Thursday, August 17, 2017

Anne Savitsky-Blondin - Survivor

It took a bit of trying for my husband and I to become pregnant. In the summer of 2010, I found out I was pregnant. The pregnancy was rather tough; I was in my early 40s and I was at high risk and my body let me know it. I had constant morning sickness and lots of scares with weight loss due to this.  I had carpal tunnel syndrome and horrific issues with edema.  I also had a few scares with the fetus as genetic testing and ultrasounds kept indicating problems that would resolve, only for new ones to be discovered. It was not until Thanksgiving 2010 that issues finally stabilized.
The baby continued to develop and I got passed the worst of the morning sickness. I swam and exercised to keep myself fit and healthy for the baby and delivery. On the stress test, the baby did fabulously well.  The heart was so strong that it sounded like a horse trotting through the room. I returned the following week for what I thought was a routine appointment, only to learn from my OB that I was to report to the hospital that evening to be induced. The baby was taking its time down the exit ramp so my doctor decided, with my due date so close and my age/risk factors, inducing was the safest bet.
From the evening I checked in and through the night, I experienced a few contractions and went with the epidural to be safe. It was not until the early hours of the morning that my water was broken and labor was induced. With significant pushing for two hours and with little result, my OB used forceps to pull the baby out and I pushed the rest. I definitely gave myself too much of the epidural drug and did not feel contractions. The result was a baby girl whose cries brought tears to my eyes. I could not believe I had given birth to a healthy baby. She passed all tests and was placed on my chest. 
All of this time, my OB was growing more anxious. She was performing an episiotomy but I was not delivering the placenta in one fell swoop. Instead, I was delivering globs of blood.  I was whisked away to the OR in an attempt to remove the placenta manually. I was sick and terrified. In fact, while they were prepping me for anesthesia, I was experiencing dry heaves and could not relax. My OB was talking me through things and trying to keep order. There were residents all around me and none gave me the confidence they knew what they were doing.  I succumbed to the anesthesia and awoke back in my delivery room with a transfusion. I had lost significant blood through the process.
My abdomen was frequently pressed and with significant pain. If that were not enough, the anesthesia resident came to remove the epidural and tape. The mere act of removing the tape on my back made me scream in agony; my entire body was overcome with pain.  I was wheeled to the post partum floor shortly after and my new hell began.
I was running a low-grade fever and was given antibiotics via IV. I had already had four ports inserted and my arms were aching; holding the baby was excruciating. All day and night, nurses came through to check vitals or administer meds. I could not make it to the bathroom without an accident and my outputs were closely monitored.  Family came to visit the entire weekend and I managed to keep up energy until Sunday, when I was due to leave. At this point, as I went into the bathroom, I leaked urine everywhere and then got the shivers. As it turned out, my staying on was the only option: my levels were quite low and I received another transfusion and more antibiotic IV. I did not know whether to cry or scream at this point. The frustration was beyond anything I imagined. The bonding I had hoped for with my newborn girl was lost to needles, tests, and IVs.
Covering OBs checked my belly and when I mentioned it still hurt, they said they’d see about having an ultrasound done. For two days I waited and nothing came. I chalked the entire thing up to the “taxes of motherhood” (as one covering OB said was the case). 
By now, I was in the hospital 5 days and gone through several shifts of nurses. My baby girl was forced to stay in the nursery and wait for her sick mother to recover. She had the best deal: constant attention and admirers! My husband slept on the cot nearby and ran out on errands or bonded with the baby.
For the week that followed my release from the hospital, I continued the antibiotic course as a precaution and maintained a low-grade fever over the Easter weekend. I was spiking a temperature and continued with the body aches and pains and sweats at night. I informed my OB who said it was just the hormones returning to pre-pregnancy levels. What did I know?
The following Wednesday (April  27), when I completed my antibiotics, the symptoms intensified significantly. I did everything I could to stay warm, and ached for bed. My emotions were raw and after a fight with my husband, I screamed and cried myself to sleep. It was a fitful sleep because I perspired profusely and I hallucinated. Every joint in my body ached. I woke up the next day drenched and my husband took my temperature: 104.9. I ordered him to call my OB’s office and she told me to go to the hospital where the baby was delivered.
We packaged up the baby and off we went.  In OB triage, a history was taken, tests run, Tylenol given for the fever, and then it was off to ultrasound. The truth revealed itself: there were nine centimeters of placenta in the upper section of my uterus. Apparently, it had been there all week and explained why I was achy and feverish. And worse, it was missed by the radiology techs right after the delivery, as my OB reported. She realized that she should have had more senior doctors reading the intra-operative image but relied on the technician given the urgency of the situation. Too stunned to be angry, I simply asked that more thorough measures be taken to ensure complete removal.
The following morning, while watching the Royal Wedding, I was prepped with more IV drugs and blood products, and a discussion with the OB detailing the plan and deliberate effort to avoid a hysterectomy. The team of specialists on my case were clearly more experienced and worked extremely well together.  I felt confident going in. Once the procedure was completed, I was moved to a post-operative room and within moments of coming to, began having shortness of breath, followed by shivers, and all body shakes. My OB clearly knew what was happening and called an “All Hands.” Next thing I knew, there was a room of 12 nurses and 4 doctors working on me. I received an arterial line IV, had an oxygen mask, and saw people standing stunned looking on. My OB was white as a ghost and kept my terrified but outwardly calm husband abreast of the chaos as it was happening. At one point, I told a nurse “just don’t let me die.”  I kept my eyes peeled on the clock, perhaps as some sanity check. The time really was irrelevant but I felt if I looked and kept tracking, I was still with it.
I was finally stabilized and the room was cleared for a portable chest  x-ray. My husband appeared in scrubs as I was about to be taken back to the OR for space, but an ICU room opened and I was immediately transported.  Nurses and doctors continued to work on me there as my temperature continued to hover around 104. I was hooked up to every monitor and people kept stopping in to ask questions or look on in disbelief. Infectious disease doctors were in and out, and an OB nurse and MICU nurse worked on me simultaneously. 
My OB indicated that I did have sepsis shock and it was likely because that when she cleaned out my uterus of the retained placenta, the very act of scraping disturbed a hornet’s nest of endo- and exo-toxins. Those toxins were released into my bloodstream and began a war on my system.  The medical team threw every conceivable medication at me to battle the fight. She was amazed that I came out of it as fast as I had.  She continued to apologize for all of this even happening and the unspoken true message hung in the air: we were all very fortunate that the outcome was not worse.
Following two days in the ICU and then the post-partum floor, I returned home to recover. The physical recovery took about a month as I had lost quite a bit of weight and had to regain strength and do so while caring for a newborn. I also had to take care of some of the effects of the actual birth that were still unhealed.
While difficult, the physical recovery did not even compete with the emotional upheaval I experienced. When I returned to my OB for a 10-day follow up, she asked directly whether I had some PTSD and then shared with me her fears about what had happened. She spoke frankly and disclosed that it was extremely uncommon for this to happen and that many women died in the past from it. I believe what I experienced is known as puerperal fever, and I recall my mother mentioning this at some point while I was pregnant. Never in a million years could I have known it might apply to me. Childbirth classes did nothing to prepare me for this.
 I was shaking with fear when the details of the discussion hit me in the parking lot. Everything up until that appointment was surreal.  It did not occur to me until later that nothing was offered to help with the PTSD; just a promise to change the practice.
My daughter is 3 now and quite healthy and happy. While I cherish this beyond words, not a day goes by that I don’t think of what – or what might have – happened .   

Darrell Raikes - Survivor

Darrell went in for a knee replacement , which led to a horrible turn of events.
He now raises Sepsis awareness by doing presentations to raise funds, and by 
creating EZ Caregiver, an ingenious way for patients unable to speak to communicate their needs.
Please watch Darrell's video to hear his story.

Tory Pereira - Survivor

Hi Sepsis Diaries,

My name is Tory Pereira, I'm 23 years old and I live in Statesboro, Georgia. I graduated from Georgia Southern in May 2015 with a Bachelor's degree in psychology and a minor in sociology. Shortly after graduating I went on a business trip and learned what Sepsis was the hard way.

My coworkers and I were traveling from Savannah to New York for a layover, then to San Diego for the day, then to Las Vegas for our business expo.

My coworkers and I went out for dinner the night we were in San Diego. They said when we were walking back to the hotel I was complaining about how much my stomach was hurting, sharp pains. We all brushed it off. When we got back to the hotel, I had thrown up a few times and then at 3am I projectile vomited all over Morgan. Around 7am everyone started getting ready for our 5 hour drive to Vegas. I was in so much pain I couldn't move or even walk so Morgan helped me get dressed then walked me to the car. They said I was in pain the entire ride. (I have no memory from the night we were in San Diego until I woke up in the hospital after my surgery)

We arrived in Vegas and everyone went to set up for the show while I stayed in the car. I still couldn't walk and my pains were much worse. I hate doctors and hospitals so I was just hoping it was my period cramps or something not serious. When they arrived back to the car they suggested we get food so we went to Paymon's Restaurant. They described me as looking very ill, super pale and was still in pain so they basically carried me in. After we were at the restaurant for 10 minutes, my body could not handle the septic shock any longer.

I went into cardiac arrest and I died on that floor. Luckily there was an off duty police officer who saw everything and ran over to start giving me correct CPR. At this time, I didn’t have a pulse. The off duty police officer told Rick, the company owner, to call 911 and tell the paramedics she has no pulse, she’s not breathing, and throwing up into her nose and lungs. The police officer continued doing CPR on me until the paramedics arrived. Morgan thought the off duty police officer was going to break my chest he was pushing down so hard. His chest thrusts are a huge part of the reason I am still alive today.

Rick was on the phone with the ambulance, and the cop turned to him and asked where they were? The cop said they’re not coming fast enough and then made Rick put the ambulance on speaker and started spitting the terminology that he needed someone there ASAP. He started saying his badge number and telling the paramedics to get there like yesterday or they were going to lose me. When the paramedics arrived they immediately hooked me up to a ventilator. The machine recorded me having no pulse and no blood pressure for 8 minutes. I'm not sure how long I was out before they got there. Luckily they revived me on scene, put me in the ambulance and rushed me to Desert Springs Hospital.

After I woke up the doctors put me through a CT scan, saw air in my abdomen but did not put me through surgery. The doctor pressed on my belly and asked on a scale of 1-10 how much it hurt. I don't remember this, but apparently I said a 4 and he said if there was something seriously wrong with you then you would be in more pain. I spent the night at the hospital. The next morning I went into cardiac arrest again. The doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me so they decided to put me into emergency exploratory surgery. The doctors told Rick, the owner of the company, to come say his goodbyes because they weren't expecting me to survive. I had less than 1% chance of surviving my surgery.

They rushed me into the ER, my surgeon was only expecting to cut me two inches but gallons and gallons of bile and stomach acid just kept flowing out of me, so 2 inches went to 15 inches. I am cut from sternum to pelvis. My intestines were taken out, cleaned and examined and that’s when my surgeon figured out I was in SEPTIC SHOCK. After discovering a two inch perforation in my duodenum. The hole so big my surgeon could fit two of his fingers through it. It was too big for him to repair so Dr. Patel closed that part of my stomach off, then rerouted my stomach to the left side of my body and reconnected it to my small intestines! It's so crazy! The doctors expected me to never eat a solid meal again.

They stapled me up with 30 staples and kept me in an induced coma where I was on 80% life support because I was in very critical condition for the next few hours. Then it turned to very critical for the next two weeks, my kidneys failed and now I was in renal failure. I blew up into a 200 pound water balloon. I couldn't go on dialysis because my heart rate was 140-130. So the only thing the doctors could do was wait and hope my family and friends were praying. Another problem I was having was my blood pressure dropped extremely low. The blood pressure medication pulls your blood from your extremities to your organs, this could create amputations on your limbs. After a week my heart rate finally came down and they were able to perform dialysis! It took three rounds of dialysis and prayers for my kidney’s to start working again! The last procedure I had to endure before I woke up was thoracentesis because I had fluid in my lungs. Thoracentesis is when they take a huge needle between the lungs and chest wall to get the fluid out.

10 days in a coma turned into 15 days in ICU and 25 days total in Desert Springs Hospital.

The crazy part of my story is that I still do not know what caused my duodenum to perforate. They say the force that had to have been impacted on me to perforate my intestine would be the force of a car hitting me directly, or a gunshot wound.  

Doctors believe in science and facts. When I woke up, my doctors told me I should feel very blessed because they medically could not explain how I survived. Dr. Penn, my gastro doctor, is surprised I went so long with a perforated intestine and survived. Dr. Penn told me on average, a person is in the ER within an hour after you perforate an intestine, I went around 36 hours. It is truly a miracle I am still alive today and I am beyond thankful to share my story and help whoever I can!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Help spread Sepsis Awareness !!

Recently I was asked to be an ambassador with The Sepsis Alliance
I swiftly accepted :)
Please help me bring awareness to sepsis by donating to the Sepsis Alliance
Money raised helps in the fight to shed light on this terrible illness.

Follow the link, read my story and please donate. Any amount helps :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

WORLD SEPSIS DAY 2016 - Sepsis Slayers Unite

SEPSIS is a global killer. It wreaks havoc wherever it goes. It turns peoples worlds upside down,
and sometimes takes the person completely. It is a Vampire, targeting your blood. A werewolf ravishing limbs, a zombie leaving your brain in the fog. 

Sepsis must be SLAYED!! 

Are you a sepsis slayer? 
Has sepsis stolen someone from you?
Share your story online, out and about town, sitting in waiting rooms
to whomever will listen. The more we spread the word to sepsis that we are 
coming for it, then the more people will know how to slay it !!

share your stories here at The Sepsis Diaries 
email me at

- and remember, we are all in this together <3 
xoxox Erica 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sepsis is not a game....

So, I normally do not do this, but I am just baffled at the moment.
Things never tend to shock me, cause I know some people are just going to suck at life, no matter what. But I never thought there could ever be meanness or severity surrounding a global cause.

That being said, I am not going to fully go into detail about what went on the other day.
Let's just say apparently, someone creating a blog to help other survivors and families
of  people who passed due to sepsis.... is wrong according to some people.
Or at least announcing it on other pages. Now if it was a business, I could see it being wrong.
But I was removed and blocked form a SURVIVORS SUPPORT GROUP! 

I am a two time sepsis survivor myself, who has ovarian cancer on top of it! I received no messages ,
instructing me on anything! It was boom and I was outta there. Let me just say, no one will ever have
to feel threatened , nor should they ever , when it comes to sharing our stories.

Rant Complete.... never feel bullied or mistreated 
Sepsis has hurt us all enough <3 

- Erica

Andy Holmes - Sepsis Sparrow '

Hi, I’m Linda and my story is about my big brother Andrew who passed away on Friday, 13th of March, 2015. It’s ripped my world apart.
My brother visited me and my little sister in Glasgow in November 2014. Andrew stayed in Brighton at that point. When he visited us, something wasn’t right. I kept saying to him that he was looking ill , cold sweats, shortness of breath , and his sweat smelled weird, like rotten flesh. He had a snapped tooth that he was to get seen to, but never bothered.
Over the next month, he had been getting sore throats and a feeling of general unwell , run down, reduced urine output. The doctors told him it was a bad flu infection. Andrew got up Monday, the 9th of March, spoke to a friend telling them he felt like he was dying. That’s how poorly he felt. Andrew phoned an ambulance at 4ish and was admitted to hospital, after saying he told them he had been poorly a couple of days flu symptoms. Later that night, Andrew’s breathing changed and he needed help, so was given air. Tuesday morning, he had to be placed in an induced coma and he became worse very quickly.
Friday afternoon, Andrew passed away. I got the phone call from his good friend. I had never heard of sepsis , septic shock until now. But I promise I will go out of my way to make sure everyone knows the word from now on. RIP Big Slim. Love you xxx  Andy is so sadly missed by not just me but our little sister Pamela is struggling , the only comfort we have is Andy's safe in our mums arms up in heaven and we will meet again!