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Leslie Grogg-Tafoya

Survivor

I, by the grace of God, am a sepsis survivor. From December 10th to December 19th, I fought in the hospital for my life. I remember body aches hitting me out of nowhere one evening after my son’s band concert. I thought I had the flu, so I started taking Vitamin C. I kept thinking it was so strange. I still had my appetite, which wasn’t normal for me any other time I had the flu.

I waited on the couch in misery for three days so I didn’t get anyone else sick until I finally called an ambulance. The EMT immediately said, “I suspect sepsis,” because I could not touch my chin to my chest and my lactate levels were 2.4. It’s a miracle I made it three days, when the timeline for help should be within the first six hours of onset.

I don’t remember much while in the hospital, but here’s the few things I do remember. My breathing was hard, and I felt like I was running. My head had sharp stabbing pains all over – it was the worst headache I’ve ever had. I tried to stay awake the entire time to be situationally aware. By the time I finally fell asleep, I remember them putting me on oxygen and coming in every time I’d pull it out.

I remember bags and bags of two to three antibiotics and fluid at a time being changed out over and over. I was scared. I remember screaming and crying in my room alone until my husband and kids walked in to comfort me the next morning. I remember being so sick I could not lean over to plug in my cell phone to charge. By the third day, the nurse came in to give me trazodone. I refused, I wanted to be coherent enough to know what was happening. So they gave me Ambien. It was the worst decision ever. I fell asleep finally while watching “The First 48” on TV. Then upon waking, I had vivid hallucinations for the next three days – scary hallucinations. (Sepsis and Hallucinations) Maybe I shouldn’t have taken Ambien while watching that show, I thought. I managed to order my meals three times a day every day I was there. I’m not obese and I had never lost my appetite.

The next thing I knew, the nurses took out all of the IVs I had in my arms. I must have laid there an entire day not even knowing I had been discharged that morning. I had no clue what was going on. My uncle visited me, I was so thankful. He actually made sure to make his presence aware and double checked the doctors were on point with my care.

My husband picked me up that evening to go home. I don’t have an explanation for why I barricaded myself in the room at home to sleep the next couple days at home until the hallucinations finally ceased. I am blessed to have no amputations and to be recovering from full organ dysfunction. I feel like I am alive by a great miracle because I know what I went through, that I was so very close to death. My children kept me fighting when I had nothing left. With my first diagnosis being unknown, I’ve focused on my urological health, the most of which seems to be the cause after a mesh surgery. I’m so thankful to be alive and returning rapidly to health. I’m much more aware of everything I feel these days. I make careful choices with food, doctor visits, sleeping habits. The body is strong but sepsis can change your life in just hours.

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