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Erika Collins

Survivor

In April of 2014, I started to get flu-like symptoms while on a flight to Atlanta: chills and a fever. The fever would subside and I would feel okay, and then it would come back. This got worse as the week went on and by day six, I was short of breath and called my doctor. He asked me to come into the office the next day, which I did. At this point I also could not move my left arm, but just thought I had slept funny and had a pinched nerve.

My doctor did blood tests and the next morning called me to tell me to go to the hospital ER. I spent 10 hours in the ER. By this point I was vomiting, had a migraine, couldn’t move my arm, and was having trouble breathing. At the end of the day, the ER doctor told me that I had pneumonia and gave me a prescription for antibiotics (as well as a prescription for Vicodin for my shoulder since I was still have massive pain there. (Sepsis and Pneumonia) They sent me home, telling me I could fly to CA for my business trip in two days.

Within four hours of getting home I spiked a 105 degree temperature and called the hospital. They told me to take two Tylenol and check with them in the morning. But fortunately for me, and unbeknownst to me, someone earlier that day while I was in the ER had decided to run blood cultures. The hospital called me in the early morning the next day to tell me that all four of my blood cultures had tested positive and I needed to be admitted to the ICU. They wanted to send an ambulance and I declined and called a car service. I had no idea what was happening.

When I got to the hospital I was immediately admitted to the ICU and I was crashing. My blood pressure was dropping and my heart stopped three times. The entire experience was terrifying. I was told I needed immediate shoulder surgery or I might lose my arm. I was lucky because the doctor was able (due to the blood cultures) to identify the underlying infection (Group B Strep) and started to treat that right away with an IV of penicillin. (Sepsis and Group B Strep) I had emergency shoulder surgery and spent 10 days in the hospital; they saved my arm. Then I spent 2 months recuperating at home. I could not work and was very weak (having lost 20 pounds), going to the hospital every morning for an hour long IV of penicillin and then going for physical therapy for my shoulder. Ultimately, I made a full recovery, but it took over a year. I really had no idea what had happened. I had PTSD like symptoms for over a year which no doctor had warned me about as a possibility. I really want to educate people about sepsis. Hopefully, we can save some lives!

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