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My mom, who has moderate dementia and Parkinsons started showing strong signs of UTI (fever, severe confusion, weakness, strong urine smell) so I took her to ER and she definitely has a UTI. They admitted her and started fluids and antibiotics. The next morning the doctor at the hospital came to speak with me and said she has a blood infection (sepsis) and "it's the bad kind" as he put it, gram-negative bacteria. He said they are going to continue antibiotics and fluid and she seems stable now. When I asked if she could die from it he just said he wants to concentrate on clearing up the UTI first in hopes that will help. She still has a fever but the nurses said it has gone down a couple points. Not sure what to think about all of this and wondered if anyone out there has had a similar experience. I just want to be prepared and also want to make certain I give other family members who are out of state some notice.

A UTI that is left untreated becomes sepsis. Sepsis can definitely lead to death even in young people, this is not restricted to the elderly.

What worries me more is the diagnosis of a gram negative bacteria. Without going into all the medical mumbo jumbo here, I will try to explain what this means. Gram negative bacteria occur in nature...all over the world. One example of a gram negative bacteria that most people have heard of is E. coli but there are many many more. Urinary tract infections can be caused by gram negative bacteria and when they are they are known as "complicated urinary tract infections" because they tend to stick around and are hard to treat.

The important thing about gram negative bacteria is that they have this very strong cell membrane...think of it like a shield around the bacteria. This shield makes them immune to certain classes of antibiotics...but the good news is that there are two classes of antibiotics that are very good at killing these bacteria. You may recognize these antibiotics as the "-mycin" suffix drugs. While this all sounds like good news, there is one catch.

Once a gram negative bacteria gets into the circulatory system (blood stream for example) they have this unique ability to create endotoxic shock. What that means is that the combination of fever, low blood pressure and low respiration caused by the blood infection can be instantly and quickly fatal.

So that's the medical breakdown of what's happening here. Your mom is in the best place she can be to solve this problem. I'm sure they are pumping her full of the antibiotics needed to treat this infection. Keep your eye on her blood pressure and temperature to avoid the shock syndrome. Also, since the antibiotics are very powerful, after this is over she may end up with C-diff or another digestive malady. Probiotics could be helpful in this case. Many prayers.

Angel
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Loeloveumom, you did not fail at caring for Mom. Sepsis happens very fast and the weakness and nausea were probably as you guessed due to the chemo and radiation. In her weakened state she contacted a UTI which may or may not have caused the sepsis.
Once sepsis takes over the survival rate is very low.
You followed your instincts and got her the help she needed. Unfortunately in her weakened state she was not able to survive.
Even if you had been there 24/7 you may not have recognized the UTI. It could have been a long standing infection and she was used to it. Try not to second guess yourself you did the best you could. Grieve the loss of your mom but don't blame yourself
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Loveloveumom Sep 5, 2018
Veronica91, I don't think I ever replied to your kind words, and though some time has passed, i still want to let you know that you provided me with much comfort that i truly needed at that time. Reading them again tonight, they continue to help. I get on this website to read other's posts occasionally. I love my mom with my whole heart and still grieve for her. She was so, so good to me my whole life, and i just wish she was still here so i could take care of her. I would do so many things better, different, if i could only have her back. But i know she's at peace and reunited with my dad, my grandparents, uncle bill and everyone else that went before. Thank you again for your kind words. I hope you are doing well. God bless you and yours.
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My dad just passed away August 19th he was 76. He went into the hospital the previous Friday with a UTI, seemed to be doing better. I saw him on Wednesday and he was fine, clear headed and talking - I am so thankful that we went over an advanced directive with him then. Thursday night, he was acting tired/confused.

Friday mid-morning he was moved down to the ICU and that afternoon he passed.
His blood pressure plummeted and they could not get it back up, the sepsis was also damaging his organs.

I really hope your mother pulls through and is o.k., if you haven't yet and she is still clear headed go over an advanced directive. If her sepsis turns into septic shock you will need to know without a doubt what she does and does not want done.

My brother lives 3 hours away and even though he left as soon as I told him it wasn't looking good, he didn't make it in time. None of us thought something like this was going to happen, we were completely blindsided by the sepsis, my father has had UTIs in the past and nothing like this ever happened. I've read up on it since then, but at the time I had no idea how fast it can go bad, I still can't believe it.
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You don't "catch" sepsis. It's not an infectious disease.

Denver, so happy for you and mom!

My mom was 91, went back to ALin a totally debilitated state after pneumonia related septic shock. They were able to get her up walking again, but not independently with a walker as she had been doing before. Each time she's hospitalized, the result is a new level of "weaker" mom. So we've moved to palliative care, meaning that whatever treatment they can provide at the nh is the limit on her treatment. They pulled her through a bout of pneumonia last year.

Good luck!
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Please don't question your care giving of your mom. We all seem to do that and it doesn't help us mentally at all. you are a wonderful person for taking on a situation like the rest of us that has so many ups and downs. after a while you don't know which way your going any more. my dad went thru it all as your mom. he did have the UTI first than sepsis. high temperature, chills, totally out of it, his body swelled up like king kong. the hospital told me dad wasn't going to make it thru the night. He also stated seniors get ITUs often and I need to keep an eye on the oncoming signs in order to catch it right away. I was one of the lucky ones as my dad did make it , thank god. he was in the hospital for two months and rehab for couple months also. dad has had sepsis two times total. he was lucky both times. god works in funny ways. We all can just do the best than we can and be proud of our selves for being there for the ones we love and surviving thru it ourselves.....
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It's not an infectious disease. Sepsis is caused by severe infections that get out of control and overwhelm the body's defenses. You have to gown and glove because of the antibiotic-resistant infections that are causing the sepsis, not because of the sepsis itself.
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From the Mayo Clinic website:
Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection. Sepsis occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection trigger inflammatory responses throughout the body. This inflammation can trigger a cascade of changes that can damage multiple organ systems, causing them to fail.

If sepsis progresses to septic shock, blood pressure drops dramatically, which may lead to death.

Anyone can develop sepsis, but it's most common and most dangerous in older adults or those with weakened immune systems. Early treatment of sepsis, usually with antibiotics and large amounts of intravenous fluids, improves chances for survival.
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Just to clarify for everyone...infections are contagious. Infections LEAD TO sepsis. If you are caring for someone with sepsis what you are protecting yourself from is the infection, not the sepsis. Sepsis is a developed disease from an untreated infection.

Angel
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I've personally experienced three occasions when sepsis, which in the olden days was called septicaemia, or "blood poisoning", threatened:

1. ExSO, cleaning out a pond, slipped on decking and gashed his elbow on some rock edging. The wound was cleaned in ER, but prophylactic antibiotics were not given. Following day, cellulitis; next day, rampant cellulitis, returned to ER at my insistence, sent home; next day, workplace occupational health GP had him admitted to private hospital for 2 days of IV antibiotics.

2. Self attempting to catch mother's deeply disturbed and neurotic cat who sank his fangs into my hand. Wound dressed in walk-in unit, but no antibiotics given: next day my hand looked like a washing up glove that some wag had inflated. Alert GP sent me to ER; admission to hospital for three days of IV Augmentin. And by the way, I felt like death - what does surprise me is how often the symptoms seem to get missed.

3. Daughter aged under two caught chicken pox and became extremely ill with a secondary bacterial infection. IV Flucloxacillin, followed by oral therapy under medical supervision on the understanding that if she didn't continue to respond she was to be returned to ER.

Babalou is quite correct: sepsis is what happens when an infection gets the bit between its teeth and goes on the rampage systemically. But it doesn't follow that any infection will inevitably lead to sepsis: most are dealt with by the body's own immune system, with help as necessary from the medical profession.

And I must say - taking up Z's question and substituting "developed" for "caught" - that if exSO had ended up minus his left arm or dead I would certainly have considered suing that NHS Trust for negligence. There has recently been quite a bit of publicity about sepsis, and it is something that a good physician should consciously exclude rather than await developments. Time is of the essence.
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My mom, 82, had just gone in to remission from lung cancer and completed about 10 rounds of follow up radiation to prevent the cancer from coming back. She was living independently but I was checking in on her just about every day. She had been experiencing nausea and weakness and some confusion but we attributed that to the chemo and radiation treatments. One night I just had a bad feeling so I went to check on her. I found her on the floor. We got her to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a UTI. She never recovered. I had no idea she was that sick. Looking back, I wish I had gotten her to the doctor sooner, and she maybe she would still be with us. But she had been to two doctors that week and neither of them mentioned UTI or sepsis. I am heartbroken.
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Cinderella5001 Sep 4, 2018
I am so sorry for your loss. It is so very painful for those of us who were attentive to parents who require 24/7 care. It is difficult to bear. I did not know that my mother was dying.....The doctor never told me. But, he knew that I was extremely attentive to my mother. He may have thought that he was being kind by not telling me. It was shocking and painful to me when she passed. That happened over a year ago and I am still wondering if I really did do all that I could have done for her. I am more peaceful about this now because I know that her suffering is behind her. We are faithful people so I know well that she is in the care of our Creator which is always a comfort to me. I can tell you that the feelings of loss do start to soften after a while. You will get through this, too in time.....
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