Monday, November 17, 2014

Sepsis Shock: How it nearly killed my MOM

World Sepsis Day is September 13, the same day which changed my life forever.

What I mean to share in this post is 'sepsis awareness'. After everything that we've been through, it’s actually a good time for me to finally write it out.

Let’s start Sepsis awareness by few less known facts
  • Sepsis causes more deaths than prostate cancer, breast cancer and HIV/AIDS combined. Globally, an estimated 20 – 30 million cases of sepsis occurs each year.
  • Sepsis remains the primary cause of death from infection despite advances in modern medicine, including vaccines, antibiotics, and intensive care. Sepsis, which is often misunderstood by the public as “blood-poisoning” is one of the leading causes of death around the world
  • Patients surviving sepsis have double the risk of death in the following 5 years compared with hospitalized controls and suffer from physical, cognitive and effective health problems.
  • Sepsis arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs. It may lead to shock, multiple organ failure, and death, especially if not recognized early and treated promptly. Between one third and one half of patients with sepsis die.
  • Sepsis is often diagnosed too late, because the clinical symptoms and laboratory signs that are currently used for the diagnosis of sepsis, like raised temperature, increased pulse or breathing rate, or white blood cell count are unspecific

My mom wasn't doing well. I remember mom had been complaining about fever since a couple of days. But, she’s a lot like me. Or I suppose I should say I’m a lot like her. She insists she doesn't need to go to the doctor – or hospital – when in fact she does. But with all of us nagging, she finally relented and agreed to see a doctor. A few hours later, she returned with a diagnosis that I can’t even remember, but nothing serious. She’d be fine. There wasn't anything to worry about.

We took mom illness as normal “viral”. But then after few days, around two-and-a-half months ago, on a Saturday, we were having our routine lives. I had a call with my mom in the morning like any other weekend. Except my mom wasn’t feeling well. At all.

By noon mom had fever 104 F. She started feeling cold and she suddenly lost consciousness. She was rushed to the nearest hospital while she lay unconscious. By the time she reached hospital her blood pressured crashed down to 70/40 or something silly low close to that. It was just the beginning – and a mild version – of the crashes that were to come, but it was very fortunate that she was in the hospital by now and doctors where there for her. Doctors tried to stabilizer her, put her on ventilator and admitted her in the ICU. But, she showed no signs of improvement.

And so began seven days of pure hell, where my mom would nearly die – over and over and over again – in front of me and my family.

Doctors knew my mom was in septic shock. The mortality rate for sepsis goes up 8% every hour it goes undiagnosed, Mom went undiagnosed for 4 hours, killing her chances by 32%!

Sepsis shock is a medical condition caused as a result of severe internal infection where toxins released by bacteria cause tissue damage, low blood pressure, and organ failure. Because in mom’s case it hadn't been caught earlier and treated with antibiotics, it had progressed to the point that she was at risk of dying.

The doctors were working around the clock on mom — she was hooked up to every kind of life support. It had progressed well beyond sepsis. They just didn’t know what bacterium was causing it. Neither could they find the source of the infection, so she was on every heavy antibiotic there was – in extreme doses. By the third day, it was becoming apparent she wouldn’t be able to fight much longer; she wasn’t going to make it without the ventilator. They’d held off on that. It’s a last resort because when the body is as sick as her, pneumonia sets in quickly and then, well… But when the body is as sick as her, it needs help, too.

Things could have got worse. But with God’s grace, mom started responding to medicine and after a week she was discharged from the hospital. She is 52 years old. The only reason she lived through it was because she was healthy when it hit. She was incredibly physically active and in good shape.

Someone who was dealt a crappy health card in life — someone like me — would have been dead by the second day.

Mom was 30 pounds lighter when she came home. She could barely walk. We brought her to Delhi to make sure she gets best medical attention. She is getting better now.

Friends, sepsis and sepsis shock are no joke. I shared a limited account of my mom’s experience from my perspective. I’m still not completely over it, but I’m okay enough. I don’t believe she will ever be completely over it, physically or mentally. The details of the story – and more importantly, the part that followed the initial part – aren’t mine to share. So I’ve shared my experience, which was nothing in comparison. And yet it was a lifetime, lived in a week.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Life beyond PCOS...

Hello everyone! Welcome to my Blog!
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Madhulika and one of my goals today is to raise awareness about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It is a complex metabolic and hormonal disease and the number one cause of infertility. I have PCOS. 

"I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome."

I’m excited to share the discoveries I have made along my PCOS journey. It has been far from easy, and it took a while to get to where I am now, but my path to healthy life has finally started to open up. Getting diagnosed with PCOS was a blessing in disguise, after all the years of guessing what was “wrong” with me. 

It all started during last few years. I started gaining weight and getting acne. I was experiencing severe mood swings, blood sugar spikes, as well as a severe lack of energy and motivation. I lost all drive to life. My menstrual cycle was either very irregular, or completely absent, and I lacked self-esteem.  

My medical history, blood and hormonal tests as well as a pelvic ultrasound confirmed the diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. For the first time in my life, everything that I’d gone through started making sense. It was all connected, in one way or another, to this complex metabolic and hormonal disease. I was diagnosed in December of 2013, when I was 23 years old. I count myself lucky for having been diagnosed early on in my life. It paved the path to wellness for me. In saying that, what I mean is that the diagnosis allowed me to now found out what needed to be done for me to feel like myself again. 

Of course, the doctor told me there was nothing I could do and that I needed to proper medication well as a Diabetes medication called Metformin, for around a year. I was also told that I can be more prone to developing other serious illnesses such as Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Cardiovascular Disease, Osteoporosis, Obesity, Cancer, etc! Not even counting all the horrible symptoms I was already experiencing, it was a rude awakening. It did make me realize that I needed to start taking my health seriously. It wasn’t just about losing weight or controlling my hair fall anymore. I had to prevent further complications from this disease.

I began doing my own research, soon to discover PCOS can be cured..!!! Yes.. You heard it right... PCOS can be cured :)
Just try to have a healthy lifestyle and take your medicines on time. Try to exercise moderately and practice stress management activities such as yoga and meditation. I’ve also discovered that staying on a good routine, going to bed before 10:30pm, fertility charting, as well as keeping a PCOS journal is very beneficial and keeps you feeling in control.

Lastly, the most important aspect of treating  PCOS is surrounding yourself with people who love and support your efforts. It’s important to communicate with your family, friends and spouse as PCOS can definitely affect all your life relationships if you or they don’t see it coming. The people around need to be understanding, but it’s also important for you to try to control yourself, and to educate and find what works best for you. That is why the journal and recording how you feel is so important. It helps you to see a pattern, and to understand your symptoms and mood swings, so that you can know when to avoid stressful situations, or give your loved ones a heads up!

Throughout my life, I had always been searching for the one thing that was causing me to feel ill. Through much education and personal experiences, I learnt that it’s not only one single thing that makes us unwell, it’s a combination of everything we do in our lives; from what we eat, how and when we exercise, which products we use, what environment we’re in, the people we surround ourselves with, etc. While some situations may be unchangeable, we must pick our battles and change the ones we have control over.

Treating PCOS takes some time and effort, but it is well worth it, and becomes easier as it gets habitual. From the day I became proactive in my own health and treatment, positive changes started happening. I’ve never felt better in my entire life! For that reason, I'm writing this blog to help women like me, who need to go by life with the day by day struggles of this disease. I believe that I have gained the upper hand and control over my PCOS, but I do expect some pit falls along the way. There is no magic formula to completely cure PCOS. Living with PCOS will be a life long struggle that I have to accept and I hope that any issues arising along the way will be dealt with positively based on the natural resources that I have, and that are out there.

P.S. I would be glad to help anyone with ways to deal with PCOS. or just a girl to girl chat.

P.P.S. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a complex and life-altering disease, but there is hope. Your health is in your hands; heal yourself! Your path to vitality awaits you. Strive to achieve!