Septic shock is a medical emergency caused by decreased tissue perfusion and oxygen delivery as a result of severe infection and sepsis.... It can cause multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (formerly known as multiple organ failure) and death. Its most common victims are children, immunocompromised individuals, and the elderly, as their immune systems cannot deal with the infection as effectively as those of healthy adults. Frequently, patients suffering from septic shock are cared for in intensive care units. The mortality rate from septic shock is approximately 25%-50%.
After a day in intensive care, she was, or so we thought, out of danger, and they moved her to a regular hospital ward. She spent Sunday and Monday there and seemed to be improving enough that the doctor told us she would probably go home Tuesday morning. But Tuesday morning after a short walk, she had difficulty getting her breath. The doctor decided to do another x ray which showed a fluid build up in the lungs and around the heart. Joyce's oncologist called in a pulmonary specialist who removed the lung fluid.
She immediately began to feel much better, but both doctors told us that the treatment for septic shock (antibiotics, dopamine, lots of IV fluids) can sometimes lead to congestive heart failure. There was also apparently a possibility that there was more cancer they hadn't known about. We worried about both of these frightening possibilities Tuesday afternoon and night, but on Wednesday morning finally got good news. The fluid build up around the heart was "residue" (my word, not the doctors') from all the IV injections she received in the ER and the CC unit. It had not resulted from congestive heart failure or some unknown cancer.
Her lungs are already clear and the fluid build up is gradually being eliminated by means of lasix pills. She said she felt better this afternoon than she had since she started chemotherapy back in February. The doctor told us today that she'd be coming home in the morning (Thursday, March 31).
Her oncologist will meet with us on her next scheduled chemotherapy day (Tuesday, April 5) and after an examination, determine how to proceed with the chemotherapy.
I told her that I had put up a post about her ordeal and that several had commented and offered their support and prayers. She was amazed and touched that people she'd never met from as far away as Canada, Mississippi, New Mexico, Louisiana, and New York were pulling for her. Deb, Paul, Buck, Andy, and Cookie--thanks for thinking about us! (Thanks also to Scooney and George who have sent her similar good wishes via email and/or phone from the Ridge and Montana.)
Joyce is more determined than ever now to beat this disease and asked me to convey our heartfelt thanks to all of you for your thoughts and prayers during this setback.