Friday, 9 January 2009
A friend died recently. Not a close friend by any means but none the less a person who I probably knew better than many of those who saw her regularly. We were in hospital together five years ago, both having suffered a blood clot that had led to our bowels decaying inside us. It’s a condition experience by very few (thankfully) and thus rather unusual that we were both admitted at more or less the same time. Over the course of several months as in-patients, with our beds next to each other, we were taught how to deal with the major changes that would be necessary to continue to lead anything close to a normal life. We were very different personalities but even so, we developed a bond that was different to what I’ve had with anybody else. We shared something that, unless you have to live with this, you simply can’t truly understand. We shared our innermost thoughts and feelings, sometimes things we just wouldn’t normally talk about. Nothing was taboo.
One of the problems with being an IV feeder is that our immune systems are seriously compromised. A simple bug that most people can shake off in a matter or days - weeks at the most - can kill us. If that bug gets into the feeding line it can then get a foothold in the heart (the line goes into the subclavian artery) and from that point on there isn’t too much hope of survival. This is what happened to my friend.
She had the bug that was going around before Christmas. The same bug as I came back from Malta with. She was given anti-biotics and all seemed to be well but after a four or five days she started to feel poorly again. Her husband took her to their local hospital where she deteriorated quickly. She was then sent to the specialist unit in Manchester (where we first met) where her feeding line was removed but unfortunately it was too late for her. The virus had gone to her heart and although she was put on a heart machine, it didn’t help as other organs then started to shut down. First her kidneys, then her lungs. She died during the night. It all happened very quickly.
Her death has really brought it home to me just how lucky I’ve been. I’ve had two infections in my feeding line but both times they’ve caught it quick enough and I’ve pulled through. My heart hasn’t been damaged.
I’m still struggling with the aftermath of ‘the bug’ myself. It's left me feeling very weak and it’s taking a long time for me to regain any decent amount of stamina. But I’m alive. And for that I’m grateful.
One thing I’ve learned from this - and this is something that her husband said to me - was that avoiding doing what you want to do and never pushing yourself further than you should is no guarantee that you’ll last any longer. It’s better to go being glad that you did the things you did than regretting the things that you didn’t.
Sharon J xx
Image Credt: knowhimonline