Samantha Cercena


While most were out celebrating and with their families, I got ring in 2022 in an ICU, alone, and on a vent. My sepsis journey started in 2020 when I contracted COVID-19. (Sepsis and COVID-19) Following my infection I developed the illness gastroparesis. By the beginning of 2021 I was using a feeding tube for all my nutritional needs.

In November of 2021 my physicians decided that the tube wasn’t enough and put a central line in my chest to start TPN. I have no memory of the week before New Years, but I’ve learned from my family that my behavior was extremely off. (Sepsis and Invasive Devices) I wasn’t making any sense when speaking to them and was uncharacteristically aggressive. However, while they were concerned no one expected any kind of infection because I had no fever and that was the surefire sign of sepsis. right?

The behavior hit its peak on New Years Eve when I began hallucinating and passing out. I went into cardiac arrest as we were rolling up to the hospital and was immediately placed on a ventilator. In the ER they stopped and restarted my heart 4 times due to a heart rate of 220. Before transferring me to the ICU (after the vent was placed) my family was allowed to come in and see me, and basically say goodbye.

The first 72 hours were very touch and go but luckily I had a great support team and a great will to live. My next memory is 6 days later when I finally left the ICU. According to my family, the tests showed all of my organs were failing and there was a severe MRSA infection in my brain and heart. (Sepsis and MRSA) At the ripe age of 22 I was in heart failure and had to use a walker/wheelchair to get around. It took 4 months to regain the ability to walk completely independently and 3 to fix the speech impediment I was left with.

Since then I have been septic two more times (not as severely, thankfully), and had 2 pulmonary embolisms from those infections. Throughout this process I have learned there is very little education on sepsis and septic shock and lots of misinformation, because of this I have been using my own experience with GP and septic shock to educate others. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak at a few colleges and have done interviews with abc, fox, and people I now no longer have the central line and my sepsis risk is all but null and void. I know I was lucky that I survived and I know many don’t, because of that I try every day to remember how grateful I am to still have a life to live.

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