Patricia Purcell

Survivor

I write this story not only for sepsis awareness but also for endometriosis awareness.

On Friday, February 26, 2016, I was having a normal day, but that evening while watching TV (Fuller House on Netflix, lol); I suddenly felt a strange chill. I thought maybe I was just tired and went to sleep. The next morning, I was not feeling well and thought I had the flu since my husband was sick that week. I slept most of the day and had a fever between 101 and 102. I still kept getting these weird chills, feeling extremely cold to hot. On Sunday, around 1 A.M, I was nauseous and collapsed and I do not remember what happened afterwards. My husband brought me to the hospital and I woke up confused; I thought I was dreaming. The doctors and nurses were asking me questions. I could hear them, but I was speaking gibberish.

On February 29th it was discovered that I had a severe kidney infection, severe sepsis, and I went into septic shock. I had to do an emergency nephrostomy awake and was sent to ICU for 2 days. The doctors were very concerned and kept saying how life threatening it was. I know they were trying to be positive but it was understood that I might not have made it. I had edema, the bottom half of my lungs collapsed and I had pneumonia. I also had hydronephrosis, anemia, pelvic abscesses, inflammation of the liver, and almost needed a blood transfusion. My organs were slowly shutting down.

Six months prior to this, I had laparoscopic surgery for Stage IV endometriosis. After the surgery, I kept getting UTIs and I didn’t understand why for I never had that issue before. One thing I want to explain to people about UTIs is that people automatically think you are dirty and tell you to drink cranberry juice. (Sepsis and Urinary Tract Infections) I am very hygiene conscious; UTIs can be caused from a structural issue. Cranberry juice would not have helped and it disappointed me that some nurses can be so ignorant and insulting.

A few months after surgery, an endometrioma formed on each ovary. Somehow, the endometriomas became infected with bacteria (E.coli) which is still a big mystery. They developed into abscesses, causing a ureteral stricture, a UTI, giving me urosepsis, and finally sepsis. After being at one hospital for a week, I was transferred to another hospital to get better care. I had fevers for 11 days and my IV stand looked like chandelier with everything I needed to take to keep me alive. I had the abscesses drained and almost needed surgery. I became so weak I could barely walk, I could barely breathe, and the fevers made me a little delirious.

Eventually, I started improving, the only problem I was still having were fevers. On the 12th day, my fever finally broke, so I was discharged. However, things were not easy at home. I needed a PICC line so that I can administer my own IV antibiotics, I still had the nephrostomy and I was still very weak. I actually felt worse at home than when I was in the hospital. I needed 2 nurses to visit me once a week. My birthday was a week after discharge and it was the worst birthday of my life, yet the most appreciated. A couple of weeks later, I had a ureteral stent placed and had my nephrostomy removed, however I still had a couple of hospitalizations and problems after. I was now referred to go to NYU and will be having surgery at NYU Langone in the future. I will be having endometriosis removed robotically and my ureter will need to be reimplanted since it is damaged.

It took me 2 months to rebuild myself, going from being too weak that I was spoon fed in ICU; taking naps for hours after doing something as simple as washing my hair, to almost being my normal self and going back to work.My recovery has been difficult, I am not 100% and still have some struggles, but I could have lost my limbs, I could have had serious organ damage for the rest of my life. I could have had kidney failure. I might not have been here today. Despite fighting for my life, all the doctors’ appointments, numerous procedures, medical costs, hospitalizations, surgeries, I am lucky. So many people have it worse.
I have heard of sepsis and knew that septic shock was serious, but I never really knew well enough about it where I could have saved myself sooner. This is why I am talking about it now; to make others aware. Most people think they have the flu since symptoms are similar. The chills I had were not normal flu-like chills, I was shaking hard and that is a symptom of a kidney infection.

I post this for endometriosis awareness as well because I feel it needs to be taken seriously. Endometriosis can kill. I am living proof of it and it is not over for me yet. I have been suffering from it since I was 14, was not diagnosed until I was 29 (15 years it took to diagnose me). If doctors took me seriously in those 15 years, I would not be dealing with Stage IV endometriosis and so much could have been prevented if someone just took the time to actually listen. I complained about my pain for years with horrible menstrual cycles that were obviously not normal to almost needing blood transfusions 2x since I was 14 and yet everyone thought it was normal. This will now be my second surgery and who knows how many more I will need in the future.

I am so truly thankful for all the incredible doctors and nurses that saved my life at both hospitals, especially the ER doctor that took me seriously and admitted me. There are not enough thanks I can say or gifts I can give to compensate for the gift of life. I am thankful for so many people and especially for my family and friends who have been by my side. I would not have recovered as fast as I have if it was not for all the support I had. This was a life changing experience.

You never know what people are going through and just because someone looks well does not always mean they are. Some illnesses you cannot see and some people hide what they are going through well. Be kind, love, live, and stop judging, you never know when your life will be cut short or what can turn your world upside down