I Didn’t Know “Its” Name…

It’s been nearly 20 months since Clint went home to be with Jesus.  In 20 months, I have not said much publicly as to the reason for his unexpected passing.  This was due to many factors but I am ready to speak out on it now.

On November 9, 2017, my 45 year old husband walked himself into a hospital for a laparoscopic colon resection surgery.  All surgeries come with risk.  Most of us recognize that.  I have personally known many others who had the same surgery and came out just fine.  I have not personally known anyone who had this surgery and died as a result of it.  Most were much older than Clint when they had the same surgery.  I was, for the most part, not concerned about the surgery, barring one thing that kept nagging at me (I plan to discuss how to best prepare, as a result of my personal experience — not a medical opinion — in another blog post).

I don’t write this post to satiate anyone’s desire to know what happened to Clint, but rather to inform so that others may be less caught off guard if or when they find themselves in our same position.  The evening of the 9th, after Clint’s first surgery, we were told all was well.  But, his pain was in the 20’s…not even in the 1-10 range they ask for.  His blood pressure was very low.  He was cold.  His heart rate high.   ALL symptoms of my enemy’s name, unbeknownst to me.

By 1pm, the next day (10th), a doctor determined he needed to go in for an exploratory surgery to see why he was not doing well.  Around 6-7pm that evening (roughly 30 hours after 1st surgery), he was taken back, barely able to breathe and telling me he wasn’t going to make it. I thought it was just the pain talking, but this was yet two more telling signs of an enemy I had no name for.  When surgery was complete, the doctor came out to give us his assessment.  He confirmed that Clint did in fact have a leak causing infection but that it was repaired and everything looked great now.  I thanked the Lord and breathed a sigh of relief!

Clint was moved to the ICU where I believed he would have more one on one care and be watched more vigilantly.  Saturday, the 11th, was when I truly began to realize things were not good.  An earlier EKG showed a healthy heart.  But in the afternoon, Clint’s heart rate began to climb rapidly and he suffered a massive heart attack.  How in the world was this happening!?!?!?  Other organs began to show signs of not cooperating.  Fear was knocking on my heart’s door.  I was praying constantly but was confused and hurting for him as I knew he was in more pain than I had ever witnessed a human being endure.  I was still, believe it or not, in the dark about “who” our real enemy was we were fighting against.  No one was giving me a name.  But, this enemy was completely taking over…ravaging everything in “it’s” path.

I am not prepared, nor feel it necessary to go into the details.  But, I have a name now.  It is a name I have come to loathe.  A name that strikes fear in my heart whenever I hear it mentioned.  A name that meant nothing to me before but that changed my family’s life forever.  A name that tortured my sweet man the last days of his life.  And, a name that is touting itself as the “leading cause of death in U.S. hospitals” according to Sepsis Alliance; sepsis.org.

What is it’s name?

SEPSIS

4 days after Clint walked himself into a hospital for a relatively routine surgery with a mortality rate of 2-6%, according to jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/fullarticle/407354, he was carried away from us.

So what now?  Well, I want to make people aware of this threat!  I want to help prepare you.  I recognize that most of us will have to go to the hospital at some point, if not many times during the course of our lives.  I value the doctors and nurses who give so much and work so hard to care for us while there!  I understand that they are human and can only do so much.  I know we still have much to learn in the medical community and often what we learn can change or morph into different strands of diseases, making it a moving target.  At a minimum, however, we need to do better about educating ourselves before walking through the doors of a hospital or having procedures done or verifying a doctor’s competency/expertise of said procedure.  Hospitals are most assuredly life savers!  But, in my humble opinion, they are lurking with possible disasters!  We owe it to ourselves and those around us to be informed, educated, and therefore will feel confident as we approach the medical professionals we will come into contact with.

I urge you to become familiar with the early signs of sepsis.  According to sepsis.org, “Mortality from sepsis increases by as much as 8% for every hour that treatment is delayed.  As many as 80% of sepsis deaths could be prevented with rapid diagnosis and treatment.”  And, “Approximately 6% of all hospitalizations are due to sepsis and 35% of all deaths in hospital are due to sepsis.”  They go on to say, “Sepsis affects more than 30 million people worldwide each year and takes 8 million lives including more than 3 million children each year.  More than 1.7 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with sepsis each year – one every 20 seconds and the incidence is rising 8% every year.  One person every 2 minutes dies from sepsis in the U.S.; more than from prostate cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS combined.”  Sadly, sepsis.org goes on to say, “More than 40% of U.S. adults have NEVER heard of sepsis”.

I was one of the 40% who may have “heard” of it but had no idea what a killer it is!  In many ways, it felt as if the boogey man had jumped out of nowhere, grabbed my husband, and took him away permanently.

Sepsis doesn’t always come from a surgical procedure either.  Kidney/bladder infections, pneumonia, strep throat, influenza, MRSA, infections of the stomach or colon can all lead to sepsis.  Mayo Clinic defines sepsis this way, “Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by the body’s response to an infection.  The body normally releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight an infection. Sepsis occurs when the body’s response to these chemicals is out of balance, triggering changes that can damage multiple organ systems.  If sepsis progresses to septic shock, blood pressure drops dramatically.  This may lead to death.”

Not all the signs have to be in order or existing at the same time.  But, lightbulbs need to be going off when several of these symptoms are presenting along with an infection.

I want you all to be informed!  I want you to share this information!

CBS News did a story on families who, like me, came face to face with an enemy they also were clueless about.

Here’s the link:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/families-warn-of-sudden-deadly-threat-of-sepsis/

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One thought on “I Didn’t Know “Its” Name…

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  1. Cynthia,

    I’m so sorry you experienced sepsis! It truly is horrific! I haven’t written about the side effects of survivors, but if you are struggling at all with depression or any other various symptoms, look into it. Upon researching, survivors have many symptoms they struggle with. It’s not in their heads! I’m thankful you beat it though as I’m sure your family as as well! ~ Michelle

    This happened to ME exactly one year ago! My gallbladder went septic we got to the ER I checked in and don’t remember much after that I was in kidney, lung & liver failure in a coma on ventilator and feeding tube.
    Thanks for sharing, sorry for your loss.
    Cindy

    Like

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