The Ordeal She’ll Never Forget: Healthy Nevada resident’s brush with death began with the flu

JB1_1472 low resThe words, “get your flu shot” were easy ones for Sheri Jensen to ignore. The word “breathe!” coming from a frantic emergency room doctor is impossible for her to forget.

Until a bout of flu threatened her life in 2009, Jensen paid little heed to the annual call for people to get immunized, even when it came from her husband.” I just thought the flu was one of those things where you might be sick for a day or two, “Jensen says. “I thought, ‘Nothing really happens. In 24 hours or so, you’re fine.’”

For Jensen, a Planning Commission coordinator for the city of Henderson, the education came in a frightening fashion.

Away at the family’s cabin, suffering what she thought was a cold, Jensen suddenly found herself delirious and too weak to stand on her own. It was about all she could do to tell her husband to get her to the emergency room. The sudden onset of symptoms is a tell-tale sign of the flu.

By the time Jensen reached the hospital, her condition had quickly deteriorated. “I remember the ER doctor yelling, ‘Breathe! You have children! You’re getting 100 percent oxygen, but you need to breathe!” Jensen says.

It was only the start of a harrowing 10 days in the hospital. Many of those days were spent with Jensen wondering if she would make it to the next one. “I had developed severe complications,” she says.

“Infection set in. It felt like my whole body was just completely shutting down. I could feel myself slipping away. “The feeling was based in fact. Later, Jensen would learn that her husband was told at one point to rush to her bedside because he might not get another chance.

Most chillingly, her pulmonary specialist told Jensen, “I had six patients go through what you did and you’re the only one going home.” Going home after 10 days was hardly the end. Severely weakened, Jensen would not return to work until eight weeks after the incident.

More fortunate than many, Jensen had enough sick time stored to avoid a serious financial hit. Despite good health coverage, however, she still spent about $2,000 out of pocket for her care.

“I was lucky,” she says. “Without insurance, the cost for the hospital stay alone would have been about $125,000.”

Jensen is no longer an immunization skeptic. Family members and co-workers, having witnessed her ordeal, don’t need to be convinced, but she still feels compelled to spread the word.

“There’s a reason why we have people coming up with these vaccines,” she says. “They’re put here for a purpose.”

 

 

This article was written by Matt Jocks of the News and Review. 

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