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Jackie D.

Survivor

I’ve suffered from Crohn’s and dysautonomia and other disabling autoimmune diseases for ten years. (Sepsis and Autoimmune Diseases) Last May I had multiple tooth abscesses and other medical procedures going on. (Sepsis and Dental Health) Two weeks after, our older daughter and our son graduated college and I was much more tired than usual.

My family was watching TV that evening and I was curled up on the couch totally detached from everything going on, and my left hip was hurting worse than it ever had in a decade. Though exhausted, I couldn’t sleep all night, and by 5 a.m. I couldn’t move my left leg at all. It felt like it weighed 1,000 lbs. We called 911 and as soon as the ER doctor did a CT of my abdomen he saw the colon perforation. (Sepsis and Perforated Bowel) I was in septic shock and my blood pressure started dropping fast. (Sepsis and Septic Shock)

They put a ventilator in, and I was paralyzed with medication but still awake. I was terrified! I could hear and see everything going on and thought, well this it I’m not going to live anymore. They couldn’t keep my blood pressure up. As soon as they stabilized me (somewhere along the line I was finally unconscious) and I was flown by helicopter to Baltimore for emergency surgery.

I was in ICU, then step down, and then in-patient orthopedic rehabilitation. I couldn’t walk and lost a lot of muscle mass. My labs were a mess and I had a temporary colostomy after losing a third of my colon in the surgery. An acute diverticulitis attack had caused the perforation that led to sepsis. I never had stomach pain that day only the hip pain. I finally came home June 16 only to go back in the hospital six days later with a post op retroperitoneal abscess.

I suffered major panic attacks, deep depression, and PTSD. (Sepsis and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) I cried every day. I was weak and couldn’t shower myself, or get my own food or lift my cell phone. I couldn’t bend, stand or sit. I had to use a walker until my legs got stronger. Half my hair fell out and what was left was frizzy. I went to physical therapy after home care discharged me in September. My husband and kids have been extremely supportive, without them I wouldn’t have made it. Friends were extremely helpful and supportive too, still calling and checking in on us.

After a successful colostomy reversal surgery in December, my panic attacks decreased and my depression lessened. I was terrified the morning of the second surgery and didn’t want to go back in the same hospital to register. A kind lady in admitting helped by taking my hands and calmly talking to me. I still have PTSD and we see a counselor every week. I’m still going to physical therapy twice a week and we’re coming up on a year, May 22, since this all happened. My bloodwork is finally starting to normalize and my muscles are coming back. I’m able to walk without my mobility scooter. I had to have iron infusions and major dental work. My hair is coming back in. I’m still traveling my road to recovery and hoping to help others who’ve survived sepsis to deal with the aftermath and very long recovery.

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