Alexia H.


It began one night when my partner and I were out at dinner, I started to feel dizzy and just not right. Once home, I began burning a fever to the point we thought we could see steam because it was so cold in our room. I started shaking because I felt frozen and despite him insisting on the hospital, I thought I would be okay and slept through the night.

In the morning, I got to work and was crippled by pain in my abdomen. I was sweating, swaying, and couldn’t put together a sentence, work then rushed me to the ER. When I got to the hospital, they did a urine test which came up negative. They didn’t send away the urine for culture and they began to treat me for appendicitis, giving me specific antibiotics. I was rushed up to the surgical ward where I was told they would do an appendectomy immediately. It was at that moment, with very little energy, I fought for myself and asked for a CT scan. Something didn’t feel right.

I had never had any problem with my appendix but had had multiple UTIs and kidney issues. Disgruntled they did it, and that CT saved my life. I was suffering from sepsis as a result of severe pyelonephritis. (Sepsis and Bacterial Infections) I began to deteriorate almost immediately. Because they had been treating me with antibiotics, they didn’t know what bacteria had caused the infection, and none of the antibiotics were working.

I remember having febrile seizures, coming in and out of consciousness as the nurses and doctors were arguing over my bed. The nurse said to me frankly that the infection was tripling by the hour and that they were racing to find the right antibiotic. One of my most profound moments was when the doctor and nurse sat down by my bed and had to explain how sick I was, I was just in disbelief. I was deteriorating so fast, I can say with a whole heart, I knew that what I was feeling was my life starting to slip away. I felt certain that that Saturday evening I would die. I sent my partner home because I didn’t want him to be there when it happened, in some weird way trying to protect him from the trauma of seeing it unfold.

There are certain things they said and did that will forever stay with me. By some miracle or just luck, they found something that started to work, and I turned a corner. It was such a traumatic experience that I never really spoke to my parents or friends about it. I just bottled it up, until a few years later, a small event triggered my PTSD, rendering me almost immobile. (Sepsis and PTSD) I got help straight away, I used Eye Movement Therapy and it was incredible. After six months, I was able to recount my experience to family and friends and really able to process it without being incapacitated by it.

Unfortunately, a few years after the incident, I started to regularly hemorrhage from what seemed to be my urethra, and after months of hospital trips and inexperienced doctors, I finally saw a urogynecologist. The sepsis had caused my bladder to suffer to the point that most of the GAG layer had dissolved and they found cysts, ulcers, and ended up having to ablate my whole bladder. I spent several months following the operation rebuilding the bladder lining through weekly catheters. My bladder relapsed a year ago but not to the severity it was, and I went through treatment again. I am now pregnant with my first child; I have already had 4 UTIs and am on daily antibiotics as a preventative. I started seeing a therapist again to make sure that my fear of a sepsis relapse doesn’t replace my joy of pregnancy and birth. I feel far more informed now and more able to spot the signs of a relapse earlier. It took a long time to be able to fully process what happened but I am comfortable finally saying ‘I am a survivor’.

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