My name is Kelley Crowe and I’m a mother of two, my son Ryan 28 and Samantha 24. On February 2017 I had to go in for a hysterectomy and everything seemed to go well during my initial recovery. One-week post op I started feeling ill and I became very swollen and in quite a lot of pain. (Sepsis and Surgery) I went to see the surgeon complaining about the pain and fever. He thought that it might be a simple bladder infection and sent me home with a requisition for a urine sample.
By midnight I was extremely ill and I extreme pain, I was in and out of consciousness but fighting hard to try and wait it out. I didn’t want to be a burden and call the ambulance because they would have had to carry me down three flight of stairs. It’s strange the things you think about in those moments. I was living with my daughter Samantha at the time and was trying hard to downplay it to save her the worry. By 1:00 am I had this overwhelming feeling that I was going to die. I could feel my body fading and knew it was time to stop being the tough guy and let my daughter take me to the emergency department.
Upon arrival they immediately zoomed me away and started taking action. I was in and out of it and to this day some parts are still unknown. My daughter was informed that I had sepsis and was in septic shock. She was told that she should call other relatives in case I didn’t make it through. My amazingly strong daughter told them that they didn’t know how strong her mother was and that I wasn’t going to die. She managed the situation all on her own with strength and courage that would make anyone proud to know her.
It was later determined that a hematoma had become infected. Which led to sepsis. During this ordeal I also experienced liver failure, pulmonary edema and a collapsed lung. I was so determined to get well quickly and get out in time to attend the ceremony in which I was the recipient of the Ontario Leading Women Building Community Award.
Without warning I entered my post sepsis nightmare. Nobody warned me or guided me on what to expect after I was released from the hospital. Some of the issues I faced alone and afraid included poor concentration and memory loss. Hair loss which still continues to flare up without warning. Liver, lung and kidney issues along with extreme fatigue, lost cognitive function and neuropathy with extreme joint pains.
I was always an extremely hard-working person in my career and in the many volunteer roles that I loved dearly. The depression set in as the loss of my identity and self-worth faded. I had put too much stock in my career and volunteer life defining me as a person, so losing the ability to do either sent me spiralling. It wasn’t until I realized that I was mourning the loss of myself. I went through the stages of death as one would when they experience the loss of a loved one. I was angry, sad and felt lost and alone.
My family and friends kept reminding me that my job and charity work didn’t define me as a person, and I needed to take care of myself for a change. I had to put people and events on hold. I was tired of having to decline invitation or cancel at the last minute, so I just disappeared from the world to figure out the new version of myself. If I would have been informed prior to leaving the hospital I feel I could have been more prepared for what to expect with post sepsis syndrome.
Canadian sepsis foundation and support group saved my sanity and mental health. I strive to help provide more support to sepsis survivors and their families.
As a survivor I am asking everyone that can make a difference and be a voice to help educate more people about sepsis in order to save lives and families.