Kathy B.

Survivor

I had sepsis in 2009. I had a vaginal hysterectomy which went well, and I was having a speedy recovery until 6 days after the surgery, when I had chills, a fever, queasy stomach, and became dizzy while standing. I called the doctor’s office and talked to the nurse, who thought I had done too much that day and should rest. (Sepsis and Surgery)

The next morning I could not get out of bed. I was in intense pain but mostly felt terribly, terribly ill and very disoriented. My temperature was 102. I called the doctor-on-call at 6 am, who told me to come to the office at 7:30. I could not get out of bed or walk without help. I told my husband to pack me a bag because I was not coming home. That scared him. He had to take me in a wheelchair from the car into the doctor’s office. I waited an hour for the doctor as his staff did not call him out of the hospital staff meeting. I remember lying there so sick and not caring if I lived or died.

The doctor examined me and sent me for blood work and a CT scan. I had a very high white count and the radiologist told us the scan showed a large hematoma in the pelvis which was infected. The doctor talked to me and told me it might need to be drained. He said I could go home on antibiotics and wait to see if it drained on its own, or be admitted to hospital. I told him not to send me home because I knew I would die if he did. He looked at me with a funny look on his face and said go right away to hospital. I cried while being admitted, I could not stop it, a 53-year-old woman crying her eyes out in a wheelchair in the public admitting area. People stared at me but for once in my life I did not care what people thought, I was incapable of controlling my body or of rational thought. Very out of character for a scientist!

I had IV antibiotics, IV pain medicine around the clock, and blood drawn multiple times a day. I was miserable to the point of not caring. After three days the hematoma began to drain and the infection/pain began to resolve. I was in hospital for 7 days, and discharged with antibiotics for a month. I was very fatigued, could not sit in a hard chair for 6 months, but had to go back to work after 8 weeks. I had colitis for about 8 months which my internist believed was caused by the colon becoming inflamed by all the infection. It took almost a year before I was fully recovered. Most people did not understand. It was over a year before I quit having flashbacks to that week in hospital. I had nightmares too. Even years later I still have vivid memories of that time, which resurface from time to time, even though I have fully recovered physically.

Had my husband not insisted on getting me to the doctor’s office that morning, I know I would have stayed in bed and died before the next day. I will never forget that feeling. Since that time I have learned a lot about sepsis and realized how very lucky I was.