Kate Safford


The is the second (2nd) time I have survived sepsis!!! Leaving for vacation in May 2016, I was in the throes of a beginning UTI. (Sepsis and UTIs) CBC and UA w/culture completed at hospital lab and PCP notified of same. PCP started meds immediately as UTIs were typical, calling back on day 2 to change the meds.

Day 3 of the trip, I developed a temp, and was woozy the next day. BP was 95/60, PCP sent me the ER. I explained to the ER doc that I have a primary immune deficiency-CVID (body doesn’t make antibodies to strep and pneumonia) and had survived sepsis 9 yrs earlier.  (Sepsis and Impaired Immune System) ER doc asked for my PCP’s phone number, they spoke, and the next thing I heard the ER doc tell my husband that I was in “septic shock,” but I would have to be transferred as this was a small town in upper WI and they had no ICU. (Sepsis and Septic Shock)

Lots of quick action, a well-informed patient (and spouse), medical record info in wallet, and the personal willingness of the ER physician to call my PCP got the ball rolling. In ICU, the doc was familiar with my immune deficiency and had immunoglobulin on standby in case the initial meds (3 types of antibiotics) didn’t start working in just hours, they would have administered immunoglobulin. That would have been a problem since in addition to the sepsis, as I am allergic to the immunoglobulin (either the stabilizer or the detergent cleaning of the immunoglobulin during sterilization), which would have further seriously complicated the situation.

In ICU, I explained that I have MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) for which most staff knows nothing about or what to do, the nurses said, “We’ve never treated anyone with this issue, what can we do!!!!” As sick as I was, I began to tell them about the inflammatory process that my body had started to undergo, even just from the oxygen cannula (plastic smell), and they were fantastic, even removing the hand sanitizer (a trigger for me) from the ICU room. Even the ER doctor understood the PID which does not always happen, Immunoglobulin therapy, and everyone worked together like a team should.

Since I’ve had many infections requiring immediate ER/hospital stays, I am convincing without hysteria. I recovered, with full capabilities, no long lasting effects. I applaud these docs who were delighted about my compact medical notes that I had with me, my immediate connection to my PCP, and my ability to talk about my rare complications. And I didn’t mention that way back in 2007, I lost my spleen, so my immune system has been further assaulted. Congrats to me and my congrats to my team who saved my life in a very small town in Northern Wisconsin.

Just imagine the letter I wrote to the staff when I got better. An informed patient who knows when to call their PCP, go to the ER, knows the signs and symptoms of sepsis, can help their own situation. In my opinion, patients with serious diseases, complications from treatments, etc. should be made aware of sepsis. Due to my affiliation with this organization, each one of my children has a card in their kitchen and knows the signs of sepsis and also has my important medical info at their fingertips as well. We patients can help!!! Thanks for allowing me to share my story, perhaps my success can help others survive as well!!!!

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