Hell Week

It’s amazing how fast something can change in a hospital. Chaos can break out at any given moment. One day you can almost bear the pain and the next thing you know you’re fighting to stay out of intensive care. One second can be the difference between life and death: in an instant everything is on the line.

Hell week started last Sunday, it started with a fever of 108 degrees. Ice packs covered my body. At first that’s all it was: a fever.

In a minute something as simple as a fever turned into septic shock. The attitude of my nurses changed from relaxed to terrified within that same minute. Medications, constant blood pressure checks, and more fluids than you could ever imagine were being pumped into my body. As I lay in bed, terrified, all I could think about was death. Doctors and nurses surrounded me. The talk of ICU kept coming up. When people  are sent to intensive care, it’s never good. I can still feel the shivers throughout my body, the pain of breathing; of holding on to everything I still had left to fight for.

If that wasn’t bad enough, all the fluids that had been pushed into my body filled my lungs, leaving me once again with pneumonia and on oxygen for almost all of Hell Week.

I could almost blame myself: I made the decision to go through chemotherapy, killing both the good and bad cells that exist in my body. Monday was a blur. Nothing but sleep and pain medication. Late that night I was pushed into an MRI machine to lay still for 45 minutes.

Around 5 am Tuesday morning a resident burst into my room to tell us the MRI showed a ruptured appendix. Tuesday was the worst day of hell week.

2 hours later, the surgeon came to examine me and said he wasn’t willing to perform the surgery. Worried and in pain we waited for 12 hours for a second opinion. The minute the second surgeon came in she immediately said my appendix must come out. 10 minutes later, I held her hand as i lay on the operating table and drifted off to sleep. Perhaps the only comfort I found throughout the entire week, was grasping the hand of my surgeon.

There’s a part of hospitals that constantly reminds me of life and death, but another part that makes me see how truly amazing people can be.

No amount of pain meds can ever take away the pain after surgery. For days I lay in bed, in too much pain to do anything but sleep and stare into space. The days seemed endless and the nights restless. Thursday led to an echo-cardiogram, making sure the chemo hadn’t damaged my heart.

Emotionally, I was torn apart, physically I was weak, but the test wouldn’t reveal any of that. There’s no test to see when you’ve hit a mental wall, when you feel like giving up and there’s no test to see into the future.

Friday was plain miserable. By now, I should have been recovering. I could hardly move, let alone walk, on my own. The doctors were determined, it was time to start finding other sources of my pain. They tried everything.

THe next test was a sonogram. Once again, no luck. So what do you do when you run out of ideas? The only thing left was to stop me eating and drinking to fully let my stomach heal. Not that I was eating anyway but the fact that I couldn’t made me feel like I was starving. All I wanted to do was give up; it was exhausting.

Hell Week has finally ended. The demons are still there to haunt me, but for now I’m surrounded by an army of nurses led by an incredible doctor helping me gain back the strength to fight. This Hell Week might be over, but I know there will be many more to come. Next time maybe I’ll be more prepared to kick ass, or maybe I’ll get my ass kicked again. Either way, I know I have an army behind me to pick up the pieces.



  1. Reply
    Leigh Abril says

    Courageous Kelsey, I read of your hell week with tears in my eyes. I work with your wonderful mom and we were all thinking about you and praying for you the whole week. So very glad you are home. Congratulations on the victory of being accepted to U of A. Don’t ever regret the decision to fight. You are amazing and awesome and you might not feel as though you’ve won this battle, but you will win the war.

  2. Reply
    sheryl deconcini says

    Most of cannot imagine what you are having to endure – keep fighting, Kelsey. We keep praying for you, cheering on your work and crossing our fingers and toes that this coming week is one of healing, peace for your body and for your enduring, strong spirit. Thank you for taking the time to share your journey.

  3. Reply
    Batshir says

    Dear Kelsey, you have stripped away niceties and shared your deepest fears and vulnerabilities. This is the real-est of the real. I have the luxury of comfort and predictability, and your drive to share this hell with all of us reminds me of your light and bravery, and the preciousness of life, and how to cherish time differently. I am reminded (as I was when I first met you, pre-hell life) how uniquely gentle and powerful you are. Only love, Kelsey. We are all embracing you.

  4. Reply
    Valerie says

    Hell week, indeed. Have you ever binge watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Something about your attitude in writing makes me think of that. I’m sorry for all the pain and horrible endurance you’re perfecting. You’re awesome. You’re kicking ass every day, K. Hang in there.

  5. Reply
    Marni says

    Holy-wow, that sounds like the worst hell week ever. Wow, wow. You are incredibly brave Kelsey. Just keep on being brave. By doing so, you are kicking cancers arse. So much love coming your way right this minute, and in every moment of your battle. Keep fighting xxxxx

  6. Reply
    Laura St. Aubin says

    Dear Kelsey,
    You are the bravest girl I have never met. You will live on in the lives of many who will sadly go through the same hell that you endured. Tonight I pray for your family and for all of the people who loved you, for they are the ones that are here to live with the pain of losing you.
    Sleep well with your angels tonight. You will be missed here on this earth.
    God Bless

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