Greg Tsouprake

Survivor

At 6am on July 9, 2014, I passed a kidney stone. I’m a 48-year-old man, 6′ 7″ tall, and 230 lbs, and I exercise regularly. I had never had kidney stones before. (Sepsis and Kidney Stones) After the stone had passed, there was no more pain, so I drove 1.5 hours to work. Dumb, really dumb. By 9 am, I was feeling cramp-like pain in my abdomen. I called the nurse and she told me to get to a hospital immediately, so I went to the ER. By noon the ER ran blood tests and a CAT scan. They confirmed that I had passed a kidney stone and said that no more stones were detected. They gave me an antibiotic and sent me home.

That night I had alternating chills and a fever over 102. I figured that this was expected and was why I was on the antibiotic. At 4am I was throwing up, a lot. Back to the ER for more blood tests. By about 6 am I was admitted to the hospital for abdominal pain and fever. More blood drawn for tests. By about noon I was rushed to an ICU, IV antibiotics, fluids and a lot more blood tests. In about 24 hours I had gone from feeling great being in an ICU.

I believe that the next day I was told that I was fighting a staph infection and sepsis at the same time. I understand that they tried multiple antibiotics and I was told that the infection was resistant to treatment. The doctors did not seem sure that the infections were linked to the kidney stone or not. I had no idea how I contracted staph and that I had been fighting staph and sepsis.

I was in the ICU for about a week. During this time I was on a max dose of morphine and the cramps and sharp pains were intense like being stabbed by a knife. I was running a high fever, chills, low pulse O2, no appetite – the list of symptoms goes on. I didn’t sleep or eat for 5 days and I lost about 20 pounds. The exhaustion, pain and severe sleep depravation were hell. The doctors and nurses did not seem to be clear on my prognosis. They ran nuclear tests to see if the infection was hiding somewhere. I had no idea how sick I really was or how deadly sepsis could be.

After the ICU, I spent another a week in a regular hospital room on IV antibiotics, pain killers and fluids. I was discharged with a pic line and for 3 weeks, I gave myself cefozaline injections every 8 hours. I was sent back to work when the cefazoline ended.

Follow up tests shows that the infection has not returned, however the lingering exhaustion was extreme for over 9 months. A full year after I left the hospital, I still have only a fraction of the strength and stamina I had before the infection. Exercise to rebuild strength and stamina has felt almost pointless and even counter productive as it just leads to more lingering exhaustion. My ability to recover from exercise has diminished by an astonishing degree. (Sepsis and Post-Sepsis Syndrome)

Now I look OK and I generally feel OK but I’m not the same as I was and I don’t know if I’ll ever recover fully. I feel lucky to be alive but a year later I’m a shell of my former physical self. The mental battle for recovery seems to have just begun.