My Encounter With Sepsis

November 15, 2017

My Encounter With Sepsis

By Russell George

Have you ever had sepsis? It’s doubtful. I had never heard of it until I woke up after being in a three day induced coma. After I regained enough of my mental faculties to understand, I was told that I had a serious infection called “sepsis.” After I recovered from it and returned home I did some research to find out what sepsis is. In Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, edition 2009, I found 19 inches of column space in fine print on the subject. There I learned that roughly 50% of patients with sepsis die. Between 200,000 – 400,000 deaths due to sepsis occur annually in the U.S. Since I am an 80 year old man, I count myself fortunate to still be among the living here on earth. I was very near death. Some of the doctors were very doubtful that I would come out of the coma.

I was told that on the 15th of September, 2017, I was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Poplar Bluff. I have no knowledge of having been sick. I must have passed out at home. Fortunately, a man who is an E.M.T. was here when it happened. He is raising support to come as a traveling representative for Missionary Acres. He was the one who recommended that an ambulance be called. I woke up from a 3 day induced coma on the 19th of September. I thought I was having a bad dream. In my dream it seemed as though a doctor was asking me questions. I couldn’t respond by voice. He was asking me to squeeze his hand if I could feel or see what he was doing. Then it seemed as though I fell back to sleep. What a relief that was! Then I woke up again and that pesky doctor was asking me questions again. I woke up to reality when I heard my son, Darrell say, “Dad, this is your son Darrell. If you hear me squeeze my hand.” I squeezed it. Then my sons Kevin and Calvin did the same thing. I think it was my son, Kevin, who said, “Dad you had an awful bad infection.” Little by little I came to the reality that I was in I.C.U in a hospital.

It was a frustrating experience because I couldn’t talk. I didn’t know why. I felt as weak as a kitten. I could hardly lift my hand. I could tell that there was something in my mouth and I struggled to reach up and take it out, but I couldn’t. After some time I heard a doctor say, “Russell, I’m going to remove the artificial breathing tube from your throat. If you can breath on your own for five minuets I won’t put it in again.” I continued breathing for more than five minuets so they didn’t put it in again. It was a relief to have that thing out of my mouth. I was still frustrated because I still couldn’t talk. I was told that I would have to wait some time until my voice box recovered from having the breathing tube in my throat.

I was left alone when it was time to settle for the night. I had time to think about where I was and how desperate my situation was. I thought, “It’s going to be a long road to recovery. Perhaps I will never return to normal life.” The temptation came to say, “I think I’ll just stop breathing and go to heaven.” Then the thought came to me of the sacrifice that three of my sons had made to leave everything and come to be at my side. I said to myself, “No, I owe it to them to put forth the effort to do all I can to recover.” I didn’t sleep all that night or the next night.

The next day they brought Margaret to see me. What a thrill it was to have my dear wife at my side. Still I was frustrated because I still couldn’t talk. I tried to, but I couldn’t say anything that could be understood. That afternoon I tried to tell my boys that I wanted my bed turned around. Somehow I thought that when Margaret was there that morning the bed was in a different position. I couldn’t make myself understood. They gave me something to write on to tell them what I wanted. I didn’t have the strength to write anything that could be understood. Finally a nurses aid brought me an alphabet chart and by that means I was able to spell out the words “turn bed.” They ask the nurse if it was possible to turn the bed. He told them that it wasn’t possible.

I was too weak to feed myself when they brought my meals. One of my sons had to put the food in my mouth. I had an appetite and ate all my food. They told me that I had gone for three days without eating while I was in the coma. They were pleased that I was eating. Darrell made an effort to be there early each morning to help me eat my breakfast. After a few days I finally had enough strength to feed myself. On the third day I was finally able to express myself, but with a slurred voice.

I was also told that they found that I also had a tare in my esophagus. While I was in a coma they repaired the tare by putting some clamps in it that would dissolve. I don’t know how or why I had that tare in my esophagus.

All told, I was in the hospital for 12 days. It must have been on the 22nd of September that I was dismissed from I.C.U. and put in a regular hospital room.

While I was in the hospital the doctors were concerned about the fact that I was passing blood in my urine. I had already had a problem with that. I had began treatment for that with a doctor in Cape Girardeau. I was scheduled there to have a procedure done on my prostrate to correct the problem. My boys convinced me that I better have that done while I was in the hospital where I was. It was done successfully on the 25th of September.

On the 27th of September I was sufficiently recovered to be released from the hospital. I was taken to Clark’s Mountain Nursing Center in Piedmont for rehab. There the physical Therapy people did a phenomenal job of helping me get my strength back so that I was able to walk out of there on the 23rd of October.

The fact that I’m still here on earth I attribute to three things:

1. The power of God to answer prayer

2. The skill of the doctors and the fact that they knew what to do for someone in my situation.

3. The sacrifice that three of our sons made in leaving everything to come and be at my side and plead with the doctors to do all they could to save my life.

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