Beth Burns

Featured, Survivor

December 19,2018, I went to the hospital expecting to have a routine outpatient laparoscopic cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal). (Sepsis and Surgery) My surgeon kept me in the hospital another day and a gastroenterologist completed an endoscopic procedure to remove stones from a bile duct and inserted a stent in my bile duct on Thursday afternoon. Sometime in the early morning hours of Friday, December 21st my husband was contacted by the hospital because I was in excruciating pain. After my blood pressure tanked, they had to split my abdominal muscles in half to clean out my abdominal cavity because I had a hole in my duodenum that was leaking contents of my digestive tract causing me to become septic. (Sepsis and Perforated Bowel)

I spent 78 nights in 4 different hospitals and was unable to work for more than 4 months. I was not allowed to eat anything more than ice chips and hard candy for 50 days to help heal the fissure in my duodenum.
After being released from the hospital, I was unable to administer 4 different IV antibiotics every day, set up my daily nutrition (TPN) through IV and clean my abdominal wounds twice a day so my husband was forced to become my in home healthcare nurse for more than 6 weeks.

I have withstood a blood clot in my lung, multiple abdominal drains and chest tubes, various wound vacs, two PICC lines and several surgeries because of sepsis. We have received bills for over 10 thousand dollars in out of pocket medical expenses and our health insurance has paid out more than 1.5 million dollars in medical bills.

Prior to sepsis, I was a healthy 49-year-old mom who worked full time as an instructor at a community college. After sepsis, I live with horribly ugly abdominal scars, suffer ongoing digestive issues and joint pains. I am left breathless from what would have been easy tasks prior to my illness. Everyday I worry that I will become septic again. I live with the flashbacks of horrible nightmares experienced during the first weeks in the hospital due to ICU/Sepsis psychosis. Over 90% of my hair has fallen out. I have numbness in my fingers and toes and I am much more fatigued than I ever was prior to sepsis. (Post-Sepsis Syndrome)

After all of this, I know that I am one of the lucky ones!! I read stories about the other faces of sepsis and know how blessed that I am to be a survivor! I experienced many lucky breaks! My sepsis diagnosis was made while I was in a hospital. We have great insurance and my employer has been beyond supportive. My husband has been the best nurse and caretaker that I could ever ask for! My mother was there by my side everyday and our other family members are strong enough to help us. So far, none of my organs have failed. I lost none of my limbs to sepsis! I’m alive and blessed!