What are the odds a Canadian will experience sepsis?
Well I have, twice.
My father became extremely ill Dec 8, 2017. He'd been experiencing delirium and then sepsis which was then increased monumentally when he had 17 teeth extracted in one sitting. It was a desperate measure to remove the source of infection which was causing severe effects such as hallucinations, tremors, sleeplessness, dysphagia, weight loss, dehydration, confusion, extreme unwellness and nearly death. It was a harrowing ordeal for all of us, including the doctors who worked desperately to diagnose and treat his condition. He shouldn’t have lived based on statistics, but he/we fought long and hard and by a miracle, he survived. Ultimately, it resulted in damage to the brain, infectious encephalopathy.
It left us all shattered, traumatized and lost.
Once my Dad was discharged, I was desperate to understand what had happened. I found a complete lack of support and knowledge from the medical community, even denial of PSS, and thus turned to the Canadian Sepsis Alliance for support and answers.
Over time I learned all about, and became confident in the signs of sepsis and gained a much deeper understanding in the role sepsis, PSS and PTSD played in our life.
Just over a year later, while I was home recovering from a recent surgery, my fiancé became ill with an abscess tooth while away for work. He worked through it for a few days while waiting for a dentist to become available, but the pain and swelling grew much worse and had become unbearable. He did finally see a dentist on the fourth day, but unfortunately it was too late, and by the next morning I could easily recognize, once again, the signs of sepsis.
Upon arrival at the hospital emergency, I remembered what I’d read, and this time I felt confident enough in my suspicions to speak up and state my concerns for sepsis, and thankfully he was admitted immediately.
His fever was just breaking, he was shaking uncontrollably, hyperventilating, sweating profusely, rapid heart beat, extreme nausea and unable to communicate or walk on his own.
He was in excruciating pain, as the abscess had grown and had reached his eye, swelling it shut.
Blood tests confirmed immediately that lactate levels were elevated, showing signs of severe infection, and they administered 3 rounds of iv antibiotics and saline, testing his blood after each round, until his lactate levels returned to normal. It was a total of six hours and they discharged him after more testing.
That initial, harrowing experience led me to seek support, and I/we found it with the Canadian Sepsis Alliance (also the PSS group) Facebook groups.
The support and understanding, validation, awareness and confidence I found I’ve gained from the people in these groups has been invaluable, and instrumental in helping me to save another life.