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Mallarry Dierkes

Survivor

I have long been involved in healthcare, as a pharmacy tech in HS and college, to a care giver for my parents and my father-in-law. I have always been involved in healthcare. After admitting to my addiction to alcohol in Jan 2019, to having shingles in Feb 2019, I took the preemptive strike to regain my health and sanity. So in an attempt to get back into shape, my hubby and I took to the outdoors to start hiking. On Memorial Day weekend of 2019, we went for a “rugged” hike and then on Monday went to the zoo. I remember calling my daughter that Monday afternoon, saying “geez, I think I need new shoes,  my foot is killing me.” I went to work on Tuesday, starting to think I had a stress fracture. By Wednesday I was on crutches and Thursday I had an x ray. They said “its not broken, its probably tendonitis.”

Friday I could not go to work and in retrospect realized that I was starting to mentally decompensate. By Saturday I had no idea what was going on. According to my husband I was violently vomiting and had no idea that I was just sitting in my own vomit. I was agitated and crying uncontrollably (not like me). I could not eat and only wanted diet coke. My husband had no idea what was wrong and blamed it on the tramadol I was prescribed. By Sunday I was hallucinating and had no idea of what year it was. My daughter, who is a physician assistant, was living in Indianapolis, insisted that my husband put me in the car and get me to the ER.

Upon arrival I was whisked back. All I remember was all of the questions that were constantly being asked of me. My DOB, my address, what year it was and who president was. The only thing knew was by month and day of birth (not the year). I was quickly admitted and it original diagnosis was cellulitis of my foot. (Sepsis and Cellulitis) Upon further testing it was a foot abscess that was MRSA and I had a staph infection that led to sepsis. (Sepsis and MRSA)

I was being treated for a wide range of issues. My ammonia levels were sky high, BP was low, blood count was low and my liver and renal function were being affected. It took 3 days to get me stable enough to do surgery (infection and drainage) of my foot. I remained in the hospital for 1 week, which I was told was impressive, but had I arrived 8 hours later I would have lost my foot and possibly the infection could have went to my heart and I would have died.

I am also the the “owner” of 2 knee replacements, so there was great concern that the infection could have went to my knees and I would have had to have them removed and replaced again. I went home after begging and pleading to get discharged. I had not showered in over 1 week and really just wanted to go home. I went home on a PICC line where I gave my self 4 injections 3 x a day for 4 weeks. I had home health visits until aug 1 of 2019. I went back to work from home the following week, now realizing i was still mentally compromised.

I had a great deal of trouble focusing and getting through the details of my job. My boss and company were tremendously understanding, however if I had a job that required any physical mobility I would not have been able to work. I have good insurance, thank God, that covered most of my treatment and I have a very loving and supportive family. If I had not been blessed with all of these things, I am not sure I could have survived physically or financially. I returned to the office on a limited basis the 2 weeks after discharge.

I had multiple doctors visits and follow ups. I am on a precautionary liver transplant list due to the effects of the sepsis. It is now October and I am just really starting to be able to get around. I still have some discomfort from the foot surgery and some residual swelling in the area.  Bottom line is all in all, I was a strong healthy middle aged woman, who had been around healthcare related issues my entire life and I never ever thought that I had sepsis. The injury was misdiagnosed and I was under treated. Even my daughter who is physician assistant was not sure what was wrong.

Now everywhere I go I hear someone tell a story of someone they knew who died from this or lost and extremity. It’s frightening to think of the number of people who could have had successful outcomes like me if this disease was better publicized. My heart breaks for people who do not have the knowledge and support that I have been blessed.

I truly thank God and my family every day for giving me the chance to see my daughters become the bright beautiful successful women they are now. I am so grateful to be able to go and golf and love my husband who saved me. He also feels the effects of this disease. He feels he should have somehow known to get my to the hospital, but I am a strong willed woman who handled bilateral knee replacements with determination and there was no way a little tendonitis would bring me down.

I hope to be able to educate others on the severity of the illness. I would love to assist those who are not as fortunate as me. This is one of the most pervasive and expensive illness in the work with a higher mortality rate than many cancers.

Please never underestimate the ramification of any infection. It can lead to death or disability. If you are lucky to have come through this like me, then thank your higher power and remember to always be kind. You never know what others are dealing with in their lives.

 

 

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