The Faces of Sepsis
Lisa Rice - survivor
March 8, 2012 I had routine laparoscopic gallbladder surgery. I went home that day, and within three days I was feeling better and resuming my activities.
Six days post op I felt that something was wrong - and asked my fiancé, Joey to take me to the ER. Within moments I was on the ground, sweating profusely in pain that I felt would only be relieved by death. Joey called 911. I recall arriving in the ER - then waking up 3 weeks later in an ICU, restrained, ventilated unable to speak, my skin brown and my body bloated. As a registered nurse, I knew exactly how life threatening my condition was.
I had a bile leak from a duct that wasn't cauterized during my surgery. The bile spread throughout my abdominal cavity, my bowels stopped functioning, my kidneys shut down, my lungs filled with fluid and after a week of getting worse I was finally taken to the OR. The bile had formed into a gelatinous type substance that had to be washed out. My loved ones suffered, not knowing if I would live or die.
My recovery has been slow and steady. I was discharged with a hospital bed, commode, walker and shower chair. I am proud to say I am walking on my own now, and drive short distances. My cognitive abilities have changed - I have some deficits. I often forget the names of things, and am slower to respond. Fatigue is my biggest concern. I tire easily and need frequent rest periods. I have joint pain that can range from mild to severe, but it is controlled by medications.
As much as I have had to struggle with, I feel that it is nothing compared to the trauma my family has gone through. I don't recall the majority of the hospital stay, but Joey can barely discuss it without becoming emotional. He spent nights sleeping in the hospital bed next to me, as my lungs were rattling and my body was swelling. When I was transferred to ICU he was told he could not stay, only to go home and wonder if I was going to die while he slept.
I have reviewed my medical record, the signs of sepsis were present within a day of my ER admission and the staff had undergone Early Sepsis Recognition Training just two years prior - training that I myself had taken. Although the staff had been educated, they failed to recognize sepsis for several days. My father died of sepsis at the age of 48, related to pneumonia that was untreated even though he had sought medical care. Sepsis is not going away, and ongoing education must be provided to health care workers. Early recognition and treatment is essential to survival.
I'm taking it one day at a time. I plan to return to work part time and Joey and I are going to proceed with our wedding in October. I face many challenges, but I appreciate my life so much more. Through Christ all things are possible, as a survivor of sepsis I know that it is true.