Update: What the heck happened?!

by agirlandhermutt on February 23, 2015

Oh hey there. I have so much to say and just had no strength to say it. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve had quite the health scare this past month. I was telling the husband that I wanted to write a huge long blog post about the whole ordeal to explain what went down, but when I sat down to write it I just was filled with sadness. And a TON of tears. Fortunately, my mom (a nurse for over 42 years!) had warned me this would happen, but it doesn’t make the grief/depression about what happened any less real or intense.

I thought writing it out would be good for memory’s sake. But then I realized that there is NO WAY I will *ever* forget this whole situation. So today I’m going to give you the basic nuts and bolts about what happened. Hopefully it will help my friends and family understand EXACTLY what happened (my facebook posts were a bit vague. Sorry!) and also help me to process my illness.

The last I wrote I had been diagnosed with Acute Thyroiditis. Spoiler alert… there is nothing wrong with my thyroid. After almost 2 weeks of pain, multiple unsuccessful ER visits and a misdiagnosis, I was sent for an MRI on a Thursday. Fortunately, my husband came with me because that whole day I was just in and out of consciousness. I just couldn’t keep it together. Just two short minutes after my MRI was done I was told I needed to have emergency surgery for a large abscess that was found between my spinal cord and my esophagus. I officially had a retropharyngeal abscess. Basically a large infection between my spinal column and my esophagus that went from my throat into my chest.

I was quickly wheeled into the OR with my husband holding all my crap from the day and a bit confused on what to do next. The next thing I knew I was waking up with a tube in my nose, a drain in my neck and an IV in my arm. I was also alone. And scared. This was much more than I had anticipated. BUT my neck pain was gone!!!

Fortunately, my parents did not pay one bit of attention to my plea to them over the phone to not worry and stay put in Florida. I had no idea what I was in store for with this surgery/illness, but Mom always knows best. They jumped on the first plane to Boston and arrived Friday morning.

Over the course of the next 5 days I was stuck with a needle more times that I can count. I was given multiple xrays, a CT scan, a swallow test, and just fussed with for hours and hours each day. It was exhausting. And did I mention that I wasn’t allowed water or food?!

The cause of my abscess (a huge ass staph infection from my neck down into my chest) is unknown. They *think* it was caused by a small tear in my esophagus, but can find no holes to prove that theory correct. It could have even torn and already repaired itself. Apparently this illness is more common in children and older folks. It can easily result in death for many. However, because I was “young and fit” I was fighting back. (Thank you Dr for that quote! You made a really tough night just a bit brighter!) Apparently, my illness is a “lottery disease”. Uh. I’d prefer the real thing thank you very much.


Walk, walk, walk. Always training for something! #Fitfluential?!

Monday, February 9th, was my big day. I had not eaten or had anything to drink for almost 5 days. I had a swallow test to determine whether or not there was a tear in my esophagus. If I had failed the test I would have been given a feeding tube in my stomach and forced to stay at the hospital for an additional two weeks. I tried to stay positive throughout my entire hospital stay, but when I heard that I think I declared I would rather be rolled off the hospital’s roof and just call it a day.

Thankfully, I passed. I was given the a-ok to return home and continue my treatment of antibiotics. And to start on a liquid diet!


Water and jello never tasted so good!

The next morning moved quickly. My drain was removed (OUCH!) and so was my IV (another OUCH!) and I was being rolled out the door. It was exhilarating.

Without giving too much detail on my career, I work in healthcare. Being on the other side of the wall as a patient was eye opening. My treatment team (surgeon, surgical residents, infectious disease dr) were OUTSTANDING. I am here today alive and on the road to recovery because of them. My nursing care was less than fantastic. I had several nurses that should be given an award for working in the conditions they were working in. 5 or more surgical patients, several incompetent nursing aides (no washing hands, no gloves, no antibacterial gel) and lack of support from hospital (no IV team, no housekeeping). However, there were other nurses that were there to hang my meds (sometimes late and without scanning my wristband) and that was that. It was disheartening to not be listened to or to be treated with care at times.

I’m a dramatic person. It is actually one of my personality traits that I really enjoy and that I also think my friends can enjoy. It makes me a good storyteller and a bit funny.

With that said, let me be clear. No dramatics. Without my family, my hospital stay would have had a very different outcome. I know this without a doubt.

My husband stayed with me through the day. He didn’t leave my side to eat lunch or go to the bathroom. He made sure my dehydrated feet and legs stayed moisturized. My mom stayed with me through the night. She barely slept and made sure every need I had throughout the evening was met. She supervised every med that was given or blood that was drawn to make sure that it was done correctly. My dad drove everyone around and ran every errand we needed done during snow, wind and ice storms. Korky was cared for by everyone so I wouldn’t worry.

I also have a great base of friends. Well wishers through Facebook, text messages, phone calls, flower deliveries and hospital visits kept my spirits up. It feels REALLY good to know that so many people care about you. It is hard not to feel small and insignificant in such a busy and big world. This whole ordeal let me know that people really do care. I WILL remember this forever.

One thing that was said over and over by people in the hospital and by my friends was that they were “impressed with my positive attitude”. I had to laugh every time I heard that. I woke up the morning after my surgery and started to cry. It was the first time in 2 weeks that I felt GOOD. Here I was with a huge tube in my nose and I still felt excellent. I also knew the only way I was getting out of the hospital was to follow the rules, keep my spirits up and put in the work to get better. How could I not be positive?!

I’d love to say that it has all been peachy since I left the hospital, but that just isn’t life. I had an IV infiltration that caused my hand to blow up and be extremely painful. I had a hard time getting comfortable because my neck incision. I wasn’t able to do the most simple tasks like wash my hair or walk the dog. My medications were disgusting and made me cry.


My constant companion at home.

We had tons of plans around this time and they all to be cancelled. My weekend getaway for my birthday. A painting class. A Valentine’s Day celebration. Our big ol’ Wedding Celebration for our Boston friends.<—Seriously sad. We WILL reschedule though!

BUT! I was alive. On Friday, February 13th I turned 35. I had my little birthday celebration in my own home with the people I love. They ate chinese food and I watched them. It was lovely. 🙂


This is my 35!

I also had a blow dry at the drybar in Chestnut Hill and got a mani/pedi. I wasn’t looking too horrible by the day’s end!


On Saturday, Valentine’s Day, my parents boarded a plane and headed back to Florida. It was bittersweet. I miss them horribly, but I also knew there was no way that my parents would have left unless they thought I was on the road to recovery.

So what is next?! A TON of Dr appointments. A lot of medications. Incision healing.

Note: I wrote this on Thursday but ran out of energy to post it on Friday. I took a huge step to being more normal and went back to work for my first full-ish day! WOOT!

Have meds, will work!

Check out all those boxes. Wedding gifts galore! Thank you!

I’ll also get the ability to drive again soon. Be cleared to get back to the gym. Get back to work full-time. Continue to lose all the fluid weight I gained in the hospital. Return to becoming as normal as possible. Create a new EVEN MORE positive outlook on life.

I will live, love, laugh and become a better version of myself.

Thanks for your support. Thank you to my friends, family and readers for all your positive thoughts, prayers and love. It means more to me than you will every know!

Till next time!

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Noelle Reese February 23, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Awww Girly, you made me well up and leak a little! I am so glad you are feeling better. You look hot as hell and your attitude is contagious! Keep up the good work and everything you had to cancel will be even better when it finally comes <3

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agirlandhermutt February 23, 2015 at 12:25 pm

YES! You are so right. It will all work out the way it is supposed to. Dare I say even better?! 🙂

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Annie {Stowed Stuff} February 23, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Wow! What a story! So glad you are feeling better! I’m glad everyone took such great care of you! Get well!

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agirlandhermutt February 23, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Me too! Thanks so much!

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suki February 23, 2015 at 2:27 pm

OMG so scary! Glad to hear you are feeling better and are recovering. 🙂

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james February 23, 2015 at 9:07 pm

After all you went through, you brought tears to our eyes because we were so proud of your positive attitude, your strong will to get better, and your compassion for others even at your sickest. We (Mom and I) are so impressed with what a beautiful, fantastic, caring young woman you are. I thank God every day that you are our daughter..Love you sweetheart, Your DAD

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agirlandhermutt February 26, 2015 at 1:32 pm

I love you Dad (and Mom!). I’m glad I’m your daughter too. 🙂

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Evelyn February 24, 2015 at 3:40 pm

WOW Im so sorry to hear of all you have been going through. What a trooper you have been. Just awful. I kept checking your blog daily wondering “what happened to this girl-we had a blizzard then we hadn’t heard from you” GLAD you are ok. Love your blog and have been reading for years-Get well soon….keep blogging 🙂

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agirlandhermutt February 26, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Luckily I haven’t had to shovel an inch of snow! Always looking on the bright side of things! 🙂

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Evelyn February 24, 2015 at 3:41 pm

ps your hair looks amazing!

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Michelle P. February 25, 2015 at 10:55 pm

<3 you friend! So glad you are on the road to recovery, and that you NEVER lose that sarcastic humor and great personality of yours 🙂

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agirlandhermutt February 26, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Will do! It isn’t going anywhere!

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Rita February 26, 2015 at 11:28 am

First of all, I’m so happy you’re on the road to great health! I knew something was going on. I follow you on FB but I’m not on it but briefly several times a week. I missed seeing your weekly emails, I enjoy your updates. Thank God you were fit, I’m sure it helped with your survival and recovery. As you ease back into your daily routine, always remember to care of you. 🙂

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agirlandhermutt February 26, 2015 at 1:40 pm

I KNOW that losing weight, working out regularly and eating healthy is what made this not be a tragic case. Thank you for the reminder to take care of myself! I need all the reminders I can get to just slow down and not push it. Thank you for reading!!!

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Jen February 27, 2015 at 11:04 pm

Okay that made teary eyed. I didn’t realize just how bad things were! I’m so so glad you’re on the mend. Miss you! Hope to talk soon.

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Chelly March 7, 2015 at 5:40 pm

Your positivity is amazing! And a mani/pedi can help improve so many things 🙂

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