Near Death

What Happened?

On August 19th, 2012, I went through a very traumatizing event. After having a rather pesky sinus infection, I stayed sick for a few weeks in July of 2012. After I went to the doctor and got some antibiotics, that cleared itself up within a matter of days. A week or two later I started to feel bad again, this time with a persistent fever. I remember going to the store around the corner and barely being able to push the shopping cart through the store to buy Italian ice and other stuff to try to get my fever down.

Everything hurt. And then there was the fact that my urine was the color of Coca-Cola. That wasn’t right.

After my mom came over at my request to bring me medicines and such, I found I didn’t want to get out of bed and had trouble even moving. I finally stopped being stubborn and told my mom to take me to the ER. After arriving at the ER, the triage nurse saw me and I believe a doctor did, too. I was there for all of an hour and was discharged with some non-narcotic pain meds and more antibiotics.

Things got worse shortly after I got back home and I told my mom to take me back to the ER. I was afraid. Unfortunately, when I got to the ER this time, 4 teenage boys were in some kind of gun fight and they took precedence¬†over my not-immediately-life-threatening illness. I couldn’t sit up and had no choice but to lay down. At first, on some chairs, and then on the floor. There was no place to lay down in the waiting room. I remember moaning in pain because everything hurt so badly.

They admitted me, and this is where everything becomes blurry. It turns out I was bleeding internally (a discovery made by my mother), and my skin began to blister on my feet and hands.

What Was Wrong?

Me. Unconscious. Not having a good day.
Me. Unconscious. Not having a good day.

It turns out I had a simple flu that triggered a condition called rhabdomyolysis. It actually occurs quite frequently in people when they work out and muscle breaks down, but the kind that I had didn’t stop breaking down my muscles until I had lost 25 lbs. of muscle. That’s why my urine was the color of Coca-Cola. The blistering was due another associated thing called compartment syndrome. The internal bleeding was due to how my kidneys reacted to so much muscle tissue trying to be filtered through them. The doctors that saw me were amazed that I wasn’t dead, since my CK (creatine kinase) levels were well above 300,000. This number usually means that your kidneys are in failure (which they were), and you could die.

What Happened Next?

My insanely blistered finger.
My insanely blistered finger.

I was in ICU for a week. They treated me with lots of pain medication, something that stopped my internal bleeding that cost $40,000, plasmapheresis treatments (they basically took my blood out, filtered it, and put it back in), and a ridiculous amount of fluids to keep me producing urine.

The Aftermath

I was in the hospital for 40 days. I had lost so much muscle that I couldn’t walk. It took me a whole week of attempting to get out of bed before I actually could. I couldn’t even raise my arms above my head or feed myself for a good while. Basically, it sucked.


Me and my mom at Tai Chi Open House May 4th, 2013
Me and my mom at Tai Chi Open House May 4th, 2013

I was laid up for the next month at my mom’s house. Every day I tried to walk around with a walker and lift these little 5lb weights (they were very heavy for me). Now a year and a half later I am practically back to normal. The only thing that I have left to do is rebuild my chest, shoulders, and arms. In the beginning of 2013, I found the Taoist Tai Chi Society and began learning Tai Chi. I call it the second best choice I have ever made.

Needless to say, I am grateful to still be here.