I have spent a lifetime in the medical field. As a Physician’s Assistant I have treated many patients with Sepsis. It was routine for me. The I.V.s were properly timed, the incision clean and dry and the patient leaving my care after (usually) tolerating the treatment well. Plus, so much more, but my movements were as if by rote.
Have you ever heard the saying that “doctors make the worst patients”? Well, it is true of Physician Assistants too. I was finally going in for my long-awaited tummy tuck along with having a malformation at the top of my stomach called a ventral hernia repaired. Everything went perfectly. It was amazing when my surgeon discharged me to go home before we expected.
Now I was home with hardly any pain and the surgical site was looking great. On day three post-surgery, I woke up with nausea and a slight temperature; my abdomen was swollen and tight. Surely this would pass I thought, so I waited. Within three hours the pain had me doubled over, the nausea turned into vomiting and my body was shaking uncontrollably. The surgeon met me at the Emergency Department and many tests were done to prove that our fear was correct.
This was not just any infection: it was Sepsis. They ordered a surgical suite to open the hernia incision to release the yellow-white substance that was drained from the abscess caused by the modern synthetic mesh that was used to keep the hernia from returning, then the mesh was removed and one made of pig skin replaced it.
This time the pain was at a 10 plus, there was a chest tube draining blood on my right, there were drains coming out of the incision, and Vancomycin was running through the PICC line in my left arm and a transfusion on my left. I was in agony.
I was thrilled when a week later the surgeon allowed me to go home with the PICC line and I.V’s, but a home health nurse came to change the dressings twice a day.
This experience was a hard empathy lesson to learn, but I will never forget it. Although my heart is filled with compassion for my patients, my eyes remained closed to what was happening before their surgery, after their time with me in the CCU and then what they lived with at home.
It became my mission to learn as much as possible about Sepsis. It is a global health crisis that must not be ignored.
There are certain people who are at a higher risk of getting sepsis:
1. Children under 1
2. Adults over 60
3. People who have had their spleen removed
4. Those with chronic illnesses
5. And patients with a weakened immune systems
It is unbelievable to me that 27 to 30 million people around the world develop Sepsis each year. Out of those millions of people seven to nine million will die. This means that there is one death every 3.5 seconds due to Sepsis related causes. That is a lot of people! Not only that, the ones who survive Sepsis may face lifelong consequences. My eyes are now wide open!
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