Well my story started with my duty as a search and rescue expert performing rescue operations during the recent hurricane (Hurricane Harvey) that struck Houston Texas, August 25, 2018. During the storm there were many calls to rescue support for ground rescue and the coast guard for aerial rescue. I was assigned for ground rescue and during on rescue operation the lady that I was rescuing began to panic and we both lost footing and we were swept away in a rapid storm surge. I swallowed a lot of contaminated water after I surfaced 30 feet from my rig and team. After several days following this incident I had episodes of diarrhea and vomiting. (Sepsis and Natural Disasters) I didn’t think anything of this and continued working my primary job as a paramedic and law school student.
As I worked however I was noticing frequent aches and pains daily with a lot of fatigue. All this finally came to a head when on October 5th I was working on a ambulance duty and attempted to lift a patient who shifted his weight while being lifted. My partner and I attempted to make adjustments to prevent the patient from falling. I immediately felt a sharp pain in my lower back. Thinking I may have strained a muscle in my back I went to the hospital for evaluation. While at the hospital I was seen by a nurse who gave me muscle relaxer only, and there were no x-rays because the ER didn’t have a physician working.
The next day I went back to work and couldn’t continue due to extreme pain and difficulty walking. I noticed that I was having fevers that would spike above 100 degrees. I went back to the hospital and this time the physician on staff did x-rays and then CAT scan and MRI with blood draws. The physician pulled me into a private area to tell me that I will be admitted due to dangerous levels of elevated blood sugar and strong evidence of infection. The doctor got more specific in explaining that my spine is missing several vertebra and supporting musculature has been damaged as well.
The next day I was seen by a infectious disease physician who stated that I have a mass on my spine and I will be treated for septicemia with aggressive antibiotics. I was not able to walk at this time, nor control my bowels and my weight began to drop rapidly. The admitting physician stated that if they cannot stop the infection and find its origin then I will not survive. Surgery was scheduled to find the mass and stop the infection from spreading.
The result from surgery was a mass 7.8 inches and infectious fluid 30ml pulled from my spine. The physician placed a post-op suction port in my back to pull off any additional fluid and pus that was being produced. This suction catheter was pulled out by my attending nurse hours after surgery because she felt I didn’t need it. This was a huge error in judgement and the septicemia spread into the final stages of sepsis where I suffered multiple organ system failure.
The physician team treating me was furious at the carelessness of the nurse and she was reassigned. I was eventually discharged after my insurance stopped paying for treatment with PICC line antibiotics every 12 hours and oral antibiotics every 12 hours. I had home health nursing weekly and meals on wheels scheduled. Well 4 days after being discharged I was back in the hospital again with a heart rate of 35 bpm and very low blood pressure. My heart stopped and I was resuscitated. The hospital physician called code sepsis and I was admitted with emergency surgery scheduled 24 hours later. My heart stopped again on the operating table with resuscitation efforts successful. There was more fluid evacuated from my spine and a new suction port was placed in my back to collect the infectious fluids.
So I spent the entire month of October 2018 in the hospital during my initial episode and half of the month November 2018 being treated the second time. Currently, I am still being treated for complications of septicemia due to the infection spreading to my brain, neck and entire spine. There are still times of incontinence, moments of difficulty swallowing, concentration and holding objects. I pray often and though my primary physician has talked with me in depth about completing my DNR, Advanced Directives and Medical Power of Attorney. I have no fear and I hold on to faith for complete healing. My infectious disease doctor, orthopedic surgeon and internal medicine doctor all tell me the same statement that I am very sick and I have endured a lot of unimaginable sickness. I have been asked if I want to continue fighting or just let things take their course as what I have endured is very rare and deadly. My answer to this statement is this — FIGHT ON AND I GIVE ALL HONOR, FAITH AND TRUST IN MY LORD GOD WHO HAS AND WILL CONTINUE TO SUSTAIN ME. I MAY BE WOUNDED, BUT I WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT ON..
So continue to trust God.. This is a war for the body and soul, a fight for survival. During any war there will always be someone injured and hurt in the fight. Well in this war I am fighting for my life. I am trusting and all faith in my Lord Christ who sustains me. I am a wounded warrior.. A wounded warrior for Christ..
Blessings to you all..
UPDATE MARCH 8, 2019.
Well they say sepsis never ends and the fight for survival is just as real. Since I first told my story months ago, my fight has led me back in the hospital several times. Insurance disappointments with policies cancelled and every visit to my team of doctors reveal more bad news. Well this time I went to see my orthopedic surgeon who did the surgery on my spine. He wanted to admit me to the hospital after that visit due to strong evidence of my having septicemia and 3 masses on my spine. Admission was denied due to insurance company canceled my policy without knowledge.
As the week progressed, I had balance problems, walking became an effort and my vital signs began to become unstable. I refused to give up and went to my next appointment with my infectious disease doctor who agreed with my surgeon. I am septic. My temperature had grown to 103.8 and my heart rate raced at 127bpm. Another attempt to admit me to the hospital failed for the same reason, yet I had insurance with a major carrier. Later that week I went to see my neurologist who asked me about walker assistance or cane assistance. My walking and daily activities had deteriorated and at home I always had a service dog to assist me to walk. I just refused to give up and prayed.
My church home, knowing of my condition, finally told me the truth that I already had so much faith in.. God is always in control and I am in his hands. Well my doctors didn’t think I would make it through the next 30 days and advised me to begin preparing for what they determined was the inevitable. I filled out my final paperwork and will. But I refused to give up and I made it to this day.
I have new insurance that my hospital has accepted. My vitals are critical now with my blood pressure 83/34; heart rate 159bpm; respiration 18bpm; oxygen saturation 83%, temperature 93.4 and my blood sugar 349. Doctors have increased my insulin level to 100-units daily in hopes to lower my blood sugar level and starve the infection from feeding on the sugars. This has not happened and as of today there are now 6 masses on my spine and abdomen. In 12- hours I am due to have a 2nd brain scan to see the extent of brain damage as the left side of my head hurts. In seven days I am scheduled to have a series of 8 MRIs on my spine to see how badly the infection has spread. Yes things are bad, yet the fight continues on.
As for my insurance issue? Well I received a call from a high-level executive of a major insurance company. He told me that my fight had been talked about and I am not a stranger to insurance execs. He continued to tell me why he was so moved. I didn’t understand at first as he began to cry. He said it would be a year for his 7-year old son. He had the same issues with insurance companies canceling policies. He went on to tell me that his son passed away in early March from the same illness I am fighting that brought on his sepsis. He told me that my fight and faith in God had restore his faith because he was having a hard time dealing. Yes I continue to fight and I encourage everyone to continue to fight this illness. Blessings to all…