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Catherine K.


I went in for a simple removal of a uterine fibroid that had been causing me to be anemic for almost a year. (Sepsis and Surgery) My surgeon said my uterus was punctured during the surgery and said it would be fine and I went home. I returned to the hospital almost immediately after arriving home because the “uncomfortable” feeling since leaving the hospital was leaving me unable to sit or lie down. I have a high tolerance for pain so I thought this was unusual, but it was also my first surgery and having general anesthesia so I wasn’t sure if what I was experiencing was expected.

When I was led to the GYN triage area, I was examined, while writhing in pain, but no intervention was done except when I requested an IV be placed so I can get pain medication. I am an ICU nurse so I thought that would help but I’m sure, as I would have thought, that I was a drug seeking patient. My vital signs were stable, which may be because I was a long distance runner and triathlete. I was sent home with a prescription for pain medicine. I returned the next day with abdominal pain. I was examined and no intervention was done. When I wasn’t in the hospital, I was medicating myself and sleeping. On the 3 rd day, after I was told over the phone that I was probably constipated, I vomited and then had trouble breathing. My husband and I knew something was really wrong and we went to the emergency room.

I was seen right away, I remembered taking off my jewelry and then waking up in the ICU 11 days later. I had 7 surgeries in the meantime to repair my punctured small intestine and to clean out the 3 liters of intestinal fluid that had leaked into my abdomen. (Sepsis and Perforated Bowel) I was on continuous dialysis, I had my breathing tube removed shortly after, had a ileostomy and an open abdominal wound covered with a vacuum dressing that was painful to change. For the next 28 days, while I was away from my children, I experienced just about everything that I administered to my ICU patients – drain placements, feeding tube and abdominal drain placements and removal, central line placement and removal and so many hallucinations. (Sepsis and Hallucinations) I ended up having one of my big toes amputated because of the life saving blood pressure medications, a 20+ lb muscle loss, a bald spot I the back of my head and a keloid scar above my lip from the breathing tube holder. (Sepsis and Amputations)

That was 2 years ago in June 2018. I just had my 13th surgery and I am probe to intestinal blockages since my ileostomy reversal. My injuries to my hands and feet prevent me from returning to ICU nursing but have since become certified as an Integrative Nutrition Health coach to help prepare people with their health. I am so thankful to my ICU and floor team at BIDMC in Boston for all their wonderful care of me and also my family and friends.

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