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Robert Engels

Robert Engels
Survivor

January 28, 2017 was the worst day of my life. My husband, Bob, had stayed home from work because he was feeling ill. Four days prior he had had a heart cath done and two days later I had taken him to the emergency room because he had a fever and had the chills and just felt like something was wrong. (Sepsis and Invasive Devices, Sepsis and Surgery) A whole day spent in the ER and all they said was that his white blood cell count was elevated and he was dehydrated from the dye he was injected with and he was released. Two days later I had left him at home to go to work and at 9 am I got a call at work from him telling me to come take him to the ER again. So, I rushed home and took him to a different ER.

We were in the new ER less than an hour and they already diagnosed him with sepsis. The puzzling thing were the red spots all over his body but they were pretty positive it was Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. (Sepsis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) I was told they were going to put him on antibiotics and see what happened. Days went by and he wasn’t getting any better, in fact he seemed to be getting worse. They ran more tests and while they did this he had died twice and they had to revive him. These tests revealed that the infection had attached to his pacemaker leads in heart and they had to remove the device but they weren’t equipped to do that, so they had to send him to a different hospital an hour away from our house.

The new hospital was a heart hospital and that same day he was transferred there. On Valentines Day he had open heart surgery. He spent another 3 to 4 weeks in intensive care at this hospital with me commuting every couple of days back and forth between home and the hospital. He went through so much during his stay. He was still on antibiotics and Lasix and he was 3 times his usual size, and the pain was so so bad. He had trouble walking, breathing, sleeping yet he was so tired and so so depressed and moody. I don’t remember how many times a day I prayed to God to make him better and to help me be strong enough to deal with everything.

It was about mid-March when he was finally released and that day was bitter sweet. On the one hand my family and I were happy that he was finally coming home but I knew we were in for months of doctor follow-ups and I was also concerned because he had to have antibiotic injections 3 times a day into an IV port that was left in him and I would be the one administering them to him. Talk about scary. I wanted to cry every single time I had to inject him. I was so so terrified that I would cause him more harm and end up losing him. I had already come too close to that. On top of all of that, the worry about what the hell we were going to do for money was putting me into an early grave but I couldn’t let him know that. I had been fired the day after he was admitted into the first hospital because I couldn’t come to work. I thanked God for Aflack and advise everyone to get it and when that ran out I cashed in both our retirements. I didn’t have a choice.

The story doesn’t end there. He has never been able to return to work because he suffers permanent nerve damage from the sepsis and the water he retained from that and the surgery. I was never able to return to work because of my own physical issues not to mention I could never leave him alone after that. I’m too afraid I’ll lose him. He’s not the only one with PTSD from all of it. He was just recently admitted to the hospital again for a blood clot that was in his leg and as long as his leg. You bet we were both super super scared and very vigilant with making sure all was done the way it should be so he didn’t end up with Sepsis again.

I don’t wish any of what we went through on anyone. We still don’t know the exact cause of the Sepsis. Was it something gone wrong with the heart cath? Was is the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever? Was it the cut he got the week before? Don’t know but we don’t take chances anymore.

Source: Natalie Engels - wife

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