I would like first to offer my thanks for your superb support group after almost 3
years of frustration and bewilderment. It is an answer to prayer to see that I am not
alone in my constant quest for answers.
My name is John Pearcey I am a 58 years of age and live in West Australia. In October
1996 after gall bladder surgery that went wrong, I was transferred to a large teaching
hospital where it was diagnosed that my hepatic duct had been cut and as a result I
developed septicema and ARDS.
I spent 5 days in ICU and a total of 4 weeks in hospital. During this time my weight
dropped from 74kg to 59kg. I experienced vivid halluncinatury episodes during this period.
As a result of this, my wife was so alarmed that she asked the nursing staff if indeed I
had suffered brain damage!!-no I had not.
After many ups and downs during the 4 week hospital stay I was discharged and although
still very weak I steadily improved and 3 months later I was exercising, walking and
cycling and although suffering fatigue and confusion I was improving quite well.
Unfortunately, I developed a post operative hernia on the operation site and eventually
was admitted again to hospital in July 1997 and the hernia was repaired.
After the hernia repair I was still unable to recover my health. I was constantly
fatigued, nauseous whilst lying down and complete mental confusion. I tried my hand at
voluntary work (driving people to appointments etc) but after 3 months was forced to admit
that it was too much for me. At this time I felt my slow recovery was the result of
septicema and was seeing a gastroenterologist who gave me a thorough examination and sent
me to a cardiologist for a scan that showed there was a problem with my right ventricular.
He then advised me to see a respiritory physician who diagnosed I had mild sleep apnea and
the result of a stress test showed I was very very unfit and examination detected crackles
in my lungs.
The physician advised me that I would need to have go into hospital to have a
cardiologist check the pressure between my heart and my lungs as he suspected I had
Primary Pulmonary Hypertension.
All of this happened over a period of about 3 months and unfortunatly at the start of
the 3 months I experienced a situation that only recently have I connected to ARDS. As a
result of a bush fire near home I was subject to smoke inhalation. The affect on me was
catastrophic - in the following weeks I twice when at the shops with my wife had bad turns
where I felt I was going to collapse and had to sit down for 30 minutes to recover and all
the time I would stare straight ahead unable to turn my head or move my eyes until I would
slowly recover. The the following 8 weeks I hardly left my chair. During the day I was so
fatigued and I was subject to some frightening periods of being unable to get my breath
and it was only when I gave up my struggle and handed over my very life to the Lord that I
was then able to relax my body and accept whatever awaited me and slowly it would subside,
but the fear of another attack was constantly there. Twice in this period my wife called a
ambulance as she feared I was having a heart attack and after being given oxygen and
checked over discharged.
I am not sure what was worse - going through the situation or seeing the disbelief when
trying to explain the situation to the gastroenterologist (I still at this stage thought
my health problems where connected to the injury to my bile duct) he advised my G.P that
he thought it was a manifestation of depression.
This was all happening while awaiting for my cardiologist appointment to test the blood
pressure between the right ventricular and my lungs - I felt resigned to accept what the
physician thought the problem was and when the cardiologist did the test and advised me
that I did not have Pulmanory Hypertension I really believed the good Lord must have a lot
more in store for my life yet. The cardiologist then felt in the circumstances that it
would be advisable to perform a Pulmonary Angiography and he again confirmed that my
arteries were what he would expect in a man of my age.
Well I was both totally confused and yet very happy with the result but left with no
answers to my health problems - in the earlier part of this year I started to put the
picture together. I was now seeing another physician and an x-ray of my lungs taken prior
to the Angiogram showed scaring on my right lung and for the first time I was advised my
health problems, my fatique, my bad concentration was a result of ARDS having damaged the
ability of my lungs to circulate sufficient oxygen to my body.
I have been put on a disability pension and am still looking for answers to improve my
health. I have problems sleeping, and I get very nauseous when lying down. The fatique is
ever present. I jump almost out of my skin when I am surprised - silly isn't it, and if I
had a dollar for every time I have said to my wife I think I am getting better in the last
3 years to only relapse back, I would me a millionaire and the confusion is so difficult
for a man that was as sharp as a tack, but I have a good wife who I feel has suffered far
more than I have. We have 3 married children living within a few miles of us and 7
grandchildren with 2 more on the way and the good Lord who has carried me through the past
3 years - no I shall praise the Lord for the favour he shows me.
Thank you for reading my story. I hope it will help someone going through a similar
situaton. I know how important it is to feel you are not alone, and if you deem it
suitable to put on your survivors support page I give my permission to insert my email
address if that is appropiate.
John R. Pearcey
Perth, West Australia