Kelsey Jones


On November 13th, 2022, I was taken to the ER by my mom, who assumed I was just dehydrated from vomiting. I was battling pneumonia once again, as I had been for the last few months on and off. I was given antibiotics just 3 days prior, but I could not keep them down. Once there, they had a hard time getting my vitals, starting an IV, and getting urine as I hadn’t urinated in nearly 24 hours. They did some bloodwork and found a WBC of 64k, my kidneys and liver were failing.

From there, I was transported to a larger hospital, where I was promptly intubated and suffered cardiac arrest soon thereafter. They then found an infection in the lining of my heart, so they placed a tube to drain it. Once tested, it came back as strep. It was then found out that I had pneumonia, mono, strep, disseminated histoplasmosis, and 6 broken ribs. (Sepsis and Pneumonia, Sepsis and Septic Shock) This made it impossible for my medical team to figure out how I got sepsis that lead to septic shock. While I was in my medically-induced coma, my family would be told that it was highly likely that I would not survive despite the aggressive treatment I was receiving.

I was then transferred to another, much larger, hospital to continue my care. I stayed on the ventilator for 5 more days, before finally being extubated, spending 10 days in total intubated. I woke up with delirium, not able to move, and I could barely talk, or see. I had several tubes draining infections from my lungs and heart lining. I remember how helpless I felt laying in that bed being unable to move and being told my organs were failing. I remember tearfully telling my nurse I had at the time to promise me she would never give up on me. I still vividly remember her eyes as she looked back at me, holding my hand, as she promised to never, ever give up on me.

I would spend a little over a month at that hospital, including Christmas. I went from the ICU, to the step-down unit, back to the ICU, then back to the step-down unit. They would remove some chest tubes, and then they would put them back, and remove them again. I continued doing dialysis every other day, for 3-4 hour sessions. During one of these sessions, about a month after initially presenting to the ER, I finally urinated. That moment made me feel like I was going to be okay, for the first time since all this had started.

Once I got well enough, I was transferred to another hospital for inpatient rehab. Here, I would relearn to walk, take care of myself, and perform daily tasks as the “new” me. It only took a week and a half for me to go from a 2-person assist to walking on my own. They told me that I progressed faster than they thought I was going to, but I believe I knew the finish line was close, and I just wanted to go home. In total, I spent 54 days in the hospital dealing with septic shock from an unknown cause. After being discharged, I was referred to a podiatrist who would remove 9 of my toes because they had developed gangrene as a result of the septic shock. (Sepsis and Amputations)

Prior to presenting to the ER, I had never heard of sepsis or septic shock before. I believe I did have sepsis at my last doctors appointment on November 10th, 2022, I just didn’t know the signs at the time, so I didn’t mention it to my doctor. Now, I feel like it’s important to educate people on the signs of sepsis because I do not want anyone to ever have to go through what I did.

I have experienced several post-sepsis syndrome symptoms. I was dealing with hair loss while in the hospital, and continued to after being discharged. I had bald spots in places where I once had thick, wavy hair. I’ve also experienced brain fog. It’s almost felt like I couldn’t think at times, though, this has gotten much better as time has gone on. I still struggle with finding the right words, and with often times I’ll say something when I mean something else and I won’t notice. I have also experienced some fatigue, I frequently struggle to find the energy or motivation to do the things I used to do.

It’s been a difficult long road, but I’ve nearly made it to the other side. I have been blessed with very supportive family and friends, and I truly don’t think I would have stayed so strong without them. Even now, almost six months later, I still have them to fall back on when times get tough. I have plans to get into healthcare, due in part to my experience with septic shock. I’m planning on becoming a physical therapist to help people, who find themselves in positions like mine, relearn to be themselves again.

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