Kim Pickinpaugh


I hadn’t been feeling well for a couple months. It was just an uncomfortable feeling, nothing that was stopping me from doing things but had me worn out by the end of the day. One morning, I woke up with a backache. You know, the kind that happen when you sleep wrong and it feels like a pulled muscle? My husband wondered if it was a kidney stone but I said it didn’t feel like it because I had one about 10 years ago and that was excruciating pain. Well, I wrong and he was right. (Sepsis and Kidney Stones) I ended up in an ambulance on my way to the hospital. That happened at the end of May and I didn’t leave again for 6 weeks.

I ended up in ICU with many issues that the doctors were doing their best to fix. Every time I woke up it seemed there was another doctor to deal with another issue. The low point was when they told my husband I had sepsis and my organs were shutting down and I only had hours to live. Many prayers, doctors and medication later my body responded and I started to get better.

I was transferred out of ICU to a convalescent hospital to recuperate. My husband tried to find out more information about recuperating from sepsis and had a hard time finding anything. He found the most helpful information on the Sepsis Alliance website. We would ask the doctors how long until I would feel better and the doctors didn’t really know. The same about the stomach issues I was encountering and about my hair falling out. It takes time and trial and error for what works with my body to help it heal.

In October, I ended up back in the emergency room with what felt like the same excruciating pain. I was scared it was going to happen all over again. After evaluations, a CT scan and medication later, I was on my way home with no additional hospital stay but the possibility of an ovarian cyst. More tests, doctors, and a doctor saying, “You will not survive another infection,” brought me to surgery to remove the cyst. It was a blessing that I had the surgery – no cyst but a mass of infection that the doctors think caused the sepsis.

I am home and can participate in more activities all the time, which is a blessing. I get frustrated because I can’t do all the things I like to do. I still take medication for pain when I overdo it or to stay ahead of pain so I can do more. If I do a lot on the weekend, I will probably have to do nothing on Monday to give my body a change to recover.

There are times I worry about contracting sepsis again. Have you worried about contracting sepsis again? Have you recuperated fully? How long did it take you? What kind of issues have you encountered in your recovery process? I find it’s hard not being able to talk to people who are going through the same thing. Do you feel this way? The flip side of this is sometimes I don’t want to talk about it all because I am more than just a person who just survived sepsis. Thank God!!

I have joined the Sepsis Survivor Engagement Project to help medical personnel, sepsis survivors and caregivers find out more about recovering from sepsis. What works to help the quality of life? How long before you will feel better? Can I feel better? Should I worry about aches and pains? There is not a lot of information about surviving sepsis. I hope we can all talk about our stories and what we have learned to help each other and those that will survive sepsis in the future.