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I survived sepsis. What’s next?

Recovery takes time.

After you have had sepsis, rehabilitation usually starts in the hospital. You will begin by slowly building up strength. You will be helped with  bathing, sitting up, standing, walking, and taking yourself to the restroom.

The purpose of rehabilitation is to restore you back to your previous level of health or as close to it as possible. You will begin your rehabilitation by building up your activities slowly and resting when you are tired.

How will I feel when I get home?

You have been seriously ill, and your body and mind need time to get better. You may experience the following physical symptoms upon returning home:

  • General to extreme weakness and fatigue
  • Breathlessness
  • General body pains or aches
  • Difficulty moving around
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Weight loss, lack of appetite, food not tasting normal
  • Dry and itchy skin that may peel
  • Brittle nails
  • Hair loss

It is also not unusual to experience the following once you’re home:

  • Feel unsure of yourself
  • Not care about your appearance
  • Want to be alone, avoiding friends and family
  • Have flashbacks, bad memories
  • Be confused about what is real and what isn’t
  • Feel anxious, more worried than usual
  • Experience poor concentration
  • Be depressed, angry, unmotivated
  • Feel frustration at not being able to do everyday tasks

What can I do to help myself recover?

Set small, achievable goals for yourself each week, such as taking a bath, dressing yourself, or walking up the stairs. Here are some things you can do:

  • Rest and rebuild your strength
  • Talk about what you are feeling with family and friends
  • Record your thoughts, struggles, and milestones in a journal
  • Learn about sepsis to understand what happened
  • Ask your family to fill in any gaps you may have in your memory about what happened to you
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Exercise if you feel up to it
  • Make a list of questions to ask your doctor when you go for a check up

What if I think I need more help?

Some hospitals have follow-up clinics or staff to help patients and families once they have been discharged. Find out if yours does or if there are local resources available to help you while you get better.

However, if you feel that you are not getting better, finding it difficult to cope, or continue to be exhausted, call your doctor or nurse.

What are the long-term effects of sepsis?

As with other illnesses requiring intensive medical care, some patients have long-term effects. These problems might not become apparent for several weeks after treatment is completed  and might include such consequences as:

  • Insomnia, difficulty getting to or staying asleep
  • Nightmares, vivid hallucinations, panic attacks
  • Disabling muscle and joint pains
  • Decreased mental (cognitive) function
  • Loss of self-esteem and self-belief
  • Organ dysfunction (kidney failure, lung problems, etc.)
  • Loss of hands, arms, legs, or feet (limb amputation)
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