In 2012, I had sepsis following a bowel perforation. While the physical symptoms (mostly) took a year to resolve, the brain fog impacted my life for 2+ years. I still have abdominal problems ongoing, but the delirium was the most challenging thing to deal with. I didn’t recognize people. I had no concentration, no short-term memory, and my personality changed.
I worked through much of it with the help of a very kind doctor and the help of an American psychologist who specializes in Post ICU Syndrome, and delirium. But it was challenging. Previously a skilled RN, I was reduced to crossword puzzles and brain games. Now, 9 years later, I feel able to function cognitively again. But I’m not the same. I never will be. I’m forever grateful for the lifesaving treatment I got, but was given no information at discharge about what delirium could do to a person post ICU. For me, that was the worst part of my story.
I had many other side effects post discharge, including hair loss, little taste, extreme fatigue, and the terrifying thought once I realized that a simple paper cut could cause sepsis. Every time I get sick, or slightly injured, the fear and anxiety comes flooding back. I never want to go through that again. I have shared my story many times to help spread the word. Please, especially in this COVID world, ask to be screened for sepsis. Know the signs. And at discharge don’t be afraid to ask questions, about possible side effects, such as the effects of delirium.
I hate to hear of anyone going through what I experienced. Today, I am grateful to be part of a research team that really understands sepsis. My greatest wish is to use my story to help prevent others from what I went through. I felt as though I was losing my mind, but had I just been educated at discharge, much of my 2 years of fear, anxiety and frustration could have been avoided.