WHEN Racheal Acuff noticed blood in her pee, she thought it was little more than a kidney infection and took herself straight to hospital.
But within a matter of hours she had quickly deteriorated and she had to be sedated for more than a month after going into septic shock.
10 Mum-of-two Racheal Acuff suffered septic shock from pneumonia – even though she had no symptomsCredit: MDWfeatures / Racheal Acuff
10 She had to have parts of her fingers amputated after the tissue diedCredit: MDWfeatures / Racheal Acuff
At one point, while under heavy sedation the 32-year-old, from Missouri, USA, could even hear her family saying their final goodbyes as doctors feared the worst.
Even when she pulled through, her ordeal wasn’t over as she was told she’d need her hand, toes and parts of her fingers amputated.
The mum-of-two first went to hospital on June 19 last year after spotting blood in her urine.
She said: “I had no symptoms of pneumonia and I only knew of the kidney infection when I peed blood.
“Once I got to the hospital everything started happening really fast after they took my blood pressure which was so low it almost didn’t register.
“They moved me to a room right away and began running a list of tests.
“The last thing I remember was being told they were moving me upstairs and then I was sedated for three weeks.”
During this time, Racheal’s family were called into the hospital to say their final goodbyes, but to their surprise weeks later she woke up.
She was told she had had gone into septic shock from pneumonia, which led to a blood clotting disorder known as disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC).
Racheal also suffered toxic shock syndrome (TSS) from an unknown source and her kidneys were not working so she was put on dialysis.
She said: “When I woke up my mum explained to me that I had septic shock, DIC and toxic shock syndrome from an unknown source.
“I was on a ventilator which was helping me breathe, a feeding tube for all my nutrients, a port-a-cath for my dialysis because my kidneys were no longer working and two IVs for access for blood and to give me all my meds.
“I remember hearing my family cry when the doctors told them to bring in family to say their last goodbyes, but I was sedated and had no way to respond to them.
“I felt totally helpless but I knew I had to fight to prove them wrong. I didn’t feel like I was dying, and I wasn’t going to.”
Racheal was in an intensive care unit for nearly six weeks before being moved to another unit for a further eight days.
She spent two-weeks at an inpatient rehabilitation facility where she learnt to walk again before she was allowed to go home in August.
But Racheal’s sepsis ordeal still wasn’t over as doctors said her extremities had been so damaged from a lack of blood flow that they’d have to amputate.
On August 29, 2018, she had the dead parts of four of her fingers on her left hand removed.
A couple of weeks later, the dead tissue on all five fingers on her right hand were amputated before another operation to remove 10 of her toes.
What are the signs of sepsis you should never ignore?If you, a loved one, or in the case of medical professionals their patient, feels “severely sick”, doesn’t appear to be themselves and shows any of the following symptoms, sepsis should be suspected:
loss of appetite
fever and chills
difficult or rapid breathing
rapid heart rate
low blood pressure
low urine output
If a person is suffering these symptoms and they are thought to have suffered an infection – pneumonia, abdominal infection, urinary infection, or a wound – sepsis is a likely cause.
Earlier this year, she had to have more surgery to remove the little finger on her right hand and a trans-radial amputation of her right hand two inches above the wrist.
Racheal said: “The recovery process of sepsis was long and discouraging but in the end it gave me strength I didn’t know I had.
“The recovery of each surgery was different with my foot surgery being the worst, I couldn’t walk on them for three weeks and it was very painful.
“My most recent hand amputation has been difficult in that I lost a whole hand, lucky for me I’m left-handed and they took my right but it’s still different.
“I’m starting to adapt until I get my new hand in a few weeks.”
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Racheal says her near fatal experience means she no longer takes life for granted.
She said: “I soak up every moment good and bad and never take life for granted.
“It’s such a special gift you’ve been given so live it well, because you’ll never know when it could be taken away from you, and when it’s real bad remember, it’s just a bad day not a bad life.”
10 Racheal with her boyfriend Taylor, children Eden and Reagan and her parents who supported her throughout her recoveryCredit: MDWfeatures / Racheal Acuff
10 Racheal’s wrist amputation after she suffered septic shockCredit: MDWfeatures / Racheal Acuff
10 Racheal with Taylor and her daughter Reagan in his hospital during her ordealCredit: MDWfeatures / Racheal Acuff
10 She also needed all of her toes removed after her extremities diedCredit: MDWfeatures / Racheal Acuff
10 The mum-of-two had taken herself to hospital after spotting blood in her pee – but she would end up not going home for more than a monthCredit: MDWfeatures / Racheal Acuff
10 The brave mum-of-two battled through the infection and came out the other sideCredit: MDWfeatures / Racheal Acuff
10 Racheal was heavily sedated when she heard her family say their goodbyesCredit: MDWfeatures / Racheal Acuff
10 Racheal, in a wheelchair, has learned to walk againCredit: MDWfeatures / Racheal Acuff
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