Many media stories warn of flu season, but one woman's decision not to see a doctor became a life-changer after what she thought was a common bug turned out to be much worse.
Sue Johnson told Fox 9 News she thought she had the flu 8 months ago. Like many people, she decided to ride it out at home -- especially since influenza is so contagious that's what a doctor would encourage.
"Like most people, I thought, 'I better drink a lot of fluids and take some Advil and go to bed," she explained.
It turned out that the flu wasn't what had her feeling under the weather, however, and that's why she hopes her story will education everyone on when to see a doctor.
"I really thought I had the flu. I was [nauseated] and achey," Johnson recalled. "Flu-type symptoms."
Although half a year has passed, Johnson is still learning how to do what seem like simple things. Even so, her smile doesn't fade because she says she knows how lucky she is.
Johnson's journey began in February when she was rushed to the hospital after a kidney stone caused an infection that sent her into septic shock.
"I just couldn't believe what was happening to me," she admitted. "It was incomprehensible."
Surgeons would have to amputate her legs and hands.
"I miss my hands," Johnson said. "I miss my hands the most."
Yet, she keeps getting stronger, and on Thursday, a benefit to help her pay for her continued therapy will be held at the Town and Country Club in St. Paul, where she was a receptionist before she fell ill.
"I wouldn't be here today without the love and support of my family and dear friends," she said.
So with flu season upon us, how can a person tell if the symptoms match up?
"Usually, there is a clue in what's going on that will tell you if you have to do something or not," assured Dr. Frank Rhame, with Allina Medical Clinics.
According to Rhame, besides the aching, headache and fever, there are other common symptoms associated with the flu.
"Usually, you have some respiratory symptoms," he explained. "You might have a sore throat, cough, runny nose."
That said, diagnosis is best left to the professionals because even then, Rhame says it's the most difficult part of a doctor's job.
"If you are a healthy young person, you can give yourself more latitude than if you are not," he recommended, "but if you feel that sick, you go."
The 60-year-old who went to the gym every day before work never imagined amputations were in her future, and she said she can't help but wonder what would have happened if she didn't hesitate.
"The more you wait, the more dangerous the situation might become if you have something other than the flu," she said.
The fundraiser will be held on Oct. 24 between 6 and 9 p.m. at the Town & Country River Room, located at 300 North Mississippi River Boulevard in St. Paul. John Hines will emcee, and the event will feature live music, prizes, a cash bar, a silent auction and appetizers. Presale tickets are $15, but they can also be bought at the door for $20.
Anyone who cannot attend the fundraiser but still wishes to help Johnson with her medical expenses can make a donation online at the following web site: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/susan-k-johnson/85617