BlogSeries Excerpts: Travels through a Toxic Shock Nightmare
Part I: Introduction
Greetings, readers of Confident Voices in Healthcare. My name is Howard Hoover of Charlotte, North Carolina and I survived sepsis. I am thrilled to have been invited by Beth as a guest to promote my book titled Travels through a Toxic Shock Nightmare. It is the story of my experience with sepsis, an illness that I had no idea existed when I came down with it. I have learned since then that I had a lot of company in that the public in general does not know that it exists even though it is the number one killer in hospitals today. When I hear of anyone dying of “natural causes”, “flu-like symptoms”, “pneumonia”, or any other range of causes rooted in the body I point the finger at sepsis. I know, you would think sepsis would feel threatened by my finger pointing, but it’s not. It is the bully that asks “Why are you hitting yourself?” over and over until you can’t hit anymore. The body’s overreaction to an infection that turns the body on itself to fight the infection, where vital organs shut down, extremities lose vital blood flow, arteries contract decreasing blood pressure. What the body is programmed to do: protect itself, it is suddenly doing too well and turning on itself. This occurs within a matter of hours, not days, hours, if not minutes.
Excerpt from Foreword
In an era of increasing antibiotic-resistant bacteria, decreasing pharmaceutical research for effective antibiotics, and increasing patient complexity, the diagnosis of sepsis takes on the specter of a health care epidemic. –Dr. Scott Lindblom
Medical Director, CHS Critical Care Network, Section Chief, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine
On January 15, 2009 I was luckily taken to Carolinas Medical Center – Main in Charlotte, North Carolina, the crown jewel of the vast Carolinas Healthcare System (CHS), the second largest healthcare system in the country and a highly regarded trauma center. I cannot imagine what would have happened had I gone anywhere else. Even within CHS my chances would have been reduced from a small chance of survival to nothing. Adding to my fortune was that I arrived in the afternoon, around the time of the shift change, where I had double the knowledge and experience to work on me. I still cringe at the thought of being one hour or minute off from my arrival.
I survived. It was a tough road and it still is. As a way to look back on this time, not fondly, but as an experience I do not want to ever forget I began to write down my travels, most notably what I thought was happening to me. This began in rehab with a jittery list I made. This grew and grew and I thought why not just put everything in there from start to finish? Over time I became frustrated with it, put it down for a couple of months, and picked it back up. It was complete, yet not complete. I had no idea what to do with it. Over the years since I have gotten out of the hospital I have found there to be interest in my story. While I am interested in it because it happened to me, I have found that sepsis is a real problem and very few outside healthcare seem to know about it. Those in healthcare that do know about it are mostly critical care providers and they are seeing an increase in cases associated with it. So as word of my experience has spread I have been invited to speak at hospitals and other venues. During one such speech at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Georgia I mentioned after the speech that I had written a book about my experience. This was met with a lot of interest and it was then I realized that perhaps there was something useful and farther reaching in relaying my story if it was in book format. May I add that Northeast Georgia Medical Center is doing wonders with their sepsis education program where attendance is required for all caregivers.
What is Sepsis?
Pronunciation (sep′sis, -sēz)
The presence of various pathogenic organisms, or their toxins, in the blood or tissues, septicemia is a common type of sepsis.
[G. sēpsis, putrefaction]
Stedman’s Medical Dictionary 28th Edition, Copyright© 2006_Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. All rights reserved.
I have no formal medical education and training other than CPR classes and a shipboard medicine course I took at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. All I have with me to fight back is what I know and what I know best is a whole lot of irreverence and what I think passes for comedy. I changed all the names and locations (well, now you know one location) in the book so that I could remain honest through the writing process and I would be assured that I did not hold back. So that is what I have done. The book is available on Amazon and I hope it provides something to someone somewhere that is useful. I have read it and reviewed it so many times that I have no idea how a fresh set of eyes will judge it. I don’t know. I would like to hear from someone, anyone who doesn’t know me what they think of it after they have read it.
So that is a long winded way to say that I have written a book that pertains to what this blog is about. I have separated the series into five parts and I would like each part to have some sort of theme. I think the best way to do this is as follows:
What stands out in the manuscript is how the author writes about the most personal aspects of TSS [Toxic Shock Syndrome] with nuanced and emotional details. This works especially well when he’s dreaming or in a delusional state.
–CreateSpace Publishing Editorial Review November 15, 2014
This format hopefully provides a taste of the book as I include excerpts that relate to the theme of the day, what loved ones thought of my plight along with their perspective (a exclusive bonus that is not included in the book!), and comments from readers. It is my hope that it provides a window into what a patient experiences. Although it is my story and I am just one sepsis survivor there are things I went through that may relate to other patients and their experiences. I am assuming on this point but I hope it does. Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you and thanks Beth for all your hard work in advancing nursing and the medical profession.
Part I: Introduction (You’re in it now, there’s no turning back!)
Part III: Who I Am/Getting Sepsis
Part IV: Travels
Part V: MICU
Part VI: Rehab
About the Author
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
Visit www.howardwhoover.com for more information about sepsis and a couple of other interesting items regarding my story. Travels through a Toxic Shock Nightmare is now available on Amazon. Thank you to the readers of Part I: Introduction. Thanks Beth.