By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Terry Silver was on life support for almost two weeks.
“What Terry experienced was multi-system organ failure,” said Dr. David Oxman, with Jefferson University Hospital.
With machines just barely keeping her alive, Terry’s family was told to prepare for the worst.
“She’s my mom, and you only get one mom,” said Leslie Reilly, Terry’s daughter.
It wasn’t cancer or a heart attack. Terry had the flu. That’s what almost killed her: influenza.
“I was totally healthy going into this,” said Terry.
And the 55-year-old from Northeast Philadelphia had gotten a flu shot.
Doctors say it can happen to anyone. The flu can turn into a dangerous killer, and there’s no telling when.
“It was a very scary situation. We’re still seeing a very high number of flu cases,” said Dr. Oxman. He says Terry first got pneumonia from the flu, then she crashed.
Going back to see where her life was saved was also a homecoming for Terry. She works at Jefferson University Hospital as an ICU nurse.
Terry still has trouble walking from nerve damage caused by a blood clot, one of many influenza complications she struggles with.
“Seeing someone like her get so sick was really startling to all of us,” said Dr. Oxman.
And it was torture for Terry’s family. Leslie kept a journal.
“There was at least ten days we went without speaking. And that’s why I journaled everything, just because I never knew if I would have a conversation with my mom again. I wasn’t even ready to say goodbye,” said Leslie.
Terry’s husband, Sonny, took pictures of Terry in hospital, so he could show her how sick she was. She was on 10 IV pumps.
Stephanie asked Sonny, “How scary was this?”
Sonny replied, “Very scary.”
“One second in time can change your whole life,” said Terry.
Doctors say the flu shot did not cause what happened to Terry. It’s still the best prevention, though not perfect.
So what do you do and how do you protect yourself? Doctors say if you develop a high fever, you need to go to the emergency room right away, especially if you’ve had a flu shot.
That’s what saved Terry’s life. Her temperature was 105, and she says she knew something was wrong.