The Faces of Sepsis
Lora Witte - survivorIt all started on my 35th birthday. I was at home and I suddenly started to feel extreme pain in my lower abdomen. At first I thought it might be bad gas pains so I took anti-gas medication. When that didn't help, I started to get concerned because I knew that I had an IUD. The pain was severe enough that I couldn't stand up straight.
I went to the ER because I was concerned about the IUD. They did a quick exam and gave me a urine test and decided it was a simple bladder infection. I was skeptical because I had had many urinary tract infections (UTIs) in the past and none of them ever felt like this. They gave me an antibiotic. I stayed home from work the next day because I felt sick all over. Later that week I went back to work and went back to my classes. I remember that I still felt pain in my abdomen and my lab partner was concerned but I told her I was taking an antibiotic and that it should clear up.
I started to feel somewhat better but I felt completely run down for several weeks after that. I didn't feel the extreme pain anymore so I just carried on with normal life. It was about three weeks after this night in the ER that I suddenly became deathly sick. I remember shaking violently and feeling chilled. It scared me so I asked my son to call my boyfriend at work and have him come home. My son was really scared and told me that I looked like the girl in the Exorcist. He covered me with four or five heavy blankets and I couldn't stop shivering. When my fiancé got there, he took me to Urgent Care. When I got there, the nurse could see that I was extremely sick and she took me back to the doctor's exam room right away. She took my blood pressure and it was 70/40. At this point, I was vomiting and I could not sit up because I felt so weak. She told me to just stay there and eventually the doctor came in. They gave me a blood test and my labs came back normal. At that point, I was told it was the flu and that it would go away in a few days. They sent me home and told me to rest.
I rested in bed for several days and I had never felt so sick in my life. Then I started to hyperventilate and I had pain in my chest. I was talking with my brother on the phone when it hit me and I couldn't talk anymore because I couldn't breathe. We went back to Urgent Care after a few days of not getting any better. I told the doctor that I had been sick and that now it hurt to breathe. He told me I had pleurisy and sent me home again. This continued through the weekend. I was getting very scared and I didn't know what to do anymore.
Finally, after an entire week of feeling so sick, I woke up on Monday morning to call in sick to work once again. When I got up, I felt a lot of pain in my lower abdomen. Something told me that this was very serious and I asked my fiancé to call an ambulance. He didn't know what to think and he asked me if I was sure. I said yes, I'm absolutely sure. I told him that no one would take me seriously unless I showed up in the ER by ambulance. At this point, I was starting to cough up mucus and I was doubled over in pain.
When the ambulance arrived, I explained to them that I had been severely sick for over a week. They also thought it wasn't serious and said that it was probably pleurisy and that I just needed to relax. They made me walk to the ambulance. Once I got into the ambulance, I think I bottomed out because I don't remember anything after they pulled into the hospital.
The next thing I remember is waking up 10 days later and being told that I needed to have a hysterectomy or else I was going to die. I cried and cried and cried. I had no idea what was going on. I was just told that I was extremely sick and that I didn't have much choice.