Katherine Garcia


Severe septic shock survivor 37, wife and mother of 4. A first ever kidney stone became lodged in my ureter on a date weekend with my husband. (Sepsis and Kidney Stones, Sepsis and Septic Shock) I was rushed to the nearby emergency center and had a minor complication during the stent placement. The surgeon notified me that my ureter accidentally suffered a tear in the stent placement and my ureter needed to be cauterized. Almost 3 months after the emergency procedure/removal of the stone, my family and I were vacationing at the beach when I had a sudden onset fever and began experiencing difficulty breathing. My fever rapidly escalated to 104 and with it came an intense pain on my right side near my kidney. The local hospital determined it be nerve pain and COVID. I was misdiagnosed and discharged within an hour of arrival. My husband decided to take us home since I didn’t look too well.

A day later when we arrived home, I was rushed to the hospital via ambulance after I lost consciousness due to deathly low blood pressure. I was admitted into the ICU for 3 days and was immediately given antibiotics, IV fluid, and other medications to elevate my blood pressure and to control the fevers. I experienced high fevers, convulsions, many episodes of fainting, and severe weakness. I was Covid tested and it rendered negative. 

I am a strong believer in God and in the middle of the rigors from the fevers and the pain radiating from my kidney, I made the decision to use my strength to get out of the bed and pray in a chair that was sitting in my ICU unit. My nurse helped me out of my bed after I made him aware that I was going to do it whether he helped me or not. That was the last hour I had fever and pain. The fever finally broke from 106 and my temperature returned to normal. The “ice blanket” was removed from my bed, and blood was taken for routine tests. The next morning, the ICU physician came in to report the blood results and stated that “there was no sign of an infection ever being present in my body.”

I was discharged that afternoon.

Post-sepsis I experienced many vivid nightmares. Most of these lucid dreams elicited panic attacks and even physical reactions where I would unknowingly and frantically jump in attempts to find safety. I experienced a large amount of hair loss and became an introvert for a while. I had a few episodes of anxiety when my mind was tricked into thinking I was experiencing the breathing problems like before. I regained my physical strength pretty quickly. It felt as if my body had never been under attack. I went back to work one week after my release, and after another week I was back into my physical exercise program. 

After the severe septic shock, I was diagnosed with nephrocalcinosis, which was explained to be an overlooked birth defect that led to the sepsis event. Somehow my kidneys produce a high level of calcium which calcify and create stones. Both of my kidneys were tightly packed with rocks that it prevented my kidneys from filtering correctly, thus created a bacteria that spread and poisoned my blood.

A year after the severe septic shock experience, I recognized similar symptoms (pain in my kidney and a more intense pain on my abdomen and ureter area when I would urinate- but no fever) so I called my urologist and went in for testing. I was admitted into the hospital for a week with sepsis. It did not progress into the higher levels of sepsis because it was caught  sooner. 

Today, I am living well and strong and have resumed my normal busy life. I am a High School teacher and a worship leader at my church. I get full scans and work-ups every 6months to monitor kidney function and sepsis prevention. The key I follow in maintaining my health is drinking plenty of water and having control over my mindset. I don’t let the “what if” questions and “fear” or anxiety thoughts take root in my mind. I am thankful and grateful for the speedy actions and care I received from the EMT’s, nurses, emergency room staff and ICU staff. With the grace of God, they truly did save my life. I am restored and healed and looking forward to living a long and healthy life.

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