Unintended consequences of an SCI

Clearly I made it out of the ICU alive. Some people with my vital signs do not. The infection in my kidneys had spread to my heart, lungs, brain…pretty much everywhere. Even with all the fluid that was pumped into me (6 lbs!) I was not producing urine. I suppose it was not a surprise to learn one of my diagnoses was acute renal failure and sepsis; and I was experiencing septic shock. I was put on antibiotics and diuretics; and learned that I was “this close” to dialysis, but my kidneys started up just before they were about to resort to that.

I did not think I would be seeing the ICU less than 6 years before my last stay. While everything is familiar, it does not make it pleasant to revisit. Without going into details, the next few days were filled with delirium, discomfort, pain, a lot of blood work and close monitoring. Within a few days, my blood pressure and heart rate got back to “normal” range; my kidneys were still not functioning well. I was told that when I entered the ICU my creatinine levels were 4.8. A normal adult’s is ~0.5-1.0. My kidneys were the hardest hit organs and it would take longer for them to recover. The only question was how low did my creatinine levels have to get before I could continue my recuperation/treatment at home as an outpatient.
How did a simple UTI escalate into near death?
  • I lost most sensation in my urinary tract, making me unable to feel the typical signs of a UTI: urge to pee frequently, burning sensations
  • The back pain associated with a kidney infection was masked by my chronic back pain. I had also been deadlifting around that time and attributed the back pain to that.
  • I had no fever!! This is pretty crazy given the raging infection in me.
  • I self-catheterize. There is no escaping this result of my SCI. Every time I cath myself, is an opportunity for bacteria to enter me.
  • While not a cause, not drinking enough fluid is a risk factor for UTIs, kidney stones and kidney infections. In the past, would not drink very much if I knew there was not going to be a clean bathroom nearby.

I am thankful to the team at Mount Auburn hospital for keeping me alive, and to Scott, for even suggesting going to the ER, when no such thought had crossed my mind.

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