I am a sepsis survivor. Let me tell you my story.
My name is Marie-Maxime, a 41 year old mother of two. I was exclusively breastfeeding my 13 month old baby girl when I started having pain in my left nipple for about 3 days. It appeared that I had a milk blister.
On the third day, excruciating pain in the same breast woke me up in the middle of the night, followed shortly by fever and by mid-morning, it felt like I was fighting a bad flu. I was able to control my fever with acetaminophen and went to see my doctor that afternoon. Having arrived at the clinic, I took the stairs to the second floor as I always do. I felt so weak as I was going up but I was determined. The final step took an eternity to make as I felt I was going to faint. I had to gather all my strength to make it to the front desk having stopped a couple times to sit down along the way.
I was given a bed right away and shortly after, I vomited many times. My blood pressure was extremely low so thedoctors made the decision to send me to the nearest hospital by ambulance. Hospital staff waiting, I was quickly under fluid resuscitation which helped maintain my blood pressure in less critical levels. It took a few more hours for the emergency staff to determine that I had sepsis which had lead to septic shock, all stemming from a baseball size abscess in my breast. After 24 hours of observation, fluid replacement and antibiotics it was determined that I was stable enough to be transferred to the intensive care unit.
Okay but hold on a sec… stable meansI’m good to go right? Why the ICU? Well I had no idea that the aftermath of a septic shock is multiple organ failure. I needed the team of doctors, the continual observation and treatment to deal with every issue that arose. In no time, I was in the beginning stages of organ failure. Substantial damage affected my kidneys, my liver and my lungs. The prognosis is affected by how quickly the team gets the right treatment going and how the body responds to it.
They were able to find out that I was fighting an invasive Streptococcal A blood infection. I vaguely knew what sepsis was when I was admitted to the hospital. I quickly found out that a survival rate of around 50% is associated with this condition. Being that I was in septic shock when I arrived at the hospital, I was litterally hours from dying. In addition to multiple organ failure, I also had impetigo on my skin and developed an aspiration pneumonia from all the vomiting that happened. I stayed in the ICU for almost a week and after day 4 there was a substantial turnaround in my blood markers and myvitals. I was able to go home after day 6 and over a month of antibiotics and many doctor visits and tests followed.
I was so lucky. My organs recovered fully. I was spared from amputations which is common after surviving a septic shock. What saved me was my fast visit to the doctor, no hesitation in the transfer to the nearest hospital, my condition being properly identified and receiving treatment in a timely matter. Unfortunately, not everyone with sepsis receives fast treatment or they get sent home with a misdiagnosis. It’s imperative that people recognize the early signs so awareness is key. Know your body. Seeking immediate care is the most important factor. It saved my life.
I am still processing what happened. My energy levels are not what they used to be. A fear of getting sepsis again is omnipresent. Having said that, I choose to only see the positive that this brought into my life. This was truly a gift and has changed the course of my life forever. Living in the moment is the ONLY way to go and the “NOW” is the only guarantee we have.
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