The Lord is MY helper, MY portion, MY everything. No matter how dark things have been in my life, the one thing, many times the only thing that gets me through it,is Jesus. I love that not only is my Savior, my Creator and the Omnipresent I AM, he is also my friend and loves when we talk and when we sit together in the stillness.
I find myself daily apologizing to my family and friends, but most of the time, my family for the bone-tired feelings I get. Some days I only want to rest, and do absolutely nothing else. These are the days where as soon as I sit or lay down, I’m out. Mid conversation some days. Insomnia is now part of my new normal and I do not like it at all. But, until I can figure how to beat it, I just have to live with it.
My thoughts are many people are of the opinion, you had sepsis. You survived. That’s great. Let’s move on. I wish it was that simple. Truly I do. But many days it is not. It is always at the forefront of my mind, what happens if I get it again. How will it affect me then? And for many of us that have lived to tell about having Sepsis, Septic Shock, Septicemia (the terms are interchangeable) it is a reality we face daily.
My maternal grandfather died of sepsis. At age 14 I knew it was some type of blood poisoning, but that was all I knew. After having survived it, I know that any infection that we have in our bodies, can get into our bloodstream and our system starts shutting down and going into organ failure as a response to the infection. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs. And it does not discriminate. Anyone can get it. For more detailed information about Sepsis, visit The Sepsis Alliance.
The day before this all happened. Before I was in a near-death state, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I stayed up till 10p.m. turned in for the night and that’s when life hit some pretty big bumps, but I didn’t realize it then. I became cold, so cold that no amount of blankets was helping to warm me up. I shivered for several hours, determined that whatever was happening was just a really bad cold and it would be better by morning. I had chills like this in the past and lived. I was up and down to the bathroom several times, but that didn’t seem out of the norm for me, so I just kept hanging on. The next day waking up, I was still cold, but not freezing. I assumed I must have had a fever and it must have broke and that was the reason for no shivering chills. As I descended the stairs, I kept thinking I felt like “death”. I knew whatever kind of bug it was, it would eventually be okay. How little did I know, I was closer to death than I would have ever imagined.
I recall the paramedics taking me to the cot and when they lifted my legs on the cot, the pain was unbearable. I screamed in response to the pain, having no idea why that hurt so bad. It seems cellulitis had appeared overnight and my leg was severely inflamed. I still had that elusive fever I thought I had shaken and my blood pressure was seriously low (60/40). The next five days were a blur. I can recall bits and snippets but full days are lost. I remember being moved from the step-down unit to regular room and the fear that I would lose my leg if they couldn’t get the infection under control.
I had lived through so many cellulitis infections that I had taken for granted how serious it could be and was. The pain after those first 5 days in the hospital was something I hope I never have to endure again. Therapists would come in the room and want me to try and stand/walk on it and I felt like a baby because I couldn’t. I wasn’t one of these people that whines when I am in pain, very often. I have lived with Fibromyalgia for over 10 years and I have learned to deal with pain every single day, but this pain was something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. My total days in the hospital was only 14. I know two weeks seems like a lot, but not when you have Sepsis/Septic Shock. The miracle is you survived. What the doctors fail to tell you is that your life will never be the same again.
Here I am, Post Severe Sepsis 7 months and 6 days and while I am thankful for the Lord keeping me here and alive, I miss the old me. I NEVER had panic attacks or any type of anxiety that couldn’t be calmed by the Lord and His Word. My memory was rock solid. I slept. Insomnia and I had never met. Fatigue, I thought I knew what that was, that’s part of the fibromyalgia too, along with brain fog. In that sense, knowing what it was and living with it for the past 12 years prepared me. I didn’t have to wonder why, in mid-sentence or thought I would just forget. I simply have no idea what I am doing or why and most days I just have to let it go. Trying to remember makes it worse. It reminds me of what I have lost.
Losing my short term memory is like watching my grandmother and father in law grope their minds when they were dying with Alzheimer’s disease. I hate the feeling. I despise asking family members to remind me what they might have just told me 10 minutes ago because I need to write it down or put it in my calendar. And some days, mid-thought I can’t speak what I want because of the word being just out of my reach. It is so frustrating to me. Or worse yet, I start to tell someone something I already told them but have no memory of the conversation.
I am cold 99% of the time. This part of me hasn’t really changed that much as I have always been cold due to not having my thyroid anymore and relying on medication levels to keep everything in check.
I really need to get my hearing checked. I have always been known as a loud person. Unfortunately, since sepsis, I am super loud, but don’t realize it. My husband and children are always telling me to stop yelling. I have no idea I am. I can still hear everything ok, just not my voice. To me, my voice sounds perfectly normal. I cringe when I am out alone because I have no idea if I seem to be shouting or not. No one ever says.
The fear of getting sepsis again is pretty huge. I don’t talk about it much because dwelling on any one thing, is not healthy. And since my first bout when I was in Severe Septic Shock, I have already had another Septic infection. That landed me three days in the hospital. My big sign is shivering/chills that won’t go away. I wait a few hours and if not better, head to the ER because I know I need those IV antibiotics sooner than later.
I should have known to go to the emergency room that day when I awoke. I did not urinate all day long. That should have been a red flag that something was wrong. The fact that I didn’t want food or drink of any kind, at all, should have been a red flag, but I was so sick by morning, that I was confused and lethargic by that point. I’m very thankful my husband was home and knew something wasn’t right. Had I been home alone, I wouldn’t have lived to write this.
And I will keep writing about it and spreading awareness. Sepsis kills over 250,000 people in the United States alone every year, millions globally.
God gives us one life to live. We must use our gifts and talents as a service to others. My prayer is that I will never have to say I survived Sepsis again for a third time.
I belong to a Post Sepsis support group and I am glad to know that the many concerns I have, how much I have changed, it’s all our new normal. If normal is such a thing. I miss the old me, but in having to take small steps to make it back, I have learned to appreciate life more and not take it for granted. And someday, I hope to make it through a whole day without a nap. That’s my goal for now.
May you know that Jesus is here for you, every single second of your day. When you need him, he’s always available. He loves you~so very much. Jesus can turn any test into a testimony and any mess into a message. #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith
Blessings to you ~ Carlene