I am 18 years old and have had several chronic illnesses my whole life. I have endured several surgeries, countless procedures and different treatment plans for all my issues. I had a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) placed in my upper right arm on February 13, 2013 so I could start TPN (total parenteral nutrition or IV nutrition) because my GI tract wasn’t working or allowing me to eat/get enough nutrients without severe pain and vomiting.
All was going well until March 7, 2013. I woke up with severe nausea and vomiting and pain so I went to the local ER so I could get IV medications to stop my vomiting and control my pain. They concluded that it was an episode of my Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome and I was sent home at 8:30pm. I did have a high heart rate of 135 but that happens to be frequent with me because of my sinus tachycardia/dysautonomia so we didn’t think anything of it.
Three hours later at home, I started to shake and I felt so cold so I took my temperature and it was 102.7. My mom, being a nurse, knew something was very wrong. She said I was white in the face and lips and looked really sick. My Dad rushed me to the ER that we usually go to with my issues, which was 15 minutes away. I think we got there in 10 because he was speeding. He knew I was really sick. We walked through the door of the pediatric ER and all the nurses knew something was wrong without even asking me since they have been caring for me in the ER for years now. They rushed me into the treatment room and hooked me up to the heart monitors, pulse oximeter and blood pressure machines while they took normal blood tests and blood cultures from my PICC line. (Sepsis and Invasive Devices)
When you have a central line, that is the immediate cause for concern especially since it goes directly into your heart and main blood stream supply. My temperature was 103.5, my blood pressure was 88/45 and dropping and my heart rate was fluctuating between 140-150 beats per minute with me just laying there.
I was given IV fluids, Dilaudid, benadryl and Zofran through my PICC line, and a dose of vancomyacin (antibiotic) through the line too. They admitted me to the hospital to a step down unit (one above a regular floor and one below ICU) and they loaded me with antibiotics and fluids to try and keep my blood pressure up. My temperature was at 103.5 when I woke up the next morning, shaking and in the worst pain of my life.
We got the blood culture results really early (it normally takes 12 to 24 hours for any growth). Well, mine came back after 9 hours incubation with what the report said was a “critical result.” I had a severe amount of Staphylococcus Hominisbacteria in my blood. It was very dangerous.
Infection Disease came in and pulled my PICC line, which was the source of the infection. The rest of my stay is kind of blurry and all the same I slept a lot. I got so many infusions because my blood levels were really off and my iron level was so low, I was getting iron infusions and that helped my blood counts. I spent 15 days in the hospital and was discharged on March 22, 2013. I didn’t think I was going to live, I have never felt so sick in my entire life. I am very thankful to the entire team of doctors and nurses and aides who helped me beat sepsis and recognized the signs very quickly in the ER and untilmately saved me. Sepsis doesn’t discriminate, know the signs and help save a life.