Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

10/15/15

If I Had Gotten The Flu Shot



If I had gotten the flu shot the year I was pregnant I would have...

Been the first person to hold my child
Taken him to his first checkup
Had a tearful and joyful first few minutes as a new family of three
Been the first person to rock my son to sleep
Given him his first kiss
Breastfed my baby
The ability to have more kids
Seen the look on my parents face when they met their first Grandchild for the first time
Decide who he looked like before anyone else had a chance
Had a natural childbirth
Be the first person to count all his fingers and all his toes
Taken him home from the hospital
Fill out his "first few days" in his baby book
Witnessed his first smile
Gotten to be the one to introduce him to his big cousin
And to his furry brother
Put him in his crib his first night home
Been a part of his first pictures
Give him his first bath
Dressed him in all his newborn outfits
Been a part of the first 8.5 weeks of his life

Instead of having all these things with my Son, when he was born, I was horribly sick with the flu. We didn't know how bad it was at the time of his birth, but shortly after his delivery, my husband was informed that I had less than a 50% chance of survival. A chance that diminished greatly within the following hours and days. The flu had become pneumonia and then into acute respiratory distress syndrome. As my Son ended his first full day of life, I was put into a medically induced coma and onto a machine that took all the blood from my body and oxygenated it so my lungs could rest and try to heal. It was a last ditch effort to try and save the newborn baby's Mom.

As our Son continued to grow, my husband and I spent the first five weeks of his life in a glass room in the ICU. Along with my husband, my parents, family, and friends spent many sleeplessness nights in the waiting room hoping and praying for anything but bad news. As our son was given his first bath, I was receiving sponge baths and developing bed sores as they were unable to move me. When he was being fed bottles, I was receiving all my food through a feeding tube down my nose. As he made his first, second, and third visits to his pediatrician, I had a team of doctors working around the clock to keep me alive.

During his first 18 days of his life, all my blood left my body and received life sustaining necessities from an device called an ECMO machine. On the 19th day, I was prematurely pulled off the machine due to possible infection. Once off ECMO, I was still on a ventilator and fighting infections. I also dealt with necrotizing tissue on my leg which required a debridement surgery, a uterine artery embolization after substantial blood loss that wouldn't abate, a partially collapsed lung that required a chest tube, and a tracheotomy after being on a ventilator for too long. At my lowest point, my survival chances were less than 10%.

Eventually though I began to pull through and recover although for me, my hardest days where just beginning. Once brought out of full sedation, my reality and nightmares where more than I could bear. Being tortured over and over again was an all too real nightmare that I lived in for days. One so real that I was terrified to fall asleep and so convincing that even today I almost swear that it all happened. Early on, as I lay awake unable to move I had two catheters to allow me to go to the bathroom. As I lay in bed feeling sick one morning, I was assured I could just go and be it would ok. Unfortunately, my lines where pinched and soon two male nurses where in my room, undressing and removing my sheets by rolling me from one side the other, then wiping the mess from my naked body. At that point, I could barely even raise an arm to help them. The feeling of desolation, humility, and despair felt like the only thing I had left. I was 25 years old and wished I would have just died.

After 34 days of lying a hospital bed, I tried to stand for the first time. I was lifted up by two physical therapists, stood for 5 seconds holding onto a walker, and then collapsed; My legs too weak to hold the weight of  my body. It was at that moment that I realized just how bad of shape I was in, Still on a tracheotomy and feeding tube, I was not supposed to have any liquids down my throat for fear of aspiration. I learned rather quickly what true thirst was like. I would beg and plead with my husband just for one ice chip. After a rather grueling task of sitting upright in a chair for 30 minutes, I had a number of ice chips and soon after threw up. The nurses banned all ice for good. It was a devastating moment for me. I experienced a myriad of excruciating pains, but nothing compared to thirst.

On my Son's 42nd day of life, I was transferred to an inpatient rehab center. During my first few days there, getting dressed took over 30 minutes. I couldn't lift my arm enough to so much as brush my hair and I wasn't allowed to walk more than a few feet with my walker before being stopped by my tachycardic heart. I worked a whole week on being able to get on and off the toilet and another trying to walk and hold an object (like a baby). Every morning I would try to stand at the sink and brush my teeth without needing to sit or rest my arm.

When he was 45 days old, they brought Landon to the rehab center so we could finally meet. It was not the beautiful moment that people think of when meeting their child for the first time. They wheeled me into a room and I was required to wear a blue plastic hospital gown for fear of giving him any infections. Sitting up was exhausting and hard work and a lift belt wrapped around my chest was horribly uncomfortable. With me, in the wheel chair, was my wound vac and a heart monitor. Within minutes I was sweating under the plastic gown. He came in his car seat sound asleep. I didn't feel an overwhelming sense of love. I just felt distance and fear. Even more, I was so wrapped up in my own pain and uncomfortable state that I couldn't even relax and enjoy the few minutes we had. By this time, my trach had been removed and a slowly closing hole was left in its place. Every time I wanted to talk to my son, or anyone else, I had to hold one hand over the hole putting pressure on the gauze so that my words could be heard. After a 30 minute visit, I had to go rest. Despite being told he could visit everyday after that, I couldn't do it and choose not to see him anymore. While I understand that this does not seem like a rational decision to most people, it was the right one at that stage in my recovery.

When our son was 60 days old, I left the hospital and we became a family. A family, with a nurse that visited multiple times a week to check on me. To view my open wounds which still included a trach hole, a large opening on my leg, and an open c-section. I had physical therapy come to the house as well and learned within the first few hours of being a real Mom that the hardest workout of my day was just carrying Landon to his changing pad. By the time I was ready to change his diaper, sweat would be pouring off my face. Holding him was hard, so I didn't do it very much. Despite his young age, my needs were actually greater and many times he would lay in his crib crying while my husband worked on the long and delicate task of changing out my wound dressing. It was a priority that came before all else at a time when it should have been him that was the priority. It would leave me in tears and it wasn't because my baby was crying in the other room.

If I had gotten the flu shot, the first 60 days of Motherhood wouldn't have robbed from me. I wouldn't have pictures of strangers holding my Son instead of his own Mom and Dad. I know why I didn't get the flu shot. I remember the exact event. I was about two months pregnant when I watched a 20/20 news story of a girl who had received the flu shot and from the side effects could only walk backwards. Her name was Desiree Jennings. I was shocked, horrified and disgusted and from that broadcast I formed a complete distrust in all things vaccine. If you google this girl now, more google results will show her more as a hoax than a true victim of vaccination side effects. I don't care to know if her story is true or not. It is my fault for turning against vaccines, but I do often wonder what would have happened if, after they showed her story, they had shown a story like mine. Or a story similar to mine that didn't have the happy ending,

Every year the flu kills and it doesn't just kill a few people, but thousands. While it is true that most people can fight the flu, it is also true that high risk groups such as children, elderly, people with lowered immune systems, and pregnant women may not be able to. Their body is either too busy working on something else, like growing a baby, or fighting other health issues. Healthy adults may not feel a need for the flu shot, but how many of those people have children? Are around an aging parent or grandparent? Have a pregnant wife? Maybe even have a health issue that is not diagnosed?

I implore everyone to have an earnest discussion with their doctor on the benefits AND drawbacks of the flu shot. If you can't do that, then it is time to get a new doctor. There are so many wonderful doctors out there, finding one who will give you the time of day is possible. Read articles and educate yourself beyond the confines of Mother Jones. Or read those articles and then read the actual studies the data is based on. Science isn't hard to read or understand. Draw your own conclusions, don't let an opinion piece or a news story be the only thing that forms your decision.

At two months pregnant, if I had heard a story like mine, if I had been told that this was a good story and that there are many out there with far worse endings, with more pain, loss, and suffering then maybe things would have been different for me. If I had realized that there was another side to the flu vaccine debate, an even uglier side than what I had been exposed to, then maybe my son would have opened his eyes for the first time and seen his mother. Those first 60 days of his life could have been filled with the love, joy, and happiness that they are supposed to be. If I had gotten the flu shot, maybe our first family photo would be beautiful. Maybe it would be hanging on our wall or in a photo album that we lovingly reminisce over. Instead, our first family photo brings me nothing but pain and memories of a time I'd rather forget. The first 60 days of our Son's life was the worst time in my life and it was all because I didn't get the flu shot.


Update: I just want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read this post and most especially thank those who are sharing it. This little blog was created to keep our family and friends back home up to date on our daily lives and even when writing this post, I never in my wildest dreams thought it would reach so many people. I want to address one thing to clarify a few comments. My blood was tested and the flu strain that I had was Influenza A subtype H1N1 which was covered by the 2010-2011 flu shot. I was 39 weeks pregnant at the end of January in 2011 when I became ill. After two days in the hospital, a worrisome x-ray, and a night of horrible coughing, the doctors decided to give me a c-section and then scope my lungs. Although I came to for a few hours afterward, they put me out completely for the c-section (on Jan. 29th) and the next day I remember was March 3rd. 
I am going to leave all comments up because I understand there are many skeptical people in the world today. I get it, I use to be one of them. I had planned a 100% natural childbirth, hired a doula, taken 12 weeks of Bradley classes and picked a hospital in another state just so I could have a midwife. I spent a lot of time and effort planning out the perfect birth only to have it become a nightmare I could have never even imagined. I still 100% support all those things, but instead of focusing on the music I wanted to be playing during birth, I wish I had really focused on my health and gotten the flu shot. 

It took me almost 5 years to write this post, because it meant going to some pretty dark places. In the time since this event occurred I've gone through many emotions.  There is no doubt that this was the most life changing event of my entire life, but I am not consumed it by on a daily basis. It shaped me, but in no way defines me. You can read about 95% of this blog and never even know these events occurred. I don't dwell on trying to go back in time, because this has shaped who I've become today and I am happy with that. However, if I can prevent from happening to just 1 person, it would all seem worth it. Anyone who is interested to read a little more about how this shaped my life or even my struggles can read these other posts.

Overcoming: Lessons I've learned over the past four years- HERE
Happiness that I wrote about six months later- HERE
Struggling with survivors guilt-HERE 

Lastly, for anyone who thinks I am making this up, there is not much I can do to convince you. However, this video was produced by Jewish Hospital in Louisville, KY after my release. I'm not here to prove anything to anyone, only help. Once again, thanks everyone for reading!



64 comments:

  1. What a complete and total load of b.s.

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    1. Really? Why do you say that?

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    2. Actually it is not BS. I have seen many people in this same situation in the ICU as a nurse...

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    3. I think this story just seems too crazy for people some people to understand. As a nurse, this is everyday reality for you. Most people couldn't handle it.

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    4. Well you are forgetting all the people developing flu after the shot and now dead, because they got the vaccine. Your baby is lucky you did not get it also so he did not get side effects of the shot and all the adjuvants it contains. And yes, you should have eaten better and getting more rest.

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    5. No one gets the flu from the flu shot. You are misinformed. Can you still get a different strain of the flu after getting the shot? Absolutely. But you can't get the flu from getting the flu shot. Please stop spreading misinformation.

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    6. Thank you, Mary! Totally agree! No one gets the flu from the flu shot — it's intentionally given during cold season because that's when influenza is most prevalent, so the majority of the subsequent illnesses people develop are caused by various — and less aggressive — viruses known to cause the common cold (we can even test for them to confirm it!). The flu shot doesn't guarantee you won't get the flu either, but it certainly decreases this likelihood.

      And Marmot, do you really believe the flu shot would kill MORE people than the actual flu? Start providing some actual evidence to back your claims and maybe you'll start to be taken a bit more seriously.

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    7. Marmot, I know "adjuvant" is a scary-sounding word, especially when you use it in the context of asserting that the flu shot kills people! Could you please elaborate on which adjuvants — i.e. proteins added to the killed virus in the vaccine to BOOST our immune response so we develop an adequate supply of antibodies to protect us from the actual disease, thus negating the need to undergo repeat BOOSTER shots within the same season — are harmful?

      If you can't remember exactly which ones, you should be able to find the answer at http://www.violinet.org/vaxjo/, a comprehensive adjuvant database that includes the name, specific components, structure and appearance, function, safety, and which vaccines use which adjuvant(s). [Disclosure: I have no affiliation with this database; I am just an active member of the human community trying to do my part by providing reliable information.]

      This post has certainly inspired a lot of people to join the conversation and learn more, so we'd appreciate your insight. Eagerly awaiting your response!

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  2. yeah, you shoulda taken better care of yourself, the flu shot can't trump sleep and nutrtition

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    1. Thank you for reading my story! I don't think sleep was an issue, but of course I could have eat better. All the same, I really should have gotten the flu shot!

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    2. i'm trying to figure out what, exactly, the intent of Fireballs' response was besides to belittle a person who has struggled enormously — and who's still likely confronted with the devastating physical and emotional consequences of such an illness on a daily basis — but somehow found the strength and courage to share her story in a completely honest and non-intimidating manner. so thank you again, ms. lewis, to you and all the respectful readers/commenters out there.

      while sleep and nutrition are essential for sustaining life, these alone don't guarantee protection against potentially deadly diseases. sure, nothing in life is guaranteed — but why WOULDN'T you bolster your chances of continuing to live that life if given the opportunity?

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    3. Thank you Confabulous for the kind words! Understanding other people's intent is sometimes impossible. I am just happy so many people are taking the time to read this and if that brings forth a few negative comments, then I will happily take them. Thanks again!

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    4. Fireballs, take your anti-vaccine propaganda elsewhere. I was a preemie who almost died of chickenpox at three months old. Now that there is a vaccine that can prevent stuff like that from happening, you want to eliminate it because of a falsified link to autism? Shame on you, shame on the whole pro-disease movement and shame on Dr. Wakefield.

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  3. I'm sorry you had such a hard time with the flu. I'd recommend checking your Vitamin D levels and taking more Vitamin C. The latter helped a lot with my pregnancy in not being sick.

    But you should be very glad you did not get the flu vaccine. Many women have miscarriages after the flu vaccine, even late term ones. You lost 60 days of his life. Some women will never get to watch their child grow up.

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    1. I've had two miscarriages and so I understand how painful that can be as well. I also know there are women out there who don't get to watch their child grow up, because unlike me didn't survive their bought with the flu. I don't claim to have all the answers here, I'm just telling my story. Thank you for reading it.

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    2. Terri M, could you provide a link (or links) to the evidence supporting your assertion about the flu vaccine and its implication in miscarriages? I'd appreciate the insight and am curious to learn how the researchers established a causative, rather than just associative, link between the two. Thanks!

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    3. Hi Terry, Nobody has miscarriages due to the flu shot. That has been proven. And Vitamin D and Vitamin C, while necessary vitamins for human health, don't effect your immunity. I'll give you just a single citation to prove it: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26444106 but there are MANY others. And before you Google anything, bear in mind I conduct this kind of research for a living, so I guarantee I'm way better at finding studies and interpreting them than you are. I do it all day long. Quit the anti-vaccine cult!

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  4. I'm so sorry you went through all this but it's a good lesson to the rest of us. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words and for reading it!

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  6. People still can't acknowledge what the flu does to some people. Do you really think this is preferable to the flu shot. Perhaps this mum was extremely heathy and the flu shot msy have saved her this whole traumatic experience. In presuming this mum didn't get enough sleep or nutrition you are saying its her own fault. Obviously you are unaware of how many people have gone onto have the same complications from the flu.

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    1. Thank you Kerry! I have no doubt I could have eaten better, but I also have no doubt it wouldn't have mattered. For many people, it has to happen to them or someone they know for them to get it. I should know, I was one of those people. My only hope is that maybe it will prevent one story like this. Thanks for reading!

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  7. Thanks for sharing your story. I wish more people would take the flu seriously and get vaccinated. I watched many people die from the flu in the ICU and the ones that survived had a long road just like you. Stay strong! You have a beautiful baby!!

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    1. Thank you for all that you do! You nurses are a special breed! My only hope in sharing my story is to get people to understand the seriousness of the flu.

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  8. <3 I hope, over time, that you are able to no longer feel guilt and heartache that is so clear in this. While I had different complications, I know that I struggled for years to come to term with the time I lost with my newborn son. I, too, refer to the first few months of his life as the worst of my life, because of everything I was not able to do for him as his mother (I hemorrhaged and lost half my blood in 10 minutes). Now that he's 7, I no longer have it, because he knows I love him and he has no memory of those early days. I want you to know that while your story is unique to you, you are not alone in what you are feeling right now, and I hope you know that your story WILL make a difference for someone else. Thank you so much for sharing your story, and I wish you the best.

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    1. Krista, you are absolutely right. It is a struggle still for me. I've wanted to write this for a long time, but allowing myself to go into some deep dark places was hard. That is probably why it took over four years. I remember counting down the days until my Son's life was longer with me in it then it was with me not in it. It was the first baby step of many in moving on. There is no doubt that process is still ongoing. Thank you for the kind words. I look forward to Landon being seven and being where you are. Hopefully, I can offer as kind words to someone else. All the best!

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  9. I might believe the story except pregnant women tend to have better immune system and it seems hard to believe that somebody would be swayed from their believes about vaccines by one news story, and that someone would really try to get everyone to get a flu vaccine matter who they are just because she happened to get very sick while she was pregnant with something that may or may not have been the flu. The whole story smells fishy in my opinion.

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    1. Hi Ddiana, unfortunately there is not a single word here that is made up, but I completely understand that is almost impossible to grasp. I 100% never said I want everyone to get the flu vaccine. I said talk your doctor about the pros and cons. Regardless, I really appreciate you taking the time to read my story!

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    2. A pregnant woman's immune system is actually depressed not enhanced so her body doesn't fight the pregnancy.

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    3. Ddiana, I'm not sure why you say that it "may or may not have been the flu". Do you realize that you can test for the flu? Her doctors knew what it was, she is not throwing guesses around. It is also not true that pregnant women have better immune systems, I'm not sure where you picked this up but please stop spreading misinformation.

      I'm not sure what is "fishy" to you about a mom sharing her terrible experience with the flu. It can be a very serious and sometimes deadly illness, and I don't think enough people realize this.

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    4. Ddiana, Angela isn't trying to convince anyone to get the flu vaccine; she's sharing her story and actually emphasizing how she shouldn't have been swayed by a single news story, thus encouraging her readers to make educated decisions about their health.

      Also, could you provide evidence to back your statement about pregnant women having better immune systems? I've read a lot of stuff out there and my understanding is that pregnant women are actually more susceptible to various pathogens than their non-pregnant counterparts. I'm curious to learn more from your end.

      Lastly, I'd venture to bet that among all the testing Angela underwent during her hospitalization, a routine test for influenza — along with a variety of other common viruses — was performed to confirm she did, in fact, have the flu (and likely more than just once to conclusively confirm this). This is pretty standard in medical care and is a simple test obtained by swabbing the back of the nose or throat. Not fishy at all.

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    5. Thank you all for the great conversation! These comments have urged me to post a little update. Hope this helps to clear a few things up.

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  10. I think this story was very well written. I was in a similar situation, but the tables were turned. It was my child in the NICU and we were not sure if she would survive or not. I know where you are coming from about the first picture that you got to take with your child. I understand that it can make a person very heart sick to have to go through things like this. The first days might not have been what you wanted them to be, but you are still around today to make a whole lot more memories with your child. You had someone watching out for you during your time of need. Some things can blown up for no reason and it can scare others into doing the complete opposite. I think when stories come out like the one that you seen, there should be someone to look into it completely so that if it is a hoax then both sides can be shown instead of just one.

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    1. I can't even been to imagine how that time was for you and your family. Whenever I have someone trying to give me sympathy, I always say I'm so happy it happened to me. My Son was born in perfect health and for that I would suffer 10 times over. I hope that your child has fully healed and is living a healthy life. Thanks for reading!

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  11. I am Ken Biscan, Angela’s father, and I don’t believe everything I read on the internet but I can assure everyone that every word she wrote is true and not a hoax as we, her family and friends, went through it. I have been in combat and see men die but nothing can compare to watching your child close to dying and it was only each of us in our own way and faith that keep us going during that long ordeal. To those parent who lost a children my words are inadequate to express how they feel and my heart goes out to you. I am sure my daughter’s intent in writing this was not to gain sympathy but to perhaps help someone else and avoid a similar situation. I am very proud of her! Anyone needing further information feel free to contact me, a real person, but to those people who refuse to accept anything as true I say fine and move on as I don’t think this post will help you.

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    1. Dad, I love you dearly! Thank you for standing up for me. I would never expect anything less from you. XOXOX!

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  12. Thank you for sharing your story. I am very relieved to see you and the baby survived. As a nurse, I know all too well how devastating the flu can be. I hope that your story encourages others to talk to their health care provider and not to make medical decisions based on what they see on TV and internet alone. I'll be sharing this on the Nurses Who Vaccinate Facebook page- thank you once again!

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    1. Melody, thank you so much for the kind words and for sharing. I know you nurses see so many horrors, some of which are very preventable. If I keep just 1 person out your hospital, it will be a great feeling. It is something we will never know, but I am hopeful. Thanks again!

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  13. thank you for sharing your story, as well as so honestly — and respectfully — replying to various readers' comments, the majority of which are very thoughtful and equally respectful. you bring up a great point about the dangers of believing everything on the internet, and i realize the irony in an anonymous comment like this. however, i urge you and all your readers to ALWAYS question your sources before coming to any conclusion.

    i'm a practicing physician with a PhD as well, the training for which gave me valuable insight into distinguishing between rigorously researched, trustworthy data and underpowered, sloppy "findings," which are far too often intentionally manipulated to make the data convincingly align with the hypothesis — believe me, the majority of what's published in the world's top scientific journals is complete garbage. my colleagues often get tired of my skepticism every time a new study comes out because my first instinct is to question a study's validity.

    [the TL;DR portion of my response is in the reply below as apparently I exceeded the character limit]

    i realize i've probably lost most readers, perhaps partly because i've been awake for the past 30 hours caring for patients. but here are my points:

    1) if you're gonna question the effects of the flu shot (or any shot), back up your assertions with evidence. and unless that evidence is actually peer-reviewed and demonstrates a reproducible effect in thousands of people, you sound like an idiot (maybe a little less so if you're citing an actual case report, but even that, by definition, is a standalone occurrence not intended to be projected onto an entire population). but unfortunately you're also compromising our public heath: you're perpetuating false, or at least not rigorously tested, information and belligerently striking fear into a society (the majority of whom are unable to appropriately discern between truth and bullshit) already overwhelmed with information overload. the result? billions of dollars of our tax dollars funding completely preventable, but sometimes utterly devastating, hospitalizations. we are unnecessarily losing too many lives and diminishing the quality of life of those who survive.

    2) the flu vaccine is the result of one of the most rigorously researched areas of study. and it is one of the triumphs of government-funded research — not because it generates huge revenue and fanfare (unlike the objectives of most labs), but because it confers protection from a very potentially deadly disease. no, it doesn't guarantee protection from the flu, but it also doesn't cause the flu either, contrary to popular belief: we give the shot during cold season because that's when the influenza virus is the most prevalent... but it's COLD SEASON. that "flu" you think you got from the shot? nope, it's probably a cold and you'll likely get over it. the ever-evolving flu strains are becoming more aggressive and virulent each year, and it's not just the elderly and babies who have to be hospitalized anymore. and the potential consequences — both financially and medically — of hospitalization are ugly and occur way more often than they should. it's a choice we each must make, both for ourselves and our community as a whole.

    please celebrate your freedom by exercising your right to choose. so what's it gonna be? a measly co-pay (or none at all sometimes) for an annual shot that'll increase your chance of protection from a really shitty (both literally and figuratively) disease, or a higher likelihood of developing and transmitting a full-blown illness that could land you and/or many others in a hospital bed? go ahead, find those scary case reports; maybe that's enough to scare you out of doing anything. but selectively ignoring the data from a much larger number of people — which, by definition, strengthens the rigor of the findings — is a disservice to your and our community's intelligence and integrity.

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    2. Confabulous, thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into your response. I hope you didn't lose everyone, but you made a lot of good points. Even more importantly, I hope you've gotten some much needed sleep! Thanks so much for ALL your comments.

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  14. This is a sad story but with a beautiful ending! I understand what a pity you missed the part of first 8.5 weeks of Landon's life, but most of important thing is I'm so grateful you survived eventually and we got chance to know each other. Adam is a very supportive husband, his love and good care guarded your went thought the disaster. You both are brave and great fighter! Wish you are safe and healthy in the rest of your time, and enjoying life with Adam and lovely Landon. Blessings!

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    1. Thanks Wendy! Anyone can tell you how amazing Adam was through the whole ordeal. I'm so happy we got a chance to know you as well!!

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  15. As a retired critical care RN I want to thank you for posting this. I have seen too many people die from things that they could have easily prevented by the choices they made, be it by receiving immunizations or refusing to smoke or take illegal drugs or an excess of alcohol for instance. Such a waste of life, meanwhile I also worked with young people who had potentially terminal illnesses such as cystic fibrosis and all they had ever wished for was the chance to grow up and have a day not filled with the effort to just breathe, something most of us take for granted. It's amazing that us nurses do not get so battle weary that we can no longer do the job we have trained for and have a passion for doing, providing bedside care for folks trying hard to get better and continue to live with some quality of life. I will share this. thanks again and keep on keeping on. We have all been guilty of making dumb choices in life but as my wise mother-in-law once told me when my severely asthmatic son was ill with pneumonia once again and I was blaming myself despite doing all I could to try to keep him healthy, "all you can do is the best you can do." Many times that also includes "live and learn", which sounds so simple but it's a message that escapes too many folks yet is a vital part of getting through life the best we can.

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    1. Brenda, I know you nurses just feel like banging your head against a wall sometimes. If only people could understand how precious life is and not take it for granted so easily. I'm hoping someone can learn from me instead of the hard way. Thanks for reading and sharing! Keep on doing the good work!!

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  16. Angela to share your story shows a true testimony of strength & determination. Sorry you weren't able to spend those days with your child, but the important lesson here for me is you survived and your child has you now. Definitely a scary time in your life and events cannot be changed now, you can only build on the today, tomorrow and the future. So many people are being negative on your sorry but am even part of positive people! Your story will reach others and it will save another mother from going through this same pain and maybe even her life! Many blessings to you and your family for sharing your story! God bless you

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    1. I'll take all the negativity they can throw at me if it saves one life. I'm blessed beyond belief and don't usually look back. Doing so here was mainly to help others. Thanks for the kind words and taking the time to read and comment.

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  17. Oh my goodness, I am SPEECHLESS. Thank you for sharing this important story, and so so happy it all worked out okay. Oh my goodness!!!!!

    xo welltraveledwife.com

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  18. Thank you for spreading the word! It's invaluable if you can reach one person and influence them to get a flu shot. My husband was in the hospital for four days last December with the flu and pneumonia and then a subsequent allergic reaction to an antibiotic, and he actually had received the flu shot, however, the Influenza strain (A) wasn't included in that shot last year, unfortunately. We are hoping it's a better match this year, but we ALWAYS GET FLU SHOTS regardless. :)

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    1. Friender, thank for reading and taking the time to comment. I'm glad your husband pulled through and I hope this year you both escape without the flu. I agree, the flu shot isn't 100% and some years are better than others. Now that we know what the other side looks like, I'll always willing to take my chances and bet on the shot. Best of luck to you!

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  19. I too developed ARD from H1N1 in 2009 and I too was frightened by the same video. I was in a coma three weeks. I was in excellent health at the time and this physical fitness helped my heart stay fit on life support. Your story is very touching. It is too bad we learned the hard way. Vaccines are not 100% , but after enduring what we did, a stick seems worth even a 20% risk reduction. My case was confirmed by the third test sect to Mayo clinic, if anyone questions it.

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    1. Heather, I'm so glad that you were able to pull through. I'm sure you are better and stronger for it. I always say, I'd never wish it on my worst enemy. At the same time, it changed my life in so many ways for the better. I hope you are fully recovered and doing well. Hopefully, stories like ours will help others. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  20. Angela,
    This is such an amazing story and I'm so thankful it had a positive ending! I had the privilege of being one of your nurses for the short time you were at Clark and I will never forget it. My wife and I were expecting our first child and only a short time later, so your condition became a little personal. I was beyond impressed with the physicians to quickly expedite your transfer to Jewish Hospital for ECMO therapy. They are such an amazing group of medical professionals and you are their witness! Thank you again for sharing your experience as it has truly blessed my career!
    Have a Merry Christmas and may God continue to bless you and your family!

    Michael

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    1. Michael, I can't believe I am just now seeing this comment. Thank you so much for your kind words. Even more importantly, thank you so much for caring for me while at Clark! It was the amazing teams on both sides of doctors and nurses working together that pulled off the miracle for me. I hope your little one is doing well along with yourself and wife. God bless!

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    2. Oops, I am logged in as my husband. He thanks you too anyway!!

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  21. Thank you for sharing your story. I am very relieved to see you and the baby survived. As a nurse, I know all too well how devastating the flu can be. I hope that your story encourages others to talk to their health care provider and not to make medical decisions based on what they see on TV and internet alone.
    Jennifer Dominquez
    www.bebewellness.com

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! I hope so too!

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  22. Hi Angela. My name is Cyra-Lea, and I was one of the night shift ICU nurses who took care of you while you were on ECMO. I realize you don't remember me, but I sure remember you, and also Adam. He was the perfect example of grace under pressure, never leaving your side and always showing deep gratitude toward every one who was taking care of you. I want to thank you for sharing your story. Since your time in Jewish Hospital, I myself have become a mother. Your story took on a whole deeper level of meaning to me as a parent. I was reduced to tears thinking back on my own son's first year of life, and how much I cherished every moment. If just one family is spared the agony you went through, or the tragedy that could have been, your efforts will not have been in vain.

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    1. Cyra-Lee, thank you so much for the kind words. I am ever so grateful to all my nurses, doctors, and medical staff that took care of me. I think you all saved my husband and family just as much as you saved me. I am so happy to hear you are now a Mom, congrats! Writing this was painfuk, but I wrote my story through the tears hoping it could reach just one person and change one life. I will never know if it helped to prevent such a tragedy or worse. I do know it has stopped and made people think and brought awareness to the seriousness of the flu. It brings me a lot of comfort just knowing that. God bless you!

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