Tory Pereira- Sepsis Survivor
The next morning on February 2nd Rick, Jo and Morgan showed up at the hospital to say good morning, thinking they were going to be picking me up. Leaving Desert Springs Hospital was definitely the last thing I was going to be doing.
As they turned the corner and got closer to my room Rick said there were five doctors and nurses running around my room, shutting the curtains and moving instruments around frantically. The nurse immediately stopped them from entering my room. At this time, on February 2nd, around 8:00 am my body had been swimming in sepsis for about 36 hours. My body fought as long and as hard as it could until it could go no more. I couldn’t handle the deadly toxins floating throughout my bloodstream any longer, so I lost my pulse again that morning. My body was in septic shock, it was dying, I was dying. I spent the night at the hospital, and no one had any idea I was in septic shock. What hope is there for me to survive when my doctors don’t even know what’s going on?
Rick, Jo and Morgan were beyond freaking out in the waiting room. The nurse walked up to Rick and told him he might want to come talk to me before they put me on the ventilator and into a coma. The reason being, they weren’t expecting me to survive, I had less than 1% chance of making it through surgery. They had no predictions of my outcome. At this point the doctors didn’t know my body was in septic shock, they just knew they were losing me. Multiple things were going wrong, my blood pressure was low, my heart rate was high, I wasn’t urinating.
I was crying, terrified and wanted to get out of there. Rick told me I couldn’t leave the hospital and asked me if there was something he needed to tell my mom because those could have very been my last words. I said, “no,” and he told me to be strong and they will be there when I got out and will see me soon.
One of my doctors, Dr. Singh called my mom before my surgery and he asked, “Do you want us to do everything possible to save your daughter’s life?” “Yes, of course!” my mom said without hesitation.
Shortly after they put me in my coma, Rick met my first doctor, Dr. Singh. Dr. Singh said all we can do is pray. He said, “I am going to go to my office to pray, she’s too young to be fighting for her life.” He told Rick they were going to do everything in their power not to lose me.
I was booked for my exploratory surgery for 2:00 pm. Rick was in the waiting room while I was in an ER, cut open from my sternum to my pelvis, fighting for my life. I am in the middle of a surgery that could potentially save my life.
My surgery took four and a half hours. The surgeons had to spread the two halves of my body open with a machine, so they could suction out the toxins that were suffocating my organs. Dr. Patel also noticed I had a significant amount of ascites that needed to be evacuated immediately. My intestines and organs were taken out, cleaned and put back in carefully.
After cleaning me out, Dr. Patel could then see that my duodenum was perforated and he could fit two of his fingers inside of my hole, the hole was the size of a dime. According to Dr. Patel that’s the last place a surgeon wants to do a repair, it’s one of the most difficult. The surgeon, the doctors, the nurses, no one had any idea my body was in septic shock until he made the incision, opened me up, cleaned me out and could see exactly where the rupture was. Then it was too late, I was already fighting for my life.
Due to the perforated hole in my duodenum being too large, after he patched the hole, Dr. Patel had to perform a reroute of my stomach. He didn’t want anything to pass through my duodenum because he was afraid the repair would tear, so he closed off the regular route and created a new one. Nothing passes through my duodenum anymore. Dr. Patel rerouted my stomach and connected it to my small intestines on the left side of my body. Now when I eat, my food lands in my stomach to digest then it travels through my small intestines.
It’s beyond amazing how Dr. Patel performed my surgery successfully. Dr. Patel had no predictions of how I would wake up. The doctors weren’t 100% sure if the reroute would be successful and they weren’t sure if I was ever going to be able to eat a solid meal again. The doctors predicted I would be eating through a feeding tube for the rest of my life.
When Dr. Patel performed my surgery, he repaired the hole in my duodenum but the hole was so big he couldn’t stitch it up completely. So when I woke up I had three drains coming out of my stomach: two on my left side and one big one on right side. The one on my right side was the drain that was next to my injury site. Dr. Patel did not have any estimation of how long I would have that drain in. It all depended on how long it took for my scar tissue to patch up the rest of the hole. It didn’t heal right away so I had to keep my drain in for two months after I left the hospital. That drain was like my baby.
Around 6:30 pm my nurse, Nancy, approaches Rick with a smile and tells him I am out of surgery and still alive!
An hour later Dr. Patel comes out to talk to Rick and told him, “She’s alive but still in critical condition. We started cutting her open and had to cut all the way down to her pelvis because gallons of bile, acid, and pancreatic juices poured out of her abdominal cavity. She was in septic shock. We’re not sure if she is going to make it.”
The day I met Dr. Patel, I remember this as clear as day, he said, “I am the surgeon who had his hands all inside of you.” He was one of six doctors I had on my team.
Dr. Baramitski was my renal doctor, when I went into renal failure. Dr. Qureshi was my infectious disease doctor; my white blood cell count was 51,000, that’s extremely high when it’s supposed to be in the range of 4,500-10,000. Dr. Schroer kept an eye on my 15 inch incision; he saw when it got infected and had to remove a staple. Dr. Singh was my ICU respiratory doctor, when I went into respiratory failure in the ICU. Dr. Singh was awesome, and he stayed by my side my entire journey. He knew the first night I arrived at the hospital I didn’t get the proper treatment, so he made sure I did for the rest of my stay. Dr. Jaradat was the doctor who ran the floor, he checked on me every morning around 10 am, he was handsome so I didn’t mind.
Dr. Patel drew a sketch for Rick of where the perforation was in duodenum and then the reroute he had to perform. Rick asked Dr. Patel if I was okay now and he said, “No, she is still very critical and it’s not good, you need to pray.”
After my surgery the doctors kept me in a medically induced coma. I had a 24 hour nurse who monitored my vitals, numbers and medication. Nobody knew how long I would be in a coma, it was a day to day thing. I was in renal failure with an extremely high heart rate, 130, and low blood pressure, my kidney doctor didn’t know where to begin.
Doctors believe in science and facts. When I woke up, my doctors told me I should feel very blessed because they medically could not explain how I survived. Dr. Penn, my gastro doctor, is surprised I went so long with a perforated intestine and survived. Dr. Penn told me on average, a person is in the ER within an hour after you perforate an intestine, I went around 36 hours. It is truly a miracle I am still alive today and I am beyond thankful to share my story and help whoever I can!
Thank everyone so much for following my blog! I really appreciate all of the support and I hope everyone is learning a thing or two about Sepsis and spreading the word along. God Bless & have an awesome weekend. See y’all on Monday!
Peace and Love!
(The following events are the recalled memory of my fellow employees and friends that were with me on the trip) As told by Morgan and my minimal recollection of the day:
3AM Throughout the night I kept tossing and turning, in agonizing pain. Around 3am on February 1st I projectile vomited all over Morgan, who was laying on the bed a foot and a half next from me.
I have no recollection from the night before but I have little flashbacks from parts of the day on February 1st. I remember having the most excruciating pain in my stomach that morning, I couldn’t stand up straight and kept saying how bad my stomach hurt. One of the many early symptoms of sepsis.
8AM The stabbing pain I was feeling in my stomach was equal to nothing I had ever endured before. I thought it was a combination of period cramps and being a little hung over. I couldn’t walk because I was in so much pain so Morgan had to help me get dressed. She asked if I should go see a doctor but I said no. I am terrified of hospitals and doctors so I thought I could tough it out.
11AM We started our journey to Vegas, it was a beautiful five hour drive with windy roads around snowy mountains, and deserts and I remember none of it. At this point I was approximately 12 hours into being septic. On average, a person with a perforated intestine is in the ER within an hour after the perforation, according to the Medical professionals in Las Vegas.
Later, I also found out that every hour that goes by while you’re septic, your life expectancy drops 8%. The entire trip Morgan said I couldn’t stop moving and I kept saying I was in so much pain. Rick said I was very uneasy and uncomfortable. I have a flashback of being in the car holding my stomach, it being extremely cold outside but I felt like I was hotter than a furnace on the inside. Another symptom and early sign of being septic.
After a five hour car ride, we arrived at the Las Vegas Convention Center and it was time to work. The stabbing pain on the right side of my stomach never got better. I still could not stand up straight, much less unpack hookahs and set up the booth.
At this point the intense fear that I had tried to deny was becoming more and more real with every passing moment, I felt it in my gut. I couldn’t walk, so I stayed in the car while Rick, Jo and Morgan spent about two hours setting up for the show. When they finished, everyone was hungry and thought it would be smart for me to eat so we stopped off at Paymon’s Restaurant.
Morgan said I sounded like my mind was very clouded. She described me as looking like a zombie, and physically I was pale and incoherent. The entire time my eyes were shut and my head was hung. I was so incoherent I couldn't even order my food. Rick was trying to ask me questions and I wasn’t answering; to try and help me Rick ordered me soup. He tried feeding me, but all of a sudden with what little strength I had left I uttered, “I can’t see y’alls faces anymore.” That split moment, before my body started shutting down, was one of the first and last thoughts I really remembered from that day.
On February 1, 2016 around 6 pm I went into cardiac arrest at Paymon’s restaurant. My body completely shut down, it died. I died on that floor. No one thought me feeling sick was anything serious. In reality, my body was slowly dying and I hung on until I couldn’t hang on anymore. It’s gut wrenching every time I say it. Surreal.
Soup started drizzling down my mouth. Everyone started freaking out. Rick’s first thought was taking me to the hospital. Rick called 911, and one of the waitresses ran over and started doing CPR. Luckily there was an off duty cop who was at the restaurant, and he stepped in. Thank goodness this off duty police officer was at the restaurant that very moment because this is the man who saved my life.
At this time, I didn’t have a pulse. The waitress couldn’t find a pulse, the cop couldn’t find a pulse. The off duty police officer told Rick to tell the paramedics, she has no pulse, she’s not breathing, and throwing up into her nose and lungs. The police officer continued doing CPR on me until the paramedics arrived.
Morgan thought the off duty police officer was going to break my chest he was pushing down so hard. To paint a better picture, Rick said, he was pressing on my chest so hard, my arms and legs would fly out, and my body would jolt as if it was coming to life. Luckily these intense thrusts from the off duty officer gave me the push I needed to make it in that most crucial moment before I was transported to the hospital.
Fluid was rolling out of my mouth. Rick was on the phone with the ambulance, and the cop turned to him and asked where they were? The cop said they’re not coming fast enough and then made Rick put the ambulance on speaker and started spitting the terminology that he needed someone there ASAP. He started saying his badge number and telling the paramedics to get there like yesterday or we’re going to lose her. No one could get there fast enough.
When the paramedics arrived they immediately hooked me up into a ventilator. Everyone was wondering why the paramedics weren’t taking me to the hospital. But they couldn’t take me to the hospital until I had a pulse and was stable enough for the short trip. Morgan asked the EMT if they were going to take me to the hospital, and they said “ma’am we’re just trying to get her back right now.”
After the revived me on scene, they put me in the ambulance and we made our way to Desert Springs Hospital. Rick, Jo and Morgan followed and said it was like Moses parting the Red Sea as the ambulance spun down the street as the sounds of the sirens spread the passing cars to the side of the road. The hospital was only about four or five blocks down the road. Extremely close thankfully!
It’s said I had less than a one percent chance of surviving the EMT ride to the hospital, alone. I overcame those odds. I overcame many odds that doctors don’t have an explanation for. Rick, Jo and Morgan stayed in the waiting room for hours waiting for any news about me.
I have no recollection of waking up at the hospital or the events that followed but Rick was by my side the entire time.
Finally, I woke up. Around 10-11 pm the doctors took me to get a CT scan. Upon reviewing, the doctors stated they saw air in my abdomen and couldn’t see much more but they wanted to keep me overnight to monitor me. Rick said I was not very happy about that. Around 12:30 am the doctor comes in and reviews the CT scans, presses on my belly, and asks me on a scale of 1-10 how much did that hurt? I told him a 4. I don’t remember if I was in pain or not but after them loading me with IV’s and pain meds I doubt I would feel any kind of pain. Rick said I was feeling euphoric, who in the world feels euphoric after you’ve had sepsis throughout your bloodstream for 24 hours and just went through a cardiac arrest at the age of twenty-two?!
The doctor on call stated, that if there was something really wrong with me then I should be in more pain and he shouldn't be able to press like this. He informed me of an exploratory surgery they could perform but did in no way express to me how urgent and imperative the decision of doing the surgery was. The doctors did not know I was in septic shock that night. HOW? How were my vitals not screaming, SEPSIS?!
I guess because I was under the impression that I had a choice in the matter and at the time of waking up I felt fine I said no to the surgery. Due to the doctors not performing exploratory surgery that night, my blood remained septic and I lost my heart beat, my pulse, again the next morning.
Thank y'all so much for following my blog! I cannot express how much the love and support from everyone means the wold to me! Be looking for my next post on Thursday. God Bless, have a great week!
Peace and Love!
Just FYI I will be posting twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays :)
2016 came around, it was a new year and I was ready to start it off right by working a Business Show and Expo. in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was super pumped and excited to work another show! I went last year in July and had an awesome time checking out new glass pipes from, Medicali, Roor, Envy and meeting awesome, down to earth people like Charlie and Dean from Medicali. When we weren’t busy selling our products, we were stunned watching the glassblowers work their magic.
Myself and fellow employees were flying out of Savannah to New York for a layover, then flying to San Diego for the day before we made the beautiful drive to Vegas. This was my first time to both New York and California, and I was visiting both places, on the same trip! I was so excited I could hardly sit still on the plane. I was spending most of my trip in Las Vegas and of course that's always a hoot. The first flight to New York was fairly smooth. We were only there for a layover so it was a short three hour trip packed with adventures.
We walked around the city, amazed at the beautiful skyscrapers and the hundreds of people wearing different unique styles passing us. The city was so dirty; the leftover snow from the snowfall the day prior was as black as night on the edges of the walkway. We walked around the city, and decided to take the subway as it was one thing on our bucket list that we wanted checked off. The subway was so busy, everyone looked important like they had some place to be. In the middle of the subway station was a locally famous burger joint we came across, so we ate delicious cheeseburges before heading back to the airport to board the plane to California.
Finally, this was what I had been waiting for! I've always wanted to go to California to see the beautiful people, gorgeous beaches, and be in the mix of the happy vibes that Cali has to offer. When we got there it was nighttime, so the one thing we had on our mind was food. We went to the Cheesecake Factory and I ate delicious seafood pasta followed by great conversation.
The next day when we woke up, Morgan and I went to the gym. She lifted weights and I practiced a peaceful yoga session. After our workout, we built up an appetite decided to go to Joe’s Crab Shack. Rick and I split a huge low country boil filled with shrimp, crab legs, mussels, corn, and sausage--my absolute favorite!
After we ate we wanted to keep exploring and spent the rest of the day at the beach. Oddly enough, but this was one of the most windy days San Diego had seen in a very long time. It was so windy when Morgan and I would try to stand on the cliffs it would almost blow us off like leaves on a tree.
We wanted to stay on the beach but it was so windy we decided to get a drink at a dive bar by the cliffs. The locals were telling us how unusual it was for the weather to be extremely windy and sprinkling showers of rain off and on all day. We were supposed to leave for Vegas that day but we decided to stay in San Diego for one more night...Why not right?
New York (left)/ San Diego (right) Morgan (left)/ Tory (right)
We were never on the West Coast and we were loving every minute in California! That was the last conversation I remember having on January 31, 2016. I don’t remember that night at all and that was the night that changed my life forever.
Once again the support means everything, words cannot describe! Be looking for my next post on Monday. God Bless, see y’all then!
Peace and love!
This was the question I was wondering myself on that dreadful day February 1, 2016. I had the unfortunate experience of falling ill to septic shock. Septic shock is the third and most severe phase of sepsis according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). In my case, the 2 inch wide perforation in my duodenum (that's where the chemical digestion of your food takes place) was as severe as a survivor of a gunshot wound when described by doctors.
Due to the lack of knowledge I had about sepsis, I did not go the hospital immediately when I started noticing the early signs of sepsis. This was my mistake, I tried to tough it out, which was the worst decision of my life. After approximately 24 hours of being septic, and driving from San Diego to Las Vegas, I went into cardiac arrest in a Las Vegas restaurant on February 1, 2016 around 6pm. I layed on a restaurant floor with no pulse and no oxygen traveling to my brain for about 8 minutes.
Once the ambulance and paramedics arrived and hooked me up to a ventilator, the machine recorded the minute to minute report which read my pulse and blood pressure which fell to zero multiple times. I was stabilized and rushed to the nearest hospital E.R. where doctors tried to assess what was wrong with me. After a CT scan was preformed the doctor said he saw air in my abdomen, so they decided to keep me over night to monitor me. The next morning, I lost my pulse again.
Before my surgery the doctors told my parents and boyfriend, to hope for the best but plan for the worst in a general sence. Due to the fact that I had less than 1% chance of surviving. Nearly five hours later, I beat the odds and survived the abdominal trauma surgery. To give you an idea, the surgery consisted of cutting me open from my sternum to pelvis, removing and cleansing every internal organ and rerouting my stomach from the right side of my body to the left. I then spent 10 days in a coma, 16 days total in ICU, 22 days without solid food and 25 days total in Desert Springs Hospital. Dr. Yogesh Patel is the brilliant surgeon who performed my successful surgery.
After Dr. Patel and the team stapled my 15 inch incision straight down the middle of my stomach with thirty staples, he talked to my loved ones and told them I was very critical for the next twelve hours to see if I would pull through. He then didn’t know what to expect for the next two weeks even if I lasted the next 12 hours.
“She is still in very critical condition and we have no predictions if she is going to survive this kind of trauma." Doctor Patel couldn’t tell my parents anything specifically because he didn’t have a clue how my body would respond to everything it had just been through especially the re-routing of my stomach.
He couldn’t even estimate how long my hospital stay would be if I did survive, a month, six months? Even if I did survive the following hours of surgery, the doctors didn’t think I would be able to eat a solid meal ever again due to the re-routing of my stomach. It was all a game of guessing and praying.
Throughout the twenty-five day hospital stay my mom and I went through trials and tribulations. We thought the problems would never stop, and that we were never getting out of Vegas.
My body had just endured:
-Acute kidney failure
-Mixed disorder of acid-base balance
-Acute respiratory failure with hypoxia
-Postoperative anemia, and non-thermal blisters on my right thigh.
February 25th was the happiest day of my life! I was finally released from the hospital! I still had a five month out-of-hospital recovery after this traumatic event but I didn’t care, just as long as I was getting out of the hospital.
Don’t get me wrong! I was and will forever be INCREDIBLY grateful for all the care and attention I was given by the staff at the hospital, but I was sick of being poked and prodded every two hours like clock work. The relief I felt getting out of Las Vegas and finally returning back home to my friends and family in Georgia was sensational. After spending a month in a Vegas hospital home was all my mom and I longed for.
One of my resulting side effects is memory loss due to the lack of oxygen to my brain during the time I went into cardiac arrest. With that being said I am starting this blog to tell my story about how my life-threatening sepsis experience and how it affected my life in such a drastic way. I am hoping that by being able to work through this blog and structure my story, I will then be able to help my memory potentially jog itself for the betterment of my rehabilitation.
I am collaborating what little memory I have of the events leading up to, during and after my entire experience. In addition, I have been interviewing different people such as friends, family and the those who were with me throughout the course of my experience to objectively compile as many details of my story as possible.
With personal dedication and taking life one day at a time, I’m slowly merging myself back into a normal lifestyle once again. I hope that my future posts will help raise awareness of sepsis and inspire anyone who may have been through a similar experience or anyone who just struggling with life in general.
Like I have said in my About Me, this experience has made me reconsider my life and how it all works. I do not only believe but I know God helped me pull through this experience because it was part of a much grander plan.
Just reiterating what I said in my About Me, I am currently in the early stages of starting a nonprofit organization to raise awareness of sepsis and assist in funding research for early detection. My goal is for future septic victims to be aware of the noises their bodies are making so they may then be medically treated sooner and increase their chances of survival! In addition we will be seeking to fund further scientific research into early detection.
With that being said any donations made (here) will be split 50/50. Half will go towards starting my non profit organization in early 2017 around March/April and the other half I will be using to pay the remaining $200k worth of medical bills that I am now responsible for. Thank you so much for reading, stay tuned for my next article about my detailed story! Please share along, it’s more appreciated than you know!
Peace and Love!
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