On July 18, 2019, I went septic. At the time I did not know anything about sepsis, nor did any of my family members. Days prior, I noticed that the glands in my neck were swollen; however, there were no other indications that something so life altering would result.
I woke up on July 18, 2019 and my face was discoloured, and I was very tired and thirsty. My family called an ambulance. The paramedics determined that I had gone septic and was in shock. They began to administer drugs in an attempt to save my life. At the hospital, my family were advised that I had less than a 10% chance of surviving.
I was placed on a ventilator and put into a medically induced coma. I remained in the coma for 10 days, where I was treated with a variety of antibiotics and other drugs. I experienced and continue to experience a number of side effects from the sepsis. Once out of the coma, I had very serious muscle atrophy, my toes were black and I had necrosis on my fingers. I also experienced temporary kidney issues and had to be on dialysis for a brief period of time. I also experience alopecia. I could not walk, nor lift and hold the lightest objects.
When I was discharged from the hospital on September 20th, 2019, I returned home where I confronted some new challenges. I required help from my husband to bath, dress and prepare meals. A home care nurse visited weekly to assess the wounds on my feet and toes, and change the bandages. It was a long process to heal my feet. I experimented with infrared light to help heal the bottoms of my feet and this seemed to help. My toes never fully healed and in January 2020, the tops of my toes were amputated.
Over the past year, I have tried a number of different approaches to try and heal my body. I have a daily exercise program that I undertake every morning, including stationary biking. I continue to use infrared light to treat the neuropathy in my feet and legs. I have other muscle and joint stiffness, including my knees. I also had pain in my hips and arms and worked with a specialist using ultrasound to try and relieve the pain and improve my mobility. This has been quite successful, and the majority of my pain is now gone. I consider my long term effects minor compared to others who have experienced cognitive issues and more severe amputations.
I am so grateful to all of the doctors and nurses who saved my life; and I can’t thank them enough.
One of the biggest challenges I faced in my recovery was the post-hospital care. There are no resources readily available for those recovering from sepsis after they leave the hospital. For example, I could have reduced my recovery time and advanced my walking if my toes were amputated much earlier. However, I did not have access to a specialist physician on an ongoing basis to follow my case and help me make these decisions. I believe this one change could make a world of difference for those recovering from sepsis. For this reason, I want to support Sepsis Support Canada and its efforts to bring more resources to those recovering from sepsis.