Going Into Crisis Mode – When It All Goes to Hell

Five years ago next week, my husband almost died of septic shock.

To set the stage – at the time this happened, I was only 31 years old and he was 37. We had two small children, ages four (a preschooler) and eight (third grade). I’ve talked about this story before in my writing and comments, but this will be the first time I’ve gone through the details of what it’s like to survive through a catastrophic medical event. This may get a bit long, so I hope you’ll stick with me.  After going through my story, I’ll tell you all about the financial implications this event had – it’s the reason I’m so passionate about emergency funds and emergency plans; health, disability, and life insurance; and total debt freedom.  Given that I haven’t written out the entire story before, I wanted to both to honor his five years of recovery and share with readers the full story behind why I’m so passionate about all of these things.

Every year, about 250,000 people die of septic shock. It’s essentially your bodies overwhelming response to infection. If left unchecked, even for a short period of time, it will cause your organs to shut down and you will die. The fatality rate is over 50%, and some sources have it as high as 70-90%.

This was the event that was the catalyst – the pivot point – for everything that followed. After this, nothing was ever the same again. My outlook on life, work, and money, completely changed.

When Everything Went To Hell – What a Real Emergency Is Like

Back five years ago, my husband had just had an abdominal surgery, and was supposed to be in the hospital a few days recovering from it.

We had scheduled the surgery for when I had a week off from my MBA in mid-March so I could spend time with him at the hospital. While my fellow students were enjoying their spring break, I was preparing to hang around a hospital all week. I also took a few days off work, fully expecting him to be home by the weekend – in the hospital for maybe 2-3 days total. I had brought lots of things for him to do, thinking that he would be laying around bored, recovering a bit more each day. How wrong and naive I was.


But instead ,that surgery went horribly wrong.

The first sign things were not going well was during the original surgery. It was supposed to be laparoscopic and take about 2 hours. About an hour into it, the surgeon came out to me and told me they had to do it as an open surgery instead. And instead of taking two hours, it took four. But they told me it went well overall, and brought him upstairs to the hospital floor

For a few days, he seemed to be getting better, but then he started getting worse. He wasn’t able to walk around, like you’re supposed to after surgery. He started to feel more and more pain. He started running a fever. The hospital seemed pretty dismissive of this, thinking he was just a complaining patient. After all, he was young and looked healthy. He must just want more pain meds. They did take some blood samples to check for infection, but that would take a few days. And those were days he didn’t have.

Sunday came and he was looking even worse. His doctor told me that if he wasn’t better by Monday, they would do a CAT scan. When I visited him, I was scared. He was in so much pain he couldn’t get out of bed. His stomach was hot, hard, and red-none of which it’s supposed to be. He told me he had been shaking in the middle of the night, and around noon I saw it. He was having tremors so bad he was shaking the bed-like a seizure. That terrified me. Something was very, very wrong. I have zero medical expertise but IT WAS JUST NOT RIGHT. I called urgently for the staff to come and help him.

They decided to prep him for a CAT scan that evening instead of waiting until the next morning. After prepping for the scan, they brought him down in a wheelchair. I went downstairs (to get a coffee I think) and when I came back up he was back in his room. So were 5 other people. The Physician Assistant (PA) told me that he had to have another surgery, and his surgeon was on the way to the hospital already. They got him back into bed and wheeled him down to the surgical center-we were running down the hall. I had never before seen people in a hospital move so fast. 


There was a second emergency surgery at 8 PM on a Sunday night.

I made an urgent call to my mother, who was watching the kids, as we ran down the hall to the surgical center to tell her that I wasn’t going to be home for a while and to let the kids sleep over. My sister in law had happened to come for a visit right when we found out he was going in for this surgery. So luckily I wasn’t alone. 

By the time we got to the surgical center, his surgeon was already there, prepped, and waiting. She must have driven down there like a madwoman. It had only been maybe 20 minutes since the CAT scan. Remember, this is 8 PM on a Sunday. The surgical center was empty except for us, the surgeon, and the anesthesiologist. They brought him in and my sister in law and I went up to the waiting area. We were soon joined by my husbands parents, and we all waited the two hours until the surgery was done.

At 10 PM, the surgeon came out and said everything had gone well and my husband was in recovery. She said that they may send him to the ICU for monitoring, or back to the hospital floor – they weren’t sure yet. So we waited another half hour or forty five minutes in the waiting area. Then they came in and said he was having “a bit of trouble” and was going to spend the night in the ICU.

Little did I know what had actually happened during that time-I wouldn’t find out until later. After the surgery, his oxygen and blood pressure levels crashed to horribly low levels. He had gone into septic shock from infection, was unable to breathe, and his blood pressure had crashed terribly. They literally ran him down too the ICU. The ICU staff threw the surgeon out and started massive interventions – some of which I didn’t know existed. They put 20 bags of fluid into him to try and stabilize his blood pressure. They put an IV into his neck (did you know they make neck IV’s? I didn’t.), and put him in a coma and on a ventilator. This all took several hours.

My in-laws and I were in the ICU waiting room and I was getting more and more anxious. Remember, I don’t know anything right now about what’s going on, just that he’s in the ICU. One of the ICU staff came out with a form for me to sign outlining all the interventions they were doing. When I asked how my husband was, they told me they were getting him comfortable. Of course what they were really doing was trying to save his life.

After midnight they let us in to see him. It’s a sight I will never forget-he was in the ICU, in a coma, on a ventilator, with a neck IV and regular IV’s, with five or six different IV poles behind him – each of which had five or six bags of something on them. There was a TV in the room that had his stats- oxygen, blood pressure, pulse rate. One look at those and even I, not a medical professional, could see they were just not right. His blood pressure was 60/30.

We all stood around and talked with him for a bit, letting him know we were there. Then we all headed home to rest up for the next day. Driving home, I gave the biggest scream. I was absolutely terrified. I went to my parents house, where my kids were, and tried to get some rest. But I got maybe two hours sleep.

Hospital balloons – they all look so cheerful.

Then he was in the ICU for a week, in a coma, on a ventilator, on massive amounts of drugs, fighting to stay alive.

This week is burned into my mind-it’s probably the one week of my life where I can remember every moment clearly. The next morning, on two hours or so of sleep, I had to get up and get the kids off to school. It was Monday, and I was supposed to return to work. After the kids were off to school, I went home and sent an urgent email begging my boss and a co-worker to call me as soon as they received it. They did, and I told them what had happened and that I wouldn’t be coming in. I sent over all my meetings to my co-worker, set my out of office, and declined every one on one meeting. After this I would keep them updated through early morning e-mails.

Day one – I went back to the hospital to spend the day. My mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law made arrangements for alternating watching the kids. There were ICU nurses in his room all day. A social worker and a priest both came to visit the room. I was pretty much a wreck all day. I sat next to him, held his hand, talked to him, and just stayed silent. This was the day I learned he had gone into septic shock. I didn’t really know what that was, so when I was out of the room I googled it on my phone. Don’t ever google septic shock. At one point, the ICU nurses told me to go home for a while and try to get some rest, because I was in bad shape. I did go home, and I tried to rest, but no dice. I returned in the evening, somewhat calmer, and stayed until around 8

The intensivist (intensive care doctor) said something to me that day that’s been my motto whenever times are tough. “We all wish this hadn’t happened,” she said, “but it did. So now we need to move forward.”

Day two – First thing in the morning I called to see how he had done overnight. No change. Family members were coming and going, visiting for a bit. I couldn’t eat anything and was surviving on coffee. I spent quite a bit of time on the phone with my sister and brother in law in Florida, updating them on what was going on. And I was just sitting there with him. No real change in his condition. This was the day my eight year old son asked when Daddy was coming home. I had to tell him that Daddy had gotten very sick and the doctors had made him go to sleep for a while to get better. I began to think how I would tell my kids that their father had died.

Day three – My brother in law called to say he was coming up from Florida. Still wasn’t eating. More coffee, more morning e-mails to work, more more people coming in and out to visit. I started to see some improvement-they were able to take him off the blood pressure stabilizing medication and he had less total IV’s. There was a patient next door, a 20 year old dying of lupus, that kept the ICU waiting room full at all times with visitors. She would die the next day.

Day four – Brother in law came up from Florida. They started trying to reduce the medication keeping my husband in a coma, but every time they let him wake up, he was completely freaking out. Of course he was still on the ventilator with that neck IV, likely in tremendous pain, and completely disoriented. My four year old son told me that night that he missed his “four family”, meaning he wanted all four of us being home. It broke my heart.

Intensive Care Patient
This is sort of what the ICU looked like-I took no pictures so I found this online. But there were a lot more IV poles and bags of medication/fluids. It was also bigger.

Fortunately, he was able to come off the ventilator and out of the coma five days later, but was hospitalized for another week with various procedures (abscess drain, lung drain, drugs for an ecoli infection, etc.). Then he had to go to a live-in rehabilitation facility for two more weeks.

The fifth day, when I got to the hospital, my brother-in-law was already there with him – and he was awake! And not freaking out! I’ve never been happier in my life than I was in that moment. He was still on the ventilator, but after we’d been there for an hour, they asked us to step out so they could remove it. When we got back to his room, he was able to talk to us. We were all so happy that we didn’t realize for a bit that he had no clue what had happened. He didn’t realize what day it was until his mother made a comment that I hadn’t left his side for days. He looked at us and asked hoarsely “What day is it?” We were all silent for a moment until I replied “Thursday”. He just stared and said “I lost a week of my life??”

When you hear stories of medical catastrophe, they usually end one of two ways. Either the person involved doesn’t make it and they pass away, or they make it and get better. I know just how lucky I am that it ended in the “get better” way. But what I didn’t realize was that recovery from this kind of thing is more of a “two steps forward, one step back” kind of process. He came off the ventilator, but the next day they had to put him back on more powerful oxygen because his O2 levels weren’t stable. He started hallucinating, and vomiting bile – the result of an abscess. After going on the hospital floor, he seemed to be getting better, but slowly. Turned out he had a large amount of fluid around one of his lungs, and had an ecoli infection. They started him on a unique kind of antibiotics (the hospital staff said they rarely saw it on the floor), and had the head of infectious disease for the hospital come and help care for him.

He had to go to a rehabilitation center-the youngest patient there – not only to recover and get physical therapy but also for the 24/7 skilled nursing care. In fact, he spent Easter there that year, although he was able to come home for about two hours for a brief visit. He ended up back in the hospital again toward the end of that time, with another minor infection, but then was able to come home. The first time he set foot inside the house, it was over a month after he had left for the hospital. The trees had turned from bare winter into springtime glory. Once in the house, he looked at me and asked “is this a dream?”.

The two left pictures were taken at the rehabilitation center’s Easter celebration for their residents. The one on the right is from when my husband was able to come home for a few hours in the afternoon on Easter to visit.

Once home, he had visiting nurses coming every few days, constant doctor appointments, physical therapy, a wound-vac, more drugs than I can count, and eventually – another surgery with another hospital stay and more recovery. There would be another, more extensive, reconstructive surgery a few years later. Now, five years later, we can look back and say that he recovered. But at the time, it was always uncertain.

I can’t emphasize enough just how much septic shock disabled him. When he came home after a month away, he couldn’t even walk up the stairs. We had to put the bed in the living room for months. I had to remodel the bathroom so it had a walk-in shower, because he couldn’t step up over a tub. He was only 37 years old, and had been perfectly healthy before this all happened.

Going Into Crisis Mode – Putting A Tiered Emergency Fund and Emergency Plan Into Action

I remember when it occurred to him how much financial trouble this was all going to be. See, this was right smack after the Great Recession when many were still unemployed. His factory had closed and at the time he had been receiving unemployment payments. Because he was in the hospital and unconscious, he couldn’t file and for obvious reasons couldn’t look for work. He wasn’t eligible for SS disability, and didn’t have disability coverage. He called me one night in a panic, a few days after he woke up from the coma, telling me that he couldn’t file for unemployment and he was really worried.

“You’re worried about money?” I asked incredulously. “Don’t worry about money right now! Worry about getting better!”

Was I worried about money? Yes. I had set aside some funds  to deal with the cost of the surgery. We were covered by a high-deductible health plan, which had both a high deductible ($3000) and a high out of pocket maximum ($7000). I had assumed we would need to pay for that, so it was covered. But in one fell swoop we not only had to pay the out of pocket maximum (ICU bills would total hundreds of thousands before insurance), but also had to pay for the million miscellaneous expenses not covered by insurance. There were new clothes because the old ones would irritate the surgical site, travel and eating expenses at the hospital and rehab center, banisters for the stairs to help him get up and down. Also, I worked full time and was getting my MBA – he had done all the child care while unemployed. Suddenly I also needed to pay for child care for our kids, who were ages four and eight at the time. Hundreds of dollars of expenses were added to the budget at the same time we lost hundreds of dollars in income. What were we going to do?

At this point we went into survival mode. We had an emergency fund, but it was lighter than I liked from him being unemployed (as I talked about in my 20 year journey toward financial independence).  The concept of an emergency plan, rather than an emergency fund, was something I was familiar with from all the personal finance sites I read. Since I was familiar with the concept, I was able to sit down and put it into action without too much difficulty.

What’s an emergency plan and how is it different than an emergency fund? The traditional advice around an emergency fund is that it’s there for some kind of large unexpected expense- like a job loss, medical expense, or home repair. I had the traditional three month recommendation set aside. But that wasn’t going to be enough. Not only did we have a job loss, then a loss of unemployment compensation, but we also had a $7k medical expense and over $1k per month additional expense in child care. This was a real, true, hair-on-fire emergency. 

The emergency plan helps you deal with all this. There’s an order in which you need to look at your financial options and quickly execute on drastic changes. Making it through an emergency requires quickly increasing your income – and decreasing your expenses – as fast as possible. This will be a temporary process. You’ll be able to re-evaluate as you go to determine if the crisis has passed and you can loosen your belt again. But this is the time for severe belt-tightening and slashing every possible expense. Originally, I was going to outline the steps to creating an emergency plan here in this article, but it’s already quite long (thanks to those who stuck with it!). So instead I’m going to point you over to what I already wrote on this topic. Also, the Bogleheads (where I first learned about the concept of a tiered emergency fund) has some great information on this topic.

When someone tells you that you don’t need an emergency fund because they’ve “never had an emergency where they needed a lot of money”, or that you should just invest your emergency money for a higher return, please ask them if they’ve ever been through a real emergency before. My guess is not – or their idea of an “emergency” is needing to buy new tires for their car. MY STORY is the reason you need an emergency fund and emergency plan. If you’ve ever been through a real emergency like this, you would never recommend investing emergency funds, skipping saving one, or anything else like that.

When you’re sitting in the ICU next to your spouse on a ventilator, wondering how you’re going to tell your kids their father has died, you don’t need to be worrying about how you’re going to pay the bills or whether the stock market is taking your investments.



Thanks to those that stuck with me to the end. Usually, this is the part of the blog where I’ll ask a question and ask you to follow me. But since today’s post is different, my request here at the end is different. 

I’ll just ask instead that you consider my situation.  Remember, I was only 31. My husband was only 37. Our kids were little. We never thought these kinds of things could happen to someone who was healthy. And we all wished it hadn’t happened. But it did. So we needed to deal with it. And if, god forbid, something like this happens to your or your family- I want you to be prepared. Please make sure that you have the right protections in place for emergencies, disability, health insurance, and life insurance.  If you don’t, then don’t beat yourself up over it – just go out now and take care of things. For the sake of your loved ones.

55 thoughts on “Going Into Crisis Mode – When It All Goes to Hell”

  1. Thanks for sharing the full story, Liz. And you were indeed lucky that it ended with “get better”. I’m glad you had supportive family surrounding you during this time. I can’t imagine going through this alone. I’m going to re-read your emergency plan article right now.

    1. Thanks Mrs Groovy. That’s something I should touch on in a future post-accepting help. Before this I was very fiercely independent, and it was only when everything went to hell that I truly appreciated how to accept help, and just how helpful families can be.

  2. makingyourmoneymatter

    I’ve been good about having an emergency fund that covers several months expenses as well as a well-funded HSA medical account, but no clear emergency plan whatsoever. Thank you SO much for sharing this, I’m excited to make a clear plan that will provide even more assurance to me that I’m covered in any possible situation.

  3. Smart Provisions

    Thanks for sharing your story, Liz! Glad he’s okay now and you were able to take care of the emergency with your stashed up funds!

    I haven’t thought much about emergencies yet, but it might be wise, like you said, to write one up just in case something happens.

    1. Thanks – we’re also glad it had a happy ending. Definitely take a look at your emergency plan if you haven’t had a chance to yet-then you’ll be prepared if something bad happens

  4. Thanks for sharing Liz. Glad to know your husband is doing well today. The last thing you want to be concerned about during a time like this is money. You just want to focus on getting better. Having a plan in place gives you that freedom.

    1. Thanks Brian. That’s exactly right-you don’t want to be thinking about money when something like this strikes. That’s why your emergency fund is insurance, not an investment- to protect you from things like this.

  5. TheRetirementManifesto

    Amazing story, and vivid example of why we should always plan for emergencies.

    Yes, folks, it can happen to you. Be prepared, just like Mom taught you.

    1. Thanks Fritz. It’s so true-we think it can’t happen to us because “insert reason”, but the reality is that it most certainly can happen to you. That’s why you need to be prepared.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing and having to re-live this experience. It’s easy to say – we’ll just take our chances or the odds are it won’t happen. Taking charge and taking care of your family is certainly worth the piece of mind.

  7. Reid @ Wealth Rehab

    Thank you for sharing. I did know about emergency funds, but did not know about emergency plans. I will look into that. I have a young family as well. Thanks again for your transparency.

    1. Yes, I see advice around emergency funds in many places, but not tiered emergency funds or emergency plans. I was lucky that I was a follower of the Bogleheads forum where they discussed the concepts frequently

  8. ChooseBetterLife

    Thanks, Liz. This is such a touching story. I’m usually on the other side of things, trying to keep people alive and trying to shield the families from as much worry as I can. We don’t talk about costs up front because it doesn’t help. It will be a big financial mess and it can be dealt with later–few families plan ahead for these things and when the crisis comes it’s too late. We all hunker down and hope that the patient pulls through.

    If more people read your story, though, having a plan would make the experience (while still horrible) have one less layer of stress and we’d give anything to help our patients and their families suffer a little less.

    1. I agree, talking about or worrying about finances in the middle of a medical crisis wouldn’t be helpful. I know no one at the hospital ever mentioned it to me. But the emergency funds and plans help with some of the financial stress, especially once the immediate crisis has passed and you’re in the long period of recovering from the event. With most families being unable to come up with $400 for emergencies, it must add so much more stress in their lives. Thanks for all you do for your patients

  9. My very healthy dad, a runner / biker who eats very low salt, low fat – who had gotten a clean bill of health in the spring had a heart attack over Christmas break. He is in the recovery process and I will be forever grateful to the amazing nursing staff who put up with us. While in the rehab facility he kept asking who was paying for his meals, and I assured him my step mom had it covered. My siblings and I joked to each other, because what else could we do, that he met his deductible for the year early.
    You are right that life changes in an instant, there is this pin in the road map of your life were it’s a before and after. I know how close my situation was and am grateful for modern medicine, and his already healrhy life style giving him really a second chance.
    I’m glad your husband recovered so well and you 4 family got to be a thing again. Keep up the great work inspiring others!

    1. Thanks Jacq-sorry to hear about your dad, but I’m glad to hear that he pulled through and is on the road to recovery. Not having to worry about the deductible or out of pocket max for the year was the one financial right spot-I joked to my coworkers that it was time to go out and get all the expensive medical care I could!

  10. What a terrible time that must have been! I’m glad all of you are now out on the other side of it, and stronger than before. Hugs for surviving that, and for sharing the story with all of us.

  11. I knew that he survived at the start of the post but I was still tense as I could possibly be reading this. I am with you – no one who has ever been through a true emergency like this could ever blithely dismiss an emergency fund. We lost a parent to sepsis several years ago, and recently during FinCon I helped care for Abby (of I Pick up Pennies) in a small way when we didn’t realize she was septic. Thank goodness her experience didn’t go through the same paces as the harrowing experiences we had, though hers was certainly bad enough.

    This kind of possibility is always in the back of my mind specifically because I haven’t been healthy since I was 14, and so I’ve never had the feeling that it couldn’t ever happen to us. It could happen to anyone.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. You’re so right that people who’ve been through real emergencies, or who don’t have good health, don’t dismiss the concept of an emergency fund very easily. I see advice online from people who’ve never had an actual emergency making some crazy recommendations (like to not have one, or to invest it), and I worry about them.

  12. Amazing story, Liz! I know we’ve chatted about it before but seeing it in depth is pretty hard to imagine what you went through. Being so young with young kids at home…unbearable. That doctor who said “We all wish this hadn’t happened, but it did. So now we need to move forward.” What a godsend. Perspective is everything in times of crisis.

    I would like to add to your last paragraph to make sure that everyone has a will. Had the outcome been different having to go through a legal battle on top of the lose of a loved one is a terrible use of time and energy. Thank goodness that was’t a problem for your family. 🙂

    1. Definitely a will is key-great add! One of the things that concerned me during this time was we had never talked about what he wanted if he were to die. Did he want a funeral? To be cremated? Something special? It just never came up. Writing a will would have made us have those conversations, and I wouldn’t have been as worried.

  13. I am so very sorry that you and your family had to go through such a scary, painful situation. Events like that really put things into perspective, don’t they? It seems like you have decided to take a positive approach in it by advocating for proper insurances and an emergency fund in place so that if someone else was to go through a traumatic event like this, they would have some care in place. Money is the last thing you want to thing about when a loved one has fallen ill. Thanks for sharing your story and for helping others who may one day be in a similar situation.

    1. Exactly-by writing about it, I’m hoping some good can come out of this situation. It was terrible, but it happened, and we can’t change that. So instead of wishing things were different, hopefully I can use this event to help others better prepare for something like this. If I help even one family, I would be happy.

  14. frompenniestopounds

    This made me cry 🙁 you wrote it so clearly that I felt like I was there. That must have been such a scary time for you, but I am so glad that your husband recovered. Is he 100% now?
    You’re right, we need to prepare for the worst kind of situations, it’s hard to imagine things like that, but it helps to have a large buffer. I’m pretty lucky in the UK, our medical bills are covered.

  15. Oh my, I am so sorry you have to go through so much at the time.
    These struggles made me emotional, but it must have been hell for you at the time.

    But I am so happy that everything went well in the end and your husband is well. And your family is together – which is all that matters in the end

    1. Yes, we’re so glad that he made it through and has recovered! At the same time, we know that we were very fortunate, and there are many families out there like us who don’t have as good outcomes. So we are very appreciative of what we have

  16. Liz – Just wanted to say thank you for writing this. I’m pinching myself right now as a reminder that I’m not in an emergency room — your story reminds me of all the times I’ve ever felt scared. When my twin boys were born I felt a profound sense of responsibility to set up an emergency plan and an estate plan. Most parents feel this responsibility but hearing your story brings it home. Stuff happens. We can’t stop it but we can be prepared so when it does happen we’re not ruined. Thanks again. –R

  17. Wow, reading this post was an emotional roller coaster! Thank you for sharing your story and for using it as a way of educating others to protect themselves as much as possible in case of emergency!

  18. I cannot imagine going through that experience at 31–and rehearsing how to tell your kids their father had died!! So appreciative that you shared this story. It really shows the importance of having an emergency plan, which I’ve actually never heard of. I’ll read up on it. Feeling grateful right now.

    1. Thanks – I’m hoping that by sharing our story, we can help others who might one day find themselves in our situation. Let me know if you have any questions on creating an emergency plan-as you can tell, it’s a topic I’m passionate about.

  19. Just found your site and your story gave me chills. My young, healthy husband died at 35 of a heart attack. I was 25 at the time with a 2-year old and almost 7 month old. We muddled through but we were certainly not prepared. I’m now a huge proponent of life insurance because as young, healthy people (or so we thought), we thought we had plenty with what his company offered. Your story though is so important because I know of several people that have gone through medical events like these and you shouldn’t have to worry about money on top of your family at times like these. Glad your family is doing better.

    1. It’s so true that money is the last thing you want to be worrying about when bad things happen. I’m so sorry about your husband. Sound like you, like me, decided to try and make some good come from a bad situation by helping others who might face those same situations one day. Hope you and your kids are doing well now.

  20. Laurie Frugal Farmer

    So, so glad your husband is okay and that he recovered!! Your story is one for the books. I’ve been on the opposite end of a similar story – I almost died after the birth of our first child, but I don’t remember a thing, Rick was in shock so he doesn’t remember much (and he had to care for a newborn by himself with absolutely no experience for nearly a month), and that was in the days when insurance covered SO much more. I don’t think we paid a dime for any of the ICU stuff or anything.

    Bless you and your family moving forward. Here’s to NO MORE emergencies, but at least we’re planned for them, right?

    1. I’m glad to hear that you recovered, and that it wasn’t a big financial shock to you. My husband also doesn’t remember a lot about the ICU – essentially he went into surgery and woke up days later. I’m also hoping for NO MORE EMERGENCIES – but as you say, if they happen, we’re well planned for them. Although I think the entire experience made me much more conservative in terms of investment and debt payoff than many others my age.

  21. Eliza @ money meet mind

    Hi Liz,
    Oh my goodness, what a traumatic time that must have been for you. So glad to hear that your husband is okay and that your perspective has changed for the better.

    I’ve never heard of an emergency plan and up until now have been pretty blase about life/disability insurance because we have a good emergency fund and healthcare is state funded. We have insurance and I think we’d be covered, but not exactly sure if it’s enough or how it would work – not a good approach with a single income and a toddler.

    So thank you, because your story has opened my eyes to the fact that I have some serious work to do.

    1. Glad to hear my story helps inspire you to get your emergency plan and insurance situation in shape. Definitely take the time to get things figured out! Hopefully nothing bad will happen, but if anything goes wrong that’s not the time you want to find out you didn’t have the right coverage

  22. I just stumbled across this post and I am so sorry that your family went through this! How awful and scary. I am 37 and recently recovered from a post-op infection. Thankfully my recovery was relatively quick and I believe this was because I pushed and pushed the second I knew something was wrong – and the surgeon/doctors/nurses listened and acted quickly. Your post hits home because these things do happen and can happen to anybody and it’s always wise to have a plan B! Thankfully I was covered by benefits and back to work after four weeks. Best of luck you you and your family!

  23. Mrs Simplest Happiness

    Thanks for sharing your story! I’m so glad your husband is much better now. This is a perfect example how financial security can bring much needed peace when dealing with such challenging situations . I just came across your blog and look forward to follow along.

    1. Thanks so much – we’ve been very fortunate that he eventually recovered pretty well. It’s been a long and difficult road with lots of bumps, but thank goodness that money didn’t need to be an issue.

  24. We’ve been down this road too — though it wasn’t as long or drawn-out as yours.
    I was packing for a teaching gig the night of Labor Day — I was supposed to fly to Washington State in the morning. The Brick suddenly had horrendous pain; I drove him to the hospital and he was admitted. By the next day, he was in ICU, fighting a massive infection. His liver and other organs were beginning to shut down…but the doctors had no idea why.
    He spent the week in ICU; by week’s end, the process was reversing itself. But in spite of dozens of tests, the doctors STILL had no idea why it happened. (They did manage to isolate one infection, but it was one that you normally catch inside the hospital — not outside.) Meanwhile, I’d called the guild and explained the situation to cancel my coming; called our daughters and close friends; and spent the week at the Brick’s side. (He was still too out of it to really understand what the doctors were saying. I raced home each day to feed the animals and get a quick shower, then came back to spend the night curled up in a very uncomfortable chair. Daughters each spent a night with us, as well.)

    After two weeks, he was allowed to come home — still with no idea why this infection had happened. Although he went back to work a week or so after that, it took him three or four months to completely recover. And even today, 5 or so years later, he is quicker to pick up infections and kidney stones than he ever was back then.
    We had insurance from the local school system – PERA (Colorado’s version). The first $10,000 was our deductible, with 80% after that. They did deduct some things because of our lower income (the Brick was a bus driver), but we ended up owing approx. $12,000. It took a while to pay that off, $100/monthly. But we did.

    I know how hard it was to deal with this for a few months. I cannot fathom how you did it for months and months and MONTHS. I picked up as many extra jobs as I could, and cut our expenses as much as possible. (I have my own company, am a writer, teacher and personal property appraiser — in other words, I work for myself.) The only way we got through it was God’s grace, patience, a lot of prayer…and both growing up in households that, if not poor, were particularly modest incomes. So we knew how to get the most out of our dollars.

    I ended up going to the guild and teaching for them the next year. By that time, the Brick could handle my being away for a few days.

    So I agree with you — an emergency fund is critical. But when you live on a modest income to begin with, it’s REALLY hard to come up with several months worth of expenses. Bus drivers, after all, don’t make much. That would make a fine article — and I’d be happy to write it for you.

  25. I just read your article and it reminded me so much of my experience – I’m based in Ireland. I went for a medical checkup as I had just turned 40 and felt it was just something I should do. I did the treadmill test that showed an abnormal result. They kept me in hospital for an angiogram and I had a quadruple heart by pass the following day despite no obvious symptoms – I played football only a few weeks before with no problems. Thankfully my health insurance covered everything.

    A very slow recovery after that and I went back to work 5 months later. Fast forward 8 months to 2012 and the company I worked for folded and I lost my job.

    Thankfully we had put all our salary increases into paying off the mortgage and building up our emergency fund.

    2018 has me in my best health ever running 5k in 24 minutes, working in a job I enjoy that’s just not quite full time and enjoying life.

    1. chiefmomofficer

      Hi Michael-So glad you have made a full recovery. It’s a long journey back from a severe medial event, and it’s a great thing to not have to worry about money during a difficult time. There’s more than enough other things to worry about!

  26. Weren’t there some legal ramifications against the hospital to be considered? It sounds like the nursing staff ALLOWED his condition to progress to toxic shock. I would have contacted a very aggressive attorney and let them have at the hospital and irresponsible staff.

    I’m thrilled he pulled through! What a nightmare that was for you and your family.

  27. I’m overwhelmed by your story and so glad to hear your husband recovered. Thank you for sharing your story.

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