Tory Pereira- Sepsis Survivor
Wednesday, February 1, 2017 will mark one year since I survived Septic Shock. It’s been a year and I still have not solved the mystery of how my duodenum perforated that night in San Diego. I do not let this deter me from the progress I have made in the last year. My friends and I are calling February 1st my Revival Day, but it’s more than just me surviving. February 1st represents the day my life changing journey began.
The trauma I endured is what made me who I am today. I enjoy living a healthy and holistic lifestyle giving my body the tender, love and care it needs to fully recover. My relationship with God is stronger than ever. December 18, 2016 was the magical day I was baptized by my good friend Skyler Frazier at Compassion Christian Church. Compassion has welcomed me into their church with open arms and loving hearts! I am so blessed to be apart of the Statesboro Compassion Family.
My accident is what brought me to my passion which is. For those who don’t know, SAU stands for Sepsis Awareness United. The nonprofit organization two of my friends and I have started to raise awareness for sepsis and help fund for early detection of sepsis in hospitals. I believe I survived because I have a purpose on this beautiful Earth. I have prayed and prayed and I truly believe my purpose is to become a strong advocate for sepsis. I want to raise awareness of sepsis to the world and let sepsis survivors know they are not alone.
Above are the founders of Sepsis Awareness United. Will Dickman, Tory Pereira and Kevin Ulmer.
At my one year mark I finally feel like a whole person again! Since the first day I woke up and saw the monster 15 inch incision going down my tummy, I thought of myself as two halves being held together by staples. My scar is a painful trigger reminder for me so I never looked at it, much less touch it. When I left the hospital at the end of February until August I could count on two hands how many times I touched my stomach. It still felt like my organs were on the outside of my body and I was nothing less than fragile. Now, just a year out I can proudly say today when I put lotion on I rub it all over my belly including my scar!
I am very blessed that I am not suffering any worse repercussions than I have. Most sepsis survivors and septic shock survivors deal with more severe aftereffects such as amputations, or dialysis for life. My cognitive abilities have been hindered due to the lack of oxygen my brain wasn’t receiving (for nearly 8 minutes) during my cardiac arrest. I have started to get used to my “new normal” I call life after sepsis.
My neurologist made the analogy to me, my brain is like a flower now, I have to water it for it to grow. He made this analogy because the results from my MRI, shows my brain is the equivalence of a 65 year old’s brain. The problems I deal with cognitively scare me, because I know the knowledge I had before and can see the regressed state I am working to come out of now. I know that I will never fully be my old self but for that I am thankful because my new chance to look at life has given me direction and meaning like I have never had before. Thank you guys so much for reading, please share along to your friends and stay tuned for my next post!
Peace and Love,
February 18th, I woke up today feeling like it was going to be a good one. I could feel it in my bones. The first thing we did was give me a sponge bath from head to toe. The warm water felt amazing on my skin, and the smell of patchouli made me smile.
About an hour later a grin appeared on my mom’s face as she was looking out of the window at the snowy mountains of Vegas. A few moments later four of the most handsome men I have ever seen come walking in my room! These were the paramedics who saved my life on February 1st!!!!
There was a nice woman at the Fire Station where the paramedics worked, and she called the hospital throughout my coma asking for my status. The doctors couldn’t report anything to her so she told my mom to call her when I woke up. The paramedics who saved my life, wanted to come see me and meet me in person! How freaking cool! Paramedics never get to see the end result after helping someone and they were so baffled how a healthy 22 year old female had all of a sudden flatlined in a restaurant.
Four handsome men walked up to bed and their 20 firefighter friends stood in the hallway outside of my room. They started asking me questions about what happened and why I went into cardiac arrest.
That is still the scary mystery of my story. After a year later, I still do not know what caused my duodenum to perforate. I have no memory of the night I went into septic shock.
The paramedics made the comment, “Wow, you are on the strongest antibiotics on the market.” They were surprised at how many antibiotics I had and how many bags with IV’s I was hooked up to.
Michael Cheney was the first guy who got to me that unfortunate night. They did not stop giving me chest compressions even when I had no pulse for minutes. This group of awesome paramedics are the reason I am still alive today and I got to meet my superheroes in person!
I still text with one of the paramedics today, Michael Cheney. The first time I sent him a message it was in August and I wanted to tell him I was still alive and doing a lot better in my recovery!
He told me he remembered that day like it was yesterday, and he was grateful that I have my life and health back. He feels very humbled that he could make a difference in my life. He also said it’s never too often to see miraculous things in his career, and he’s fortunate that he could be there for me! My heart smiled so big.
I still do not know the off duty police officer’s name who helped saved my life as well but THANK YOU! Thank you kind sir for being at Paymon’s on February 1, 2016 at 5:30pm and giving me the chest thrusts I needed to survive. I hope one day I will find out who you are and tell you how thankful I am!
I ended the amazing day of February 18th by walking by myself without my cane! This was the BEST day in our 25 day hospital adventure!
Thank you everyone so much for donating and reading about my Septic Shock Story. This is my favorite post and I could't wait to share. I have recently learned the definition of Sepsis has changed in 2016, for the third time. The new Sepsis definition states: Sepsis focuses in on infection with organ dysfunction. Here in the Sepsis community we are still learning new facts about this deadly disease daily. My goal is to raise awareness so I will keep you informed! Have an awesome week. See y'all next Monday!
Peace and Love,
Today was a phenomenal day! My friends Will, Graden, Kevin and I have been recycling, reusing material, adding some fire to it and creating art! We have been going around town and collecting aluminum people don’t care for anymore. Then we bring it back to the house, light up the torch and BOOM start melting it all down. The process is so cool, this furnace we have created allows the melted aluminum to get up to 3,000 degrees. We are now making them and will soon be selling them to raise money for Sepsis Awareness United, the non profit organization we are currently working on developing and launching.
Also today was another huge day for me and our friend Casey!
It was his birthday and my first time being able to bowl since my accident. I used to love bowling! I am still in recovery and gaining strength back everywhere in my body day by day. If you don’t know me I am 112 lbs, super skinny right now but slowing gaining muscle and putting meat back on my bones. When I got out of the hospital I couldn’t pick up a gallon of milk so I have started from the bottom in gaining my strength back. I thought there was no way I could pick up, yet throw a bowling ball.
We got to the bowling alley and I knew I was going to have to throw the 7 lb ball in between my legs. It’s okay if I look funny, I just wanted to have a good time with my friends! I was first and the pressure was on. Boy did I surprise myself! I not only bowled with one hand but I knocked a lot of pins down! I’m not as weak as I thought I was. Thank you Justine at 180 Fitness for your amazing yoga classes. This made me SO happy I jumped up and down and danced all around my friends. It hasn’t been fun feeling physically weak this year. Today showed me my hard work is paying off and I can now bowl with my friends. Slow and steady. Slow and steady baby.
Since my accident, I have learned to take life one day at a time. We are not promised tomorrow so we can only live life to the fullest NOW! I can't thank everyone enough for reading my blog and learning about this deadly disease we call Sepsis. Please share my blog and Sepsis Story along with family and friends to raise awareness of this silent killer. See y'all next Monday! Have a blessed week :)
Peace and Love,
The morning of February 11th was the successful day of pulling my tube out. Today I woke up and was able to breath on my own! I'm ALIVE!
Three days prior they were weening me off my sedation to see if I could handle breathing on my own. The doctors tested me three times and I failed the first two. I couldn’t stay calm enough to keep my heart rate down.
The third attempt, on February 11th, the doctor's reduced my sedation and I slowly started to come out. With the approval from Dr. Singh, and my respiratory technicians I was ready. They told my mom to get out of the room. Doctors were standing around me, Dr. Singh asked me to cough. I coughed, and the tube came out! Then my mom heard me say some off the wall question and she started bursting into tears. At that moment in time, my mom had no idea if I was a vegetable or not.
From the time I woke up, I was enraged with anger and highly agitated. My mom thought it was very odd, but I never asked any questions. I didn’t ask why I was in the hospital. I didn’t ask why there was a huge bandage on my stomach. I was so beyond terrified I didn’t know what to ask and what the answers were going to be. It was like I couldn’t even think what to ask. No thoughts were approaching my brain. I tried to remember where the last place I was and I couldn’t remember. I saw pictures of me in New York and San Diego and I had no idea why. I was in New York then San Diego and now I'm in Las Vegas hospital?
February 11th, 7 pm shift change for the nurses and the nightmare starts. From the time I woke up, I was aggravated and mad at everything. My mom described me as being a mean, uncontrollable alien.
First, I kept trying to get out of my bed saying I had to go to the bathroom when in my mind I was going to get water. I was so thirsty all I wanted was water. My mom, the nurses, nobody was giving it to me so I had a mission. I stuffed a clean throw up bag in my gown, and my mission was to get to a bathroom, fill it up with water from the sink and chug it like there was no tomorrow.
I didn’t know that my stomach went through a traumatic surgery that involved a reroute. I didn’t even know I couldn’t walk.
My mom was getting so frustrated with me she asked the nurse if they could put me back to sleep. That night, I had to poop in a walking toilet because I couldn’t walk. In my mind I knew I could walk, I’m a 22 year old healthy girl, of course I can do something as simple as walking. My mom and nurse kept trying to explain to me it wasn’t possible but I wasn’t listening. The nurse brought in my walking toilet and my mom helped me get out of bed, and that’s when it hit me.
My body felt so foreign. My legs were so weak and skinny they couldn’t hold my body up. My belly felt HUGE, like my organs were on the outside of my body. I was skin and bones.
I had ports, needles, drains and tubes coming out all different parts of my body. Needles were coming out of my hands, ports were coming out of my neck and legs, drains coming out of my stomach and one big tube that was coming out of my nose connecting to my stomach.
This tube that was in my nose was traveling down my esophagus into my stomach, pulling out the stomach juices and acids so it wouldn’t sit there and eat away at my stomach lining. They couldn’t retrieve it all during surgery so this was finishing the work.
I hated that thing coming out of my nose! It was green and gross. All I could do was stare and figure out a way to get it out. I wasn’t understanding anything that was going on around me but there were nurses and people coming in my room every hour to get blood, or prick me with a needle, or drain my drains.
I was never alone, my mom was by my side the entire time and nurses were in my room constantly. My mom left for a moment to go pee, and I thought finally! Finally I’m alone and I can get take all of this nonsense off of my body and get the heck out of here! As soon as she left, my mischievous acts started and I started pulling everything out.
First to go was the tube in my nose, that was so gross. Next was the port in my neck, this was a little harder to get out so I had to use whatever muscle I had left. It was sticky and not coming out so I gave it one last tug, and bam, that was out too! Next was all the needles that were in my hands, as I was in the middle of freeing myself a nurse walked in and started yelling at me. NO, you can’t take this stuff out of your body! My mom heard the commotion and ran over. Then everyone started yelling at me, I guess I did something wrong.
My mom said I scared the nurse to death. I scared my mom too because I was very uncontrollable. I wasn’t supposed to be pull anything out of my body, but I had needles, ports, and tubes coming out of everywhere and didn’t know why! The first time I pulled the tube out of my nose the nurse was very mad.
Yes I said the first time, because I pulled this thing out of my nose every time someone left me alone. I had to suffer the consequences and she had to push the tube back down my nose and I had to swallow when she pushed so it could be put back in my stomach. That was an awful experience. There was no reasoning with me, I wouldn’t listen to anybody. The boxing mitts were introduced to me once again. They would put these mitts on to restrain me from pulling instruments out of my body. I scared the women nurses so the rest of my time in the ICU I had a male nurse, Jeff. I liked him and he helped me stay calm and not pull stuff out of my body.
After trying to calm me down, they turned the TV on to capture my attention and go to sleep. I couldn’t sleep the first three nights in the ICU. I didn’t know I had just been sleeping for 10 days! Of course I wasn’t tired. I didn’t want morphine or any pain pills of any sort. I know how addicting they are and the state I was in, I would have easily been hooked.
My mom said I stared at everything that was going on in the hallway of the ICU unit. There was so much commotion and the lights were on all the time. I wanted to know everything that was happening. One night I remember hearing someone was standing behind a horse and he got kicked in the chest, OUCH!
It’s mind boggling to me how long it took for my brain to process what I went through. Even when I arrived back home in Georgia, I asked my mom to explain exactly what happened to me. My heart and body would hurt and I would cry every time like it was the first time I heard it. I really went through that? How am I still alive?
According to the CDC, more people die from Sepsis than AIDS, breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. The signs and symptoms of Sepsis are fever, cold chills, excruciating pain, confusion, clammy skin, shortness of breathe and high heart rate. Time is of the essence when your septic, go to the hospital immediately if you recognize any of these symptoms.
In the picture above, I had the pleasure of visiting and bringing flowers to a sweet man and his family who is battling Sepsis. You are strong and I hope you get to go home to your family soon!
Thank y’all so much for all of the donations and for following my blog! All the love and support is greatly appreciated in helping me spread the word of Sepsis. Have an awesome week readers, I will see y’all next Monday!
Peace and Love,
After I survived my exploratory surgery, I was still critical for the next twelve hours. Then for the next two weeks. The doctors kept me in a medically induced coma so my body could rest and heal, no one knew when I could be woken up. The doctors weren’t sure if I would have brain activity or if I would be a vegetable. No one knew if my body would accept the new reroute of my stomach or not. No one knew much of anything so everyone waited and prayed.
During my coma one thing after the other was going wrong. The first major problem that arose was renal failure. When someone is in renal failure doctors normally recommend dialysis. Dialysis is a life-support treatment that uses a special machine to filter harmful wastes, salt and excess fluid from your blood. This helps to restore the blood to a normal, healthy balance. Dialysis does the work for your kidneys when they are not able to.
Throughout my coma I was anemic, so I had a couple of blood transfusions and blood platelets.
For the first couple of days in my coma, my heart rate was extremely high. My heart rate steadily beat around 140-130 so the doctors couldn’t perform dialysis on me. Dialysis increases one's heart rate and mine was already racing like I was running a marathon.
My mom and my kidney doctor, Dr. Baramitski, would stand next to my bedside and talk it over to me.
He would look at me then look at my numbers. “We can’t do dialysis because her heart rate is too high but she’s not yet peeing.” I couldn’t pee or get rid of fluids due to renal failure so I gained a lot of water weight. I looked like a two hundred pound water balloon. If I wasn’t in a coma I wouldn’t have been able to open my eyes because my face was so swollen.
Another major problem was my blood pressure was really low. The doctors had to put me on blood pressure medication. This blood pressure medication is risky because it pulls blood from your extremities to your organs to help keep your organs functioning. This situation could create amputation on your limbs. Everyday my mom would stare at my numbers like a hawk, hoping. Hoping my heart rate would decrease, hoping my blood pressure would rise and hoping one day I will wake up and she will be able to tell me this crazy story.
After about five days the swelling, one side of my body finally started to subside. Thank goodness, because huge water blisters were starting to form on my thighs I was getting so big. When I went into the hospital I was 120 lbs and I literally blew up to 200 lbs. I was still in renal failure and my kidney doctor was starting to get more and more concerned when my blood work came back and he could tell my kidneys were not getting rid of the toxins. Dialysis was back on the table.
Finally, after a week of waiting, my heart rate was back in the range between 70-80’s and they could get me ready for dialysis! I went through three rounds of dialysis total, during my coma. My mom was so excited when they were setting up the dialysis machine.
February 4, 2016
The next day, there was no progress, my kidneys still weren’t working after dialysis. The doctors wanted to set me up for another round but then another unavoidable problem arose.
I had true lung condition. This was preventing oxygen from getting to my blood and making it harder for me to breath. So instead of getting me ready for dialysis, the doctors were setting me up so they could perform thoracentesis. Between the lungs and the chest wall there’s a small space that contains approximately 4 teaspoons of fluid, called the pleural space. When there is excess fluid, it can compress the lungs and cause difficulty breathing.
I bet you’re wondering how in the world do they get this fluid out? Well, the doctor takes this special needle and places it in between your ribs, it reaches to your lungs and pulls out the fluid building up that should not be there. The procedure was successful and now dialysis was back on the table. My kidneys took a huge hit so two more rounds of dialysis were needed to help kick start my kidneys again.
The morning of February 11, 2016 was the day I woke up from my 10 day medically induced coma! I’m alive and breathing on my own! HALLELUJAH!
Thank you everyone for following along with my Sepsis Story. Please help me raise awareness for Sepsis by sharing my story with your friends and family so we can kick Sepsis in the butt together! I'm still in my recovery and posting twice a week has been a little exhausting, so I'm going to cut it back to once. Have an awesome week, talk to y'all next Monday!
Peace and Love,
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