Sepsis Stories
Susan Kendrick
Susan Kendrick: Survived Sepsis
I worked as a respiratory therapist, so I was very aware of what sepsis is and what it can do. The last week of March 2016, I became ill with whatever the virus was that was going around at the time, low-grade fever congestion, body aches, headache, I thought I was getting better, so i went on to work, and started feeling worse, the side of my neck started swelling, I had a 104* fever, body aching severely. I made it home, tossed and turned, took Tylenol, took Advil and told my spouse he needed to take me to the walk-in clinic. I am a healthcare worker so I kept thinking “drink fluids or you are going to get dehydrated”, but one sip would cause nausea and vomiting. I do not remember the 20 mile ride to the clinic,  I just remember the severe headache. I checked in, and my fever was 103.8. They took blood and a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) came in and said you have a 24.9 white blood cell count (WBC), we are going to do a chest x-ray and urinalysis. My blood pressure was low, and my heart rate was 140, so she brought a glass of water to me.
After those tests were done, the nurse practitioner came in and said the x-ray and UA showed nothing and, according to my husband, I asked her if she’s done a lactic acid test. Apparently, it upset her that I would ask such a thing. From reading these stories on this site, it seems a recurring issue: patients knowing something is wrong asking for tests to be done, and health care providers refusing to order tests. They gave me a shot of Rocephin, an antibiotic, and told me to come back the next day and get another shot of Rocephin. They gave me a prescription for Levaqui, another antibiotic, and told me to see my regular doctor the next week. The LPN took my spouse aside and said your wife is very sick, you watch her, and if you notice her not acting right, hard to arouse, just different, get her to the ER. When I finally made it to my doctor’s office, he was furious. He said I was lucky I survived and the practitioner should have done a sepsis work up and blood cultures. I have often wondered if I had been admitted and treated with IV fluids and IV antibiotics, would I have felt better quicker? It was six weeks before I felt halfway normal. You are right–all health care practitioners need to be educated on sepsis and just because it looks like the flu or a bad virus, there is always the possibility that it is something much worse.
– Susan Kendrick