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Stephanie Alspaugh

Survivor

Hello my name is Stephanie, my story began in July of 2012. One day I was feeling rugged. I felt like I had a UTI. (Sepsis and Urinary Tract Infections) I had antibiotics so I started taking the medication. The antibiotic carried me through the next day. You see my grandmother was in ICU. We did not know if she was going to make it out of the hospital. We were there to help with care for the beloved woman of our heart.

To our amazement the strong woman came home. My sister and I were there visiting. I did not feel well at all. After we bathed my grandmother I felt even worse. My grandmother said you are pale and feverish. I explained to her it felt as if I had a UTI and I started on an antibiotic and if I was not better I would go to the doctor. I prayed it worked as I had no insurance. I was a private care giver, so no insurance.

In the middle of the night I woke up so cold to the bone nothing warmed me up. I had chills, cold sweats, profuse vomiting, you get the picture. I had to go to the doctor. By this point I was most certain this was more than a UTI. In fact I was certain I was septic. Two years early I had an emergency hysterectomy. They found while inside of me diverticulitis, so they gave antibiotics and figured that was all I needed. Now 2012, I’m in the hospital and they assume it’s my appendix. I said I really believe it’s diverticulitis and I have the symptoms of sepsis. I was aware of sepsis because I seen my mother-in-law die of sepsis. I knew the symptoms.

They did a CT scan. It was diverticulitis. My antibiotics however were covering the sepsis, so they believed I did not have sepsis. They admitted me in the hospital and explained I would be there 24 hours with this and antibiotics. I would be sent home with 2 months of antibiotics, return for surgery to cut the diseased part of my colon out. Ten days later I’m still in the hospital I told them I was worse, the pain was moving and I knew I was septic. I said I have fever, my blood pressure and heart rate are dropping, you have to do another scan or I’m going to die. They replied you don’t have fever and pain meds are causing the low blood pressure. The nurse explained I do have fever; I checked under her arm it’s 104.

I had blew 35 IVs. I was dying and I knew I was dying. They pacified me, gave me the CT scan. I was in surgery the next day, near to death I had gangrene. I came out with a colostomy. I was in and out of consciousness for days, didn’t know if I was going to live or die. One morning I woke up fully. I was hooked up to all kinds of machines and the nurse was teaching them how to use the ostomy products. I burst into tears, scared how was I going to take care of myself but grateful I was still alive.

Six months had passed after a grueling healing process. It was time to be reattached so I was my doctor’s. Family reassured me it was all going to go well. I packed my ostomy products. My father said don’t be negative it is all going to be ok. I assured him I hoped and prayed that was the case but my gut feeling told me otherwise. I went through surgery, felt ok for a few days, no sign of septic shock again, until after days of nothing to eat they started with clear liquids. I did great, then soft food I did great. Now solid food was introduced, not so great. Profuse vomiting bile everywhere, no stopping in sight. They tubed me and I went through grueling tests. You guessed right, peritonitis, now septic shock again. I was declining rapidly I went in to emergency surgery, came out with a loop ostomy.

Several rough weeks, I felt better. Now my gallbladder is bad. I had an attack that lasted 28 straight hours. Nothing relieved the pain I was so critical. They ran the test, all of a sudden the pain stopped and I could get some rest. I sent my poor family home to rest I assured them I felt better. They went home to rest. They were gone for not even an hour I went into tachycardia trying to have a heart attack. I prayed I said please don’t let me die. They stopped my heart and restarted after several attempts, nothing was working. Twenty one doctors were around me. They couldn’t put me to sleep or open me up again. I had been cut three times from my breastbone to the very bottom of my stomach. They knew I would not survive and I knew. My poor beloved family was at the hospital over 30 days each time. I had a son and grandbaby, huge family I had to fight like never before I had to beat the odds. I prayed for strength to endure for myself most importantly my son, new grandbaby and family. They informed me they had to go through my ribs around my colostomy into my gallbladder and drain it with no anesthesia and nothing for pain. I said ok let’s do it. It hurt beyond any pain I experienced but I made it through. A few weeks after went home with my new drain.

Went right back in, had fistulas in my areas cut so had to heal inside out. Now I developed colo vaginal fistulas, back in hospital again for a revision of my ostomy and to sew the loop part down until I can be hooked back up. Four years later, sepsis several more times and multi organ failure. Sepsis syndrome, no end in sight. I’m alive. I fought, so you have to fight and help us to stop this epidemic that’s killing young and old alike. I’m 49 I want to live and because I educated myself I’m still here. So much more has happened with my health, we just wait for what’s next. I’m not giving up. I love all my doctors and nurses while in the hospital and I’m so grateful to them for fighting for me. I have now surrounded myself with great doctors who fight with me and I have been asked to be a doctor patient advocate for one of the biggest hospitals in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  I hope we can start a chapter there so no one else has to die.
With love to one and all.
Sincerely, Stephanie Alspaugh

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