In spite of the fact that sepsis kills or cripples about 300,000 people in the US and one in three patients that die in the hospital have sepsis, I had never heard of that sickness until a close friend was hit with it. I asked members of my family, friends and peers if they knew what sepsis was and they all answered no. It makes me wonder how such a devastating ailment is unheard of by many people. One would think that the proper government agency, perhaps the Department of Health, would print pamphlets and make them available at hospitals, doctor offices, etc. so the general public gets informed about the utmost importance of seeking emergency medical attention as soon as sepsis is suspected and before it turns into sepsis shock. People should know that even a simple scrape could become an opportunity for bacteria to enter the body and cause sepsis, which can cause horrible damage to vital organs.
In the case of my friend, the drama developed suddenly. She had ignored symptoms of UTI and, it was learned later, she had kidney stones. (Sepsis and Urinary Tract Infections, Sepsis and Kidney Stones). First she felt sick and vomited bile. Then she experienced the most excruciating pain ever, starting in the back and radiating to her side. Episodes of chills and fever followed. She foolishly refused to call for help and tried to mitigate the pain with ibuprofen caps. Finally she broke into a profuse sweat and had tremors. At that point she realized that a call to 911 was imperative.
The ambulance stayed idle in front of her house for about forty minutes with her inside and with the medics most probably trying to stabilize her.
She was taken right into the ICU where she stayed for two days. After doctors suspected sepsis, they concentrated all efforts into combating the massive infection and decided to treat the kidney stones later. Combating the deadly infection took priority. In fact, the doctors said that had she waited one more day to get medical attention she would have been gone.
After being fit with a caterer and a stent, to bypass the stone, she spent another two weeks in a regular room, being monitored for kidney function as her readings were totally out of normal range. Her breathing was terrible to the point that any activity, even talking on the phone, was a big task. She was put on a nebulizer twice a day.
Upon being discharged from the hospital she spent a month in rehab, where therapists concentrated efforts on having her recover her balance, strengthen the muscles in her legs and helping her to walk again.
My friend is home now, her breathing is still somewhat labored and she uses a walker. A nurse was applying an analgesic transdermal patch every other day to mitigate the back pain until a non invasive procedure to blast the stone into smaller fragments, that can be passed in the urine, was done a week ago. The stent and catheter will be removed tomorrow and hopes are high that the kidneys will function normally.
Post sepsis effects are as follows:
Irritability, a desire to sleep constantly, speech comparable to that of a very aged person, lack of coordination, poor concentration, short memory, hard to reason with.
Just to be clear, the purpose of my comments is not just to get into a narrative about my friend’s ordeal but to reinforce the importance of being aware of what sepsis is, the urgency in calling for help as soon as its symptoms are evident and before sepsis progresses into shock. The words “I am concerned about sepsis” must be uttered as soon as being admitted in the ER, just in case.
My heart goes out to all sepsis sufferers that posted their stories here. May God alleviate their suffering and spare them from further complications.
Source: Hugo, Close friend