She had no idea what had caused her illness but it was starting to get worse. Her daughter was beginning to get worried, no one had any idea where the sudden illness had originated from. But then she welcomed the contractors into her home.
She sat on the couch, coughing continuously as the repairmen got to work. She tried her best to stay upright, but she was weak. But that was when she heard a commotion, and soon, the men walked up to her with the answers she needed.
Kathi Wilson was a 41-year-old Shelbyville local who always put her daughter first. And even though she wasn’t the most active person, she stayed relatively fit.
But nearly a decade ago Kathi started feeling ill, and it never got better. She always chalked it up to all the stress she was going through with work. But her daughter would make sure she got help.
Kathi’s daughter was tired of her dismissing her condition. She wasn’t getting better but rather getting worse. It all started with just a cough, but now it had escalated to sore bones and fatigue.
This worried her daughter beyond belief. But Kathi hadn’t budged yet, she still refused to see a doctor.
A Trip To The Doctor
She was looking for any way to feel better. She tried every vitamin available including, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Zinc, Iron, and Vitamin E. After taking them for a few weeks there was no notable improvement.
Ashley decided that she was sick and tired of watching her mother suffer so she decided to take her to the doctor. She got a sick note excusing her from work for a few days but not much else could be done.
Same As Always
Kathi felt the same when she got home from the doctor. The days off were nice but she still couldn’t shake the stress of catching up on the work she missed.
But things would gradually get worse as the days went by. Kathi’s condition had never gotten worse this quickly before. Until her daughter decided to intervene once again.
Kathi felt fatigued and stopped eating. She lost weight as Ashely got even more concerned about her health. She decided that her mom would have to get yet another checkup.
Kathi was less hesitant this time around and just wanted to feel better. Ashley could see that she was just getting worse. But when the doctor spoke it wasn’t the best news.
They got to the doctor’s office and they were shocked with Kathi’s condition, what they had dismissed as a cold a few weeks earlier had now gotten far worse.
They were surprised that a strong, young woman with a healthy immune system like Kathi, who should have overcome the flu weeks ago, was still deteriorating. Now, they were growing concerned, too.
Dr. Mary Beth Hensley started to take her condition a little more seriously, she took things to the next level by running blood and allergy tests to hopefully find any disease or intolerance. But the tests came back with the same result, she should have been healthy.
They didn’t have a diagnosis, but they decided to try an “elimination” approach, so Kathi was put on several different antibiotics. Hopefully, they would then find out what was really going on.
Not What They Had Hoped For
After Kathi was given the medication they waited to see her reaction. This was their best hope of finding out why Kathi wasn’t getting better. Most importantly, they needed to stop her from getting worse.
The medication Dr. Hensley gave her would hopefully give more insight into what was causing her illness, but instead, it had the opposite effect.
Kathi started to feel worse instead of better. She had body aches and could barely keep her eyes open. Then the mystery illness started to take a toll on her mental health. Her friends and family members started to worry.
Was the condition just a state of mind? Kathi couldn’t believe that she knew her body and she knew something was wrong.
Something Wasn’t Right
It was hard for Ashley, who had now taken her mother to the doctor twice with no conclusive results. She just didn’t want there to be a third time where she was even worse. What was wrong with her mother?
Ashley witnessed her mother’s deterioration first-hand, and she also knew in her heart that something just wasn’t right.
Kathi, determined to get to the bottom of her illness, searched for her symptoms online. She spoke to “experts” in online chats, and she tried herbal treatments and natural remedies, but nothing seemed to be helping.
As time went by, more and more people lost faith in her, and no one could give her answers. She had never felt so alone before. Maybe it really was just all in her head?
Kathi visited her doctor regularly over the next 10 years. Dr. Hensley provided Kathi with the best care and tested for everything that she could. She went to great lengths to attempt to diagnose Kathi. She insisted on “cardiac testing, chest x-rays, MRI’s [of] the brain, the spine, to see if something was related.”
But nothing seemed out of the ordinary. “I felt we were very thorough but didn’t come up with a solution,” Dr. Hensley explained. But Kathi was growing sick and tired.
Years of the mystery illness had affected Kathi’s mental health. It impacted her relationships, work, and most importantly, her quality of life. After ten years of her flu-like symptoms, she decided that if no one could help her, she would help herself.
So she decided to treat herself to a bathroom makeover. She had plans to create a sanctuary by remodeling the entire bathroom. She arranged for contractors to take care of the job. But shortly after, they made a shocking discovery.
The contractor’s forehead crumpled with concern when he asked Kathi when her water heater had been installed. Kathi knew that it had been installed years before she had gotten sick, and Ashley must have been a little girl at the time. She thought hard and replied: “Maybe 10 years ago?” The contractors were horrified. (storeys.com)
They had discovered that the furnace and water heater, fitted incorrectly, were causing trace amounts of carbon monoxide to escape and leak into the house over an extended period of time. But isn’t carbon monoxide poisonous?
Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless –invisible to the eye. This makes the gas a silent killer. When the body is exposed to it, the gas displaces oxygen in the blood.
This exposure causes serious damage to the heart, brain, and vital organs. Everything was finally falling into place. Would this explain Kathi’s strange symptoms?
Even a small exposure to CO can cause chest pains, fatigue, nausea, headaches, and vertigo. But prolonged exposure can have serious effects, including vomiting, muscle weakness, fainting, and confusion.
Some cases of CO poisoning even result in death. But how had she been misdiagnosed again and again?
Finally, An Answer
After years of searching for answers from specialists and healthcare professionals, Kathi had lost hope. But now, Kathi’s decade-long symptoms suddenly all made sense! The most unexpected visitors had finally given her an answer. “I was shocked,” she exclaimed.
Kathi had been suffering for so long from an unexplained illness, and it had left her in the physical condition of an old woman. But how could she ever thank them enough?
“Over the years it kept getting worse and worse,” Ashley explained. When she heard that finally there was proof of her mother’s ailment, she was overjoyed. Now, Kathi would be able to function like a normal human being again.
She couldn’t wait for her mother to start being healthy and active again.
Getting Back On Track
Ashley cried happy tears, her mother could finally get her life back on track. After years of her mother being bed-bound, they would now be able to do all the things that they had missed out on — like going shopping or going out for dinner.
But could she ever forgive the doctors after all the years of neglect?
Road To Recovery
Kathi hasn’t felt this good in years. She got so much more than just a new bathroom from the contractors — she got her life back. She’s thrilled to have her body, mind, and spirit healing. “I feel great,” she said. “I haven’t been this happy in I can’t tell how long.”
She couldn’t believe that her health was improving. After so many years she had nearly given up all hope of ever recovering. But things weren’t completely over yet…
The fact was that all of her pain and torment had been due to negligence in the first place. Whoever installed her heater properly had nearly gotten away with murder, but she was glad it didn’t come to that.
Kathi is well on her way to recovery after all the years of being exposed to poison, But there is still an element of concern to this story.
Kathi wishes that she had pushed harder for a diagnosis. She had been called crazy, delusional, and a hypochondriac for a decade because the tests were negative. She was prescribed the usual bed rest, exercise, or pills, but nothing helped.
No one could give her the answers. But Kathi was right to trust her instincts. Even though she had to wait for 10 years for an answer, she is grateful.
Although the carbon monoxide she had been inhaling for a decade had taken a toll on her and her voice was still hoarse, Kathi’s strength slowly began to return.
Now that the leak in the water heater had been fixed, the fatigue, nausea, chest pains, and headaches became a thing of the past. Although the faulty water tank and carbon monoxide had stolen 10 years of her life, things were looking up.
A Lesson To Be Learned
Kathi knew that she would never forget what had happened to her. She would make sure that everything she learned about her illness would help others who may be suffering like her.
She told the doctors to look out for these signs in other patients and hoped that they could spread the word and perhaps also a lesson that everyone could learn.
Looking Forward To Life
But Kathi doesn’t have time to sit and regret it, she would much rather look forward to the many happy years she now has to enjoy with her daughter. But she wanted people to know what she went through so they don’t make the same mistake.
Kathi looks forward to her newfound energy and her new life, and she hopes that her story will raise awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide. But she’s not alone.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 8,000 to 15,000 people receive treatment in hospitals for carbon monoxide poisoning.
But in some cases, the symptoms might be misdiagnosed, which can lead to dire consequences. Every year, more than 400 people die from exposure to “the silent killer”- and the flu is the number one misdiagnosis for CO poisoning. So, what can we do?
Detecting It Early
Any expert will tell you that no home should be without a carbon monoxide detector – but make sure they’re near the bedrooms and placed five feet above the ground.
That way, the carbon monoxide detectors can alert you of this silent threat before it can affect you and your loved ones. But how is carbon monoxide poisoning detected and treated?
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, weakness, and confusion.
Once an individual suspects carbon monoxide poisoning, they should get out into fresh air immediately and go straight into emergency care at their nearest hospital. The doctor will test a sample of blood for carbon dioxide to confirm the diagnosis and begin treatment immediately.
In the emergency room, the patient will be given pure oxygen through a mask placed over their nose and mouth. The oxygen will saturate the organs and tissues with oxygen-rich blood. In some cases, patients need hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy entails spending time in a pressurized oxygen chamber to speed up the replacement of carbon monoxide with oxygen in the blood.