Know Sepsis...Save a Life (or Limb)
Team Sue Sepsis Awareness
Many people have asked about the significance of the "7" on the left shirt sleeve. Sue's ICU room number was "7", at 7:00 PM on August 12, 2014 we had a family discussion where Sue made it clear she wasn't ready to give up yet, and finally her first dialysis machine was #7.
The "7" is on the left shirt sleeve because Sue is lefthanded. For these reasons, "7" has special meaning for us.
In August 2014, Sue went into septic shock from an undiagnosed bacterial infection. After 3 days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), our family was told to say final goodbyes as Sue wasn't expected to make it through the night. She beat septic shock despite being given less than a 5% chance of survival, but sepsis and the vasopressors used to keep her alive resulted in bilateral below-elbow and bilateral below-knee amputations.
Sue would spend 50 days in the hospital, 30 days at the Jim Thorpe Southwest Rehabilitation Center and another 6 weeks at the Center for the Intrepid at the San Antonio Military Medical Center. We returned to Oklahoma for the Christmas holidays and it became readily apparent that home is where we needed to be. In January 2015, we met with Hanger Clinic in Oklahoma City and started the long road of recovery for lower and upper extremity prosthetics. As part of learning to use her new myoelectric hands, we returned to Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Center, this time the Northwest Oklahoma City location, for weekly occupational therapy. Throughout this entire journey, the 72nd Medical Group, Tinker Air Force Base, OK was instrumental in ensuring Sue received the best care possible.
Sue has shown unwavering courage, determination and resiliency in the face of catastrophic injuries from her illness. Using her residual upper limbs, she has self-taught herself to do her makeup, do her hair, put in her contacts, get dressed and all the other daily tasks everyone takes for granted. She has mentored other amputees, participated in multiple 5Ks to raise sepsis and limb loss awareness, skydived, rode roller coasters, swam with Manatees and rode the rapids at Riversport Adventures! Together, we have shared our story at hospitals and healthcare systems in Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Nevada, New Jersey and Arizona as we seek to raise sepsis awareness and educate people on this devastating illness.
We simply can't say thank you enough to all the people who've played a role in Sue's recovery and in regaining her independence!