Daniel Hernandez

Featured, Survivor

It was in 2013, early October when I went to our office blood drive. I am an avid donor because I am O+, but my blood donation was rejected. I was surprised as I donated many gallons before. It was found that my iron level was extremely low and they suggested I see my personal physician ASAP. I had noticed some episodes of extreme fatigue.

Blood tests at my doctor’s office confirmed my extremely low iron levels and my doctor said it appeared I was bleeding internally. He scheduled a colonoscopy and endoscopy within the next couple of days because it was urgent. The result of the colonoscopy was finding a golf ball size bleeding tumor near my appendix. It needed to be removed and tested for cancer immediately.

My colon resection was scheduled for a week later, on Friday morning. My surgery was to last a couple of hours and I was predicted to go home on Monday after a weekend stay. After the surgery I posted on social media that I was doing great and I looking forward to going home in a couple of days. I had a small 3 inch incision just below my belt line almost like an appendectomy. Luckily my tumor was benign.

Over the weekend I started feeling bad. Fatigued and just didn’t feel right. On Sunday I started running a fever and felt bloated. On Monday my surgeon came by for a visit and said I had an infection and my blood pressure was extremely low. He said they needed to transfer me to the heart hospital because my heart was having issues. I called my wife and told her she needed to come to the hospital immediately because something was going wrong.

By the time she arrived at the hospital, I coded twice and she arrived during the middle of my second code. I was having multiple organ failure and developed compartmental syndrome from my infection, septic shock. The swelling was causing pressure on all my organs. The doctors put me in an induced coma and made an incision from my sternum to my groin to ease the swelling and they left my abdomen open. They intubated me and inserted a central line for medication. They also inserted a catheter because my kidneys were failing. The transported me on the Critical Care Ambulance to the heart hospital. I was in CCU for about 5 days.

They transferred me to ICU, removed the tracheal intubation tube and put me on oxygen because my oxygen levels were extremely low. They also connected a wound vac. Over the next couple of weeks, I was in and out of reality. Not knowing what was real or what was a hallucination. It was one of the most horrifying experiences of my life. I am still not sure of this was from the medications including morphine or from the septic shock. (Sepsis and Septic Shock)

As I began to come out of my fog while a good friend of mine was visiting. I asked him what happened and how long I’d been I the hospital, “a few days” I asked. He let me know it had been a couple of weeks. I reached to my face and to my surprise, felt a long beard that wasn’t there when I went into surgery. That’s when I realized something bad had happened. I had been in ICU for over 2 weeks.

I was transferred to a regular bed after 18 days in CCU/ICU. I had to start having dialysis because I was experiencing renal failure. This is when I had to relearn many things, how to walk, feed myself, take care of my hygiene needs and even use my cell phone. This lasted about a week but luckily my kidneys started functioning again. (Sepsis and Dialysis, Sepsis and Hallucinations, Sepsis and Kidney Failure)

I was discharged home after 28 days in the hospital. My wife had the office turned into a hospital room including a hospital bed.
For two months I received home health care including multiple weekly visits of wound care. After about 90 days I was finally released back to work.
I have experienced extreme episodes of chronic pain and brain fog. I had prided myself on memorizing all of my client’s names and information. I could not recall any of this. I had significant memory loss on important life experiences. I could not follow written instructions or do simple math in my head. This was very frustrating and emotional.

This lasted for years. After about 10 years, I have only recently been able to recall certain memories and my functioning seems fairly normal. I still deal with some chronic pain but I am very happy with just being alive. I have been given a second chance to see my sons grow up and become men. I am very thankful for this. This is my septic shock survival story.

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