The Faces of Sepsis
Jen Ludwin - survivorSubmitted by Jen Ludwin
The doctors and nurses simply hydrated me and sent me on my way home. Within 48 hours, I was back at the hospital, but this time I was admitted and intubated. I have no memories of calling my mom and brother the morning of October 17th, driving to the hospital, checking in to the emergency department, or being admitted.
When I arrived at the emergency department for the second time, my symptoms included: sore throat, high fever, body aches, fatigue, chills, vomiting blood, labored breathing, and excruciating abdominal pain. Additionally, my fingers were dusky colored and my legs were mottled in color from my toes up to my knees. Once I was admitted to the hospital, I was diagnosed with H1N1 influenza A, renal failure, ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome), and septic shock.
Within a day I underwent an emergency, exploratory surgery which resulted in the removal of my gallbladder. After being diagnosed with H1N1, renal failure, ARDS, and sepsis, I experienced a series of complications which included: multiple organ failure, DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation), gangrene, a neck abscess, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
I have had 18 major surgeries that include bilateral below-knee amputations, amputations of all digits on my left hand, partial amputation of all digits on my right hand, abdominal surgery, throat surgery, and a thoracotomy. Before the amputations I had to go through 10 sessions, each two hours in length, in a hypobaric chamber. In order to help save my fingers and hands, my hands were sewn into my hip/groin area.
My doctors spent six hours on paperwork and had to get FDA and CDC approval in order to get me this drug. Because the drug was experimental, the doctors got permission to draw my blood so that they could observe the drug levels in my blood. These observations and results are currently being published in an article that will be used world-wide to dose Peramivir.
Three and a half months after being admitted to OSUMC, I was discharged and admitted to an inpatient rehab hospital called The Drake Center in Cincinnati. I was excited to be moving back to Cincinnati, but scared of leaving my “home” at OSUMC.
Almost five months after being admitted to OSUMC, I finally got to go home. I immediately started outpatient occupational and physical therapy. When I began outpatient therapy I was using a walker, but by the time I was finished three months later I was walking without assistance, started going up and down stairs, and was jogging. My life is slowly returning to the way it was.