Side Effects

by - April 28, 2017

The question I'm always asked when I share my story is "are you fully recovered?" I would say I've made a 90-95% recovery at this point. I'm almost two years out now. I still have some physical and cognitive recovery to go.

My arm is a well known physical complication that I've been very open about on instagram (@stephaniee.lyn). I've had several surgeries now and have recovered quite nicely from it. My scars have become one of my favorite parts about me. I also developed foot drop in my left foot. It's a condition where you can't lift your foot and have limited mobility. I suspect it resulted from where the femoral line was inserted and it resulted in peroneal nerve damage. It makes walking exhausting and sometimes difficult. My right foot and leg often compensate for it, which ends up cramping. The top of my left foot and most of the side of my left calf were completely numb. Even though they were numb I could still feel the effects of nerve damage. It was a 10/10 for pain. It would strike unexpectedly or when something would brush against my skin. If my foot touched a sheet while I was in bed it felt like fire. It was one of the most painful things I had ever experienced. I was put on Lyrica. But, it takes several weeks to become effective. I did anything I could to relieve the pain. My mom would rubber band icepacks to my foot to help me sleep. We even tried shaking canned air to make it really cold and sprayed my skin to numb it. I was desperate!

Something I haven't really touched on is the cognitive part of my recovery. I am not back to full function. I still have terrible brain fog and poor memory. I have a difficult time comprehending or retaining new information. I am extremely forgetful and frequently need things repeated. I think some people who meet me now get the impression that I'm unintelligent, slow, stupid, etc. That's not the case. I just happened to go through something that really effected my mind. There are likely three things that have caused my brain fog and memory issues. First, I was very hypoxic (which is a low oxygen saturation). A healthy persons oxygen saturation level is about 95-100%. I had repeatedly desated as low as the 30's. Second, I was septic. Sepsis is commonly known as "blood poisoning" and can cause organ failure (which I had) and death. Third, I was on many heavy IV drugs such as: Versed, propofol, hydromorphone, fentanyl and ketamine. All which kept me sedated, paralyzed and pain-free.

Both the physical and cognitive aspects of recovery take time. I'm being as patient as I need to be, and have accepted that this might just be my new normal.

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