My short bio: In 2016 I almost died from the swine flu. It started April 4th, after my moms birthday. I got a bad headache, took a motrin and went to college. When I got home, I suddenly got the chills, and declined from there. On April 6th, with a 104.5 fever, my brother and I decide to go to the hospital. I stay over night and everything was fine, but mid- morning the next day I suddenly couldn't breathe. 15 minutes later a bunch of doctors and nurses with bags full of tubing and needles come in and one doctor tells me they dont know what's going on but my lungs are failing so there going to induce a coma.

It's been 2 years since then. That fall after I got sick, I went back to college, but I noticed when I'd go up a flight of stairs my heart rate would go up to 120bpm. I just thought it was because I was out overweight. well fast forward to may of this year, and after having a cold, my blood oxygen suddenly started dropping and it was hard to breath so I called an ambulance. When I got to the hospital my blood oxygen was down to 77%, and normal oxygen wasnt working so they gave me a bypap machine and they kept me for four days(one day in the ICU). The pulmonologist said there was liquid around my lungs, so they gave me lasex, and everything got better, except my heart rate. Now my heart rate is constantly around 115 bpm and when I walk it spikes up to 130-140bpm. I did a follow up with a pulmonologist and after studying my case for almost an hour he concluded that my lungs are severely damaged from the ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome), from when I got sick, and that my lungs had almost "no line of defence left". He said that he wanted me to get test done and that from here on out when I get sick in going to have to be treated aggressively like I'm a stage 4 COPD patient. The high heart rate is due to the lungs not working to their full capacity. He said that I can no longer exercise like a normal person can. I have a follow up with the pulmonologist at the end of July to see what the next steps are. That's where I am. Ask Away

My Proof:

Me - 2018 ICU - May 2018 Swine Flu - 2016

Comments: 526 • Responses: 36  • Date: 

ben_vito677 karma

ICU doctor here, I don't get a chance to often see how survivors are doing years down the road. It looks like not only were you on a breathing machine, but based on that picture they had you on a lung bypass machine (ECMO) so you were as close to death as anyone could be.

How have you been doing psychologically since the event? Do you have any issues with PTSD, depression, anxiety? Do you feel there's been any affects on your memory or cognition?

Glad you got better and I think you can retrain your lungs and body with time. There are pulmonary rehab programs out there, ask your pulmonologist about them. If you have any questions I'm also happy to answer them in return.

Prolificvisions248 karma

Psychologically, everything is fine. After I read some studies on cognition and the ECMO machine, I started questioning my cognition, but after getting all A's the past two semesters, I can say with confidence I dont have any problems in that area. I dont have PTSD, nor do I have any memory problems.

edit I will add that the first few months were rough because of the anxiety of getting sick again, but other than that, everything is good. I randomly developed this fear of someone breaking into the house; I have no idea why.

johnny95638 karma

I can day with confidence

uh oh

Prolificvisions26 karma

I'm using my phone to respond, and I didnt even notice the error. Lol

Idontknowyounknow59 karma

I am seriously interested in OP’s response,but i’m also interested in why you decided to ask those specific questions

ben_vito150 karma

I asked because we know a lot of detail on how people do IN the ICU, and how many survive, what their organ function is like etc. What we don't know a lot about is how people do from the point of view of mental health or if they have any cognitive deficits, etc. Also I'm curious how they do from an overall quality of life perspective. There's a term called post-ICU syndrome that is starting to get a lot of interest.

StudentMathematician19 karma

Pretty interesting to hear your side of it. Hope you get a response at some point.

Prolificvisions8 karma

I replied to his/her response

Herp_derpelson324 karma

What was the hospital bill?

Prolificvisions300 karma

Because I was working part time, while going to college, I was on Medicaid, so they paid for it. They tried to make me pay for the helicopter ride to Penn Presbyterian in PA, but my mom called Governor Christie's office, he was governor at the time, and the health department fought so I didnt have to pay $5000 for a helicopter ride.

pythagoras_gonzalez238 karma

Did you have any hallucinations or lucid dreams while you were in the coma?

Prolificvisions565 karma

Neither. I only remember 3 dreams. One was of myself in a 1970s fighter jet. (This may have been because my mom is always bringing up her deceased brother who was a pilot in the 70's). Another was some entity telling me I was going to watch my whole family die. One was of me going through a childrens part of the hospital, that was McDonalds themed; I later found out there used to be a McDonalds themed part of the hospital for kids. (The nurses may have been talking about it when they were taking me somewhere).

Gusrodlopez317 karma

WTF with the second one

Prolificvisions263 karma

Yea, that second one was terrifying. Of that dream, all I remember was like 1960-1970's star shapes and other trendy shapes of that time period, and that British voice telling me I'm going to watch my whole family die

MrNakamura13 karma

Did you happen to watch any UK based movies/tv series before this happened? Maybe a Bond movie with a evil villain with a British accent? Hope you feel better! All the best for the future!

Prolificvisions9 karma

They may have put on movies while I was in a coma, or maybe their was a nurse with a British accent.

Uptownwoah208 karma

How did you get the swine flu?

Prolificvisions308 karma

I have no idea, it could've been from anywhere but the doctors linked it back to the 2009 strain that killed a bunch of people. It could've been from anywhere.

lavasca134 karma

How long were you in the coma?

Prolificvisions239 karma

I was in an induced coma for a month and a half.

lavasca107 karma

Yikes! How long did it take you to recover from the coma?

Prolificvisions223 karma

A week after I awoke from the coma they sent me to rehab to learn to walk again, because of the atrophy.

spoiled_eggs52 karma

Are you able to explain what it was like waking from the coma all that time later? As in, the emotion / confusion of being told it was 6 weeks later?

Prolificvisions129 karma

I was on all kinds of anti-anxiety medications, so I took it rather well, even the fact that I had a trach in my throat. Prior to me waking up, they tried to wake me up before, but I kept freaking out, so I'm told from family and friends, so the main doctor asked my mom what kind of person I am, and my mom said that I get anxious sometimes, so they decided to put me on anti-anxiety medication.

bradc2093 karma

Has anyone ever told you that you resemble Copper Cab?

Prolificvisions31 karma

Ive been told this once before, but I just don't see the resemblance.

Juan_Milton_I73 karma

Post-climax of your problems, what’s the biggest struggle you face as a result of the medical / physical consequences?

Prolificvisions183 karma

The biggest struggle is my heart rate, it goes up with the little exercition. When I go to open my sheets and blanket to climb into bad and lay down, my heart rate shoots up. It goes down after a few seconds to a minute, but its bothersome in the moment. It feels like my heart is going to rip out of my chest. When I walk from the house to my car, my heart rate goes up. It sucks, but that's my life now.

Impractical_Wokers81 karma

Does that mean any kind of sex is out of the question?

Can you still jerk it?

Prolificvisions115 karma

Oddly, yes to both questions. I dont know why, but everything is fine in that department. You would think with sex my heart rate would jump, but it doesnt.

caluckie31 karma

Have you been worked up for abnormal heart rhythms. I’m a physician, and even though you went through what you went through, I would still rule everything else out like paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, supraventricular tachycardia (most likely), etc. I’m sure they have done these things. Also would probably get an echocardiogram on you.

Prolificvisions20 karma

A month after rehab I saw a cardiologist and he said one of my valves didnt close all the way, so that would cause some "turbulence", but he never said anything about the fast heart rate. When I got sick in may, the cardiologist, in the ICU, said the ER doctor thought I had congestive heart failure, but after checking my heart they didnt see anything abnormal, so I dont know. All I know is that it sucks having my heart go up after minimal exercition.

slom6864 karma

Did you get routine flu shots prior to getting the swine flu? I know they’re a different strain but was curious.

Also, was there any interest or interaction from epidemiologists, local heath officials, etc?

Prolificvisions142 karma

I didnt get the flu shot prior to getting sick. I do now, though, and I suggest everyone get their flu shot; any defense is better then no defense.

The doctor that put me in the induced coma brought my case to the department of medicine to show that the ECMO, which is a treatment that uses a pump to circulate blood through an artificial lung back into the bloodstream of a very ill person. This system provides heart-lung bypass support outside of the person's body, saves lives and that every hosptial should have one

finnknit68 karma

The vaccine makes a huge difference in the duration and severity of symptoms if you do get sick, too. My husband can't be vaccinated, and he came down with influenza this past winter. My child and I were vaccinated, but caught it from him anyway. When I took my child to the doctor, at first the doctor didn't think it was influenza because my child's symptoms were relatively mild and hadn't been going on for very long. The doctor ordered labs to be sure, and they came back positive for influenza. My child and I both recovered more quickly, and with less severe symptoms than my husband.

wasit-worthit17 karma

The reason I hear people say for not getting it is that they chance getting sick as a result.

Prolificvisions19 karma

You cant get sick from the flu vaccine. You are getting a dead virus.

susejesus54 karma

Are you optimistic about your future and health recovery? Hope you’re doing well man I can’t even begin to comprehend the physical, mental, and emotional ordeal this must be for you.

Prolificvisions84 karma

I am optimistic about my future, but if something happens down the road, I'm not to worried about it. I'm not afraid of death, so if it happens, it happens.

sayanything_ace14 karma

So you're actively thinking about your death sometimes? May I ask how old you are?

Prolificvisions44 karma

I am 28. I've already told my immediate family that if something does happen, I want them to get on with their lives, and not to mourn my death. I know that's easier said than done, but I hope that puts them at ease, if I do.

daaangtitsfordays50 karma

Are you my husband? (You two could pass for brothers.) In all seriousness, how are you doing today?

Edit: showed your current picture to my 2 year old and she said “dada!” Congratulations. You’re a father to a ginger baby now.

Prolificvisions4 karma

Well my mom and dad are both adopted so I may have some biological cousins out there, so who knows, we may be related. Haha

Metamilian35 karma

Will your lungs heal somewhat over time? Are there any potential treatments you and your doctors are researching? Some sort of pressure chamber or oxygen therapy? Stem cell stuff? Gene therapy?

Prolificvisions57 karma

ARDS studies have shown healing in a 5 year period, but a decent amount of people ended up not being able to exercise, so I am not to sure what the future holds.

obsessedcrf24 karma

Any idea why the swine flu was so damaging to your lungs? I do remember the outbreak and while it is a terrible disease, I don't believe most people had such long term complications

Prolificvisions47 karma

While I was in the hospital with the swineflu, 15 other people where in the hospital for the same thing, and of the 15, one died.

jimi_hoffa20 karma

Have you watched any action or horror movies? Played video games? How do they effect your heart rate, and if they do, does anything else innocuous effect you as well?

Prolificvisions30 karma

I still do all of those things, and they dont effect my heart rate.

Pukalo_Reincarnate13 karma

What is your favourite Toy Story movie?

Prolificvisions16 karma

The first one, hands down. The third was good, but it definitely wasn't the first one.

the_silent_redditor13 karma

It looks like you were on ECMO in that picture. Do you know how long you were on it for?

Glad you're still with us. ARDS is the worst.

Prolificvisions24 karma

I was on it for 2 weeks. Fun fact, they had to strap my arms down because I kept trying to pull it out, while I was in a coma.

finnknit12 karma

I did a follow up with a pulmonologist and after studying my case for almost an hour he concluded that my lungs are severely damaged from the ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome), from when I got sick, and that my lungs had almost "no line of defence left".

How did the doctor make this diagnosis?

I'm curious because my husband had the swine flu in 2009, although nowhere near as severely as you did. After having that flu, he is much more prone to respiratory infections, and even relatively minor colds cause severe respiratory symptoms for him. He also started snoring after having been sick, despite never having snored before. He's been to pulmonary specialists, but they haven't been able to confirm any lasting damage to his lungs or airways.

Prolificvisions17 karma

ARDS, is what happened to my lungs when I couldn't breath. In regards to the very damaged lungs, that is the pulmonologist hunch, and after we go over a bunch of tests, that I have done, well be able to see what my treatments are,

HaydenB8 karma

Are you concerned with how much more activity your heart has to do over time. As in are you worried your heart will wear out sooner than It would have?

Prolificvisions10 karma

Not worried, but I have thought about it. I'm a realist, so if anything happens, what can I do, ya know?

nuclear_gandhii6 karma

How was coma like? Was like like sleeping and then waking up?

Prolificvisions14 karma

When I woke up it felt like it was the next day after I couldn't breath. I was on all kinds of anti-anxiety medication because i kept freaking out when they'd try to bring me out of the coma a couple weeks prior to me waking up.

JshKlsn8 karma


Prolificvisions9 karma

I remember them administering the liquid from the needle, but then I was out cold.

goldshe5 karma

The coma. Whem they put you to sleep and then you woke up, how was it? Was it like blinking your eyes or was there something inbetween?

Prolificvisions15 karma

I had a 4 dreams that I remember, but other than that, when they woke me up it felt like it was the next day.

beete175 karma

What are your views on vaccines?

Prolificvisions22 karma

Everyone should get their vaccines. Herd immunity saves lives.

Brenolds2 karma

how does it feel knowing you could possibly die from a cold?

Also, can’t they put you on some meds for your heart rate? A beta blocker? something?

Prolificvisions4 karma

When I was unable to breath, I thought to myself that anything, at this point, is better than not being able to breath. It was a horrible experience.

PleaseKillMeHaha-1 karma

Are you still overweight? Do you eat diary and meat?

Prolificvisions2 karma

I am still overweight. I lost about 5 pounds, eating healthy, but without being able to exercise it's hard to keep it off.

Kessarean-1 karma

Have you heard of things like the “China Study” (food/diet related book, years of research) & “Forks over Knives” (documentary) and their incredibly positive impacts on health?

Prolificvisions2 karma

Ive never heard of the "China Study", but Im a research guy, so I looked into it, and when I typed it into google, a whole bunch of studies were done on the "China Study" that shows the data just doesn't support vegetarian ideology.

Overall, besides harming animals, I don't really see any major benefits to being vegan. Its more or less a choice, nothing more. It would be great if lab grown meat catches on, that would be great because wed no longer have to hurt animals, but sadly I dont think it will.

Kessarean-1 karma

If you ever have the time, I highly recommend reading it. I don’t necessarily believe in everything that they found, but we adopted a lot of the healthily loving principles from it & noticed amazing benefits.

Side note - did you participate in r/thanosdidnothingwrong ? If so, did you live?

Do you also play fortnite?

Prolificvisions1 karma

I did not participate in r/thanosdidnothingwrong, and I dont play fortnite.

I recently got a Nintendo Switch and have been playing Breath of the Wild, and Lego Worlds; Yes I am 28 and love the Travelers Tales Lego game series. Haha

encompassingchaos-2 karma

Have there been any talks from Dr.s of lung transplantation? How long have they said that your lungs will last in thus stage of COPD?

Prolificvisions8 karma

I dont have COPD. The doc said they will treat my lungs like I was someone with COPD, because of how damaged my lungs were from the Swine Flu.