Cheryl F.

In 2018, I developed sepsis following an extensive 2-day spinal surgery. (Sepsis and Surgery) The surgery went well, however I developed sepsis in the hospital. My surgery took place in one of the hospitals in the country with the lowest reported infection rates. Later investigation by the hospital concluded that my sepsis was the result of poor post-operative care. 
Once discharged home, my friend who is an RN noticed that I was confused and feverish. She took me to an urgent care where they prescribed oral antibiotics. I was so weak by then, I could not take anything by mouth.  A few hours later as my condition continued to deteriorate, my friend took me to the closest emergency room. Luckily, the ER doc that night was familiar with sepsis. She ordered x-rays and scans, confirming that I had severe sepsis with multiple pulmonary emboli (clots in my lungs) and a pulmonary air leak. I was transferred by ambulance to the original hospital where I received surgery and was admitted to ICU. As a former ICU nurse, I was terrified. I had cared for many sepsis patients who never left ICU. My nurse that night told me that I was one of the “lucky” ones, my sepsis was caught just prior to septic shock.
I was started on multiple IV antibiotics, and underwent a 5 hour surgery the next day to have my spinal area completely cleaned out and topical antibiotics applied. I was able to go home a week later with drains and a PICC line, as I needed 8 weeks of home IV antibiotics.
It was a long way back from sepsis, and I am so grateful every day that I am a survivor.  A lesson from my experience is that we all need health advocates when we cannot speak for ourselves, regardless of our background and experience.
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