My name is Brandi and this is my husband Rikk’s story of survival.
After waking up that morning I saw him sitting on the edge of our bed, he wasn’t answering my questions, so I walked over to him. He was taking small breathes and his breathing seemed rapid. I helped him get dressed and put his shoes on for him. We got in a cab to the clinic, but during the ride we detoured to the hospital.
Within minutes of being in the hospital we were taken back to be seen by a Doctor. Rikk was talking but not making sense. He was asked questions but answered something random about knives he saw at a store. The nurse looked at me and asked is this his normal? I said definitely not. Within an hour of our arrival to the emergency dept. he was on life support.
The nurse told me to leave while they intubated him and that his blood showed he had an infection and the infection was winning. He was in respiratory failure they told me.
We could not see him for 6 hours. When we walked into his room in the Critical Care Unit my heart sunk into my chest. Rikk was on a machine to breathe with so many wires and tubes coming off of him. He was also in kidney failure, and needed dialysis immediately. They had to rotate him every twelve hours from laying on his back then onto his stomach. As we watched, his body swelled and it became more and more terrifying for us. We were watching him slip away.
The Doctor came to talk to us and told us Rikk had developed Sepsis. “Sepsis, what is that? I have never even heard of that before.” He explained how dangerous Sepsis is and that the organs are often “attacked”. The Doctor told us, we basically treat what sepsis is attacking, with a large amount of antibiotics.
The nurse saw how hard I was taking it, although I had support from my eldest daughter. The second night they took him off the paralytic only temporarily so I could talk to him and see him open his eyes. With every tear that fell we were beginning to lose hope. I was about to go home for the night and I whispered in his ear, our song and sang it to him, “Alphaville - Forever Young.”
After a week of 103 fevers they finally found out pneumonia was the cause of his Sepsis. The infection was untreated for too long and he had developed an abscess in his lung. They called it Necrotizing Pneumonia. After they drained the abscess, things got better slowly.
He spent thirty days in the Critical Care Unit. Sepsis had put him in respiratory failure and kidney failure. The night he was admitted I got a call that I should come in because they were not sure he would make it through the night. His blood pressure was dangerously low.
Rikk had to learn to breathe on his own again, and walk unassisted. His sickness has not only affected his body but his mental health as well. He has PTSD from his experience, it still affects him and his family two years later. He currently is on the wait list for a kidney that sepsis took from him.
Talk to your family because my husband told me he heard my voice through a radio station while he was in the coma.
If one good thing came from this experience is that we now recognize the signs of Sepsis and have become more aware of his health.
One year after his release Rikk got pneumonia again, but with quick action this time he was treated immediately with antibiotics.
We were married 3 months after his release from the hospital. I have been with him since I was sixteen and after being together for 27 years we thought this was the best time. Rikk told me, “life is different now, we have to spread the word about this silent killer!”