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Hospital Bed to 10 Miler

hi friends! my lovely pal Jill is taking over my blog today to share her amazing story. Enjoy! She blogs regularly over at In Good Faith. Enjoy!

In April of 2010, as a healthy 23-year-old woman finishing up my second year of law school, I was blindsided by a random illness {Lemierre’s Syndrome} that almost cost me my life. While it was the most terrifying ordeal of my life, the experience has taught me a lot about myself, and has had a huge impact on my feelings about health & fitness.

On a Friday night in April 2010 I came down with a sore throat. I asked my (now) husband to pick me up some Emergen-C. It was the last week of classes and I feared my immune system was feeling the stress of impending finals. By the next day the sore throat was so bad, I felt like I couldn’t swallow. I also had a fever which was spiking up to 104 degrees and debilitating chills that violently shook my whole body. A few days later, after the health center couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, where I was quickly discovered to be in septic shock. My condition kept worsening and later that night I was intubated as I experienced “acute lung failure.” At one point a person was manually squeezing a bag to provide my lungs with air.

I was ultimately placed on an ECMO machine {extracorporeal membrane oxygenation} which circulated my blood out of my body and through a machine, oxygenating it for me so that my lungs could rest. I remained asleep on this machine for 12 long days. Eventually doctors gave me large doses of steroids and my lungs began to heal. When I woke up I had no idea how serious my illness had been, or how long I had been asleep. I assumed about 2-3 days.

When I was finally extubated and could sit up and talk, a nurse helped me stand up for the first time in two weeks. My legs felt like jelly. I couldn’t stand, let alone walk. Over the course of the next ten days I received physical therapy three times a day to get my muscles moving again. I had lost 15 lbs, most of it from my lower body. I started by taking a few steps and progressed to the point where I could walk a loop or two down the hallway in the hospital. When I took some of my first steps my husband cried.

When I finally went home I wore oxygen at all times. I had a PICC line {an IV line} through which my husband had to inject antibiotics three times each day. My husband and I would take {very short} walks outside to build up my strength. Luckily, being young and otherwise healthy, I healed quickly. Within about two months I felt almost back to normal. Because of the amazing work of my doctors I have full lung capacity and am perfectly healthy today.

Prior to my illness I worked out intermittently. I never “needed” to work out until late in college when my bad habits started catching up to me {oh, hey, $2 24 oz. bud lights and late night food}. Regardless of what I did, my weight stayed within about a ten pound range where I felt decently comfortable.

But after experiencing lung failure, I made the decision in December 2010 that I wanted to run a 5k race. I had never been a runner and had never run more than a mile in my life. Still, I felt a strong urge to USE the body that I was so thankful.

In January I began the Couch to 5k plan, where I started running for only 60 seconds at a time — which was VERY hard for me at first! However, I stuck with it, and in 2011 I ran two 5ks. In 2012 I ran five 5ks, one 8k, and and 10k. Then this year I accomplished something I never dreamed of– I ran the Cherry Blossom 10-miler with Teri and my other girlfriends, finishing with a 10:59/mile average pace {great for me!}. That’s me, second from the left. 

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Running, as well as Pure Barre, biking, and strength training have become habit for me now. I do not take my body, my lungs, or my health for granted. Some days I will literally take a big, deep breath during a workout and smile, feeling grateful to have lungs that work! This doesn’t mean that I don’t have days where I skip workouts or when I just don’t want to get off the couch— we all have those days– but I now feel a desire and commitment to fitness that I never had before.

I urge you- take advantage of your health and get moving! Our bodies are truly amazing and you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish.

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  • Sophie
    at

    Good for you!

    What bad things with your health you have been through! You came out stronger then before & well done you, running the 5 k like that! Your husband & parents must be so proud of you! 🙂 xxx

  • Wishing U Well Medical
    at

    It’s really interesting story and surprised, i like it….