Things weren't getting better, they were only getting worse. And to make matters worse, there was no indication of why she was even getting sick. Her daughter was worried sick, but no one could help when it was a mystery.
They started working while she rested on the couch. It was hard to stand up for extended periods. But then there was a big commotion and they came straight back into the room to tell her what they found.
A Mystery Illness
Kathi Wilson always tried to do the best for her daughter. the 41-year-old who lived in Shelbyville her entire life always felt confident that she wasn't unfit. But things changed rapidly.
Kathi's mystery illness started without warning over a decade ago. And it never improved, it only got worse. She just assumed it was stress, but her daughter wanted the help she needed.
Kathi's family, especially her daughter, was sick and tired of hearing her mother dismiss her symptoms. Her condition started with just a cough, but these days she had muscle pain and always felt tired.
This meant that Kathi's daughter was sick to her stomach with worry. But Kathi wouldn't do the one thing her daughter wanted - see a professional for help.
Going To The Doctor
Before seeking a doctor, Kathi tried using over-the-counter tablets. She tried using vitamins like B, C, Zinc, Iron, and E. But even months after taking the pills, she wasn't getting any better.
Ashley hated hearing her mother moan about her illness but never seek a doctor. She also hated seeing her suffer. She finally agreed to go to a doctor and got a note excusing her from work.
Same As It Ever Was
But after heading home from the doctor, Kathi felt exactly the same. She enjoyed the sick leave to rest but otherwise, she wasn't feeling better.
But then things got even worse as the weeks crept by. It had never gotten so bad so rapidly. Then Ashley decided to take matters into her own hands once again.
Kathi's appetite soon diminished along with her energy. She even started losing a lot of weight. Her daughter was more worried than ever so she wanted her mom to go back to the doctor.
Kathi wholeheartedly agreed this time. She accepted that she wouldn't get any better on her own. And this time, even the doctor seemed a lot more concerned than before.
They arrived at the doctor's office and the doctor couldn't believe what kind of state Kathi was in. What was originally thought to just be a cold was something much worse.
Kathi was otherwise a strong and healthy woman in her prime. She should have recovered from the illness if it was just the flu. Now he was very concerned. Things weren't good.
The doctor in question was Dr. May Beth Hensley. She felt that Kathi's condition had gotten a lot worse. She decided to take extra precautions and run blood and allergy tests. But the tests gave her the strangest result - they said she was healthy.
She had symptoms but no diagnosis. So the doctor decided to try and eliminate things one by one. She was put on an antibiotic course. She was motivated to find out what was going on.
Not What They Had Wanted
After getting her course, the doctor waited to see how her body would react to it. It was their only way of finding out what was wrong with Kathi. They needed to make sure she wouldn't get worse.
Dr. Hensley would try her best to figure out what was wrong with her patient and was the root problem was. But things would only get worse.
Kathi's condition, like always, started getting worse. She now had full body aches and the fatigue would overwhelm her. Then her mental health started getting worse. Everyone around her was worried for her sake.
Maybe it was just a state of mind? Kathi was in disbelief. Her body knew something was wrong. But no one could tell her why.
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 on 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 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.
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 giver 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 healed. “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, 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.