Janis Burns Buyarski
On February 25, 2011, my life was utterly changed by sepsis. I had been treated for kidney stones several times over the past 10+ years. (Sepsis and Kidney Stones) This was supposed to be routine minor surgery. The first operation for removal of stones in the right kidney went well and there were no complications. Two weeks later, the operation for removal of stones in the left kidney appeared to have gone well and, again, there were no complications. One week after the second surgery the stent was removed from the left kidney. Eight hours later I was violently ill, vomiting and had a fever over 104 degrees. I thought I had food poisoning from attending a potluck the night before.
It was the wee hours of the following morning when I woke my husband, Ed, to take me to the emergency room. Shortly before noon, Fr. Pat came and gave me the anointing of the sick while I was in the ER. Even though I was extremely ill, it was with some irony that I reflected this was the third time Fr. Pat had given me the anointing of the sick, for something as minor as kidney stones. I hoped the third time would be the charm, and that there would be a miraculous relief from my pain. That was not to be the case, but looking back, I believe having been anointed three times was exactly what I needed to have the courage to endure what came next.
The medical diagnosis was sepsis. After spending the day in the ER without food or water and still running a high fever, that evening I was moved into the Critical Care Unit. Over the next couple of hours, I went into septic shock. My blood pressure dropped to something like 48/24; my organs were shutting down and I was near death. When we lived in Idaho, my husband and I had been trained as volunteer EMTs so I understood what was happening. I was in shock and there was nothing I could do to help myself. I was totally vulnerable and utterly helpless. I was in so much pain, I couldn’t pray.
I’m grateful to God who worked through the health care staff for several hours to stabilize my system enough for emergency surgery. It took another 2-3 days in the CCU for their medical handiwork to bring my blood pressure above 100 and to stabilize my lung functions.
There is no denying there were times when I would have preferred death to the agonizing pain. I remember asking the Lord if it was time, to take me home – I don’t want to be here anymore. Yet in the deepest part of my heart I heard the still small voice telling me “don’t give up”. In addition, a scripture verse kept coming to mind — “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” 2 Cor 12:9 TEV
During this time, I also had the continuous prayers and support of my family and our Church community. My husband called on family and friends to pray for me. As people learned the serious nature of my condition; they contacted others asking for prayers; masses were offered and rosaries said on my behalf. I was very blessed. God chooses to work through his children, and I believe the faith filled prayers of our family and friends saved my life.
Recovery of my health has been ongoing for almost 3 years now, and I’m gradually re-gaining some of my former strength.