Five years ago today, April 15 became more than just Tax day for me and my family. I don’t remember a lot of what happened, so my story is somewhat through the eyes of my family.
I went in the hospital for an exploratory surgery due to a cyst on my ovary. I was told by one doctor that it looked like it would be cancer. My actual surgeon didn’t think it was and assured me that they would only do a hysterectomy if it was indeed cancer, and that surgery should last a couple of hours. My family was told that if it was cancer, it would take a little longer. Well, many hours later and a hysterectomy completed, I went in to recovery. There was no cancer found – for which I am so thankful! I was to leave the hospital the next morning.
That night things when south rather quickly. I was having a very hard time breathing and was extremely nauseous. (This nausea ended up saving my life). They could not send me home until I ate something, and I was not able to do so. If I would have gone home, you would probably be reading a tribute story instead of my survivor story. (Sepsis and Surgery)
My discharge papers were complete, but luckily not used at that time. I had all of the sepsis signs that we all now know so well. Unfortunately, my caregivers didn’t know them or put two and two together, until the point where it was almost too late – I went into septic shock. My health had started declining quickly – my kidneys shut down, lungs collapsed and I’m not sure what all else at that point. I was told my heart stopped twice. I was intubated and put in ICU. I was rushed back in to surgery, where it was discovered that my bowel had been nicked during the last surgery. My laparoscopic surgery went from three little incisions to being cut open completely down my torso.
My family was called and told if they wanted to see me, they needed to come now! For the first several days, it was touch and go. My last memory was being taken to my first surgery, and then I don’t remember anything until April 22. I thought that was when I “woke up”, but I didn’t know I had been awake, even for a birthday visit on the 20th from my friends and family. It was a rough road from that point on.
I was in the hospital about 5 weeks. There was one obstacle after another. I was told I would go home, then my numbers went haywire. I won’t get in to the details, but some of it was horrific. When I finally went home for good, I had a JP drain and a wound vac that kept me tied to an outlet. I also went home with a walker, had a nurse come in three days a week to handle the wound dressing, and a physical therapist several times a week to help me to be able to work up to walking again. I went back to work three months after my surgery. That was quite a struggle.
No one went over what kinds of things to expect after septic shock. I lost quite a bit of my hair, couldn’t use my arms for some time, and still cannot feel the ends of my fingers or the bottoms of my feet. Then there’s the brain fog and memory issue, etc.
I am so thankful to Sepsis Alliance for getting the word out about this silent killer. Between Facebook and the website, I have found that I have the same issues others are having and it is so helpful to have validity for what is still happening, even after five years. When you look okay on the outside, people don’t quite understand the pain and other difficulties you are still facing.
I am extremely thankful to God that I am alive and to see my daughter grow up with a mother. She was 13 at the time. I know that I am an exception to the rule and should count all of my blessings. As far as my septic shock advanced, I should not have hands or feet, and well, I should not be alive. I will attest to the power of prayer, as I had people all across the United States praying for me. I am truly a receiver of a miracle.
I question my purpose for being alive and for having my hands and feet and what I should be doing to honor my miracle. I hope that my story will help my family, friends and friends of friends to now be educated about sepsis and understand the urgency of it. I ask that you all read everyone’s stories and hope it saves other lives like my own.