Sepsis and Lung Cancer

I just got out of the hospital and a rehab hospital after having sepsis. This is not something that we typically talk about because, quite frankly, most people are not alive afterward to write about it. I am here and I am a miracle. Sepsis is a life-threatening illness caused by your body's response to an infection.1 Your immune system protects you from many illnesses and infections, but it's also possible for it to go into overdrive in response to an infection. Mine went into overdrive.

I will tell you a bit about what happened to me but most importantly I want you to NEVER wait to call your doctor when you have anything that seems different to you or a new symptom you never had.

What sent me to the hospital...

I thought I was constipated for one full week. My stomach hurt so bad (around my belly button) and I thought I was just constipated. After one week, two of my children forced me -- actually carried me -- to the car to go to the hospital. I was immediately placed in a trauma room because I was gray and doctors were running numerous tests on me.

Fighting through complications

I should tell you I do not remember anything. I don't remember going to the hospital or anything else until about day five. When I arrived at the hospital, after many tests, they informed my daughter to call all my immediate family to the hospital because I would not make it through the night (they don't know me very well, do they). They all arrived, all 20 of them, and stayed the night. I was still there by morning so some went home.

Over the next five days, I am told, I developed acute kidney failure, a mild heart attack, and had numerous blood test with results that were off the charts. I somehow managed to become conscious on Friday, whereas upon waking up I thought I was in London. Yes, England. All the medical personnel had British accents too! I was truly hallucinating. I even cried to one son, "How do I get outta here?" and he thought I was trying to escape the hospital.

Always call your doctor

I tell you this story because I want everyone to realize when we have a new ache, pain, or something doesn't feel just right, please call your General Practitioner or your Oncologist. These may not be as simple as we may think. And we are not being hypochondriacs. Anytime I wake up with a headache or a new ache, I always wonder, "Is it cancer or am I just being a hypochondriac?" I can assure you from now on, if I sneeze the wrong way, I will be calling.

I have spent the past week with follow-up appointments with all my hospital doctors, which totals about 8. They have all said the same things to me: #1 that I am a miracle and most importantly #2 don't wait to call -- call on day one!

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Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 28, 2020, Jennifer Toth passed away. Jennifer was a passionate advocate for the Lung Cancer community. She will be deeply missed.

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