Thoughts on the Sepsis Experience:
Some will say I was one of the lucky ones although I don’t like the term “lucky” and don’t feel lucky having gone through what I went through.
It is true I did survive a Sepsis experience with a higher than 90% fatality rate. I got an infection in my finger which got into my blood stream creating and causing an aneurysm to rupture. The infection in my blood stream also put me into Septic Shock which is the leading killer of people in the ICU.
The stats on Sepsis are one thing but the lived experience of being a Sepsis Survivor is totally something else. It disturbs me that most Canadians have no idea what Sepsis is let alone know how to define it. Sepsis kills 8 million people world wide and 11,000 Canadians every year.
As a Critical Incident Stress Debriefer I was taught to think in terms of a traumatic event having an impact zone that ripples across our population. Think of the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy. What would be the impact zone be for that accident?
Every year millions of people die from Sepsis and its devastating complications. How large is that impact zone? It has to include millions and possibly billions of people.
It is mind boggling that as a society we know so little about Sepsis. But that is only half the problem. When I left the hospital after a week in a coma, three weeks heavily medicated in the ICU and more than a month in the hospital I just happened to ask one of the doctors who discharged me how long my recovery would take.
He told me it would be 6 months to a year. Again maybe I was one of the lucky ones even though it was three years before I regained my previous level of fitness. Relative to other Sepsis Survivors I am doing well. I still struggle with chronic fatigue, muscle and joint pain and weakness, depression and a tendency to overreact to emotional issues.
Most Sepsis Survivors have no awareness of what they are in for when they get out of the hospital. That is because there is a dearth of information and resources for Sepsis Survivors.
Again I am one of the fortunate few. I researched and wrote about my Sepsis experience putting me ahead of the curve in terms of recovery.
Most Sepsis Survivors aren’t as fortunate.The fatality rate for Sepsis Survivors, according to some studies, is as high as 40 to 60 % after 5 years.
In reality I have a lot to be thankful for including a loving family and friends and many doctors, nurses and other health care professionals whose professionalism I cannot say enough good things about.
One of my many memories of my recovery experience involves being in a Community IV Program. At one point I met a woman to whom I told my story. We talked about why I had survived such a medical nightmare. She told me that I had survived because my I was still needed here and or I still had something to teach others.
I believed what she said. I survived for a reason and that reason is to be found in appreciating what I have, living in the moment and making my life count.
So do I believe that I am lucky to be alive? Not really. Am I grateful? Absolutely!