David K.

Survivor

In October 2018, my Publisher released my book, Our Family Amputation, telling the story of my journey to Sepsis and eventually the amputation of my left leg above the knee on May 27, 2016, so I could survive the impact. (Sepsis and Amputations)

To describe my predicament and origin of Sepsis, it is necessary to refer to the deep veins in our body. They are the superhighway that provides a rapid return of blood back to the heart. On November 14, 2006, I had a back-fusion surgery that was performed from the front at the pelvis to access the spine. (Sepsis and Surgery) The procedure involved moving the bundle of nerves, deep arteries, and deep veins to the side and securing them with clamps, while they worked on the spine. A fusion plate was placed on the spine at the L5-S1 and screws applied. At the conclusion, the clamps were removed, allowing the bundle to return to their normal placement over the spine. Eleven days later, I am back in ICU fighting for my life. The medical staff discovered that more than 50% of my superhighway from the pelvis down to the left foot, showed catastrophic blood clotting and blockage.

Ten months after this event, vascular surgeons conducted a test using dye that discovered the fusion plate on the spine had not been screwed down tight enough, and when the clamps had been removed, the Left Common Iliac vein, had slid underneath the plate and resulted in 90% pinching or what they called impingement. This fusion plate was the culprit to all the backing of blood flow in the superhighway. It was functioning like the great Hoover Dam in the Colorado River that pools water. The fusion plate was pooling blood and causing deep vein functionality failure, spewing havoc in my deep venous network. As blood pooled, one-way valves were destroyed, preventing the blood passing from superior veins into the superhighway. Consequently, life became very difficult, experiencing ten years of traumatic, painful, and degrading health events with thirteen major medical conditions, eleven of which resolved after my amputation.

  • Anemia (loss of red blood cells)
  • Edema (chronic swelling)
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS) (erratic and uncontrolled leg movement)
  • Peripheral neuropathy (widespread nerve damage with loss of myelin sheaths)
  • Severe depression
  • Kidney failure and thyroid impact
  • Hypertension (severe high blood pressure)
  • Prolonged malaise (disruptive fatigue and disorientation)
  • Venous reflux (blood would not return to the heart)
  • Sepsis (vital organs shutting down)
  • Cellulitis (infection of the skin)
  • Venous ulcers (open sores on leg)
  • Chronic osteomyelitis (infection of bones)

With multiple years remaining in my ten- year trial, I had become very stoic and withdrawn, striving to hide my pain, anger, and feelings from others. During my eighth year, I began to suffer from cellulitis and two months later, sepsis. First, the lower part of my left leg had turned a bright red and delivered an extremely intense pain. It looked like a ripened strawberry and over the next few weeks, moved up the entirety of my left leg up to the groin. I had no idea what was going on but endured the anguish and discomfort until the first week of September 2015. The onset of episodes with tremors, shakes, and sweats became more frequent. This morning, tremors have come upon me with a vengeance. My shaking was relentless and persisted with intensification. My body temperature was 106 degrees. The malaise and delirium were out of this world. I heard medical staff say, “He is septic and vital organs are shutting down.” Everything was chaotic and after six days in ICU had finally stabilized. They told me that I was extremely vulnerable to reoccurrence and to be highly vigilant with watching for the signs.

My next occurrence with sepsis came in May of 2016. This time I presented with venous ulcers in my left foot that were so large you could nearly see the bone. Between anemia, venous ulcers, cellulitis and now a diagnosis of osteomyelitis in my left leg, amputation was the only solution to save my life. On May 27, 2016, a transfemoral (above knee) amputation saved my life and I couldn’t be happier.  The previously mentioned medical conditions have resolved and I am in training to qualify as a Paralympian in swimming and triathlons.

I am enjoying life to the fullest and striving to reciprocate to all those who assisted me in my trials with positive, empathetic and compassionate support. So many others endure and overcome great challenges and I desire to be an influence in any way I can to assist them!