Thanks for the kind words Colleen. My employer saw me on the ventilator so they knew how serious my illness had been. I returned to work after 6 weeks off and went directly back to full time shifts. My employer, and some really nice colleagues, set up a place for me to do nebulizer treatments during the day. I would do a nebulizer once I got to work, then another one around mid-shift and sometimes another close to the end of my shift. The biggest problem I had wasn’t only doing my job, it was that once I got home I had to rest before I could do anything around the house; doing both felt like it was killing me. The first two years were beyond awful; I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I was sick for most of it with one respiratory bug after another because my immune system was compromised due to the sepsis. I had to learn that my new life meant that my body couldn’t fight off illnesses carried by others at work.
20 years later my life is probably better than most ARDS survivors but there have been some bumps in the road. I now need to take antibiotics for any dental procedures beyond a regular cleaning. 3 years ago I broke a few ribs coughing when I had bronchitis. I leaned the hard way how many people show up to work seriously sick and then gift their bug to me and then I require Prednisone to get my lung function back to baseline. Every time I get sick beyond a cold, it takes many weeks to fully recover. I’m on long term steroids to keep my lung function close to where it was before I had ARDS and I use lots of albuteral to exercise. Every year, usually during the winter, I get really sick for about 6-8 weeks; I’m able to work for the most part but I’m not able to do much outside of work.