Sepsis Stories
Brooke Strong: Died form Sepsis, age 59

It began on Thursday, December 31st 2015, my mom complained to us about an ache in her back. She thought maybe she had injured it the week before when she fell snowshoeing with my dad, sister and brother-in-law. She didn’t think much of it when I spoke to her on Friday, January 1st, I told her to rest up for our weekly shopping date on Saturday. On Saturday she was worse. She was throwing up and she told me she didn’t know if she was sick from the pain in her back, or if she had the flu. Sunday came and she still wasn’t feeling any better and ended up missing my daughter’s 2nd birthday party.

For my mom to miss one of her grandkids’ events was huge. Her grandkids were her life and she loved spending every moment she could with them. She took my son to school every day, had lunch with my two girls and me every Monday, and watched them for me on Thursdays and Fridays and every Saturday we went shopping together.

My dad decided to take her to Urgent Care. They checked her blood pressure, which was around 80/40, gave her some pain meds for her back and sent her on her way.

She was in so much pain the following day, Monday, January 4th that my dad decided to take her to an orthopedic doctor. He took some x-rays of her back, but didn’t see anything so he scheduled her for an MRI on a later day. My dad called me concerned because my mom was acting very loopy. I told him to take her to the ER and they would get the MRI done right away.

That night my mom started coughing up phlegm. She was sleeping in another room on a lower bed as the pain had made it impossible for her to get in a their normal bed. My dad checked on her a couple of times and finally she told him she thought she should to the ER because she had never felt so horrible.

At about 3.30am on Tuesday, January 5th my dad took my mom to the Emergency Room. She was really out of it and thought she could hear me in the waiting room talking. The doctors said she had pneumonia and decided to intubate her to try to give her lungs a little break.

My dad called me around 10am and let me know that mom was in ICU. I rushed there and saw her covered in tubes and IV’s. The doctor was not sure what was going on with her and whenever I asked about things he answered me with “your mom is just really sick” Her kidney function was being questioned but I couldn’t get any answers.

My mom continued to go downhill fast. Although her doctor only came in the room to check on her a couple of times, he finally told us that she had sepsis and that we might want to call my sisters who lived in different states.

My middle sister’s plane arrived around 3pm. My mom’s health continued to decline, her oxygen levels were extremely low and her heart had tachycardia, her kidney had shut down completely. She was dying in front of us and the doctor was nowhere to be seen. Shifts changed at 7pm and her doctor never stopped by before leaving. A nurse called us into a room next door to the ICU and asked us about how much intervention we wanted because she said my mom was not going to make it through the night.

How do you wrap your head around that? How did my mom, who took such good care of herself, who ate right, worked out daily be dying? How could my best friend and children’s hero only have hours left to live. And where was the doctor, why didn’t he communicate more to us?

We went back to our mom’s room and held her hands, rubbed her back, and cried, We begged my mom to hold on to see my older sister. I started reading to her and her heart rate began to drop, my sister an I clung to her hands, begging her to hold on and pleading wit God to save her, At 12.53am on Saturday January 6th, 2016 my mom’s heart stopped and she took her last breath, My oldest sister walked into the room about five minutes later.

I really believe if we ha known about sepsis and the signs and symptoms she would still be loving life and enjoying her days with her family. If the first doctor my mom had seen at Urgent Care had taken the time and really looked at her he would have seen the red flags presented to him. If he had ordered a blood draw, or if the orthopedic doctor had picket up on her odd comments during her time with him, then I believe she would be alive.

Her autopsy showed that she died from ARDS, due to sepsis which was the result of a staph infection which ended up in her heart, We have no idea where or when she got the staph infection. All we know is that our days are harder, our lives less brighter as my mom is missing.

By Brooke’s daughter, Haley Stanborn