BlogSeries Excerpts: Travels through a Toxic Shock Nightmare
Part III: Who I Am/Getting Sepsis
Welcome to Part III of my six-part blog series as part of Confident Voices in Healthcare and as a guest of Beth Boynton. Thanks again Beth, I am enjoying the venue and I hope I am reaching those that can do the most with the information I try to convey in my story. It is not technical information although I do offer that throughout the book but rather the nature of a patient or more specifically me, and what I was enduring through this ordeal. My story is one of many but somehow it has stuck with me and the memories flood back sort of like the morning after a night of revelry. Snapshots return, then film, then horror. That is what my writing process was like. Just lovely and strangely inspiring.
I guess I need to get to the part of who I am. Well, as you already know my name is Howard Hoover and I am just one sepsis survivor. I was overcome with sepsis, which was caused by run of the mill strep throat. The bacteria that causes it, streptococcus pyogenes, got into my lungs somehow and from there went on into my bloodstream. At the time I was a husband and father of three children ages seven, five, and two. I worked from home so you could say I had the safest job around or they do say that 80%, or some such percentage, of accidents happen in the home so perhaps I had the most dangerous job around. Far be it for me to be Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicking a running microwave into a full bathtub however I can count on one hand the times I was injured in the home. In any event I am happy to have survived and now I am seeing my kids slowly grow into the surly teens that I always knew they would be but the ride has been wonderful and my gratitude is deep for being around to experience it. Actually only one is currently a surly teen but I have full confidence the other two will follow suit. I only joke, each day with them is a blessing, I love them dearly and I know they feel the same about me.
Strep throat. I have gotten strep throat before and after sepsis nearly did me in. On one occasion about a year after all this occurred I just knew I had strep throat yet I felt a fraction as bad as I did in the days of my sudden decline but it still scared the hell out of me. During those moments of illness and uncertainty I still fear that sepsis is back to have another go at me. The experience all floods back to me and I pray I don’t have to endure it again, especially the insertion of a permanent catheter or any type of catheter for that matter. I still don’t know how I got it and how I got out of it but I sure as hell don’t want to experience anything like it again. The swiftness of it is what sticks in my mind. So sudden and even in the early hours there was a feeling I had that I still really have trouble putting my finger on even when I was writing the book and could be clear headed about it. It is a feeling that has its own life. It is a feeling of despair that something is coming and you are not prepared for it. Nothing can prepare anyone for it with the exception of all the things that saved me including early recognition and “goal directed therapy.” Goal directed therapy concentrates on the results that are necessary for anyone to be clear of sepsis: central venous pressure (CVP), mean arterial pressure (MAP), and urine output.
The call from our daughter-in-law came at 1:00 AM, “Please come as soon as you can,” and we did. The scene in Howard’s hospital room was overwhelming as we saw our son barely recognizable and hooked up to every available piece of medical equipment to sustain his life. As his doctor told us, “He is as sick as a person can be and still be alive.” We were devastated. –Herbert and Betty-Bruce Hoover (Mom and Dad)
The excerpt from the book that I have included today delves into how I felt during the day before the ambulance had come and the wheels had fallen off any hope I had getting through this without fine minds on the case. As the end of the previous excerpt, I revealed I kept reassuring myself in such a clear headed way with a repeated “They will make this go away” and that offered me comfort as I checked out. I truly am in awe of “they” because I knew at that moment when life was leaving me that there was a “they” that was going to take care of it. And there was. I was lucky I had a “they” that had the experience and knowledge to get me back. As I speak at various venues I say to those in attendance that they will be someone’s “they” and they have been someone’s “they.” Someone is not in trouble yet but they will need a “they” in their future and critical care providers have a very big responsibility to get that person out of the deep hole like the one I found myself in and become a “they.” I don’t know where that reassurance came from and how I knew to say that or if it was someone else in my mind that was speaking to me but it did offer me comfort.
This blurring of reality that [the author] experienced is captured as if T.S. Eliot or James Joyce or William Faulkner were doing it. It would be OK if [he] simply described it with journalistic detachment, but [he] has recreated it. I, as a reader, am seeing this mixture of (1) reality, (2) dreams/confusion and (3) this awareness that I have a flawed understanding of what’s going on. But it’s not chaos. I’m not lost or improperly confused. I have just enough confusion to appreciate the confusion he felt , but I’m not experiencing so much confusion that I can’t follow the story. –John Lawson III, Tampa Tribune: 1992-1996, Greensboro News & Record: 1998-1999, also published in MARINES magazine, LEATHERNECK magazine, and USMC website, author of Tom Landry and Bill Walsh, Arlington, Virginia
Today’s excerpt relates to the early hours of sepsis, when it was beginning to have its way with me. The one thing my wife said about seeing me in the bed was that my breathing was forced and shallow. Panty. She had never seen anything like it before and that was what alarmed her and made her call my doctor. If she had gone to work that day I wouldn’t be here.
So I had this to look forward to when I got to the hospital and in the weeks to follow:
– Acute renal failure requiring dialysis
– Severe Hypoxemic respiratory failure
– Complications– Delirium & Encephalopathy
– ICU Weakness
Check all that shit off my bucket list.
Howard Hoover lives in Charlotte, NC with his family and is a first time author. As a sepsis survivor he has been invited to speak at conferences, hospitals, and manufacturing facilities domestically and internationally. He holds bachelor degrees from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, and the University of South Florida, and a graduate degree from Mercer University. He is a registered professional engineer in Georgia and North Carolina. Contact Howard Hoover: firstname.lastname@example.org