On June 9, 2017 I went for my routine mammogram. I felt kind of strange, but just thought I was getting a cold. That evening I was supposed to go to the pool with my grandkids, which I had to cancel because I felt bad. I had diarrhea and nausea and just felt weak.
Over the weekend, I developed a temp and severe pain in my left shoulder. I had a rotator cuff tear a few years before and thought I had hurt it exercising. On Sunday we went to Urgent Care, which I don’t even remember. They ran a test for strep and the flu which were negative. Monday we went to the orthopedic doctor and they scheduled an MRI for my shoulder on Thursday. They gave me pain meds, which were not helping at all.
I am a retired critical care nurse and I guess I kept telling my husband I didn’t want to go to the ER. I was spending the whole day in bed, in pain and feeling very sick. I really was not thinking clearly. My grown kids had been talking to my husband and were worried. One of my sons came over on Wednesday, the 14th and saw my condition and insisted I go to the hospital. They had to carry me down the stairs and lay me down in the car because I couldn’t sit up. I was seen immediately in the ER and had a CT scan where they saw the mass in my left chest. I was in kidney and liver failure. I was started on sepsis protocol and admitted to ICU around 10 pm. This was the hospital I had worked at for over 30 years and a lot of people I knew were working on me.
The night shift doctor just let it all coast, but when the daytime intensivists came in, they said I needed surgery immediately. I remember very little of that, but do know I signed a consent to possibly have my left arm amputated and a removal of a large amount of tissue on my left side. (Sepsis and Amputations) The trauma surgeon on call was aggressive. He took out a huge amount of tissue on my left side down to the pleura and a little chunk out of my left breast. My arm didn’t have to be amputated, but they took out a large amount of tissue. I was in ICU on a ventilator for 10 days, then to a medical unit and a rehab hospital. The total time in the hospital was 58 days. In total I had 5 surgeries including my skin graft. One of the treatments they think saved me came from one of the intensivists who was reading about mega doses of vitamin C given to sepsis patients on the east coast. Once I started getting that I started to improve.
I was in good shape before this happened. It wiped me out. I couldn’t walk, move around on my own in bed, or even lift my arms. With a lot of PT and hard work even to this day I am doing great. My side is not pretty, and feels very tight with the graft. I could have another surgery to make it look better, but I don’t want another surgery. My arm has a big scar and is numb in places, but I have about 90 percent mobility with it. We are not sure how it started, except I had a cut on my finger on my left hand. (Sepsis and Bacterial Infections) It is the only possibility and we will never know for sure. I consider myself a miracle and so does everyone that watched what happened to me.