I'm a Mom Who Nearly Died Of Sepsis Because I Didn’t ‘Have Time To Be Sick’

Kristina Wright
Right after I was moved out of the intensive care unit, my kids were allowed to visit me. (Photo Courtesy of Kristina Wright)

What does self-care look like for a mom? I know magazines and social media make self-care look like a day reading a novel on the beach, or an afternoon watching Hallmark Channel movies. But for me, on a beautiful spring day in 2015, self-care looked like accepting the need for medical treatment so I wouldn’t die. 

I had made it through that winter without getting sick, which is basically a miracle when you’re a mom of two young children, and I was happy, at peace, and feeling good

Then I started feeling… not so good. I figured it was allergies, or even a cold catching up to me after a healthy winter. I ignored it, as most moms with young kids tend to ignore anything less than a full-on medical emergency, and pushed on, taking some vitamin C and ibuprofen. I remember thinking “just my luck” and being annoyed at the nuisance of feeling lousy during a busy week that included Easter and my husband’s birthday. 

Within 72 hours of grudgingly climbing into bed immediately after dinner because I was too exhausted to stay up any longer, I was in the back of an ambulance headed for the hospital. What happened? The hours in between are a blur of memories: My little boys standing by the bed asking if I felt like playing, my husband checking on me to see if I needed anything, and me saying, “I’m OK. I just need more sleep.”

But it turned out I didn’t need more sleep. I needed emergency medical care. In addition to having pneumonia, I was in septic shock, a condition where the toxins from infection trigger a full-body inflammatory response. My kidneys were failing and my blood pressure and electrolytes were dangerously low. I was, quite literally, dying. And I didn’t even know it. 

Riding in the back of an ambulance, feeling every bump and turn, my few coherent thoughts ricocheted from, “This is silly. I’m not that sick,” to, “Oh my God, what have I done?” I had a birthday cake to bake and Easter baskets to build. I had responsibilities...

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