On November 8, 2017, I presented to our local emergency room suffering with severe abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and nausea. The inability to keep any food down had also left me slightly malnourished. After hours of waiting I was given something for pain and left to sleep the night. I was discharged the following morning as they felt I had improved.
One week later my husband took me back to the ER. I have little recollection of that week or that journey. After two days I was transferred to a tertiary hospital in the city and was put in the care of the gastrointestinal specialist who was monitoring me regularly for 16 years after diagnosing ulcerative colitis, which I had learned to control with diet. I was placed on IV feeding, pain killers, and anti-nauseants. During that time I developed pressure sores which went unaddressed. Two weeks after initial transfer a nurse rushed in and told me to pack quickly as I was being flown back home in an hour. I did not understand this, as I still felt very ill. I never spoke to my specialist and received no explanation for my hurried departure.
I spent three weeks slowly declining at our local hospital. My pain and nausea became out of control and my husband was deeply concerned. We were playing cribbage one day and the next I couldn’t even carry on a conversation. On the advice of a family member who was an I.C.U. nurse, my husband insisted that I have another CT scan immediately, as he was certain something was being missed. The CT scan revealed a problem, and at the same time the results of morning bloodwork came back showing a highly elevated white cell count. Immediate surgery was required but I had to be flown to another hospital and waiting for transfer was another dangerous delay. I was in septic shock and after five hours of surgery I was left with three feet of intestine and not expected to survive.
I remained on life-support for a week. The next two months were truly a nightmare, especially for my family. I didn’t know who I was, where I was, or what had happened. I was in hospital for nine months.
I now know that I had many of the sepsis warning signs that were not recognized by medical personnel at our local hospital. It will be three years this Christmas since sepsis changed my life. I still struggle daily with pain and many other physically debilitating effects of Post Septic Syndrome, as well as sadness, depression, and anger for what has been lost, not just for myself but for my family. My husband has been my rock, and I cherish him for his steadfast love and care. He himself still suffers from the trauma of this ordeal, as do our children.
I am so grateful to the Sepsis Canada Support group for their caring, encouragement, and wealth of information that has contributed so much to my recovery. I look forward to meeting many of these dear people in future and to share our success stories!