that took every bit of energy out of me. I am still coughing. I’ve slept more these past two weeks than any human should. Getting sick, especially for the next year, could very well mean life or death for me. My chances of making it through a whole year alive rests at approximately 30 percent.
However, as I knew way back in November when it was first confirmed that indeed I was infected, my legacy will outlast me, whether I die today, tomorrow, a year from now, or fifty years for now.
What I also know now, thanks to my stepmother honestly for pointing it out, is that though I have been concerned since day one about living “right,” so often my concern led me to not simply not live. That isn’t the case anymore.
Death came very close. Remains a thought everyday. But now, finally, so does living. What I can do that makes me, and above all else me, happy is a forethought no matter now…luckily, what makes me happy is bringing happiness to others, and that’s something my family, my friends, and my new (and improved – [sorry baby, just had to]) boyfriend get to reap the benefits of for each day which God decides he wants to keep me here for.