Support my recovery from sepsis

On Christmas day 2016 I almost died of sepsis. Writing down these details is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. And my husband and I deliberated for quite a while about doing it. But I have children who I need to put first, so I am humbly asking for help. I feel if anyone is going to help me, they deserve the right to know why. I am normally a very private person, but I have to place my pride aside this one time. Despite having received the flu shot, I came down with flu-like symptoms on December 23. I went to the ER the next day and was told that it was indeed the flu. I went home with cough syrup and tried to sleep it off. The next day my husband found me in our bedroom. My entire body was shaking and blue and I was hallucinating. I had a temperature of 105. He called an ambulance and shortly after getting the the ER I was admitted to the intensive care unit. The flu had turned into pneumonia which had rapidly turned into a full body infection known as sepsis. My case was fairly severe. About half of the people who enter the ICU with sepsis this severe do not survive. The doctors told my husband that if he had called 911 even 1 hour later I would not be alive. My blood pressure was 73/38. My oxygen saturation was in the 60s and 70s and my right lung had collapsed. I couldn’t breathe, was incoherent and was in the worst pain I have ever experienced, and that includes labor. According to the ICU doctor I was the sickest person in the ICU. I have little recollection of my time in the ICU and was incoherent for most of my stay there. They placed me on 40 liters of oxygen per minute, which stabilized my oxygen saturation while I was resting, but if I moved around at all my oxygen dropped into the 70s and according to what I have been told I would begin to shake uncontrollably and turn blue. The next day they placed a PICC line, which was one of the scariest experiences of my life. After several days in the ICU my lungs showed little improvement and for a short time my left lung also looked like it was beginning to infiltrate. The next day, however, my cough worsened, meaning my lungs were beginning to show signs of improvement. I finally was able to come home on January 1 after a week in the hospital, most of which was spent in the ICU. When I came home the lower lobe of my right lung was still partially infiltrated and I had developed pleurisy, which is exceptionally painful. I later discovered I had also broken several ribs from coughing so strongly. I can only walk very short distances and I really cannot do anything for the next several weeks.

I work as a nurse, which is a very physical job, so going back to work before February is unlikely. Due to other medical issues that have occurred unexpectedly this year, including both my husband and I undergoing surgery, I do not have any FMLA. I have applied for disability but it takes several weeks, so for the last few weeks and for the next month or so we will only have very limited income, as my husband works freelance and stays home with our children, making me the primary breadwinner. Any savings we had, we already used for other medical crises this year, leaving us with no way to pay our rent or car insurance. To make matters worse, we have to find a way to pay  for COBRA  as I have several follow ups and x rays planned over the next few weeks and it is paramount that we and our children have health insurance.

I have written all of this because I have to think of my family first. We cannot go into severe debt because I almost died. It is very sad that we live somewhere that people have to ask for help like this when they get sick. But we do. Our medical bills from the hospital stay will be upwards of approximately $20,000. Our COBRA will be $8,000. And our rent and car payments for 2 months will be $4,600. Obviously this does not include food, utilities, diapers, etc, which we are also left with no way to pay for, because I am out of work for the foreseeable future. We have our children, who are 2 and 3, to think about and this kind of debt will absolutely cripple our family. We are humble people and the decision to ask for help was so difficult for us. Any assistance we receive will be such an unimaginably incredible help. Every dollar and every share will help us. If, by some miracle, we receive more help than we need we will absolutely return any extra money we receive. We are so grateful for our friends and family who have been there for us through this ordeal. Your support means the world to us.


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Jessica Dlugasch 
Trenton, NJ
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