Carol Mulkern


I had been feeling a bit “run down” as my Mom had just died. Two weeks later I went to an urgent care facility as I had pain when I urinated. I was prescribed antibiotics but they didn’t seem to work after 7 days. I reluctantly agreed to go to the local ED as my daughter thought I seemed “off”. The previous evening I had had the cold sweats as I was literally shivering out loud. (Sepsis and Urinary Tract Infections)

Upon my arrival to the ED, vitals, medical history, urine spec, and chest X-ray were done. While waiting for my X-ray results, my blood pressure plummeted. That’s all I really remember. My temperature rose, my oxygen saturations dropped, and I was placed in observation and eventually icu.I was placed on hi flo oxygen. A rapid response team had me intubated and I was placed on life support! I had sepsis, ARDS, severe double pneumonia, and major organ failure!! (Sepsis and ARDS, Sepsis and Pneumonia)

I was transported to Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, too sick to be air lifted, I was sent via ambulance and immediately treated in MICU for the above diagnosis. Nine days in ICU, on a vent, I was not expected to live. One month later I was transferred to Spaulding Rehab (ltach) in Cambridge, MA. I could not walk, talk, or breathe on my own. I remained on hi flo 02 and eventually weaned to 3L nasal cannula . I stayed 3 months and worked vigorously with my team. I also attended physical therapy and pulmonary rehab up until the pandemic made this impossible. I am immunocomprimised due to sepsis.

Sepsis created the perfect storm of illness for me and eventually led to ARDS which destroyed my lungs. I remain on 02 and walk with a walker. As of last Friday, I am being referred to the Lung Transplant Team at BWH. I’m 56 yrs old and disabled. I used to run and work out 5 days per week. Although I worked at BWH with families of cardiac patients, I had never heard of sepsis….today, when asked, I share my story of surviving a catastrophic illness to medical communities.

I am the lucky one. My healthy brother in law died of sepsis in July 2020.

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