Spring blossomed with the promise of summer, and the city of Raleigh, North Carolina was covered in a powdery blanket of pollen. The months that followed disappeared quickly. Summer now glared across the soon to be burnt lawns and untanned bodies with the sweltering Sun Belt heat. Swimming pools opened and vacations began. Yards filled with kids, dogs, picnics and barbecue smoke.
But I had winter in July. My life was frozen in a cold war with severe sepsis, and my consciousness of time and the seasons was transformed into a moment to moment hour to hour struggle for survival. I did not know that a monster with a voracious appetite for destruction was waiting to devour me. It carried with it the capability for raging pain, suffering, and hopeless despair that would soon thrust me into a lonely and dark purgatory. My tangible reality was stripped away and spun off balance like a wobbling gyroscope, while my spirit, soul, and body fought for survival.
I was overwhelmed. I wouldn’t trust anyone except my family. My trembling, fever-ridden body was grossly swollen from infection, and I gasped to capture each breath. My rational mind had been silenced by the roar of the impending massive Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS) called sepsis, which may be described as the body’s overwhelming auto-destructive response to infection. I became paranoid, delirious, and panic stricken. Beneath my physical symptoms I felt raw fear and anguish. I could sense death’s shadowy veil drawing near me, yet I felt the divine presence of love.
This is a true story about surviving sepsis, one of the leading causes of death in the United States. There are approximately 750,000 cases of this mysterious illness each year in the United States, over 200,000 deaths, and it is on the rise. It examines a spectrum of experiences that I endured physically, mentally, and spiritually. My art work illustrates many of the ordeals and episodes that I encountered during my illness and recovery. My research explores the epidemiology of sepsis, and includes some of the latest innovations for treatment, as well as references for further investigation.
I felt compelled to share my experiences to create awareness, increase knowledge, and give helpful insight to the public, patients and their families, and health care professionals who may have already or someday will face this sleeping giant of death and destruction