Christmas Day 2003 my parents arrived to visit me while my husband was mid-way through his tour in Iraq. I had been very sick, had gone to the ER four days earlier, and was told I had the flu and sent home. When my parents arrived the first thing my mother said was, “You look almost green!” I had been vomiting for 5 days and was in an indescribable amount of pain. I assured her the doctors told me I just had the flu and had to wait it out.
We ate a light dinner and I went to bed. A few hours later I tried to get up to use the bathroom and fell out of my bed. I was so weak. My parents took me back to the ER. After a CT with contrast and blood work, it was determined that I had been misdiagnosed with the flu and actually had a ruptured appendix, was septic, and in multi system organ failure. (Sepsis and Appendicitis) I was rushed into surgery and spent the next 3 weeks in the hospital recovering from not only that surgery, but an additional one for an abscess that formed.
I cannot describe how weak and frail I felt during that time. Picking up a sock was almost impossible. It took months before I was able to fully function day to day without discomfort or growing weary easily. It’s easy to be angry at the doctors who sent me home with the “flu.” However, so little was known about sepsis at the time. I am just thankful my parents knew to take me back, and that the staff on call that night was able to find the real issue at hand. I had never heard of sepsis, nor understood how dangerous it is. It wasn’t until a few years later when I found the red cross message my husband received in Iraq that I saw “Spouse: <24 hrs life expectancy” that I realized just how close to death I had come. Now I share my story so that others may be more knowledgeable and may not suffer in the way I did. Maybe they will see the signs in someone they love when they are ill and know to speak up.