“… and another thing!!”

Ed. note:  Fair warning:  health care ravings to follow.

For some reason, I re-read this morning the post I made in March of this year, one month, to the day, out of hospital.  I saw vehement clarity, but complete ignorance of my true state.  This state has lasted in several forms for 8 months post-hospital.

why not talk openly about septic shock?

I also realized, through what I did not say, that the hospital and follow-up family-doctor folks were quite willing, in that horrified over-the-top, it’s-gonna-get-you way, to talk about C. diff, but avoided talking about the septic shock as if they had something to hide or as if the sepsis was an unmentionable.   Odd that.

I’m pretty sure they had nothing for which to be reproached.   It wasn’t the fault of the hospital that I was so ill and they did save my life.

Their silence projected an unnecessary, and quite hurtful, whitewash over the near-death experience.

From casual research, just searching in the WordPress Reader for “sepsis,” I see that medical folks are baffled and appalled by the high incidence and violent onset of septic shock in hospitals.

Ah.  That’s why you didn’t talk to me about it.  CYA.  Thanks, heaps.  Pretty damn cowardly.

Sometimes I just want to package up my posts about my recovery and send them somewhere, to someone in the medical world who might give a damn.

Which is a source of piss-offedness:  why did I have to piece together what had happened to me, what had tossed me, writhing, at death’s doorstep?  What in the effing hell?  Hellooooo, health care, where were you??!!  @*&†¿☹!!  Oh never mind.

We now return from the rant.

my personal perfect storm

Yes, I was out of it when I wrote that post, but too, in the intervening months, I have been able to piece together the puzzle of the perfect storm of events that led to the catastrophic state in hospital.

In case anyone is curious, here are the parts of my own personal perfect storm that I have pieced together so far.  Still some blanks, like those jigsaw puzzle edge pieces that the cat knocks to the floor and the dog eats.

This will be the first time that I’m aware of (?) putting my perfect storm into words.  (Memory has taken a beating from the septic shock, both past memory and making new memories. …)

Part 1 — systemic infection

Unbeknownst to me, I had a jawbone being eaten away by infection, probably for several years, because of a not quite sterilized root canal.   I’m not blaming anyone.  I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to track down all those bacteria before closing up the dead tooth.

During those years, I’d become ill in an odd way:  sinus infections along with extremely low energy, fainting, and general malaise.

A good feel for that time is, in hindsight, captured in my blog posts in the month or so leading up to my departure for Italy (McHales’ Navy, for instance).  I thought I was aware how awful I felt.   I had no idea what was really going on.

Here is what was going on:  indeed did have sinus infections, quite likely from the infected jawbone.  The low energy and fainting are directly attributable to the low blood pressure, which is a sure sign of systemic infection.

Systemic infection = bad —> deadly.

Part 2 — C. diff

In January and early February, (13 February = hospital for me) I went to see a patient first in a hospital, then in a care center.  Recall that C. diff spores live on surfaces in those places and the spores are very difficult to kill.

I probably carried spores home with me.

Part 3 — antibiotics

I got antibiotics on 6 Feb, 16 days before leaving for Italy.  The antibiotics prescribed were a broad-spectrum variety, meaning they kill everything that isn’t nailed down, as opposed to an antibiotic with a more narrow focus.

The antibiotics took just under a week to destroy the biota that were fending off the C. diff spores.

(I bet you’re way ahead of me here.)

the perfect storm hits

Systemic infection + C. diff = septic shock (read:  near-dead on 13 Feb).

The End.

(PS.  You can’t get rid of me that easily!)


21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. heretherebespiders
    Sep 20, 2012 @ 15:20:16

    Holy shit. I need more time to digest this… promise to be back soon when my own brain is functioning fully!


    • lahgitana
      Sep 20, 2012 @ 15:49:16

      Aw, hell, sorry Spiders! Only come back if you want to. The last section is the pertinent section–two conditions led to septic shock (=near dead). >:-D

      Be nice to your brain. Take it on a vacation! I was sitting in the dentist chair today and thinking–“I could spend money and go to Hawaii for warm water and beaches.” Brain said yes.


      • heretherebespiders
        Sep 20, 2012 @ 15:56:21

        Had Socks – time tonight, so a bit boozed up! And spent most of our talk stressing about my work. Hey! Next Thursday my eve is free, do you feel up to trying Skype?


        • lahgitana
          Sep 20, 2012 @ 16:17:46

          It sounds fun–I’m actually working 1/2 day that day–so don’t know how tired
          (= brain-dead) I’ll be. umm umm umm–my indecision is showing! >:-D I work from 9 till 1; tell me what time you were thinking….


  2. 10000hourstobe
    Sep 20, 2012 @ 22:16:35

    My dear L. I wish you could be the person working with the hospital staff to help them understand how to be authentic, honest and real with patients. You would be the person to make them see how it feels to be on the receiving end of CYA. I really feel like we need to get past the fear of people sueing each other and learn to take responsibility. How awful to go through all you endured for years before even getting to the final destiny of hey, “I’m going to die!!!” Once again, this is an amazing post.


    • lahgitana
      Sep 21, 2012 @ 08:16:53

      Re: the fear of sue-age (hahahahaha–I’m hilarious!). It occurs to me that the patient is once more being blamed–(say with twanging whine:) insurance costs for docs are high because people sue and people in juries grant huge sums of money, so docs are afraid of being sued because a patient might do that.

      Sounds like good-ole fear to me–if we track down the source of the fear, what will we find? My guess is insurance companies!

      Anyone?! We could have a contest of guessing! The prize would be a lesson in Ommmmm and living fearlessly–given to the doctor or hospital of choice!


      • nadbugs
        Sep 22, 2012 @ 19:15:17

        Well actually, Lahgitana, from my litigation research experience your “guesses” are right on the money. The insurance carriers drive the show. Plus, that our system doesn’t allow for this basic fact: That medicine is an art and not a science. Docs are under intense pressure to know all. They know very little, but can’t afford to let that slip. So they are “defensive.” Wish it weren’t so — but with the god complex, it’s a fatal mix many times in the litigation picture.

        A teensy teeny fraction of those hurt by medical malpractice sue. Something like 1%. And the primary motivation turns out to be that the dox close ranks and won’t reveal, and the people or their surviving families cannot live with that insult to human dignity. They sue primarily to get information through litigation discovery and subpoena, so they can finally find out something approaching the truth about what really happened.

        I tell you — I’m just eternally and externally glad (also foolish, as you can tell by the latter word) that you survived this ordeal as you have. You are gold. Keep on talkin’ my gal. Raving. Ranting. Making sense, I call it.


  3. sweetdaysundertheoaks
    Sep 21, 2012 @ 00:55:37

    Geesh Laurel I clicked on all your links. That is some scary stuff. This is an eye opening rock your world post. CH has been on antibiotics most of the summer for an infected toe. I used to have to take antibiotics every dang time I had dental work done because I was misdiagnosed with a mitral valve prolapse. When I got my cardiac stent, one blocked artery in the back of my heart but no MVP. I am not going to google C.diff cause this is enough to scare the sh*t out of me.


    • lahgitana
      Sep 21, 2012 @ 08:34:05

      How disconcerting to have spent so many years laboring under a rather serious diagnosis–MVP–only to discover that you’d been medicated for no reason! That kinda stuff rocks MY world!

      Pix, don’t let this scare you. Since docs don’t appear to be talking about C. diff, the trick is to **ask** the doc about C. diff and antibiotics. They **should** have the knowledge that I now have, plus a boatload more. If not, get another opinion (if you have the energy!). Try a pharmacist–they know a ton!! And it’s free and noninvasive!

      And your last sentence made me laugh–that was quite a literal interpretation of the fear! >:-D

      So I’d say–you don’t have to get the scoop on C. diff, just try to get educated about antibiotics. They are truly the miracle drug–I was on THREE via IV and they saved my life. The question is: what do I consider about the possibility of over-use and my own case (or CH’s toe)? Are there any good options? There may not be!

      (Should I mention MRSA or just leave you alone?! Aw hell–it just means that a natural fighter-bug we carry–staphylococcus–when it gets out of control, is highly resistant to many strains of antibiotics because the little fighter-bugs have evolved FAST to fend off the antibiotics.

      THAT scares the sh%t outta me–I’ve seen the science (non)fiction movies!)

      Uh, have a nice day? (‘member–you said I was *interesting*! hahahahahaha!)


  4. FeyGirl
    Sep 21, 2012 @ 06:51:51

    Just terrifying… I’m so sorry you had to experience this. And you’re right: Hospitals and their staff need, above all else (many do, at least), lessons in moral management. I’ve seen this first-hand.


    • lahgitana
      Sep 21, 2012 @ 08:36:57

      “Terrifying” is the perfect word, FeyGirl, and it never occurred to me! yikes!

      I’m very sorry you also have seen this first-hand.

      The good news is that it can change us for the good, which it has me. And seeing your sunny, planet-loving self in action tells me you’re just fine! >:-D

      Hmmm…. a new job in hospital: “Why yes, I am the Manager of Moral Management.”


      • FeyGirl
        Sep 21, 2012 @ 09:38:23

        Don’t even laugh…. Eons ago, one potential job out of college? Teaching hospital staff how to be human. “This is how you behave and how you speak…” I was terrified. Turned it down, I was so appalled at the concept.


        • lahgitana
          Sep 21, 2012 @ 09:47:21

          No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!!!! Those of us who would be very good at that job are too appalled to even consider going near it!


          • FeyGirl
            Sep 21, 2012 @ 09:49:20

            EXACTLY! I was terrified. But it was probably perfect for someone like us, yes?


          • lahgitana
            Sep 21, 2012 @ 10:09:54

            Sure is nice to hear another normal person be terrified of that which is passed off as business as usual. Thank you thank you!

            I’m trying to imagine how the conversations went for you for that job! >:-D (“Uh, I, uh, just remembered, uh, that my dog is, uh, locked in the garage, and uh, oh dear, I have to go, but, uh, thank you for this, uh, um, er, opportunity to talk about a moral compass, I mean manager for your hospital.)

            Lesson: just because it is DONE, doesn’t make it right!

            I’d rather do art. Alone in my studio.


  5. IsobelandCat
    Sep 22, 2012 @ 11:49:49

    Is sepsis the same as septicaemia?


    • lahgitana
      Sep 22, 2012 @ 11:53:49

      I don’t know. Septicaemia does refer directly to massive infection in the bloodstream and I’m pretty sure causes similar over-the-top immune response, which is shock.

      Sepsis = septic shock.

      Honestly, I’m too chicken to look it up, Isobel. !!


      • IsobelandCat
        Sep 22, 2012 @ 11:56:36

        Thanks. My grandmother died from septicaemia after the birth of her tenth child, my aunt Nessa. My mother, a nurse, was always horrified that this her cause of death.


        • lahgitana
          Sep 22, 2012 @ 13:21:41

          She was horrified because she learned about sepsis and how devastatingly powerful it is?

          I watched my mother go through it–I don’t understand how she lived through it–the doctors clearly thought she wouldn’t make it, a woman in her 80s.


          • IsobelandCat
            Sep 22, 2012 @ 14:01:24

            No, I think she was horrified that her mother had septicaemia in the first place, and felt it was shameful.


          • lahgitana
            Sep 22, 2012 @ 15:14:26

            Oh dear. That is sad. Oh dear again. I wonder how she got the impression that sepsis was shameful (see above my feelings!)!!!??

            Sepsis is just nearly dead. No shame in that.

            Your grandmother’s death from sepsis was connected to childbirth–was it that relationship–the taboo, we don’t talk about that?


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