Katie F.


Being a person with a chronic autoimmune disorder and an in-depth past of medical issues, I thought I understood what being very sick felt like. (Sepsis and Autoimmune Diseases) Eventually, after years of being diagnosed, I got used to having “off” days. I was finally at a point in my life where I felt “normal” and was even running in 5k races! It is very rare for people with autoimmune disorders to be able to have the energy or stamina to run in a race. I felt so free and was truly starting to enjoy life. What I didn’t know, there was something way worse than an autoimmune disorder.

My sepsis nightmare begin in late November 2022. It started off with my body feeling heavier than normal, seemed to get hot flashes and my sides hurt like crazy. It was hard to walk at times to the point, I would want to sob just breathing. I had experienced COVID a few times by then. So, I tested myself 3 times over a 1 week period. It came back negative. 2 ER visits, urgent care and 2-3 doctor appointments later, they diagnosed me with kidney stones along with female issues where I got sent for consultation. I do indeed have another medical issue happening. But that wasn’t the main culprit back then. 1 hospital did receive a test result back a couple of days later after I was discharged from the ER.

Unfortunately, I never received a phone call or medication to treat. They had found E. Coli in my urine which equaled a UTI. (Sepsis and Urinary Tract Infections) Now with my past of kidney disease and chronic UTIs, I knew all about UTIs and was on a low dose preventive antibiotic. Oddly, I didn’t have a lot of symptoms or it was masked by the other pain I was experiencing. December through February, I would experience on and off episodes of severe pain, fevers, vomiting etc. It wasn’t making any sense at all. Medical experts didn’t know what to tell me. During the same timeframe, I was told I had a mass in another area and was going through the biopsy and testing process.

For the next few months, I felt like I was being thrown back and forth between healthy and wanting to die. Finally, the week I was about to turn 40 in February 2023, I stopped functioning. I could no longer move around, constant vomiting, high fever, kept drenching all of my clothes, and it felt like each move or conversation took my breath away. I was bedridden for several days. I tested for COVID and flu again, came back negative. I was convinced I was experiencing the worst flare up ever from my medical condition. I eventually stopped eating and could barely have any movements. My sides felt like someone was crushing them in from either side. I cried on and off for days. One bad thing about having a chronic illness, you get used to being sick. This can be very dangerous for a lot of people, especially if you have a “tough” exterior and tough it out every time. Finally, what did it for me besides the fact I could no longer go to the restroom, eat or move, I tried drinking a sip of water. It immediately came back up. Now I am not referring to regurgitating or throwing it up. It literally felt like someone was there and they simply said no thank you. My body was no longer accepting water at this point.

I could feel my body shutting down that day. Oddly enough, in the last weeks before that, I kept thinking that I felt like I was dying. I even told a doctor and they brushed my words aside. I started panicking at what was happening in that moment. Out of nowhere, I stood up calmly walked around my apartment and gathered belongings for the hospital. I called 911 and asked for an ambulance. Sure enough, on the way to the hospital, I went into septic shock with a heart rate in the 200s, 105 fever and extremely low blood pressure. (Sepsis and Septic Shock) The next few days were a blur and I stayed at the hospital for several days.

At first, I was not responding to treatment. It was frightening being told by medical experts that they didn’t know what else to do and that I wasn’t responding and that I should consider making arrangements. I was terrified and sobbing which wasn’t helping my body stay stable. Finally infectious disease came to see me. This is when I found out I had E. Coli attacking my body since December or even earlier. He was in shock that I was still alive. He called me a walking miracle. The last few months since being treated has been challenging. I am still experiencing effects from sepsis and have incurred some new health issues. They never told me post sepsis syndrome was a real thing. I move forward each day with patience and grace with my body. It is extremely rate for a person who goes in septic shock to walk out of the hospital. I do want to acknowledge my mom publicly in this story. We all know Moms have a way of consoling their children and doing their best to ease the pain. My mom surpassed the level of being there for their child. I genuinely couldn’t have done it mentally without her. I am convinced I would have given up during the worst fight my body has ever experienced. She truly deserves the honor of best mom on earth.

Despite having current medical challenges, I have dedicated my time and energy to spreading awareness about Sepsis. Every person I talk to knows someone who died from sepsis or that they experienced it themselves. Now I have partnered with local hospitals and providing public education to the community. I look forward to taking this nightmare and using it as my 2nd chance at life by helping others.

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