Monday, May 30, 2011

A Memorable Memorial Day...

My personal "HEROS"

      Stephen Carter (Carter) Portillo
     Katie Martens (my Beautiful Baby Girl!)

To all of the selfless men and women who have given up their own personal freedom to protect and preserve that of our Nation, I wish to say:  "Thank You for your service and may God bless you and keep you safe!"  Katie and Carter are very much in love and ready to commit their lives to one another.  They will be getting married, on the Island of Belize, on July 4th, 2011 ~ even though the Navy won't allow them to actually live together for two more years!  They'll work it out...

Captain Morgan

And now for a long overdue update and explanation:

Many of you know that in March of this year, I suffered a serious injury to my left elbow.  I had surgery to remove the damaged (shattered) bones and a prosthetic elbow was implanted.  I spent about a week in the hospital and believed that I was going to be good as new.

Jack Daniels and Kahlua (Kahlua is sold)

Unfortunately, a few weeks after the original surgery, an infection developed in the surgical site.  At first the doctor thought I was just "popping a stitch" but they lanced the area and took cultures to test for bacterial infection.  Two days later, I was admitted back into the hospital for more surgery. 

Karma (sold)

My doctor reopened the original surgical site and thoroughly cleaned and scraped the entire area.  He inserted a large drainage tube and a pump to keep the inside of my arm clean.  The hope was that this would stop the infection yet save the prosthetic elbow.

Jim Beam

Unfortunately, it didn't work.  Three days later, I was once again in the surgical suite and this time they removed the prosthetic elbow and scraped out the entire inside of my arm.  A smaller drain was put in place and more cultures taken to determine the type of bacteria we were dealing with.  Another week in the hospital.


I was sent home from the hospital on IV antibiotics.  I had a "PIC" line installed in my upper right arm, with a thin wire that ran under my skin, up my shoulder, down my chest and into my heart.  Family and friends would give me daily (infusions ~ inject powerful antibiotics into the PIC line) to clear up the ongoing infection in my now elbow less arm.    The antibiotics made me nauseous and weak but were necessary to get rid of the infection.

Karma, Jim Beam and Tequilla

For a couple of weeks, it seemed that things might be working out.  I was still not feeling well and very weak but the arm appeared to be getting better.

Kahlua (sold)

Until the day that I couldn't get out of bed.  I'd had no appetite and been very tired for several days but on this morning, I could not get out of bed.  I had the chills so badly that I looked like I was having seizures!  (yet no temperature?)

Jim Beam

When my temperature rose to 102 after two hours, my friend Katie W., rushed me back to the emergency room which is 45 minutes away.  By the time we reached the emergency room, my temp was 104.5.

Angus and Karma (Karma is sold)

When I used the restroom in the Urgent Care Center, I was stunned to see the reddest skinned human being I have ever seen in my life, staring back at me from the mirror.  The Urgent Care nurse was the first to utter the word:  "Sepsis".  Apparently, the deep, dark flush is one of the first signs. 

Alice's boys:  Tanqueray & Dom Perignon
(Dom is sold)

Within minutes, my Sepsis evolved into Septic Shock (blood pressure bottoms out and all body systems shut down).  Needless to say I was in Intensive Care for that!  In fact, I was in Intensive Care for three days.


Somehow, the doctors supported my body throughout Septic Shock in spite of the fact that most people who experience Septic Shock do not survive.  I do remember a point in time where I was begging them NOT to fight any longer.  I wanted them to let me go and stop hurting.  My poor Kids were standing at my bedside, watching me, in excruciating pain, begging me to hold on and listening to me begging to be allowed to die.

What a nightmare.
Fortunately, I don't remember much of it!

Brandy (sold)

It turns out that my PIC line was the cause of the newest, most dangerous infection.  After 3 days in ICU, all of my systems were returning to normal ~ other than my lungs, which were filling up with fluid because of all the fluids they were pumping into me to keep my blood pressure up.  Gasping for air and not being able to breath have always been one of my greatest fears.  Thank God, I don't remember that day!

Chance with Brandy and Jim Beam
(Brandy and Chance are sold)

The next day, the doctors said that I could go home.  The nurses, myself and my family were VERY concerned!  Only 24 hours ago, I'd been in Intensive Care, fighting for my life.  The fact is, insurance would not continue to pay for my care now that I was no longer critical.  I had to go home.

Captain Morgan & Jack Daniels

So, after another week in the hospital, I returned home to the care of my family and friends.  Although we did make trips to the emergency room the first two nights that I was home, I am now, finally, truly feeling better.


I'll be on these powerful antibiotics for another week.  Then the doctors will asess the status of the infection.  If it looks good, I'll get to stop taking the antibiotics but stay under close monitoring for two more weeks.  If all goes well, I'll be able to move on with my life at that time.  I'm still weak and my left arm will never be as strong as it once was, but I am alive!  I actually said a little prayer yesterday:  thanking God for keeping me going in spite of what I thought I wanted at the time.  Needless to say, my kids are pretty happy.


DREAM says...

"I was supposed to tell this story, but you know Mom when she gets typing!  Perhaps she'll let me chime in tomorrow, when we tell "THE REST OF THE STORY..."


  1. Good grief Nancy. I had no idea. I'm so sorry to hear that you have been through such a terrible time. I'm crying for you and your family, as I know it had to be horrible. I'm so glad you did survive and that God chose not to take you home just yet! I will be praying that you continue to heal and improve. I'm just in shock.
    Take care,

  2. God bless you all. ♥

  3. I am so happy that you are in the recovery stage now. Once you stop the powerful antibiotics, you will feel a lot better if you react the way Jake did. I can't believe how similar your cases were. Yours was just worse. I am so glad that your family was able to help you get through all of this misery. Hope to see you soon.

  4. Anonymous6:27 PM

    Zounds!! Wishing that you finally get relief from this nasty germ you acquired.
    Rest, rest and more rest is needed now.

  5. I popped over from Kim's blog. As a nurse I do understand what a nightmare you have endured. I hope the healing continues, and I will enjoy reading your posts.

  6. Nancy, going thru such a trauma can really open your eyes to a new side of life. Experiencing hard times mixed with God's mercy can be enlightening to say the least. I am glad you made it out of that infection - which is indeed very dangerous. Usually, within six hours of the infection settling into your blood stream, there's not always a chance to get it reversed. Am glad you are here with your kids. This is a good reason why we must take care of sick people, even when they are asking different, they are usually not able to think clearly, so it is right to keep going and do the best possible --- being very sick will make you do things that are not your "normal" way of doing things. Glad you are doing so much better...your pictures are so beautiful. You have a rich life. Keep us posted.

  7. Anonymous6:04 PM

    Oh Dear God! What a horrid thing to go through! Thank you for being so honest. I am offering up prayers for you and your elbow. (I hope you accept prayers from strangers.)


  8. Anonymous7:35 PM

    I so much admire your courage and strength, Nancy. I'm so glad that you are finally past all the serious medical situation. I'm impressed that you have the energy to post on your blog. Prayers and healing thoughts coming from Bloomington,Indiana to you.
    Diane L.

  9. Oh My Gosh!! Nancy I am so glad for you and your family that you are now on the road to recovery! You ae so stong and willing for continuing to fight through it!
    Enjoy your family and critters, I'm sure they are the BEST medicine, and take care.

  10. I agree with TCSL: Holy. Crap.
    You know we're all thinking of you Nancy! Keep you chin up and "spirits" (pun intended with all the lambs names) even higher!
    And be sure to TAKE CARE OF Y-O-U!!!!!! first!

  11. Anonymous8:21 PM

    I am glad you are getting better after your ordeal. I am still interested in Captain Morgan, if he's available.

  12. Thank you all for the good wishes and prayers. I'll take all that I can get ~ even prayers from strangers! ;-)

    I am certainly not anyone to be looked up to or inspired by. I was so scared and sick and hurt when I was in the hospital and in the early days back at home. I have been told that I got quite grumpy with the people who were taking care of me and that makes me feel very sad and ashamed!

    Now, if I can just get past these headaches and nausea (side effects of the antibiotics)...

  13. First of all, don't feel guilty about the grumpiness. Infection literally affects your cognitive function; you are not yourself when the infection is in you. That's one of the reasons they keep close track of urinary tract infection in the elderly - UTI's are common, and we tend to not take them seriously, but they cause dementia and all sorts of mental issues. When I got an infection in my incision after the hysterectomy, that was the only time when I really got depressed and 'not myself'. Your family can see this in you, and they'll cut you slack.

    My BIL went through this with his prosthetic knee. And unfortunately, it DID NOT clear up until they went in and took the prosthetic out and put in a new one, because the infection was hiding in the prosthetic mechanism and could not be gotten out with antibiotic treatment. Don't go too much longer with this, sweetie - if there is ANY sign of more infection, just insist on them putting in a new, clean prosthetic. And I don't know, maybe use a different hospital with a different specialist. Not fun, but a lot less unpleasant than having to go through this over and over...

    Love you, sending my bestest thoughts and prayers.

  14. Oh my..if you ever have trouble with that elbow and/or an infection like that again, have your family ask the specialists about a medical device called the Wound VAC by KCI. I worked for them for 7 years and it is an amazing product that does amazing things. Not all doctors use it but it is becoming the "standard of care" in many specialties. If you need any help at all, you can ask your family to get in touch with me. I left about 1.5 yeas ago on medical leave but I know a lot of folks there that can help - talk to doctors, etc. Info on the product can also be found at kci1 dot com - that's the letters kci and the number one plus the dot stuff.

    Heal well. Sending good thoughts your way.
    marianne at blackwalnutwoolens dot com

  15. Anonymous7:28 PM

    SOC(SWCC) Portillo



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