Posted on October 19th, 2018
My name is Wendi Locatelli and I am 36 years old. I was born and raised in Eureka, CA, and currently reside in Woodland, CA. I worked for fourteen years as a dental hygienist and it was during this period that I was introduced to my husband on a blind date. Nine months later we were married and by our fifth anniversary we had three children, three years old and under. I am the proud mother of a 7-year-old son, 5-year-old daughter, and 4-year-old son. Growing up I was drawn to sports and played soccer, volleyball, basketball, track, and softball throughout my school years. I also enjoyed recreational sports such as waterskiing, snowboarding and hiking. I was a licensed group exercise instructor and taught classes at a local gym for twelve years. I also competed in and finished the California International Marathon in 2008.
In the spring of 2016, I was diagnosed with septic shock and given less than a 1% chance to live. On a cloudy day in May, the operating doctors came out into the waiting room where my friends and family were gathered and as the clouds parted and a ray of sunshine gleamed down on them through the windows, it was announced that I had survived my exploratory surgery and that my vital signs were showing increased improvement by the minute. It was upon waking my first morning in the hospital after coming out of an induced coma that I heard the doctor outside my room recounting this story and I realized he was talking about me.
I cannot explain what it is like waking up one day and having events described to you about your own battle with survival other than surreal. In fact, that’s the only word I can use to describe those first four weeks in the hospital. I kept thinking that “this type of thing doesn’t happen to people like me.” Unfortunately, as we all know “this” type of thing happens to people like me all the time. I remember thinking how my life would be forever changed and that after the turn of events I was made to spread a larger message than I ever imagined. I was made for more!
In the aftermath of my first weeks of survival, sepsis took its toll on my body and in June 2016 I had both legs amputated below the knee, my right arm below the elbow, and lost the fingers on my left hand with the exception of a small part of my thumb. (Sepsis and Amputations) I weaned myself off of IV meds by the end of June and was released on July 1 so that I was able to attend my sister’s wedding on July 2. I returned home facing an uphill battle of physical therapy, adjusting to life as an amputee and trying to figure out how to be a mother with my changed body and troubled mind. It was through efforts of friends, family, and community that I began to heal both mentally and physically. A group of approximately 25 different women volunteered their time and it was in this way that my husband was able to return to work, I was able to be taken care of and my children were able to be looked after. I believe that this is one of the factors that makes my sepsis story so special. It was through this group of women that my children experienced unconditional love and support, I was offered the help that I needed, and my husband was able to carry on with his work life knowing that his family was in good hands. I learned a lot through these women as did they from me.
In the summer of 2017, I began taking care of my children again on my own. I still love the outdoors and one day aspire to snowboard and waterski again. In the meantime, I help when I can with my children’s sports teams and hope to instill in them that no matter what type of adversity they are faced with that they can persevere and overcome that battle with hard work, dedication, and a full heart. After my survival of sepsis, I started my own small company named Glow. The acronym originally stood for God Loves Our Wendi since we all believed that He saved me for a reason. “Glowing” is also one of my talents. My entire life people have complimented me and said “you just seem to be glowing.” I attribute this to my outgoing personality, positive outlook, smile, and overall friendly behavior. I started this company to spread awareness about sepsis, to raise money to fund prosthetic costs that were not covered for my recreational activities as well as fund speaking opportunities to share my story, and to spread this positive outlook and behavior that when faced with adversity one can persevere and shine.
In honor of sepsis awareness month, I conducted my own fundraiser with profits from my clothing sales. It will be donated to Sepsis Alliance and my hope is that together in the future we can work as one to help spread awareness as well as work with the people who have been struck with sepsis to regain control of their lives and to find the silver lining of their situation.