My mother was hospitalized the day after Mother’s Day on May 14, 2018, and she was taken from us forever just 31 days later.
She had pneumonia and infected fluid in her abdomen, both complications stemming from a recent and routine gallbladder surgery. (Sepsis and Pneumonia, Sepsis and Surgery) She was being treated with antibiotics but still worsening. With an extremely elevated white blood count (50,000), elevated heart rate, terrible difficulty breathing, even with high flow oxygen support and an alarming respiratory rate (in the 50s) — No one mentioned sepsis. Blood cultures showed alarming liver numbers, so they biopsied her liver. The biopsy showed her liver was acutely and severely inflamed and yet no one mentioned sepsis. CT scans showed inflammation in her lungs, yet no one mentioned sepsis.
**Sepsis is the body’s inflammatory response to infection. It causes widespread inflammation.**
On May 18th, after declining rapidly, she was moved to the ICU and placed on a ventilator and just 24 hours later, she was on every measure of life support available. All of her organs were failing. Her blood pressure plummeted, requiring 3-4 different vasopressors, her kidneys shut down and required continuous dialysis, her liver was failing and she was severely hypothermic. At that point, we were told her body was in septic shock, the last, most severe, stage of sepsis. The words from the ICU team “this is as critical as it gets and her chances of survival are slim.” I was in complete shock. My mother just turned 67 and she was healthy. We just booked a vacation together. What was happening?! How did this spiral out of control within hours?!
The visual of my mother being on every measure of life support is something I wish no one ever has to see in their entire life. She spent the next ten days in a medically induced coma clinging to life. Life felt so fragile, like watching a dragonfly land on your hand, knowing at any moment, it may fly away.
On day 11, after miraculously beating all odds, she came out of the coma, off of life support and fully conscious. She still required dialysis, but we thought she had made it. She thought she had made it. She was moved out of the ICU to a regular room but in the days to come, her organ damage was just too much. Along with liver failure, kidney failure, and damaged lungs, she now had severe hemorrhagic pancreatitis. We were told there was nothing more that could be done for her. We spent the next few days saying goodbye to our beautiful and brave mother, my best friend and an adored Grammy. She took her last breath on June 15, 2018.
Her death was preventable, her death was sepsis. Please share.
I love you forever Mom and I will spend my life educating others of the dangers of sepsis and how common, yet unpublished it is and unfortunately how uneducated and untrained the general public and medical community are. I miss you every second of every day.
Source: Kristen Gerardi, daughter