Life Support Has a Cost
Organized by: Yvonne Rieckhoff
I was at the ballpark With friends when I started having full-body seizures. They went on for one minute, two. When the paramedics arrived, they still hadn't stopped, and at the hospital after multiple rounds of anti seizure medications, they still weren't under control. The hospital called my aunt and told her that I had a 50% chance of surviving. After an hour of constant seizing, they had to put me on life support, at which time they were able to put me under such heavy sedation that the seizures finally stopped. They ran tests and more tests, but everything came back normal. When I was finally out of the coma a week later, they reran many of the tests and did a few new ones. I had several more episodes of what may or may not have been more seizures in both ICU and rehab, but all they could do was watch. At discharge a month later, I still have no diagnosis. After I was taken off of life support, the real struggles began. I had been given a 1 in 3 (or 33%) chance of surviving life support, so already I was beating the odds, but that didn't make recovery any easier. I had to relearn how to swallow, something so basic that I never would have thought about before. I had to relearn how to feed myself--the nurses had to cover me with a towel as I struggled with my spoon and little bowl of jello (more ended up on me than in my mouth). I, an English major and teacher, had to relearn how to write, as no matter how well I remembered the motions for writing, my body simply couldn't follow through. And what I am still having to learn again is how to walk. I'm 24 years old, and I walk with a walker. It is a very humbling thing to go from independent to totally dependent in so short a time from something I never even thought to worry about. And the paperwork has already started to come in. The bills will be next, and while all my friends, family, and doctors are telling me to take it one day at a time, I know that the bills are coming. Bills that I can't possibly hope to pay. I already cut it close enough with my regular monthly bills, and this type of emergency was never something that I factored into my budget. I don't like asking for help, I especially don't like asking for money, but this is where I am right now. Please help in any way you can, even if it's just by raising awareness. And if you know anyone who is a doctor or nurse, be sure to tell them thank you for what they do. It's because of people like them that I'm alive today.