American Kristin Fox, 42, told how fought for her life after being diagnosed with the flu in Ohio, in the United States. According to her, what seemed to be something temporary evolved into a bacterial infection.
The case began in March 2020, a few days before the lockdown caused by the pandemic and she was 38 years old. The day before, she had gone to the emergency room not feeling well and was diagnosed with the flu. After taking Tamiflu, she went home and when she woke up the next day she started to feel bad.
“I was on my couch and my best friend texted me,” Fox told People magazine. “She said, ‘How do you feel?’ And I texted her back and said, ‘I feel like I’m dying’ and that was the last text she got from me.”
Two hours later, the American looked for a friend who was a nurse. She came, checked your vitals and said, “We need to take you.” According to Kristin, everything after going to the emergency room was a ‘blur’ as she went into septic shock.
“Sepsis is a serious condition in which the body responds inappropriately to an infection. Infection-fighting processes activate the body, causing organs to function poorly. Sepsis can progress to septic shock. This is a dramatic drop in blood pressure that can damage the lungs, kidneys, liver and other organs. When the damage is severe, it can lead to death,” explained the Mayo Clinic, where she was treated.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a typical year, at least 1.7 million adults in the country develop this type of infection and nearly 270,000 die.
“They put me in a medically induced coma. I was already turning purple,” she recalls. “They kept saying, ‘Something is masking an infection,’ but no one said sepsis until the next day. They told me to prepare for the loss of a limb because they put me on so many vasopressors.”
Vasopressors can cause significant vasospasm with potential ischemia [falta de suprimento sanguíneo] in various areas of the body, including the upper and lower limbs. The woman says that the doctors expected that she would lose some fingers or toes, but that the expectation “didn’t even come close” to what she actually lost.
On March 27, Kristin’s legs were amputated below the knees. On April 6, almost ten days later, it was the arms’ turn, just below the elbows. “I ‘celebrated’ my 39th birthday on April 9 in a medically induced coma,” she lamented.
Three years after the incident, the woman still classifies the entire experience as ‘surreal’, as she went to the emergency room with a bad case of the flu and then “woke up without arms and legs” – in the middle of a global pandemic.
Despite the situation, she says she was motivated to fight for her life. “There’s nothing that’s going to change that. I will never get my arms and legs back. Then it was fight or flight, instantly. That was the last thing that helped me get over it—I realized from the first moment it happened, my life changed forever,” she said.
Mother of two children, she remembers what it was like to see her children for the first time after leaving the hospital. “I didn’t want my children to see what happened. When I hugged them and saw my children and they were crying. It was so scary for them,” she recalled.
After being discharged, Kristin underwent 12 grueling weeks of physical therapy, three hours a day, at the Rehabilitation Institute at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pennsylvania.
“I have to earn this because I have to be a mother to my children,” she tells PEOPLE. “They could have mourned my death. They didn’t. I have to fight and crush this therapy every day to be the mother they need me to be.”
As Fox thought about her children, she also thought about the broader impact of her recovery.
“I’m an administrator, I have students looking up to me, my kids’ friends, my nieces and nephews — I had a lot of young eyes watching me,” she told People. “And how I responded to that would ultimately determine the outcome of his mindset about this.”
“If I didn’t get into fight mode and didn’t put my game face on, it would end up affecting that,” Fox told People. “If I didn’t respond well to the situation, I don’t think they would have been as resilient.”
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