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My Story: When the Signs of Sepsis are Missed

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog

Amy Widener
Amy Widener

Guest Author: Amy Widener
Sepsis survivor

March 13, 2013, my body went into septic shock.

January 12, 2013, I ran the Disney half marathon. At 38, I was in the best shape of my life. One week later I woke up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain. I made my way to the bathroom floor with intense abdominal pain that took my breath away. My husband rushed me to the ER where a cat-scan revealed a kink in my intestines. No real explanation was given, but the solution was emergency surgery to cut out the blocked part of the intestines and put me back together. When I awoke from surgery, the report was that all went well. I was discharged from the hospital 10 days later when my bowels ‘woke up’ from surgery and all systems seemed to be functioning.

In hindsight, what happened over the next several weeks should have been our alert. The pain after this surgery grew worse instead of better. In just under 6 weeks I lost 22 pounds. I had chills and extreme pain after I ate and often ran a low grade fever. My doctor dismissed my complaints and told me it would take more time for my intestines to heal. I had no energy to argue.

I knew in my gut – literally and physically – that something was very wrong. I missed my daughter’s birthday party after spending the night before in the ER when the pain was so intense only to be sent home with a strong course of antibiotics and told I must have some colitis as a result of the surgery. Three days later my body could take no more. No food or liquid would stay down and I found myself back in the ER. This time I knew I was not going home with antibiotics.

I was too sick to ingest the barium required for a CAT scan, so the attending physician ordered an abdominal x-ray. This revealed what they diagnosed as a small bowel obstruction, likely caused by the surgery. I was admitted to the hospital and placed on NPO – nothing by food or mouth. The doctor on call raised the concern that I was malnourished and needed to have supplemental nutrition immediately. A PICC line was inserted into my arm and total parenteral nutrition (TPN) began. The doctor’s orders were to wait and hope that the bowel obstruction would resolve on its own.

As I sat in my hospital bed those next few days, my belly began to swell. The nausea could no longer be contained and a nasogastric intubation (NG) tube had to be inserted to remove pressure and bile from my stomach. By day 5, my abdomen was so distended that I looked like I was in my third trimester. I was weak and in pain. The doses of morphine did nothing. Finally, a test was ordered. The radiologist recommend further study as something was not right, but my doctor declined. The nurses were helpless. That evening my vitals told the story. My heart rate fluctuated between 150-160 bpm, my blood pressure rapidly dropped. Nurses called the doctor when my BP hit 89/53. By 6 AM on March 13, my BP had dipped to 63/51, and I was finally transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU).

The ICU doctors pushed for surgery ASAP, because they did not think I could survive. This is the last thing that I remember until I woke up on April 5, 24 days later.

What my family learned from the ICU team was that my body was in septic shock. The clues were there; we just didn’t know how to recognize them. My family never left my side. They took turns holding my hands while a ventilator pushed air in and out of my lungs, and my body swelled from the flood of fluids and antibiotics.

At the point when my organs were shutting down, and the team had performed every medical intervention that they could, my husband was called at 4 AM and told to get to the hospital as quickly as he could. When he arrived he was told that there was nothing else that could be done and that when the last bag of fluid ran out, my heart would likely stop beating. Thankfully it did not quit. I defied the odds.

We understand now that my Disney half marathon training is what prepared my heart for the real life marathon I was to endure. It took a new medical team, two additional surgeries, another full year of supplemental IV nutrition, countless hours of physical therapy and sheer determination to get me where I am today.

I am lucky to be alive, and thriving, and grateful for the ICU team that saved my life, but reminded that more has to be done to educate families, nurses, and doctors to recognize the early signs of sepsis so that patients do not have to suffer what I did.

Amy Widener, is a real estate consultant, mother of two and sepsis survivor

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog

32 comments on “My Story: When the Signs of Sepsis are Missed”

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    Sepsis is serious. My mother passed because she went into Septic Shock from a UTI. I felt the hospital should have been accountable because the did not treat it properly. We did know anything about sepsis until after she dead. I miss my mother so much.

    I am so shaken by everyone’s stories. My boyfriend has just been diagnosed with sepsis. And it’s bad.. it’s real real bad.. he is a severe diabetic and has not been admitted into the ICU. Why?
    He also has a Cronic lung disease called sarcoidosis (which is on a steroid for) The doctors have had him on flomax for an enlarged prostate and of course insulin. He’s been in and out of the ER/hospital bc his blood pressure keeps plummeting and he passes out. ***his last stay was from Sunday before last until this past Wednesday. They discharged him once again saying everything is looking better and better!
    By the next morning he was in so much pain he was bedridden. He kept saying I think it’s my kidneys… over and over, then His breathing became labored and this past Saturday night he started shaking uncontrollablely saying he was so cold.
    Then Sunday he had a high fever. He is 6’6 and 275lbs. It’s not an easy task to get him to go to the ER. Especially after every single test known to man has been run on him from, blood tests, urine tests, CAT scans, MRI’s, an EKG, songograms… the list goes on. But his mom and I convinced him. It is now Tuesday and they have finally come around to vaguely mention the word sepsis. Reading what I have about this blood infection I am utterly terrified… he is NOT in the ICU and he is a severe diabetic with known blood clots and a lung disease…. his temperature keeps spiking then breaking then spiking. Last night his breathing got so labored they gave him a breathing treatment and said he was having heart palpitations. He has had these weird blisters poping up I’ll over his body for weeks now! And before today kept saying oh he’s anemic but not doing anything about it.
    They are being so vague about it all. Can anyone help me or tell me where to read up on this or where NOT to read up on this, so I can better ask questions to this unforthcoming medical staff? Thank you ❤️

    My mother had flu like symptoms last year. I took her to walk in centre and they diagnosed her with a Uti. Her symptoms got worse. Feeling very tired. Sleeping most of the day and feeling extremely cold. She was getting worse. I called an ambulance and the paramedics said just take her back to the walk in centre. We persisted and begged them to take her. She was so poorly and had been like it for over a week. We got to hospital and we were told we were lucky we had brought her in when we did. It was fatal. I was told she had sepsis. I just couldn’t believe it. I had absolutely no idea. After three separate admissions to hospital my mother finally made good progress. I genuinely had no idea of the symptoms of sepsis. We all thought it was a bad case of the flu. I knew sepsis was life threatening but I had no idea of the symptoms. The fact that even the paramedics didn’t even pick up on the symptoms just shows how it can be missed. The antibiotic has to be administered within the first hour of diagnosis, for a chance of survival. Awareness is everything with Sepsis.

    My heart goes out to so many of you who have battled sepsis or him lost a loved one to it, but can we please get one thing straight. Sepsis is NOT a contagious disease spread between people like a cold or other means. Sepsis does not require a medical quarantine nor is it contagious. The most basic way to put it in sepsis is when an infection that you already have inside your body somewhere spreads to your blood stream. It’s just super irritating to read through the stories and people are wondering where they got exposed or why they weren’t quarantined. so I just thought I would put that out there.

    I came home from the hospital July 2nd after battling Sepsis from a UTI. I got sick on June29 and was soon shivering while the temp outside was 94. I turned up the thermostat to 75 and I was still shivering under blankets. Thank God I knew something was really wrong. I couldn’t find a thermometer and called my son to take me to the ER. My BP was 86/64 and my temp was 102. I had been an EMT and I knew I was in rough shape. I became totally out of it as my temp climbed to102 a second time. The good news is that it is July 6 and my appetite returned today. I will never have a UTI and not take it seriously.THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME.

    My husband has been sick for 8 yrs after an anoxic brain injury caused after lung surgery complications. He was on a respirator for 4 months in icu. Everything that could go wrong did including mrsa , blood clots in lung , spudimomus, cdip, and many more things. Everyday it was something new. After 2 more months in the hospital he was sent to rehab. At this point it was determined he was legally blind due to lack of oxygen during the heart failure that caused the anoxic brain injury. He recovered and was back and forth to the hospital several times due to pneumonia.
    In may 15,2018 he was admitted to the va hospital and was diagnosed with pneumonia again. He also had extremely low sodium level , high wbc, high potassium etc. they put him on antibiotics and other medications to get his other numbers under control. He also was diagnosed with mrsa again. On may 25th we were told his numbers were all god and he could go to rehab to get back on his feet. He was put in isolation for several days and than on may 28th he was removed from isolation and permitted to go down to gym to start his rehab progress. He was not getting better and they asked to put a port in for antibiotics. Even with the treatment he continued to get worse but no one in rehab ever said he should go back to the hospital even though his breathing was bad and you could hear him in the hallway. He also had low oxygen levels although they had put him on oxygen. I started to bring my own Poulsox machine to rehab to check it myself. My readings were in low 80s even on oxygen. I talked to the nurses and they just turned up the oxygen. He was not communicating as he should and was often very confused. On June 4th after asking several times why he wasn’t sent back to the hospital I demanded to speak to the nursing director. I had already talked to the head nurse about getting him moved back to hospital. Her response was the hospital can’t do any more for him than we are already doing. When the nursing director finally came she asked me what my main concerns were and I told her all of them. She said I have not dealt with your husband so I don’t know what he was like when he came in and if he is better or worse. She asked me to give her 20 minutes to look over his records. She was back in a little less than 20 minutes and told me she contacted his dr taking care of him and they said 911 was on the way to move him. They didn’t want him to go back to the va as they recommended a team at largo medical to work with him. He went to the hospital at about 4:30 on June 4. As soon as he got there he went into pulmonary distress. They tried a breathing mask which helped a little but they still said his breathing the way he was would hurt his heart if it continued. They called in a pulmonary specialist that came and said he needed to be on a breathing tube immediately. They needed to sedate him and work on getting his breathing and heart rate under control. He was comfortable and doing better when I left the hospital to go home. I called at 5am the next morning and was told he was stabl but they had a very bad night with him. His blood pressure dropped to the danger point and he was not producing urine. They had them under control at that time. I told them I would go get his hospital records from the va stay and bring them in. They said that could be helpful as three beleived there was an infection other than pneumonia that was causing what they were seeing. I got to the hospital with all the records about 3 hrs later and was told he took a turn for the worse and they were going to put him on dialysis because his body was very swollen from not expelling liquids. They took him down to put the port in and he went into cardiac arrest. When they brought him back the dr told me his heart was failing and there wasn’t much else they could do. They removed all the medications and said the only thing keeping him going was the blood pressure meds and breathing machine. I sat with my husband and held his hand and watched the blood pressure drop till it reach d single digit numbers and he died. No one ever told me it was septic shock or that they thought he has sepsis. He had fought back so many times before I had no idea it was as bad as it was.

    It was a extremely emotional experience and I wish I had a little more knowledge about this as I would have insisted he be back in the hospital way before I did.

    Drs , nurses. And family need to get more education about this and the symptoms. I blame myself every day for not arguing to get him back to the hospital before I did.

    I am a retired registered nurse and I know about sepsis. About three weeks ago, I didn’t feel well for two days. No specific symptoms at all. On the 3rd day I had lab work done at an outside lab for another problem. From there my husband and I went to a coffee shop. I immediately went to the bathroom because I felt like I needed to go. After sitting on the toilet and not using it, I felt dizzy so I dropped down to my knees and then laid on my side on the restroom floor. My husband came looking for me because I didn’t come out to the table. I was already out of it because all I could say was “I don’t want to go to the hospital” so I wouldn’t unlock the door. When I decided that maybe I should go to the hospital, I wasn’t able to move my arms or lift myself up. My trim husband slid underneath the door to unlock it and the manager had called the ambulance. The coffee shop was about 5 minutes from a free-standing ER. I do not have any memories of going to the ER or anything that was done to me until later when I had awakened enough to hear the doctor say ” You have to be admitted to the hospital. Where do you want to go?” Another ambulance took me to the hospital less than 10 miles away. I only vaguely remember the trip. I do not remember arriving at the ICU at the hospital. The next morning I felt almost normal again. I had received many bags of normal saline and also antibiotics. It turned out that I had sepsis with a urinary track infection. I had absolutely no symptoms except just feeling unwell. I had no burning when I went to the bathroom and no pain anywhere. I guess my point is that if you feel really, really bad – see a doctor before you become critical. Don’t assume that you will get better on your own like I did. I didn’t realize that sepsis could creep up so quickly.

    Where I am from nobody cares about those symptoms.I had all those symptoms and I have still having fainting spells cause they didn’t treat me as they should.They did the surgery and sent me home 4 days later and didn’t get all the infections now my surgery sight is balloning and stomach still swelling cause I still have the infection.

    I noticed most of the cases above had some other medical issue which contributed them to be exposed to sepsis. About 15 years ago, I was still in high school and one spring afternoon I felt chilly but it was very warm. Had softball practice after school and brought my jacket since I was still cold. Everyone else shed their jackets after warm up but me. Later that evening I just felt like I was coming down with a cold so I just relaxed but early the next morning I woke and felt awful so took my temp and it was 104! I crawled down the stairs to wake my parents who took me to the ER. They thought it was just a viral cold and sent me home. Later that morning I was still experiencing severe chills and couldn’t even keep water down. Went back to the ER where my childhood dr. tested my bloody sputum and admitted me with sepsis. I was in the hospital for 3-4 days and had a picc line inserted which I had to come back to outpatient everyday to get fluids for a week or so. So thankful my dr knew what it was before I got worse and could have died. Looking back the only exposure I think I had could have been from my part time housekeeping job at a mid scale hotel. Our cheap manager did not supply gloves for us and some old man had a fecal accident in the bed and covered it up and left the mess without telling anyone. So I did not see it before touching it when pulling the bedding off.

    It breaks my heart to read how many people are effected by septic shock yet warning signs are missed by the doctors.

    In 2016, my mom experienced septic shock caused by Ecoli from something she ate in a foreign country while on vacation. She went to the doctor since the pain was not going away. All of the warning signs were there. Her blood pressure dropped significantly, she was confused and in a lot of pain. It got to the pint where she was not recognizing her family and moaning non stop from pain. Unfortunately, the doctors didn’t recognize the warning signs and when I asked th doctors if she should be in ICU due to the severity of her case, they told me she has to be on life support in order to qualify for ICU. That same evening my mom ended up being on life support. They finally transferred her to ICU and those three months were the worst time of my life. For the longest time I kept hearing that my mom is still in the woods. Our lives changed over night… I never imagined anything like this. For the longest time I was hearing bad news everyday. Most of her organs had collapsed. The doctors told me the tissue on her fingers and toes was dying so they had to amputate all of her fingers and toes. She ended up getting a minor stroke had pneumonia but my mom is a fighter. After being in induced coma for three months she finally came back but unfortunately she lost her fingers and toes. I give a lot of credit to the ICU Doctors and nurses for working so hard and giving life to my mom. I always wonder if the results would have been different if they had transferred her to the ICU sooner. I am sharing my story so it can help someone else. Always fight for your loved one and if something doesn’t feel right let the doctors know and keep fighting until they listen you. Even though everyday I was hearing bad news I always knew that my mom would make it. She is an amazing person with positive attitude and a lot of hope. When she found out about her fingers and toes she was more concerned about me than herself. She appreciates the life God has given her and has learned how to use her hands without any special equipment. She continues to make progress everyday. Of course her body will never be the same but she is a fighter with I can do anything attitude!!!

    I had a right hip replacement in 2012 I started developing severe pain shortly after that my surgeon told me that was normal for me because I have scoliosis so they have to rebuild my hip to fit so I have become accustomed to the pain in 2015 the pain got worse at that time I started going to the hospital frequently and they could not find anything wrong with my prosthesis so they sent me home that same night I went back to the ER I could barely walk the ER doctor told me and my sister if I could take one step they will send me back home and to follow up with my doctor me and my sister was very confused she was very upset because I was in so much pain and the hospital refuse to keep me there and figure out what was wrong they made me literally drag my leg to make that one step once I did they discharged me the night I went home was up all night crying and screaming was not able to put any weight on that right hip at all and I would not let anyone touch it that’s how much pain I was in my brother and nephew had to carry me to the bathroom until my sister’s went out and bought me a side bed toilet and adult under garments they could not indure the pain i was going through it was unbearable it put a strain on the whole family they were all afraid because I could not walk the next day when I finally dosed off for 30 minutes I awoke with more pain then the night before I didn’t not think it could have gotten any worse than the night before my sister decided to call my primary doctor and let him know what was exactly going on and when she told him that I have been to the hospital and that I have been turned away and sent home he was angry he told my sister I needed to go back to the hospital ASAP or I was not going to live pass that day he assured her that my symptoms we’re life threatening he wanted her to call 911 and to get a ambulance there and he would meet us there so they were there to get me within 5 minutes once we got there a orthopedic surgeon came down to see me and put his hand against my surgery site a nurse walked in the room and said to the doctor that she was here when I came in to the hospital prior to this date and she then went on to tell the doctor in a very snobby voice that I keep returning and that the doctors that seen me the other times told me to go home and rest and follow up with my primary doctor because there was nothing that they could see was wrong with me and that I was what they call a frequent flyer at the ER so it would be best if I went home and tend to my wounds the surgeon touch my surgery site he turned around and told that nurse you better hope to God nothing happens to this lady because I believe that she is sepsis and he then told her she needed to step out of the room and wait for him and he will be in there to talk to her momentarily he then went on and started ordering all these test alot of blood work and he left the room and came back with 7 more nurses he asked my sister’s to leave because the room had to be sterile when they hugged me and left he turned to me and told me he was very sorry for the way I was being treated but he assured me that all that was about to change he informed me that I had a temperature of 105 so he knew it was infection related then he suited up put a mask on and gloves took a syringe out then he draped a white cloth on my hip and then inserted the syringe into my prosthetic hip as far as it could go then he started to drain fluid that was green and thick as soon as he pulled it out he told colleagues to get me ready to go upstairs to the OR and he then called upstairs after he read my test results he got white as a ghost he pulled all the nurses to the side huddled up outside my room and after that things started going fast what I later learned was that all my organs was failing my kidneys went first I was put on dialysis machine from that moment that doctor came in and took over where that idiot nurse fail to help along with the other doctor that sent me home this doctor saved my life I was in that hospital for a month and indured 3 more surgeries had 6 blood transfusions due to the failure of the pic line that was inserted in my neck that malfunction causing me to lose over half my blood supply in my body I awoke with a blood soaked pillow I also had another infection I got while I was there in the hospital called C dip which can be life threatening I went to a nursing home for a month and a half after all that i went home in a wheelchair because in order to save my life they had to remove my ball joint till I was strong enough to hold it in my body I stayed 8 more months in wheelchair I could not walk after the 8 months went back to surgery stayed 3 weeks in the hospital again and the back to the nursing home to start my physical therapy I was there for a month as of today I’m still fighting this hip replacement problem and the doctor said once you are sepsis you have a chance of it occuring more than two more times in your life so I have to be careful thank you for letting me tell my story there might be someone out there with a similar story you are not alone trust me I suffer every day but never give up fighting there is a light at the end of the tunnel

    I acquired sepsis at Northwestern, where I had been treated for a kidney infection. Two days after I was discharged, sepsis made its appearance with convulsive vomiting and severe inflammation of the gut. It felt like I had been inhabited by an evil entity, which caused a pain beyond the reach of several rounds of morphine. Fortunately, the ER nurse quickly obtained the lab results that indicated sepsis and administered a broadband antibiotic. By the morning, I was almost well.

    Besides good timing and efficient nursing, something that may have contributed to my rapid healing was a longtime commitment to high-intensity workouts. If the body is pushed to its limits during strenuous exercise, then it may be better equipped to fight off infections and help with its own recovery.

    I thought what i had what was the flu with a temperature of 102.3 but after going to Keesler Air Force base hospital for 3 hours and still nobody checking on me I went to garden park hospital in Gulfport ms where because of my wbc and heart rate and blood tests it was determined that I had sepsis I was put on doxycycline hyclate. I’m not sure if it will work but I’m giving it a try. Hopefully it doesn’t come back but it’s a shame that I had to go to a civilian hospital when I’m retired military and they dragged their feet. Even if it would have been the flu which it wasn’t 102.3 temperature is serious for a 64 year old man and especially with afib diabetic and high bp shame on you Keesler. The civilian hospital wanted to admit me which I denied and hopefully I don’t regret that decision

    My mother was never sick a day in her life. She developed a cough so we went to the er. The dr. Diagnosed her with stage4 lung cancer and did a biopsey the next morning. The dr. Doing the biopsey also put a stint in her trechea. They also said the tumor was nestles in her aorta arch was inoperable. Well on her death bed. Only 3 weeks later the dr admits he tried to get as much of the tumor out as possible during the biopsey and he failed to give her antirection drugs or any antibiotics. My mother didnt die from lung cancer she died from septis

    A then 60 -yr old relative went for an outpatient heart catheterization, after which her cardiologist handed over what should have been somewhat routine aftercare to her regular physician. Within days she began to feel bad with flu-like symptoms. Her regular physician treated her with the antibiotic Erythromycin because she is allergic to most other antibiotics. Then on top of the other symptoms, her nose began to bleed, for which he added Vitamin K. Got sicker but couldn’t get her cardiologist to call her back. Her doctors had some kind of back and forth telephone tag argument over who should be treating her, they lost more valuable time, and her primary care physician ended up sending her by ambulance to a hospital where her he knew her cardiologist practiced. Cardiologist reluctantly admitted her and began treating her for an unknown lung infection. Suddenly while a pharmacist relative was visiting her, she fainted, and went unconscious. Transferred to ICU. Now in addition to seriously ill with what we now think was not a lung infection but probably SEPSIS, she had severe and widespread bleeding on the brain. Interaction of E-mycin and Cumadin. Her head swelled up like a pumpkin to the point her eyes closed. Had to have a shunt to drain fluid off the brain. Because of the intervention of family with some medical knowledge, who removed the incompetent cardiologist (who disagreed with 11 other drs that it must be brain cancer—preposterous), she survived. After a long hospitalization, months of inpatient rehab and physical therapy, MRSA was identified as an infectious agent. It was likely contracted from a medical facility (duh). My guess: the outpatient heart cath procedure conducted by the grossly incompetent cardiologist who later lost his license. For years now, she has suffered with what I think is a low level of sepsis. She had several other surgeries that became badly infected and took over a year (and some longer) to heal. After abdominal surgery for early stage cancer, she nearly died of peritonitis. The antibiotic to treat that, destroyed the tendons in her feet and legs. The surgery to correct that got badly infected, took over a year to heal, and nearly killed her. I think she probably still has a low level of MRSA in her body, as every few weeks to months for years since, she has a bout of fever and chills, though she finally found a doctor who seems to have that under control. Yes, the American medical community really needs to get a handle on hospital and medical facility sanitation and infection control. In addition, they need to be more serious about policing their own ranks to weed out dangerously incompetent professionals. I think sepsis, or “pre-sepsis” if you will, is probably a lot more common than is known.

    Being healthy all my life and having never spent anytime in hospitals, I had never heard of sepsis. My father just died of sepsis in the hospital. I am mad as hell. In fact the night of his death the doctor called me (I was out of town working) asking me whether I wanted him to incubate my father. Not once did he mention the word sepsis, so honoring my father’s wishes I said no. Had I known that his organs were failing and his infection was due to sepsis, I may have made a different decision so that I could have at least given him a chance to fight it. My father spent a week in hospital, came home and less than 24 hours later was back in hospital and 24 hours later he was dead. The night of his death, the nurse called me asking for my consent for them to drain the fluids out of his belly. I asked whether we had approached a grave situation and she said no and that he was talking and coherent. 4 hours later he was dead! He originally went into the hospital (the first time) for diarrhea and weakness. They treated his diarrhea but made him so constipated. They pumped him with diuretics. He came home a week later in such pain that he could not urinate, hence he landed back in the ER and was delirious (which I thought was from the meds). All the signs were there yet no one told me he was in septic shock. Why are hospitals not held accountable?

    I also want to Thank the nurse(s) here who shared about the staff not being more dilligent about cleanliness/sterile when doing blood draws and Iv’s etc. I’m my last 4 day stay they were drawing my blood 4-6 times a day mainly to test my lactic acid- and I saw the phleb’s do exactly what you said! Folks do yourself a favor and be as proactive in your own healthcare ad you possibly care! If youre coherent/ pay attention and adk what and why if you don’t understand what’s going on! If you can- adk a close friend or family member to be your advocate if you arent mentally capable in the event if an emergency!

    I was infected with Sepsis a day after my cat gently poked 3 teensy holes in my leg. I went to bed at 10 on Saturday and called my son to come get me up from my bed on Monday morning. I waited til the afternoon to have my nephew ho with to our walk in clinic so he could get a wheel chair and help me get out of my car- as my ry knee was totally stiff and nonbending since becoming I’ll. (I had a knee replacement and due to previous debridements of that knee due to MRSA, It was always swollen knee to toes). At walk in, they immediately took my blood pressure and the attending said “youre going to the ER. right now- your bp is 70/40, and thats very low.”. The ER staff was awaiting me- where they went into action. I was so blah I couldnt understand why it was suddenly so hard toget an IV in ! I explained anout my cat- and they said that was the cause. Labs for sepsis said greater than 9.0= severe sepsis/septic shock. My level was 26.39! I shouldnt be here! After 4 days They released me. I couldnt care for myself due to my stiff knee- so I returned. 3.5 days and my labs were looking good enough to leave with strong oral antibiotics-but I could barely walk n needed pt- so off to the nursing facility for 8 days! I was home a month and after eating lunch- became very sick- vomiting, shakes, stimach pain and more. 3 hours later-I had blood pouring out my bowels every 15 minutes. And more projectile vomiting to go with the horrible gut pain n bloat. I said I’ll go in tomorrow if this isnt any better. It wasnt. Back to the ER and a CT Scan and a bunch of tests later- I was admitted. The next mirning the Gastro MD came in and said “You have ISCHEMIC COLITIS- your large intestine was deprived of oxygen and had a heart attack”. The blood was the colons way of responding to the oxygen loss and was shedding the lining which was due to the tissue damage of the attack. We agree Sepsis and my 70/40 low bp coupled with my lupus and more health issues wete the cause of this attack. 4 more days in the hospital and I am having a colonoscopy in 6-8 weeks to see how much damage and where. I might need a bowel resection depending in scar tissue/damage. I just turned 60 just 4 days prior to getting Sepsis. My colon is so enlarged that it looks & feels like an invisible inner tube aroubd my gut-the Doctor said he didn’t need to see me to know how bad because he could see it on my CT Scan n he said itll be a long while before it goes down. I came home on Thanksgiving day and it is now 5 full days later and the bloat and pain continue- I can’t eat much or the pain is worse. I dread what the colonoscopy results will be- my last one was clean with no polyps even! I continue on potent antibiotics and hope that the only bad result of all of tjis is that I lose unwanted pounds. Thankfully I am blessed to have doctors who listened and cared or might be alive today. If you get any cuts or scratches or get cat claw poked wash them immediately! And do yourself a favor! CALL 911! Sepsis is something i never paid attention to before all this happened. I knew about MRSA because I had it in 2010. I cheated death 3 times- you might not be so lucky…read about sepsis and know tge signs and symptoms. I hope my story can help save lives. Thank you Amy for sharing your story- I am thankful you survived such a horrendoys ordeal. Cyn

    I too survived sepsis.
    At the age of 26 I had just delivered my son 4 weeks early due to preclampsia. I was watched an extra day in the hospital and was sent home with a clear bill of health.
    5 days went by and I woke up with that not feeling real great feeling. Achy and my back was killing me. I opted out of seeing the doctor this day. I was fine it would go away. That evening my husband came home and I was curled up next to the furnace with 104.9 fever. I took some motrin and went to bed. So keep in mind as well I am a nurse. LOL, the worst patients!! The fever never went down and at 6 the next morning I went to urgent care. My insurance changed right before my son was born so I was at a hospital where I had no doctor. They looked me over and after a few test it was determined I had pyelonephritis. Otherwise known as a kidney infection. I was admitted and taken to an overflow floor.
    Day to day was no answers. No doctor meant I got the hospitalist . The 3rd day in my husband called my parents/family to inform them that I was considerably worse and that they should probably come see me. he was certain I was dying and I was.
    Day 4. I am now drowning in my own fluids. I developed pneumonia and sleep apnea. I was hallucinating from the pain meds. I gained 35 lbs of fluids in 4 days. My room mate happened to be a cna at the hospital. She informed my husband that he needed to go drag a doctor in there are make him look at me.
    He did. Dr. Le saved my life. He immediately ordered all fluids removed. He reviewed my chart and my blood work showed I was indeed Septic with E-COLI. My chart had been updated the night prior to this.
    Day 5 I was allowed to go home. Probably should not due to all my breathing issues but my doctor thought I needed to be with my baby.
    I do not remember a thing from the day my son was born till the day I came home from sepsis. This is all been told to me from family and my husband.
    I thank God everyday that Dr. Le was there. I truly believe I would’ve died in a few short days without him.

    DO NOT ignore the warning signs!!! It may be the difference in life or death!!!

    A friend was admitted to hospital with an incarcerated hernia, and died 24 hours later while awaiting surgery. The autopsy indicated a strangulated section of bowel, and sepsis in several organs. I believe he was at high risk of strangulation of the hernia, and at risk of sepsis from the strangulation.
    I was not familiar with sepsis myself, but I now know that my friend demonstrated a number of symptoms of sepsis – particularly shivering and stating that he was very cold, elevated respiration rate, elevated heart rate, confusion and disorientation, severe abdominal pain, and greatly reduced urine output. Medical staff seemed to think that these symptoms were merely a response to pain. Should he have been monitored or screened for developing sepsis?

    My mother was not so lucky. She lived in Pendleton, OR. She had many chronic ailments; rheumatoid arthritis, no thyroid function, emphysema and a condition that her doctors at home said was Crohn’s disease, but the specialists in Seattle said was not. The surgeon at home tried to help by giving her a bowel resection. It didn’t heal, she entered the hospital’s intensive care. After 4 days, my sister and I came to the hospital, aware that Mother wasn’t a physically strong person and could die. She was getting IV antibiotics, morphine and fluids and was for the most part unconscious. She was bloated so badly she was unrecognizable and filled with so many fluids, every pore on her skin was oozing saline. After 3 days the surgeon made rounds while we were there and told us. She was dying of sepsis, her intestine hadn’t healed and she had kidney failure. What he didn’t disclose is that the hospital didn’t have a kidney dialysis machine, and had they moved her within the first 2 days of her current stay to another hospital, that did have one, she might have survived. But by that time, Father had signed a DNR and it was too late. My sister, who had been complaining of a sore throat then went into hysterics and the staff told me to get her out of the hospital, she couldn’t deal with it. They were right. 2 hours later, my sister was dead of a heart attack. The next day, my mother died. Oddly enough, her own mother died in 1937, of the same thing infection, going into pneumonia and then sepsis. And, it wasn’t my mother’s first bout of blood poisoning, she had had it before. Please, please, please, don’t let anyone else experience this. It’s a nightmarish way to die and it’s traumatized me for the rest of my life. My mother had just turned 63. My sister was 44. Take care of yourselves and be your own strongest advocate.

    Amy,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I feel better educated about sepsis. I’m so glad that you’re doing well, and you look wonderful.
    Bonita

    In 2011, I had a right total hip replacement. I noticed in the second week that 2 bottom stitches looked abnormal. Slight oozing. Surgeon removed those 2 stitches,leaving a tiny opening. End of third week this area became inflamed. I asked Surgeon ” if I need to take a antibiotic”? He said ” just a over -the-counter antibiotic cream. I felt that he knew what he was doing. Within 1 week I developed a abscess that burst. Went back to same Surgeon (in Boston) and he used his hands to drain any remaining fluid. I was put on a 7 day oral antibiotic. It appeared to heal on the outside. In 2014, I was sick with what felt like the flu. By third week I told my primary Doctor ” some thing is wrong. I’m not feeling better”. He asked “if I had a fever”. I told him that ” I was having the chills. I was told I had a virus and had to wait it out. Three nights later I woke up with severe stomach pain,still sick and couldn’t move my right leg. Fire Dept. had to ‘ram’ my front door down to get in. I can’t remember anything after that. I was taken to the Emergency Hospital. There were a lot of blanks in my memory for first 7 days. I don’t know what tests were done,but I was taken to a Nursing Home due to I couldn’t use my right leg. I could feel some thing was wrong. I just got sicker. Less than 48 hours later I was rushed back to hospital. I find it hard to put into words how bad I felt. I thought I was dying. I was admitted and put into a regular room with a elderly patient. Tests showed I had some type of bacterial infection in my blood,my liver wasn’t functioning normal and blood pressure was very low. I spent of 14 days in a ‘regular’ room & had 2 different elderly patients in that room with me. No nurses wore masks,protective eyewear while handling my bodily fluids,nor wore disposable gowns that should of been disposed of before exiting my room. To this day, I question why they exposed other patients to me who had other medical conditions. Some staff went from me right over to tending other patient who was in the room with me. I was never put into isolation until they found exact type of bacteria & correct course of antibiotics and etc.. I truly would appreciate if someone could explain this to me. I never regained some of my memory. For anyone out there who has had sepsis & ‘beat’ it,my heart goes out to you. For those who haven’t, my heart breaks for you.

    I too had missed diagnosed sepsis which resulted in multi organ failure, cardiac arrest I was on life support, my family were told to come and my son flew from vietnam where he lives to england. I arrived at A and E with Sepsis, I didnt know at the time it was sepsis but I knew something was seriously wrong. I explained to all staff who attended me that I was sure my Ascites ( fluid in abdominal cavity due to liver disease) was infected as I had Ascites four times previously and it felt so much more painful and I was extremely confused, I couldnt talk properly. They said my blood tests and microrganism tests were ok, obviously not as when I nurse found me choking to death, on pus and blood ( her words )all my main organs were infected!!! I was very lucky to srvive and I went on to have a life saving liver transplant, although because I was so severely malnourished that the surgeons initially thought I would not survive the transplant. I am still cross about what happened, More people should be aware, although its hard when you are so ill. I wished I had known more about sepsis, keep up good work. Susan

    I am stunned to read these real life stories. I hear this kind of stories from patients where I work. Iam trying to
    get appropriate doctoral degree to be able to implement changes. But I could not find an institution which focuses on infection and its prevention.

    Victor

    My head is melted I don’t know what to do I had surgery 17 days ago and since I’ve being in the hospital twice, first time I was sent home saying I was fine then ended up with my doctor a day later to be handed strong antibiotics which didn’t work. I then ended up back in the hospital a few days later to be confirmed an infection and sent on my travels with antibiotics again. My doctor rang me today and confirmed I have strep infection and nasty bugs in my system. Now I am embarrassed and don’t want to go down to be sent home again I feel stupid to keep going down. But now that my wound has closed there is no obvious infection, but I really don’t feel well. The pains are intensifying and the nausea is killing me. I’m hoping it will all subside as I have spent the majority of the summer in hospital and own 2 businesses and have 2 children. I feel like pulling my hair out now and just feel stupid for thinking they’re wrong. Saying this out loud makes me realise I’m being stupid who cares and go get checked out but I’ve being sent home 4 times from hospital and once I was rushed back 4 hours later for surgery.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am glad that you are well, but my heart goes out to you for what you had and your family had to endure. My son with Down syndrome went into septic shock in 2010. He was 7-10 months old. He had contracted (c-diff) while “in hospital” for a respiratory virus. It was misdiagnosed by his Pediatrician at the time. It went rampant in his system. When we went back to the hospital he also was malnourished from all the diarrhea. He lost weight & went down to 8 lbs. at 8 months old. He was slipping away from us. A Dr. made an error in deciding to take my son off of his fluids. I told them I had a very bad feeling & didn’t want them to. They did it anyway & he was turning purple the next day. They rushed him to ICU & had to drill holes in his leg bones to be able to get water in him. His pancreas took a bad hit & ever since he is treated as a Type 1 Diabetic, needing insulin and shots with every bolus through his feed tube. He also has to have enzymes with his formula to be able to absorb protein & sugars. We were in the hospital for 40 days. & many hospital stays over the course of 3 yrs. It was a miracle that our son survived. He is amazing (almost 8 yrs. old now) and even with all the things he goes through daily, he is the happiest child you’d ever meet. ?I agree that it is important to recognize the signs of these symptoms for ALL patients.

    My mother went through exactly the same thing after she developed MRSA following surgery for a broken femur. She had all of the same symptoms as Amy, except she also couldn’t breathe. Doctors kept attributing it to her past history of asthma but we, her family, knew better. There was only one nurse on the floor who seemed alarmed and she later disclosed that she had alerted the infectious disease doctor of her concerns but was dismissed. Mom went into septic shock at 4a.m., was on life support for three weeks and developed double pneumonia soon thereafter.
    PLEASE – Doctors! When the nurses spend all day and night with someone, don’t dismiss their concerns after visiting with your patient for five minutes. If someone would have listened, my mom likely wouldn’t have progressed to being admitted to Trauma ICU for three weeks and a hospital stay that lasted almost seven months. The care she received from the rest of her team was ultimately good enough that she’s still with us today, but she’s not the same. We believe she was deprived of oxygen for an extended period because so many people missed the signs.

    We are just not doing enough to prevent infection/contamination in hospitals, emergency departments and outpatient care. I lost my mother to sepsis, almost lost my newborn son at 6 days old. He was rushed to Boston Children’s Hospital where they saved his life. I myself was rushed back to Mt Auburn Hospital after having my first baby, with sepsis. I cannot recall ever seeing a phlebotomist or nurse not “retouch” my skin for that one last feel of the vein AFTER it was cleansed only to contaminate again for a blood draw without reswabbing the area. This is not “aseptic technique.” I see techs setting up sterile suture carts clueless of how to apply sterile gloves, and reusing one time betadine AND normal saline solutions. In addition to that, this one particular event, the tech left the set up in a room where other staff go in and out with just a drape over it. Technically, it is not suppose to be left anywhere unattended! Whenever I mention anything, even the slightest hint wherever I may be working, I am looked upon differently so it’s a no win situation. Sad:(

    Thanks for sharing. I was touched and appreciate your zeal to inform and prevent based upon your experience. 🙂 Be Blessed.

    Thanks for disclosing the real story. To my fellow health workers, l feel like its really good and productive to approach/ get knowledge from others when handling conditions or diseases that we have observed gap of knowledge. Don’t hesitate till the condition worsen.

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