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Hard Reminder: Health is not Certain
Old 12-23-2020, 04:33 AM   #1
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Hard Reminder: Health is not Certain

Hi.

We're living through a reminder that life is uncertain and I thought it would be a valuable reminder for others as well.

My wife came very close to dying over the last month.

Five weeks month ago my healthy, 48 year spouse looked at me and said "I have a chill." It was the day after her birthday. She had an ACL reconstruction a week prior so she could get back to full speed tennis.

Over the next 5 days her chill turned into a fever which got worse and nastier chills. We figured it was Covid. It was getting worse and worse. When the Covid test came back negative, we knew we had a problem.

Took her to the ER on Sunday, her blood pressure crashed and kidneys shut down late Sunday. Fluid invaded her lungs. She was put to sleep and placed on a ventilator on Monday.

After several twists and turns, the docs concluded she had gone into Sepsis as a result of an un-identified bacterial infection.

My daughters and I stood by her bedside to say goodbye on Tuesday night, one week after blowing out birthday candles. She was expected to die in the next 6 hours.

Because she was strong and otherwise healthy, the NHS (god bless them) authorized her to be placed on an advanced lung technology called ECMO. This isolated her lungs and allowed them to treat the other issues more aggressively.

The odds were very much against her. At this point she was in multi-organ failure with her lungs, kidneys, bone marrow, and digestive organs malfunctioning and in jeopardy. There was also questions about possible brain damage.

Over the last four weeks the UK NHS (and God) have walked her back from the brink. At one point she was on five forms of life support.

After 4 weeks of searching, they finally got a hit and discovered the bacteria that triggered all this. With the right antibiotic, they've gotten it under control.

Her organs and, thank God, her brain are all coming back to life and appear poised to recover.

Today, we're down to the ventilator and she's working her way off that. Her recovery will take months but we expect her to make her way back home over time.

A few take-aways:

1) The next time you hear someone complain about the UK NHS, please tell them that the NHS fought like hell to save my wife's life and appear to have won. They've been brilliant and the fact that we are American expats in the middle of a pandemic never entered the equation. She was sick, they cared for her and threw their best and brightest into the fight. I'm in their debt.

2) 2020 sucked big time and her getting ill was a kick out of nowhere. Please allow her recovery to serve as an uplifting story amid the wreckage. She's a fighter who beat the odds because literally hundreds of people helped in some way.

3) As we all do our FIRE planning, please remember to use this calculator:

Rich, Broke or Dead
https://engaging-data.com/will-money-last-retire-early/

We all need to hedge the risk that we live to be 100. But its really not likely and those early mortality stats are real. It can and does happen.

The money in the bank took a major worry off my list over the last several weeks. Nothing in this post should be construed to say "Life is short, bet it all on red in Vegas." If I thought this was going to banktrupt us and keep our kids from going to college, it would have been even worse.

But what's really kept me going was knowing that my wife and I had lived life well. We have fantastic daughters and 30 years of wonderful experiences. If it had been the end of our story, I was devestated but I had no regrets.

Thankfully, its doesn't look like the end of the story afterall.

Merry Christmas!
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Old 12-23-2020, 06:04 AM   #2
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great to hear she is going to be ok - wow what a battle!
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Old 12-23-2020, 06:26 AM   #3
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Closet Gamer,
Glad to hear she is on the mend. Thought provoking post.
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Old 12-23-2020, 06:30 AM   #4
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Here's to continued progress and health.
Thanks for the story and reminder of what's important in life.
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Old 12-23-2020, 06:34 AM   #5
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Excellent post, and you guys are so blessed that she is recovering!

I frequently remind myself of this truth: whatever your current health situation, most likely it will never be better than it is now.

And that motivates me to take advantage of my good health, as we all should.
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Old 12-23-2020, 07:23 AM   #6
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Praise to God for her recovery, and for you and your family's continued strength to support her.
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Old 12-23-2020, 08:55 AM   #7
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Thanks for posting your story. I'm glad your wife is getting better.
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Old 12-23-2020, 09:23 AM   #8
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Closet Gamer, so glad your wife is going to make it. And a cheer from me for the National Health Service too. We are American citizens and few years ago we were visiting Scotland playing golf and my husband took a nasty fall on a golf course. I rushed him to the local hospital concerned he had broken something. The hospital was great--took us right in, no wait, Xrayed his leg and found just a bad sprain, loaned us crutches etc. I expected a large bill but when I inquired I was told "no charge." I was "Gobsmacked" as they say over there.
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Old 12-23-2020, 09:58 AM   #9
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That's a great story. Hope your wife's recovery continues to go well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Closet_Gamer View Post

3) As we all do our FIRE planning, please remember to use this calculator:

Rich, Broke or Dead
https://engaging-data.com/will-money-last-retire-early/

We all need to hedge the risk that we live to be 100. But its really not likely and those early mortality stats are real. It can and does happen.
While some may take the lesson to be "retire as early as you can and don't fret so much about 100+% success rate to 100", another take would be to enjoy life to the fullest even while you are still working. The extra time you have in ER certainly opens you to more enjoyable experiences, but I'd say that you shouldn't sacrifice everything to ER as soon as possible.
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Old 12-23-2020, 10:12 AM   #10
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I appreciate your post and will be thinking positive thoughts in your direction.

We also recently had a reminder that health is uncertain. It wasn't me or DH, it's our sister-in-law who is DHs brother's wife.

A few weeks ago she became short of breath. It had happened to a lesser degree earlier but suddenly it got awful. Turns out it's lung cancer. She has never smoked. The doctor called it Stage 4 but so far they have not found other sites. She is expecting chemotherapy and a long struggle but they are ready to take on whatever is needed.

Of all the DH's siblings and spouses she is one of the youngest. They live in NJ, outside NYC so they are in a good area for medical care. Her family is close by. Their 2 daughters are adults and her oldest is 29 and in a steady relationship with a guy the whole family loves. I'm hoping that she can get through this and see her daughter get married and I'm crossing my fingers that maybe she'd have a grandchild!

So yes, life is uncertain. And I wish they were in the UK because here in the USA they will meet their deductible for 2020 and certainly again in early 2021!

Closet_Gamer, please keep us posted on her progress.
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Old 12-23-2020, 10:15 AM   #11
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Thank you for sharing this thought-provoking post. Best wishes to your wife and family as she recuperates.
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Old 12-23-2020, 10:16 AM   #12
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Wow, what a story you have told. So thankful your wife is on the mend, blessings to you this Holiday season!
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Old 12-23-2020, 10:24 AM   #13
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Thank you for sharing your story, it's definitely a Christmas story worth sharing!
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Old 12-23-2020, 01:03 PM   #14
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What a story. I am so glad to hear that your DW is going to make it.

My take on this is to listen to your body, before it is too late. I had sepsis in 2018 and things would probably had turned out bad for me, if my DH hadn't forced me to go to the hospital. I was definitely not as bad as your DW though. It taught me an important lesson for the future.

Merry Christmas and I hope that she recovers quickly.
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Old 12-23-2020, 01:23 PM   #15
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Wonderful story, reminder and news. Remember also that not at anytime were you worried about going bankrupt, or whether some insurance company would deny the life saving efforts of the NHS.

Congratulations and we hope you and your DW emerge full of Health. Happy Holidays.
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Old 12-23-2020, 01:34 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Closet_Gamer View Post
Her recovery will take months but we expect her to make her way back home over time.
Considerably worse than my own bout with sepsis, (which was the worst thing I've ever experienced), and I thought mine was bad enough - be on the lookout for PTSD though, which is apparently not an uncommon after effect......my own experience with it was mercifully short lived, (depression, anger - though thankfully mine was internal and not directed at DW).

Good luck!
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Hard Reminder: Health is not Certain
Old 12-23-2020, 02:53 PM   #17
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Hard Reminder: Health is not Certain

Glad your wife is on the mend.

Having got sepsis myself after an operation I have come to the following conclusion: if you have surgery and anything remotely looking like chills or a fever afterwards immediately suspect Sepsis and push for blood work to confirm.

I have now read (and directly experienced ) too many stories that follow this same plot line.

Thatís my advice...
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Old 12-23-2020, 03:02 PM   #18
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Thanks for sharing your story, it is all too easy to take life for granted.

I hope your wife continues to recover quickly.
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Old 12-23-2020, 03:43 PM   #19
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Wishing your wife continues on her path towards recovery. Thanks for sharing the story. Another reminder to strive to have the life one wants while making the best of what exists and the inevitable "stuff" life throws at us.
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Old 12-23-2020, 03:52 PM   #20
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I’m so glad that everything turned out ok for your wife. Sounds like it was a terrifying experience.

I will never throw shade on the NHS. I wish we had a similar institution on this side of the pond.
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