I had experience kidney stones on multiple occasions. Had to have a few surgically removed. I was never told of the risk of septic shock from kidney stones by any urologist I had seen. (Sepsis and Kidney Stones) That lack of knowledge almost killed me. I am a police officer and a paid on call firefighter/EMT.
Fast forward a few years later. Normal cycle of sweating through my body armor all summer and less urine due to the sweating. I was mocked for always having a drink in my hand as I kept my fluid intake up. I would continue to drink like crazy in the cooler fall and winter months and would urinate lots more because I wasn’t sweating so much. Most my kidney stones revealed themselves in the winter.
I had kidney pain with occasional blood in my urine. The pain was nothing near my prior experience with stones. It was hammered in my head that if they are under 5mm, the stones will pass naturally. I upped my fluid intake. Had the pain and blood in my urine for about a month. One day I felt off, like I had a cold. By the afternoon it felt like the flu. Come nightfall, I begged my neighbor to take me to a 23 hour ER. I should have called for an ambulance, but I didn’t want to be one of those patients that appeared stable and was wasting the fire crew’s time. I didn’t know I was near death.
I got to the ER. My blood pressure was under 90 systolic. My pulse was over 129 bpm. My white blood cell count was high. The doctors said I had an infection. They gave me IV antibiotics and fluids. I was SENT HOME with a prescription for cipro. I wish I knew more about sepsis because I would have caught that I had every sign and symptom of sepsis. Sepsis was mentioned in my EMS training, but septic shock is passed over quickly for the more interesting forms of shock causes, like trauma. Sepsis was never covered in our EMS CEs either.
We filled the script for the cipro on the way home. I took quite a few of them. I woke up and I had soaked the sheets in sweat. My wife took me to an emergency room at a full hospital. I was quickly admitted. I don’t remember much of the first part of my admission. I remember being so sick that I wanted to die. I was asked repeatedly if I had traveled outside the country. I remember the doc asking if I had hired a prostitute! They knew I had an infection but didn’t know where.
I remember watching the news, this was around Christmas. A teenage girl was admitted to another hospital with a UTI. Within hours she had all four limbs amputated. Scared the crap out of me!
A sharp radiologist reviewed my scans. He found a small 2mm kidney stone that was behind a bone. It was the stealth fighter of kidney stones! I was rushed to surgery. The 2mm stone had been slowly moving over the prior month, but got lodged in my urinary tract. It was removed, along with a liter of puss and blood. I wasn’t out of the woods yet, but was on the path to recover. I remained in the hospital for almost a month, sick as a dog.
I survived septic shock with all my digits and limbs. I have post sepsis syndrome. (Sepsis and Post-Sepsis Syndrome)
As a survivor I can tell you to not expect the paramedics or emergency room docs and nurses to recognize sepsis. The first hospital missed it with me, and I almost paid dearly. Looking back, the biggest sign was feeling so sick that I wanted to die. I said goodbye to my children, like a final goodbye. I was so sick part of me wanted to die. You will know when it hits you. Don’t ignore it!
I made a point to ask our medical director to do a CE on sepsis. The other guys on my fire department had little knowledge of the signs of sepsis.
Sepsis is a stealthy killer. It comes on fast and ruins families in hours. Learn the signs!