In June of 2012 I was preparing for my oldest daughter's first dance recital. I started to feel a bit under the weather but pushed through my fever and chills, determined to watch my ballerina take the stage for what would hopefully be her first of many times.
After swaying in the wings and being knocked over by her hug I decided to go home and sleep off what I thought was a beginning of summer cold.
If only it were that.
For the next two days my body flipped flopped between fever and chills, I would sweat through my clothes and soak the sheets. Sunday night I went to the ER and was sent home. I was told it was viral and that it could take up to two weeks to feel better.
Monday I tossed and turned, my body writhing in pain worse than child birth but the doctor's words rang in my head so I decided to wait it out. Tuesday morning I could barely walk to the bathroom to throw up. For a moment I thought to wait it out, after all the doctor told us to wait and we didn't have another $100 for the ER visit.
Thank God something changed in my thought pattern and we were on our way back to the ER. The nurse that admitted me questioned how I walked in on my own accord for my heart was only pumping at 25%.
I was admitted that night and was intubated and put on four major antibiotics. Eric was told I was on “auto-pilot” and was told to go home. When he came back the next morning I was on thirteen different machines. My body started to crash over night and my extremities were quickly losing blood flow and turning purple and black.
For ten days I was under enough narcotics to down a 300-pound man and yet I fought tirelessly to pull my tube out. I was also placed on hypnotics, drugs that would allow me to respond to the nurses and doctors, to move my body to aid with their tests, but I would have no recollection of the worst days of my life.
On June 14th I woke up with my brother and husband standing over me. I was confused, scared, and high out of my mind. That night I was positive that I saw men made out of neon tubes dancing in my room and I swore the nurses were hiding chocolate cake from me. I don't even like chocolate cake, that's how far gone I was.
My body went through a lot. In short, I lost my left thumb, almost lost both my legs, lost just a pinkie toe, spent 2 hours a day for 55 days in a hyperbaric chamber, spent my 30th birthday in a rehab facility, learned how to eat and walk again, spent three months in a wheelchair, went through several hand surgeries with several more to go. Needless to say, I have a lot of medical bills.
That's where #TeamOrange comes in.
I've been known as “Orange Karen” in my writing community. When news broke of my hospitalization my ICU room was quickly filled with over 200 cards. My friends and family actually shut down the hospital's gift shop computers. Every step of the way I had friends from all over the world supporting me and cheering me on.
But with serious medical attention comes serious medical bills. The lovely, talented, compassionate Christina Edson contacted me about doing an anthology to help raise some money to offset our bills. I was speechless.
It was a brilliant idea, I had no idea what to expect, but I was excited. I thought it was cool that not only would I get some money to pay down some major medical bills but it would help publish some really talented people.
Over the course of seven months a board was formed, a website created, submission details released, and an anthology put together. I have never been so honored to be a part of something.
Orange Karen: Tribute to a Warrior hit shelves in April 2013 and features 39 short stories of varying genres. I am extremely proud of the work, effort and dedication to everyone involved. Charity aside it is a collection of solid works and should be treated with the respect it deserves.
Please check the book out or make a donation by clicking on the links on the right.
I thank you all for your curiosity about the OKA and myself.