Tory Pereira- Sepsis Survivor
I went twenty-two days without solid food, without any food inside of my stomach. My surgeon rerouted my stomach to the left side of my body so no food would travel through my repaired duodenum. My doctors weren’t sure if I was ever going to be able to eat a solid meal again. We had to test myself by introducing my stomach to three different phases of food to see what I could handle. I started off with the clear liquid diet, liquid diet and then luckily I advanced to solid food.
The first week when I woke up from my coma I wasn’t hungry and my belly never growled. All I cared about was water and ice chips. My stomach couldn’t even handle that when I first woke up. The nurses cleaned my vomit a few times.
I started my clear liquid diet my last night I was in the ICU. When he brought my tray in it felt like the food heavens just came down from above. I had forgotten the taste of food so the smells of warm broth were sensational.
My tray consisted of clear liquid soup, jello, grape juice, a frozen lemonade and apple juice. This was Heaven on Earth! I normally hate jello, but this jello was delicious. This filled me up and I was a happy girl. My stomach handled everything and that was amazing. My clear liquid diet lasted for a couple of days then they bumped me up to a FULL liquid diet.
Thank goodness because the clear liquid diet was not enough anymore. I was starting to feel hungry, my tummy was making noises. My full liquid diet consisted of real soup, tomato or chicken noodle, jello, grape juice, apple juice, cranberry juice and frozen lemonade.
It took forever for my nurses to bump me up to the solid meal diet. Everyone was so scared how my stomach would react to real food, and it was a question if I could digest it or not. It was all a guessing game and I did not know that, thank goodness. I did not know that doctors didn’t expect to eat real food again. I wasn’t informed of a lot during my hospital stay and if I was informed, I was so out of it I wasn’t comprehending much of anything.
Every time the nurse would bump up my diet, the food tasted so good at first. Then after a couple of days, my stomach would want more. I was starting to hear it growl and feel hunger pains again.
Finally my favorite nurse worked her magic and they allowed me to have a solid meal! I was so beyond excited words cannot describe my excitement. It was breakfast, my favorite meal. My first solid meal in 22 days I ate delicious eggs, pancakes, sausage, banana, apple juice and milk. I was literally in food heaven! The best part is my stomach handled everything perfectly. It digested correctly and in that moment we knew the reroute of my stomach was successful. I wasn’t going to have to eat out of a tube for the rest of my life, and we were now one step closer to being discharged from the hospital! YAY!
Thank y'all so much for reading my blog! We are raising awareness of SEPSIS and I cannot thank everyone enough. See y'all next week! God Bless.
Peace and Love,
The day after my dad and sister left we were moved from the ICU to the floor below. YAY! I still had no idea when we were being discharged but now we had our own private room with a bathroom. No more ICU with all your noises and lights. We were so ecstatic!
Our new room had a perfect view of the Vegas strip. I never thought in a million years I would be in Las Vegas staring at the strip in a hospital gown from my hospital room.
My respiratory nurse and others would be so astonished that I was still alive. They would say, “Oh my gosh you’re the girl who survived!” I had no idea what anyone was talking about. I survived what? Why are they so surprised that I’m alive? Apparently a lot of people saw me in my coma, fighting for my life.
I remember feeling so out of control with everything that was going on around me. I had a monster cut from my sternum to my pelvis with real staples holding my stomach together and I have no memory of what happened. My heart would beat out of my chest and no thoughts would come to my mind.
There were multiple reasons why I was still in the hospital. I was still draining significant amounts of fluid from all three of my drains. We had to go from 1,000 cc’s of fluid a day to 0 cc’s.
My white blood cell count was extremely high. My count was 51,000 and the normal range for a 22 year old female is 4,500 - 10,000.
Before I left the hospital I had to eat a solid meal successfully. Okay, they just gave me a cup of water to drink instead of ice chips, food wasn’t even in the equation. From the time I woke up on February 11th to February 22nd, I did not eat any kind of solid food.
Food was never on my mind. The entire time I was in the ICU my stomach never growled, I wasn’t hungry. The doctors would listen to my tummy with their instrument but heard nothing.
“So, when were y’all bringing me food so I can cross this off my checklist?” I wasn’t informed that the nurses weren’t sure if I was ever going to eat solid food again. The nurses put me through three phases to see what my stomach could handle and digest; clear liquid diet, liquid diet, and then solid food.
When they pulled my poop catheter out of me it must have done a little damage because I started bleeding from my butt. I lost so much blood they had to give me another blood transfusion.
Problems like this would arise all the time, but these are not your everyday problems so I was beyond freaked out. This entire experience was an up and down crazy roller coaster of one step forward then two steps backwards.
One step forward three steps back this time. February 22nd was a magical day because I ate solid food for the first time in 22 long days! I only had one drain that was next to my injury site, the other two were taken out. My white blood cell count was coming down slowly but surely. I also used the bathroom successfully after eating. This was a big deal, to see if my digestion system was working with the new reroute. Everything was going great and my discharge was on the table!
Unexpectedly Dr. Patel calls my nurse and upon reviewing my CT scan from the night before, he found three abscesses in my belly and pelvis that needed to be removed immediately. An abdominal abscess contains infected pus or fluid that forms around an infection. If not removed, abscesses can be life threatening.
I thought this roller coaster ride was never going to end. I felt like I was in a very dark tunnel, and there was no light at the end of it.
All of my other surgeries were performed while I was in a coma so I had no idea what was going on. Now I’m awake and terrified. The interventional radiologist had to put me into a sedated state, stick a huge needle in my pelvis, direct it to the sac of pus and drain it out. The pus can’t all be drained at once so another JP drain was added to my collection.
My goal was to get drains out of me not add them back on. I had three abscesses and they could only remove two of them out because the third was in my pouch of douglas. Pouch of what you might ask? It’s a tiny spot in between your rectum and uterus. They couldn’t reach that abscess because of where it was located. So after all this, I still had an abscess in me that doctors couldn’t get to. Frustrated, mad, and hopeless does not even describe how I was feeling. It felt like we were never leaving Vegas, never leaving Desert Springs Hospital.
Thank you guys so much for reading, please share along to your friends and stay tuned for my next post! God Bless.
Peace and Love,
February 11th, 2016 marks the date which I was taken out of my induced coma after being in one for the past ten days. Because of the ordeal I was having to endure my sister and dad both came to surprise me, funny thing is how they weren't even aware the other was coming! By the grace of God, He gave me the strength I needed to be conscious throughout the rest of my fight. He also blessed me by allowing me to wake up just in time to be conscious when my sister and dad arrived in Vegas to see me.
When my sister arrived at the hospital she saw how white and pale the hospital was---and the patient rooms were no better. She immediately knew we needed to bring life into the room I was bedridden to. Because I was still in the ICU wing of the hospital flowers were not allowed, so our Plan B was salt lamps and healing crystals. Salt lamps are a beautiful alternative of mother nature. They’re awesome and are made from natural salt crystals formed by nature and mined from the foothills of the Himalayas. They naturally emit negative ions into the surrounding air which invigorates freshness similar to that found at waterfalls. Crystals are an effective healing tool, not as an alternative to conventional medicine, but in ways we can’t fully explain, they kick-start our immune system and generate our innate self-healing powers. Everyone has their beliefs.
My family began looking for herbal and earthy stores. Once they found a store near the area they called to find directions and with haste drove straight there. Once they arrived to the shop the owner began explaining to them each of his different healing rocks he had available. As he finished up his explanations he felt the urge to ask my mom if they were the family that called for directions earlier that afternoon, which her answer was yes. He then shared with her how moments before her call to the store the owner felt compelled to pray, so he stepped outside, lit a sage, and began to recite a prayer to help somebody today.
With amazement, my mom proceeded to tell him how I was in Desert Springs Hospital and that she was at the store to pick up healing stones and a salt lamp for my room there. “The prayer I said moments before you called was meant for your daughter. Now let’s pick out some healing stones to help her heal.” He told my parents what each stone represented. My mom and dad picked what they felt was perfect. My parents thanked him for his prayer and his healing stones and luckily bought the last salt lamp in all of Las, Vegas.
Every person has their own beliefs; and just because there is not scientific proof that shows why something works doesn't mean it doesn't work. Some people believe in the power of healing stones while others may just like them because they're pretty. To the very core of my soul I believe that prayer and those stones were meant for me.
Every night my mom and I would aline my stones going down my 15 inch incision, cover me with my “healing blanket” and say our prayer to God to help heal me and get back to my family in Georgia. Thank you guys so much for reading, please share along to your friends and stay tuned for my next post! God Bless.
Peace and Love,
Today is Friday, February 12, 2016 my second day being awake and my first day of physical therapy. I needed physical therapy to relearn how to walk again. I was in a coma for 11 days and my muscle memory forgot. The nurses and my mom kept telling me I couldn’t get out of the bed, I thought it was because they knew I would walk right out of that hospital or get water but it was because I physically couldn’t walk. I didn’t comprehend this until the first time I sat up in the bed, I felt unbelievably dizzy and I couldn’t hold myself up.
My physical therapist was super sweet and she lifted my spirits every time she walked in my room. Physical therapy was the only highlight of my day. I was finally out of the bed and moving around.
Day 1 she taught me how to roll over and get out of the bed properly without hurting myself. I had wires, needles coming out of all parts of my body and a fresh 15 inch incision going down the middle of my belly, so she had to teach me how to pick myself up without pulling anything out. I had to roll onto my right side and use my left hand to pick my upper body up. I was too weak, so she assisted. I sat up for the first time in 12 days and wow I was dizzy. All I did was sit up and my legs were hanging off the side of the bed.
The next step was to stand up, oh boy. So me, all of my drains, and all of the wires, all stood up and I took two steps to the left with her arms under mine to help hold me up. I was so weak, I couldn’t stand up on my own. After taking those first two steps I had to sit down. I was so tired, so weak, so dizzy. But I couldn’t lay down there, I had to stand back up and walk two steps to the right. That’s all I did for day 1 of physical therapy. It finally hit me how unbelievably weak and sick I was. I felt useless, sad and unhealthy. I knew I had a long way to go.
Day 2 of physical therapy I was so ready! I love striving to achieve goals. Not even two weeks before that moment I was trying to figure out what career path I wanted to follow and now I was literally trying to accomplish how to walk again. Starting from the basics.
Day 2 I was excited but nervous at the same time. I didn’t like how dizzy I felt when I was barely doing anything but I had so much motivation to walk again I was ready to get started! Today we were able to walk to the door and back to my bed. I had taken more steps than I had the day before and that was an accomplishment. I held onto the rolling machine to help with my balance and I had to make sure I was walking with my feet wide so I wouldn’t trip.
Walking felt so weird, so foreign. I went in the hospital at 120 lbs and now I was 100 lbs. My legs were very skinny, my thighs and calves were the same size and they couldn’t hold the upper half of my body. My stomach felt huge and giggly, like my organs were now sitting on the outside of my stomach. When I walked, I felt like a football player playing with two left shoes and I was going to topple over at any moment.
Day 3 of physical therapy was awesome! This was my thing every day there was no going backwards. Today I walked halfway down the hallway! It felt so crazy because this was the first time I was out of the four walls of my hospital room. My wheel chair came with us because we weren’t sure if I would be able to walk back.
No matter how mentally prepared I wanted to be, I’ve never felt this weak and tired before so I was okay with the wheelchair coming for back up. I had to walk down the hallway slowly, holding my machine, concentrating on the placement of my feet, concentrating on my breathing, my therapist holding my arm and all eyes were on me. Hey, I was walking!
Half way down the hall and I had to stop and sit down in my wheelchair to catch my breathe. It felt like I just sprinted a 400 yard dash. It felt like I didn’t have enough energy to walk back to my bed but I had to get back. So I stood up, looked down at my feet and told myself to walk wide. I was so damn proud of myself.
After my walk down the hallway, it took about an hour for my ears to stopping popping and for me to catch my breathe. This opened my eyes a lot, because the only time I felt like this was after sprinting at my fastest.
Today my nurse Jeff gave me another challenge, to sit in a chair after walking. We were seeing how long I could handle sitting before I needed to lay down. The first day I did 15 minutes, the second day 30 minutes.
Day 4 of physical therapy was the day I manned up and I walked all the way down the hallway! I felt like such a champ! I was wobbly and tired but I pushed passed the halfway point and made it all the way down the hall! I was so excited I wanted to jump up and down but then I would have really toppled over. We turned around at the end of the hall and I did not sit down, I had so much good energy flowing throughout my body I wanted to walk all the way back. I was getting stronger every day, there was hope for me walking again.
The picture on the right shows me watching my surgical drain located next to my injury site, fill up with fluid. The nurses couldn't pull the drain until my numbers went from 1,000 cc's of fluid a day to 0 cc's. This drain didn't get pulled until May. The two pictures are side by side so you can see exactly where the drain is coming from my belly.
My physical therapy continued to strive when we moved out of ICU. Now I was walking with a cane and I was able to hold my balance a little better so no one had to hold onto me.
My second physical therapist was a cool guy. Before we walked each day we would do exercises to help get my legs stronger. I would do kicks, taps, to stretch my legs out. Any kind of stretching felt amazing. I went from practicing yoga daily to now confined to a hospital bed, not being able to walk.
Every day I felt stronger. First we started off with one lap around the hospital floor and then we bumped it up to two. I walked with my cane for three days. I started to feel stronger so I told him I wanted to try walking to my bed by myself, without my cane. He had confidence in me, and said yes. I put my cane down, and I walked to the bed by myself without falling over! That was the absolute best feeling EVER!
After that I didn’t have to walk the hospital hallways with a cane anymore. Yes, I moved very slow and I still had to concentrate on everything I was doing but I was walking by myself. Something I couldn’t do a week ago. He didn’t have to hold on to me, but he had my back, and stayed close for the moments when I did get wobbly. On February 18, 2016 Tory did not have to walk with a cane anymore! I could walk by myself, it was a GREAT day!
Everyday I had to continue walking to gain my strength and energy back. After 3 days of walking without my cane, my physical therapist gave my mom and I the okay to walk the halls by ourself. That was the highlight of my day was getting out of my bed and walking two laps around the floor.
I was extremely proud of myself because I remember one day in the ICU, my nurse asked me if we had rehab facilities in my area. I said, "No, I am walking out of this hospital!" She said, “Actually no, everyone gets wheel chaired out,” but she knew what I meant. I wanted to know I could walk out of here. She said she was going to see my progress when I was being discharged. On my discharge day, I was walking :)
Thank you guys so much for reading, please share along to your friends and stay tuned for my next post!
Peace and Love,
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