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Paul Bechtelheimer

Survivor

It still amazes me that you can be absolutely fine one day and in intensive care the next day.

My husband, Paul, went to work on a Thursday and started to feel ill. He came home early which was very uncharacteristic of him. We thought he had the flu. The next day he ended up in the emergency room and ultimately the ICU. Thankfully the doctor in the emergency department recognized the Paul was showing all the signs of sepsis and started treatment immediately.

Paul was running a fever and was incoherent at times. He felt better after some fluids, however the doctor explained that he was in serious condition. We heard the word sepsis but did not fully understand what that meant. The next day in the ICU Paul started to become agitated and have difficulty breathing. He was given oxygen but continued to struggle. Despite all of the medication and the oxygen Paul quickly declined. Sunday morning while he was being put on a ventilator he coded. I don’t know all of the technical terms for what happened next but it was all extremely serious and involved inserting the ventilator, padding his heart to get it back in rhythm and restraining him. He is a big strong man and the lack of oxygen made him anxious and confused.

I was told his condition was very grave and to get the family to the hospital quickly. Then it became a waiting game to see if he could fight this disease that started attacking his kidneys first then his lungs and finally his heart. Throughout this ordeal I truly believed that he was going to pull through because I was surrounded by so many caring professionals. I met with the doctors every morning and listened to the assessments of his progress and their directions for me. The nurses went above and beyond to care for him but also supported me during this very difficult time. Sometimes ignorance is a good thing because I don’t think I understood how horrible sepsis is and what it can do to a person.

After four days on the ventilator Paul able to be removed and breathe on his own. By this time we had learned that the sepsis was caused by kidney stones that we did not even know he had. (Sepsis and Kidney Stones) With excellent care Paul was able to regain his strength and recover enough to go home on Saturday. He was very weak and had lost 30 pounds but he was alive.

Paul is very lucky that he does not have any residual effects from this disease except for some PTSD from his ordeal. We have learned a lot about sepsis since Paul’s illness. We now know we were in the right place at the right time. The emergency room doctor was very well trained to recognize Sepsis and followed the protocol. If he did not have that training we may have had a very different outcome because after all we thought he just had the flu.

Source: Christine Bechtelheimer, wife

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