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Why I'm Urging Everyone to Take Sepsis Seriously

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Sepsis. This is a medical term that I knew nothing about, hadn’t even heard of, until I was diagnosed with it back in 2015. Sepsis is a toxic reaction, a poisoning of the blood, to an infection found in your body and can lead to death. In fact, one report by Statistics Canada found that one out of every 18 deaths in Canada in 2011 was due to sepsis.

Last summer, if you know me or follow me on Facebook, you would know that I ended up back in the hospital twice due to an infection in my central line – that was sepsis. The bacteria started in my Hickman line, which my nutrition travels through and goes to my heart. Then my heart pumps my nutrition throughout my entire body through my blood. I wasn’t in the hospital just because I was unwell, but because if left too long, I could have gone into septic shock and died. The mortality rate for sepsis increases 8 percent every hour that treatment is delayed, according to Sepsis Alliance. Sepsis is that serious.

I had decided to write about sepsis after one of my fellow short bowel syndrome (SBS) warriors was admitted into the hospital last week due to sepsis. Many people I know who are on TPN have had sepsis before. It’s common to those of us with central lines and unfortunately an ongoing battle that we will forever face.

I have been told since my first day leaving the hospital with my line that if I have a fever that I must come into the hospital and be checked for infection. It’s not something I’m willing to play with. It’s not worth risking my life. Thankfully, every time I have been to the hospital with a fever, they’ve taken it very seriously and at least isolate me, keeping me safe from any other infectious diseases that may be in the air.

Why did I choose to write on such a serious and some may say morbid topic? Because this is my reality. Sepsis is something that I, and many others with a Hickman line, fear. This is why I’m so paranoid about keeping my line clean. I can’t go in public swimming pools or in the lake for a swim. I have to keep my Hickman site covered at all times. I have a sterile area in my bedroom for where I connect to my TPN, and only a registered nurse, my husband or myself touches my line. I’m constantly using hand sanitizer. I have had to become afraid of germs to ensure that I stay healthy. Yet another part of my life that has severely changed since my diagnoses.

A huge part of why I do this blog is to educate, and this is what I’m doing today. I’m wanting people to know about another part of what I struggle with, with my diagnosis. Here are the symptoms of sepsis, courtesy of Sepsis Alliance:

  • Shivering, fever, or very cold
  • Extreme pain or general discomfort (“worst ever”)
  • Pale or discolored skin
  • Sleepy, difficult to rouse, confused
  • “I feel like I might die”
  • Short of breath

Educate yourselves. Sepsis isn’t just found in people who have central lines or have a chronic illness. It’s serious, let’s treat it that way.

Follow this journey on A Gut Feeling.

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Thinkstock photo by sudok1

Originally published: April 13, 2017
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