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Posts (17)

Feb 5, 2019 · Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) - Let's talk in Intensive Care (ICU)

Hi, Polly,
I am sorry that I did not respond yesterday, as I had planned. I am glad that I can do so today. 🙂

Because all of my body was affected by severe septic shock, there was a combination of factors that were of great help to me. For example, my nutrition was prescribed and monitored according to blood tests and other indicators while I was at Mayo.

To answer your question about the most important part of my recovery, I would say it was physical therapy, which was started immediately at Mayo and continued for the six weeks that I was there; plus for the month that I was at the nursing home; and during the six weeks that I received home-healthcare. I indicate physical therapy as significant because it not only made it possible for me to use my body, but also it raised my self-esteem and gave me hope. I eventually regained my physical independence.

At Mayo and the nursing home, I learned to how to turn in bed, to get out of bed, and eventually to walk with assistance. I found that the physical therapy offered by home-health care was the least helpful because it was based on the low expectations of the therapist. More helpful at home was having my husband set physical goals with me. Prior to severe septic shock, I could walk many miles at a time and hike partway up mountains.

My husband plotted a walking track for me in front of the house and identified the number of laps I would need to take in order to walk a mile. I started with the ability to walk one lap, with my husband at my side, but without assisting me. Over a length of time I eventually was able to walk a mile.

Today, almost three years later, I can walk without tiring. However, I will no longer hike partway up mountains. I can regain the physical ability to do so, but I cannot gain the energy. I tire more easily than I did before severe septic shock. In part this is because a year later I had a second surgery and again suffered septic shock. My heart was affected adversely. Even so, I am very well. I have regained my enjoyment of life and my sense of humor. I feel free. I am deeply thankful.

In response to the concern about telling your husband the details of the trauma, and your experience of reliving the suffering, I say this. I definitely needed to know the details of what happened to me. My husband, and our sons, waited to tell me until I asked questions. And, they did not tell me more than I asked to know. They let me take the lead because they did not want to overwhelm me. Each day I was dealing with so much in the moment that I could not handle knowing too much about the past. And today, I likely do not know all of the details.

Another major contributor to my recovery was the fact that I weekly saw a psychologist. Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) affects a person in ways that can be shared with and understood by a professional counselor. If you are interested in having me share more about this, I will. Because my response to you is lengthy, I best not share more today!

I am confident that the compassionate care you provide to your husband is and will continue to be of assistance. A great length of time is required for recovery. May he and you be encouraged by knowing that others have plodded along in recovery and have reached new horizons. I am hopeful that his recovery will continue not only in obvious, but also in hidden ways. May each of you be able to get added rest.


Feb 2, 2019 · Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) - Let's talk in Intensive Care (ICU)

Hello, Polly,

My name is Muriel. I see that Colleen Young, Connect Director, indicated that you could seek support by being in touch with me. I certainly am willing to share the challenges that your husband and you experience. The outcomes he is physically and emotionally experiencing, and your great concern, certainly are troubling at this time. I hope that he and you can see the present as a point in time in recovery, and not the final point of recovery. Tough days take you both closer to better days.

As background for listening to you, here is part of my story:
When I unexpectedly went through severe septic shock after routine surgery at Mayo in March 2016, I was in a coma for six days and on a respirator in intensive care. My kidneys did not function, so I received dialysis. I had 22 serious diagnoses. One of the outcomes was the my entire body became de-conditioned. I lost all strength, to the point that I was unable to push the button to call the nurse. Once I was out of the coma, I was delusional and experienced nightmares. Throughout my long recovery, I cried many times for lengths of time.

Tonight my main point of contacting you is to say there is hope. You have connected with a knowledgable and compassionate community at Mayo Clinic, and at Vanderbilt. As soon as I am able, likely on Monday, Feb. 4, I will respond more directly to you. Feel free to share your thoughts and feelings. I will listen.


Jan 27, 2019 · Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) - Let's talk in Intensive Care (ICU)

Hi, Amanda. It is good news that you found a counselor who recognized that grieving is part of your experience.

Tonight I acknowledge another similarity between your story and mine. Perhaps you remember that my experience of severe septic shock necessitated my immediate retirement from employment. Like you, I also served others and sought God's guidance in doing so. Such faith-filled service not only ended suddenly, but also it meant that I would not return to a beloved congregation, which was a distance from my home.

There is hope. My husband and I connected with a congregation closer to our home. As my recovery advanced after the second experience of septic shock, in prayer I asked God for a new way to serve, keeping in mind that I could not extend the amount of energy that I previously expended. One recent day I was in the midst of a conversation when it was revealed that there was a need for a Sunday school teacher. I immediately volunteered. Serving with the children is wonderful. Preparing each lesson is fun. The children are appreciative. I am joyful… and thankful.

"A thousand ages in thy sight are like an evening gone; short as the watch that ends the night, before the rising sun." wrote Isaac Watts in a hymn that makes reference to Psalm 90, verse 4. Two and a half years passed before I was called in a new way, one that matched my ability and energy level. Two and a half years might sound like a long time to wait for a call; but according to God's timing, it is just the passing of a night.

It can be difficult to no longer be the person in charge. If you are hurting from the reality that you were released from your position, may it be for you that God and counseling heals the hurt. Because you are a person of full faith, there will be revealed to you a new way to serve… and it will be placed before you when your healing is full. And, it will give you joy. I pray this for you.

Thank you for listening, Amanda. I also need to talk… to reflect. May you rest well each night.

Jan 26, 2019 · Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) - Let's talk in Intensive Care (ICU)

@amandacgrow Hi, Amanda. I hope to respond (finally) later on Sunday, tomorrow. I continue to think of you. Muriel

Jan 23, 2019 · Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) - Let's talk in Intensive Care (ICU)

Hello, Amanda.
It is likely that you have little time to care for yourself, while raising young children and upholding employment. In response to your interest in ways to heal the inner-self, I tell my story. Please do not take my actions for inward healing as prescriptive, as expectation, as imposition!

To heal my inners sorrow and fear, I needed psychological care from a licensed psychologist. Though at times, I did not feel he fully understood me, it was a tremendous benefit to talk weekly with a professional, compassionate caregiver. If you were to enlist this type of care for yourself, I suggest you see someone who not only understand the inner affects of physical trauma, but also someone who acknowledges the importance of grieving. The referral to see a psychologist was made by my primary care physician in my hometown.

I need spiritual care. A hospital chaplain began that care for me, and now I am fed by being with other believers in my hometown. Spiritual care swells through the love of the congregation, who accepted the 'new me' without placing expectations on me. Though the pastor, where I worship, seems unable to accept the limitations of my 'new life', she is supportive.

I also post spiritual statements in the house for me to see and quietly repeat. These remind me of God's divine presence and strength. It is by searching God for 'the new life' God gave me, that joy slowly grows within me. I now feel like I am on a treasure hunt with God, since I now know I cannot control life. Sudden severe septic shock clearly demonstrated that to me! Anyway, my previous attempts to control life were never satisfying.

I also practice a new mental skill for me. For a while, it was difficult to do, but has become easier over time. It is the mindset of 'living in the moment'. When I am overwhelmed or agitated, I remind myself to focus only on the moment or only on the day I am experiencing. Mayo Clinic has resources that help to understand and to encourage 'mindfulness'. Perhaps Annie Johnson can give you a link to resources. It is by 'living in the moment' that joy slowly returns to your heart and mind.

There are several other possibilities, but I do not want to overwhelm you. Again, the steps I take were ones I need. Over time, I hope you will be able to tell the practices that will assist you to heal inwardly, Amanda. Let's stay in touch. I am available to support you.

May a sense of inner-peace arise within you, even if for only a moment, as you live today.

Jan 23, 2019 · Confused about Stiff Heart, Diastolic Heart Failure, or HFpEF? in Heart & Blood Health

Today I heard Dr. Farris Timimi explain "Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction". This is the state of my heart. I have diastolic dysfunction. The symptom that led me to this diagnosis, at Mayo Clinic, is shortness of breath when walking for one mile. TRIAMTERENE/HCTZ 37.5-25MG CAP was prescribed.
My concern is whether or not exercise harms the heart that has diastolic dysfunction. I am interested in learning the type and amount of exercise that is appropriate for someone in the early stages of diastolic dysfunction. I also wonder if a hard pounding of each beat of the heart, which I have intermittently even when sitting, is related to diastolic dysfunction.
Thank you.

Jan 22, 2019 · Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) - Let's talk in Intensive Care (ICU)

@amandacgrow Amanda, I will respond again tomorrow morning. Please know that I am thinking of you and am hopeful that over time you will again know joy. By the way, when you respond to me, start with: @muriel66 (note the spelling). Then write your thoughts. That way I will be notified that you posted on this website.
A Lebanese prophet (Kahlil Gibran) once wrote, "The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. …When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
Amanda, in time joy will return.
I will post again soon.