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Barbie Nesser

Survivor

Hi my name is Barbie and I am 62 years old. It was June of 2020 when I had my 4th UTI in 6 months. (Sepsis and Urinary Tract Infections) I was prescribed Macrobid on June 10th. By Friday I was experiencing back pain. It was late in the day, but I decided to call my primary doctor. Luckily my doctor called me back. She asked if we could FaceTime. My doctor thought I did not look very well and I also developed a stye in my eye and I never had them before. It was evident that I was not feeling well.

My doctor gave me her personal number and said if you get any worse I want you to call me over the weekend don’t hesitate. By Sunday, June 14, I woke up with very low blood pressure 71/42 and oxygen levels in the 70s. I had a fast heart rate. I was shivering and confused. My body temperature was 92°. I told my husband I felt like I was dying. He immediately called the doctor on Sunday morning. She told my husband to get your wife to the hospital immediately I think she’s gone septic. She told us not to wait for an ambulance and my son drove us there right away.

When I got to the hospital they took blood cultures. They were positive with Ancinetobacter Baumannii. This bacteria, is multi drug resistant, making this infection very difficult to treat. (Sepsis and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)/Antibiotic Resistance) I met with two infectious disease doctors. They told me I was very sick and that I had sepsis. It was certain that my UTI turned into a kidney infection which then entered into my bloodstream. At the time we were not aware that I am immunocompromised and that I would later be diagnosed with primary immune deficiency disease in August. (Sepsis and Impaired Immune System) I am currently taking weekly Cuvitru infusions and daily prophylactic Cephalexin 500mg to help with my immune system.

The doctors started me on Cefepime intravenous every eight hours. After two days they decided to insert a PICC line. That remained in my arm for two weeks. Then I was prescribed levofloxacin 750 mg for 10 days. On July 10th, I was readmitted to the hospital for eight days for another kidney infection and hypotension. My blood test showed my lactic acidosis was elevated. My blood pressure/heart rate was very low. Another round of antibiotics and an appointment with a nephrologist. I also received magnesium intravenously.

After being immobile for five weeks I developed atrophy. I had in-home health care nurse and physical therapist. After sepsis I was taken off my three blood pressure pills and beta blocker because my blood pressure was very low after the infection. Today I’m still off all my blood pressure medicines and still experience low blood pressure daily. I lost 30 pounds because I had no appetite. I also experienced a lot of hair loss. I felt anxious and I really didn’t care about my appearance just getting better was my goal.

Today seven months after battling sepsis, I rely on my wheelchair and walker. I’m also on supplemental oxygen. My primary doctor tested my urine and it came back with high proteins and high creatinine. She suspects it’s kidney damage from sepsis. We are going to recheck the urine periodically through the year. I still experience weakness, fatigue and feeling unsure of myself daily. I make sure to get a lot of rest each day and eat a healthy diet. I just completed 36 sessions of cardiac rehab which helped me build some of my muscle strength. Exercise was also great for my mental health.

I also was diagnosed with PTSD in July 2020. (Sepsis and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ) Sepsis can definitely affect you physically and emotionally. I am so blessed to have a wonderful family, friends, nurses, therapists and doctors that are so supportive through this journey. Online support groups to have been appreciated. I’ve relied on my husband so much to help me with every day tasks and activities. Sepsis doesn’t only affect the patient but it also affects the ones around you that you love.

Last year I was diagnosed with alpha-1 anti-tripsin deficiency and primary immune deficiency. I have some obstruction in my lungs because of Alpha-1. I feel so fortunate to have survived sepsis. I am so grateful that my doctor gave me her personal number, she saved my life. I was aware of sepsis because my son went septic after his appendix bursted and went through his bloodstream. (Sepsis and Appendicitis) He ended up in surgery for five hours to save his life. Sepsis has hit our family twice. My goal now is to educate others how important it is to know the signs and symptoms of sepsis. Sepsis is potentially fatal and needs to be treated immediately. I feel blessed and so grateful to have survived Sepsis.

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