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Ellie S.

Survivor

I was approaching the end of my senior year of high school, and one day I felt pain in my back and in my sides. I brushed it off for days, as I’ve always been very active and was constantly pulling/straining muscles. Two days later, I developed a low-grade fever. Thank goodness both of my parents are nurses, as they realized I was starting to have UTI symptoms. (Sepsis and Urinary Tract Infections)

They took me to the doctor who diagnosed me with a kidney infection and immediately got me started on antibiotics. Fast forward three days: my fever was up to 104 degrees F. I was vomiting from the pain in my back and my urine was dark brown and bloody. At this point, we realized the antibiotics were doing nothing. My mom brought me to the emergency room when I started hallucinating and fainting repeatedly.

The ER staff was incredible and they immediately admitted me to the hospital. My blood pressure dropped and I was rushed to the ICU after being diagnosed with severe sepsis. I spent seven days in the ICU. My liver, kidney, and gallbladder function had been disrupted and I developed bilateral pneumonia (we think from aspirating my vomit) and gallbladder sludge. Fluid was accumulating everywhere, especially around my lungs compressing my breathing. I had to have a thoracentesis performed on me in my ICU bed because I was too unstable to anesthetize.

I was started on broad-spectrum antibiotics and things started to look up. I was released home. I had to relearn how to walk, how to breathe, and how to be a functioning human being again. I was confused, left with so many questions, and so angry at this new body that was failing me. Kids my age were supposed to be out making memories and being young! Why was I trapped in this broken shell?

Within two weeks I was rehospitalized, septic again from another kidney infection. This time it wasn’t as severe, but it was still awful. That year I had four surgeries to correct an anatomical anomaly that was causing my recurrent kidney infections and septic episodes.

Fast forward two years and I am a sophomore in college, working as hard as I can to earn my BSN/RN degree. I hope to become a critical care nurse myself and bring some sunshine into someone’s dark day.

The PTSD and post-sepsis syndrome makes some days very difficult, especially with my chosen major. I still have many health issues and a weak immune system which is especially scary with a pandemic going on. (Sepsis and PTSD)
Please, check on your loved ones and keep an eye on someone who is sick. Things can go so wrong so fast. Be a voice for those who don’t have one!

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