Emma Vehvilainen


After suffering from endometriosis for years I decided to have surgery to alleviate the situation. Three days post-op, I was feeling horrible — in tremendous pain, weak, I could barely walk. (Sepsis and Surgery) I called the surgeon and asked if what I was experiencing was normal. He prescribed stronger pain killers and told me to wait it out. The next day I knew something was off.

In the emergency room they admitted me swiftly, administered countless tests and finally a doctor told me: “If you had not come in today, you most likely would have died tomorrow.” The initial surgery had provoked a bacterial infection into my stomach and sides, developing into sepsis. I was carted off quickly to what the doctor described to my family as “life-saving surgery”. Two days, two 5 hour surgeries, a short stint on a ventilator, and a 24 inch scar around my torso later, I woke up in the ICU with my abdomen and sides open. My husband and family by my side. Even through the haze of the medications and battering my body had taken, I could see in their eyes how terrified they had been. For me, I had suffered a great physical ordeal. However, my family had suffered one of the worst emotional ordeals of their life. Waiting.

I was in the ICU for about a week until I was moved to a specialist hospital to begin to close me back up and monitor my infection. I spent over a month in the hospital, underwent 3 more surgeries, countless other procedures, issues with surgical drains, nerve damage and returned home with pain and a colostomy (I lost a significant amount of intestine). I am lucky. The outcome and long term effects could have been far worse. However, this was all avoidable. If I had known the signs of sepsis. Looking back, I exhibited them all. I just was not aware. There is no other way to put it, but, I really am lucky to be alive.

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