Coronavirus, Vaccines, PTSD and Sepsis…Oh My!

Almost four years ago, my husband had a simple weight loss surgery and it lead to complications. Those complications led to sepsis which lead to septic shock. The septic shock was so bad that it lead to multi-organ system failure.

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To say my world crashed down around me would be an understatement. I felt like the ground was being taken out from under my feet.
After several weeks in a medically induced coma and a month on dialysis, his kidneys started functioning again.
Then he caught C. Difficile.
(Though you don’t really catch C Diff. C-Diff is a harmful bacteria that resides in us all the time but is kept in check by the good bacteria within our bodies. However, antibiotics can kill off the good bacteria and C Diff takes advantage of the situation and grows and then turns into an infection)
He was treated with Flagyl and Vancomycin so it shouldn’t be too surprising that he developed VRE (Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci).
And he was pretty much a constant state of pneumonia.
He couldn’t eat. All his nutrition came from an IV. It was called Total Parenteral Nutrition, or TPN. However, his body was having trouble absorbing the TPN. He always had a thick head of hair and most of it fell out.
He couldn’t talk because he had a tracheotomy. He was the one person who always would reassure me that everything would be okay and he couldn’t. Though it would have been a lie because everything clearly wasn’t okay.
He was always a man of great strength and I watch him become so weak he could barely lift his thumb.
And then came staph. And he went into septic shock again. His kidneys failed again. He had to go back on dialysis.
At this point I completely lost my faith in God because, as a Cradle Catholic, I was taught God was a loving God and there is no way a loving God could have done that to Bryon and to my daughter. Please don’t take this as a plea that I need to be saved. I’m okay and doing just fine.
In a period of 5 months I watched him cling to his life. I watched his body become resistant to antibiotics. I watched him move up the antibiotic chain until he got to the end of the line.
Yes…there actually are specific antibiotics called “End of the line antibiotics.”
For 5 months I lived off adrenaline. I don’t think I can express how helpless and desperate I felt.
Sadly this story didn’t end the way I wanted it to.
I can tell you that there is some residual PTSD. Trust me…when my daughter gets a cut, Mom puts neosporin on it right away. Also any fever over 100.4 puts me in a panic and will always include a trip to peds urgent care.
Currently the United States is on the eve of a severe new disease that we don’t know much about.
Also, on Tuesday Maine has an important vaccine vote.

I won’t get into that though my Facebook friends definitely know how I feel about the vote.
From what we know (if the numbers are correct- I’m looking at you CCP/China), 5% of the people who get the Novel Coronavirus COVID 19 will become critically ill…like, ICU ill. Of those 5%, half of them will likely die.
Now is not the time to take our healthcare system for granted. It is definitely not perfect. It will get overwhelmed. The healthcare system isn’t limitless.
Our healthcare providers are going to be busy.
Be wise with your healthcare choices. And you are your best advocate. Do whatever you can to prevent getting sick- eat right, sleep, was your hands, don’t touch your face or pick your nose. Stay home if you are sick.
As my late husband would say “Don’t be a Dick”.
Keep yourself and others from getting sick. (Yes I made the rhyme on purpose).
Sepsis, in short, is an inflammatory response where your body goes into overdrive when it’s fighting off an infection and starts to attack itself.
The reality is any infection or virus can potentially cause sepsis. A tooth infection…the flu…measles…an infected cut…step throat…pneumonia…the new Coronavirus…and many more can all potentially lead to sepsis.

I have seen people get hysterical about the Coronavirus. I have seen people mocking those who appear to be hysterical. I worry that there very few people are where they are supposed to be…vigilant and concerned.

I also worry about the people who spread lies about vaccines and that no one holds them accountable. There are many parents who are researching and trying to do what is best and anti-vaxxers prey on these people.

Make your own decisions but make sure you research the places you get your information.

You can ignore Science. You can run from Science. But Science will catch up with you eventually.
The worst case scenario can happen to you. It happened to my husband and my family. Don’t dismiss “worst case scenario” stories as scare tactics. My story actually happened and it was a nightmare. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
I don’t usually share that part of my story. Personally, it is painful and I wish I could forget it. But I can’t.

And now that story is apart of me.
But with these two important issues going on…the only thing I ask you is to educate yourself on sepsis and the symptoms of sepsis and seek medical care if you or a loved one exhibits these symptoms.
At the very least, please look at the FAQ section from the Sepsis Alliance website but also look around the website. There is a lot of valuable information.

Sepsis Alliance FAQ

Dear American Healthcare System- You fail.

Dear American Healthcare System- You fail.

This isn’t about a single payer system.  Those type of systems have their own set of issues.  But while the political parties argue about the costs and accessibility, your failure runs deeper than that.  What good is a healthcare system that is cost efficient or accessible if it does not provide quality care?

You have failed so many people.

You fail those who get misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.  

You fail those who go to the doctor to get their symptoms checked out and those systems get brushed off.  Then those patients find out months later that they have Stage IV cancer.

You fail those who need psychiatric care, but don’t get it and end up being a danger to themselves or others.

You fail those who have progressive diseases and have to pay $20k a year on their medicine.

You fail all those patients who fall through the cracks because doctors are too busy looking at their one system of expertise instead of the patient as a whole person.

You fail every patient that has had their drugs mismanaged.

You fail to provide support to the families.  They may not be the patients, but having family members who are sick is stressful and they need support too.  There need to be crisis counselors.  

You fail those who get admitted to the hospital for a procedure and while in the hospital, the patient develops an infection.  Deadly infections such as C. Diff (costridium difficile colitis), MRSA (Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) and VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococcus).  These infections have the potential to turn into sepsis, which can be deadly.  

Hospitals need to be held accountable for infections acquired in the hospital.  People should be able to be treated without the fear that they will develop a life threatening infection.  

This is not acceptable.

Bryon fought many infections during his stay in the ICU.  I had to learn the names of antibiotics that I never knew existed and should not have had to know existed.  

Hearing about Rep. Steve Scalise being readmitted to the ICU for infection brings out many emotions for me.  A sort of PTSD where I relive parts of the nightmare.  I can still feel the fear and helplessness I had when Bryon was fighting the infections.  For months I sat by his bedside, just waiting.  Staring at the machines that displayed his vitals and trying to will them to be stable.

I feel for Rep Scalise’s wife.  I don’t want to be arrogant and say I know exactly how she feels because everyone handles crisis differently, but I have a better idea than most as to what she is feeling.  She should not have to be dealing with this, especially after the trauma of her husband getting shot.  I just hope she gets the support she needs and that her husband gets well again.  I hope that the outcome is different than Bryon’s outcome.  

Sincerely-

One pissed off widow.