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Heather Wargo

Survivor

It all began on a Sunday.

I had gone to the ortho dentist two days prior for dental work, to include the removal of an abscessed root canal.

I was a 41 year old, mostly healthy woman and my youngest child was 6 months old and breastfeeding.

Saturday evening, I began to feel as though I had picked up the flu or a bad cold… kinda achy, just tired. I didn’t have a fever, but I just felt off. (Sepsis and Dental Health)

Sunday I woke up and my lower back was really sore, which I thought was strange, but I brushed it off as a strain from picking up the baby.

That day was a huge day for our family as our teenage daughter was being Confirmed in the Catholic Church. We had planned the day for months. However, I felt worse and worse as the morning went on and finally told my husband I was not feeling well enough to go to Mass.
That should have been a huge flag, but since I wasn’t burning up, and it was hectic around the house, things went on.
Three hours later (hours I have very dim recollection of), my husband appeared at my side, picked me up and told me we were going to the ER.
At this point, my breathing was frightening everyone from what I was told, though I was talking and making “kinda” sense.
Rapidly dwindling cognitive ability is a huge indicator, according to the ER doc.
At the ER, I remember getting lab work done and then my husband came to my side with tears in his eyes.
“They are calling a helicopter.”
I laughed. “Why?”
He was struggling not to break down as he told me I was really sick.
It seemed as though it was seconds later when two men came in and told me to lie back. They said they would be giving me some medicine to help me sleep during the flight. I felt really tired at that point so I happily agreed.
(My weird mood prevailed throughout the ER trip, and I was having trouble breathing I was told).
I was knocked out and put on a ventilator, and flown out.
I then spent the next week, in a medical coma, on a ventilator, in a huge city neuro ICU.
I apparently came close to dying twice that week, my organs were very perilously close to shutting down. The priest was called in.

All due to the dental work I had done, apparently.

It is mostly like a dreamscape, my recall of that week.
——————————————-
Abruptly, day six, evening, I was extubated (third try from what I was told) and was able to breathe on my own.
The next day, even more abruptly, I was discharged from the Neuro ICU!!
I was not given any instructions really upon discharge, just one vial of oral antibiotics, and told to follow up with my doctor.
No one prepared me for life “after”.
I was in agonizing, whole body pain for almost two weeks after discharge. I had so many bruises from IVs and blood draws, and I had an extremely sore chest from the central line they had inserted.
I could not speak for a long time above a whisper due to the ventilator.
NO ONE PREPARED ME.

I sobbed and was so confused. I didn’t understand why I had been so rudely discharged from the ICU (I have never heard of a person NOT going to a stepdown unit after ICU before discharge until I was discharged.)
(Insurance, apparently).
It took months for me to regain strength. I am grateful I have all my limbs, after reading about sepsis and post sepsis.
However, since this happened, my liver and pancreas have been destroyed and I live with chronic idiopathic hepatitis (non infectious liver inflammation) and chronic pancreatitis.
I spike “mystery fevers” out of nowhere that terrify me and my family.
Life is painful, however I am grateful to have survived.
We NEED better sepsis awareness and education!!!! Nationally!!

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