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Natalie Zeleznikar

Survivor

I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer on my left side in 2015. (Sepsis and Cancer) I elected to have a double mastectomy as a friend had the same kind of cancer and chose a lumpectomy and three months later it went to other breast and she ended up with double mastectomy. I thought I was lucky to be stage 1, and really expected a six week recovery and didn’t worry.

I was running an assisted living business as CEO and a few days before my scheduled return, friends came to see me. We had a glass of wine to toast the near one month since surgery date. Soon, I started to feel weak, they said I don’t look right. I said I woke up at 3 am with chest pain and took a pain pill which was unusual for me. I tried to sleep in a recliner til clinic opened. The clinic said the surgeon was in surgery and a nurse would call soon. By noon I hadn’t heard back so I called again as I was still in severe pain. A nurse answered and said to take two Advil as I probably did too much as I was feeling good. My friends asked to see my scars and what a mastectomy looked like so we went into bathroom and I removed bandages. I turned around and they were in horror and said have you seen your chest, it doesn’t look right.

I was shocked and scared as it looked like I had flesh eating disease with open holes showing the surgical mesh. I was shocked. They said go get your husband and I walked to our bedroom and was instantly weak and he yelled for our son to start truck to get me to hospital. He said something is wrong, get dressed as I am in my robe. Suddenly I could hardly find strength to get pants on or dress. I held the furniture for balance. I could feel myself getting a fever and all day I was below normal. My husband flew to hospital and said can you walk into ER. I could not answer so he drove me through ambulance door. I was already too weak to move and they got me a wheelchair.

Once they knew I had chest pain they brought me right into hospital bed. Suddenly they couldn’t find my veins and I was so nervous as I hate needles and I was scared. I had EKG tests immediately and I heard a staff tell my husband it is a good thing you brought her in today as she would have been dead by morning. (Sepsis and Surgery)

I was drifting out fast and saying Lord’s Prayer over and over as one year earlier my father in law was in same room and later died from a heart attack likely caused by sepsis from bladder infection at 85. (Sepsis and Urinary Tract Infections) Now at 48, I was near death. I had a staph infection requiring expanders to be removed snd was hospitalized. I received no heparin and was bed bound so also developed blood clot which was missed and I ended up with many surgeries at Mayo to fix the botched person I became.

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