As time passed, her health was only getting worse. The worst part was that she had no idea what was causing it. Her daughter was sick to her stomach with worry, but still, no one knew where it was originating from. But one day, she let the contractors in.
She sat on the couch, coughing until her lungs ached. She was just trying to stay upright. She suddenly heard a commotion and watched as the men came walking into the living room. She didn’t know it yet, but they were about to give her the answers she needed.
41-year-old Kathi Wilson was born and raised in Shelbyville, Kentucky. She was a hard-working woman who put her daughter above everything else. She wasn’t the most active individual, but she still remained relatively fit.
But a decade ago, something horrible happened to Kathi. She started getting ill and it never got any better. She simply blamed it on work stress, but her daughter wanted to make sure that her mom got the help she needed.
It bothered her daughter that she was so dismissive of her condition. Her health was only getting worse and she wanted her mom to be okay. At first, it just started with a cough but eventually, it got to the point where her bones were aching and she was always fatigued.
Her daughter was so worried that it made her sick to her stomach. But Kathi wouldn’t budge, she refused to go to a doctor.
She was determined to do what she could to feel better. She was taking all kinds of vitamins and supplements including Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Zinc, Iron, and Vitamin E. But after taking them for weeks, she saw no notable improvement.
Ashley, her daughter, grew tired of watching her mother struggle. She decided to take her to the doctor, not taking no as an answer. She got a sick note which excused her from work for a few days but the doctor couldn’t do much else. There seemed to be no answers.
Kathi still felt horrible when she got home from the doctor. She enjoyed having a few days off but she was stressed, How would she catch up on all the work she missed while feeling so ill?
But as a few days passed, things gradually seemed to get worse. While she was home, her condition seemed to worsen rapidly, faster than it ever did before. Because of this, her daughter decided to intervene once again.
Kathi was exhausted to the point where she even stopped eating. She lost weight, which made Ashley even more worried. She thought that it was time for her mom to get yet another checkup, despite nothing coming from the last one.
Kathi didn’t fight back this time, she just wanted to feel better and was willing to see the doctor. Ashley hated watching her mother’s condition get worse. But the doctor gave them some bad news.
When they arrived at the doctor’s office, the doctor was shocked by Kathi’s condition. What they had dismissed as a cold a few weeks before was now progressing into something a lot more serious.
They couldn’t believe that a strong, young woman with a good immune system had gotten so very ill. She should have overcome the flu weeks ago but she was deteriorating right before their eyes. They were growing as concerned as Ashley was.
This time around, Dr. Mary Beth Hensley took her condition a lot more seriously. She decided to go the extra mile by running blood and allergy tests, hoping to find a solution to the problem. But the tests didn’t give them any answers. Both tests said that she was healthy.
There was no diagnosis, so they decided to try an “elimination” approach. Kathi was given a bunch of antibiotics, they were hoping this would help them figure out what was going on.
Once she was given her medication, they waited to see if anything changed. This was their best shot to get some answers. They needed to find out why her condition was getting worse so fast.
Dr. Hensley was counting on the medications to give them more insights into what was causing all of this. But instead, they had the opposite effect.
Instead of feeling better, Kathi was only feeling worse. Her body ached and she could barely keep her eyes open anymore. The illness was beginning to take a toll on her mental health too. Her friends and family couldn’t take it anymore, they were all so worried.
Was this all just a state of mind? Kathi couldn’t believe that this was happening. She couldn’t understand why her body was reacting this way. She was sacred.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.