Today is World Sepsis Day. To honor this day, I am defining and describing sepsis, in hopes of educating and increasing awareness.
Sepsis is the disease that almost killed me. It sent me into a coma and stopped my lungs, kidneys, liver, and brain from functioning. Sepsis also stole my hands and feet. It robbed me of my ability to do my job, run my house, and mother my children. Sepsis changed my life. Forever.
Colloquially known as “blood poisoning," sepsis is a life-threatening medical condition that can develop from any number of infections; the infection gets into the blood and damages important tissues and organs. In severe cases like mine, blood pressure drops, multiple organ failures ensue, and the patient can die from septic shock within hours of the first symptoms developing.
Sepsis is a global healthcare problem that killed more than 258,000 Americans last year. It is more common than heart attacks, and it claims more lives than any cancer; yet, even in the most developed countries, fewer than half of the adult population have heard of it. Symptoms of sepsis can be described as the following:
I have read of people who have had sepsis develop from urinary tract infections, an infection following a simple surgery or medical procedure, and even the simplest cold virus!
This is not meant to scare, but rather to raise awareness that the above symptoms can be very dangerous. If caught early, there are obviously much better chances of survival. Sepsis can attack anyone: you or me, or your neighbor, just as easily as it could the individual in a poverty-stricken country. It attacks healthy children as well as sickly, older adults.
While sepsis is tragic for most, it is also what gave me the opportunity to fight for my life, for my husband, and for my children. Because of sepsis I truly appreciate my life, my husband, and my kids as well. Sepsis has helped me develop a stronger identity based on who I am, not what I do. Its aftermath is helping me teach my children values like determination and resilience; the importance of family, friendship, and community; and discrimination based on ability, to name a few.
Still, Sepsis is not something I'd choose, nor is it something I'd wish on my worst enemy. In its mildest form, it requires hospitalization and a lengthy recovery. When it strikes hard and fast, an individual leaves this world much sooner than he/she had planned. The way we can stop sepsis is to know and recognize the symptoms and to act on them quickly. If you suspect sepsis, go or call the nearest emergency room, and say, "I am concerned about sepsis." This alerts healthcare workers and tells them to act fast. Another important thing to remember is that the best way to prevent sepsis is to prevent infection. Wash hands, wash surfaces, and keep vaccinations current.
Whatever your circumstances, please help me celebrate World Sepsis Day on September 13, 2015.
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