A Mother’s Worst Nightmare

On December 27, 2018, I had a hysterectomy. During the surgery, my surgeon cut my bowel. So, for 3 days bowel leaked into my abdomen.

I went into septic shock, multiple organ failure, and respiratory failure. I was in a coma for a month. During my recovery, bills were overwhelming but the LEISHLine was there to help me not worry so much. I have had 17 surgeries this year to repair damage done by sepsis. Social Security denied my claim so now I have to go back to work because these bills are steady coming. I am blessed to be here, but I hate my children had to watch me go through all this. 

  • Nicole Daily, Survivor

A Husband’s Warning

In October of 2017 my wife came home from work with soreness under her right arm . I assumed it was just something that happened at work and we went to bed . The next morning she calls me at work and complained about not feeling well and wanted to go to the doctor. While we were at the doctors office she started vomiting about every 5 minutes. The doctor did the usual things along with a chest x-ray. They gave her some meds and scheduled a CT scan for later that day. We came home and she finally fell asleep after being up all night . I felt she needed the sleep and called them to postpone scan till next morning and they told me that would be ok. Little did I know,  the next morning she couldn’t get herself out of bed. I rushed the boys ,12 and 5 yrs old at the time , to school and we went to ER. There they ran scans and tests as her blood pressure dropped to 75/45 they diagnosed her with cellulitis and sent her via ambulance to nearest hospital for further evaluation.  Brandy was still cognizant of what was go on around her but I became very worried.  Once at the hospital she started acting oddly and panicky and it just became worse . The doctors told me they were gonna sedate her because they didn’t want the infection traveling to her brain.  She was intubated basically 48 hrs from our first visit.  At this point I didn’t know what to think , she was septic and scheduled for surgery to try to remove infection. This was the start of the scariest roller coaster ride of our lives.

I was told on several occasions following surgery to prepare for the worst.  I just couldn’t imagine the boys and I trying to live life without her. That just couldn’t happen! Brandy fought and kept fighting through 6 months in ICU where she developed ARDS along with several weeks of dialysis, numerous other infections,  blood transfusions etc. The list is too long to mention.  One of the biggest victories was her surviving ECMO for 87 days and was the first to actually walk while on the machine.  Fast forward to now.  Brandy’s lungs were very damaged during this sickness and now we await a double lung transplant.  She is  so strong and she tries so hard to stay positive through the struggles of needing oxygen 24/7. She has a family and two young boys who absolutely love her and we are believers! We believe God brought her through this for a reason and we will continue to live on the positive side of life. I feel like her story needs to be heard.

We have another journey staring us in the face with the transplant but we will do it. Keep us in your prayers as we will now try to find the finances to make this happen so my Brandy can have her life back so she can run and play and live the life she so dearly wants back with her boys and her family. Thank you for this foundation . Everyone needs to know how scary sepsis really is. 

   –  Coby Holtcamp 

Leishman Lager

A portion of the proceeds of Leishman Lager benefit the Begin Again Foundation.

You can purchase Leishman Lager at the following locations in Hampton Roads:


A Q&A With an ARDS Survivor Who Never Gave Up!

  1. How did you realize you were sick? I am a US citizen, born and raised in Massachusetts. In 2006, I married my husband, Albert, and we live in the country of Bermuda. Albert was born and raised in Bermuda and with two elderly parents, it was just easier for us to live in Bermuda to take care of them since Al is an only child. In 2018, Al and I flew to Massachusetts for my 40th birthday at Tuscan Kitchen in Burlington, MA, and was staying at a hotel just around the corner from that restaurant. About a week after the party, I was diagnosed with pneumonia and was admitted to Lahey Clinic in Burlington. 12 hours later, I was rushed to ICU where I went into cardiac arrest for 11 minutes. After reviving me with the paddles, I was placed in a medically induced coma for 2 weeks. It was during those two weeks that I was diagnosed with ARDS.
  2. What was the toughest part about your illness? Recovery was relatively fast and normal. It seemed that every 12/24 hours I was turning over a new leaf. Within 3 weeks, I was at my mom’s home for rehab with a visiting nurse, PT and OT. Roughly 2 weeks later, my GP told me that I should be going to an out patient facility for PT because they have more equipment. However, the toughest part of this time was the guilt trip I put upon myself. I was apologizing for getting sick and putting my husband and family through hell. It was an emotional roller coaster ride. The other hardship was trying to sleep and getting on a sleep pattern. 
  3. How did the LEISHLine Financial Aid Grant help you? What was it used for? I was granted money for: utility bills, food, etc. I am so grateful for the money because my husband and I have been in financial hardship due to my hospital stay.
  4. What is your message to other survivors? Don’t give up…you can do this! Yes, you will loose some hair, your skin will be dry and itchy, it will be difficult to roll over in bed, difficult to walk and take showers, but guess what? This to shall pass.
  5. What is your message to people who don’t know the signs and symptoms of Sepsis, ARDS or TSS? For those who don’t have ARDS or TSS, educate yourself about the disease, make the patient comfortable AND meet or call your local state representative. Tell him or her about the disease. Push until your state representative spreads awareness of the disease, gets funding for the disease, etc. I did this in Massachusetts and my state representative is having a state ARDS awareness day.
  • Amy Rego, ARDS Survivor

Following near-death experience, Marc and Audrey Leishman advocate for sepsis awareness

By Doug Milne, PGATOUR.COM

The Leishmans Begin Again Foundation

As far as the notion of fate goes, Marc and Audrey Leishman’s story makes a strong argument for the power of aligned stars.

Even at a time when death seemed determined to cut those stars from the sky.  

Aligned stars, though, is more than some preordained, cosmic phenomenon. The course of one’s life is dictated largely by people encountered along the way. The relationship experience has a pretty impressive way of directing a life.

Not only is that experience working elegantly for Marc and Audrey, but through unlikely and terrifying circumstances, it also led to another special relationship that would help pave the way for their mission in life.

Marc and Audrey Leishman met many moons ago at a bar, arguably not the best spot for lasting relationships to start. Marc was in Williamsburg, Va. for a now-Korn Ferry Tour Monday qualifier. Audrey was there, at the Green Leafe Cafe, with friends gearing up for a concert.

“I’d had a few beers when I got the courage to go off and talk to her,” Marc joked. “It was a pretty quiet bar, and we just hit it off while I was drinking beers.”

Theirs would become one that defied the “met-in-a-bar” relationship odds.

By now, many people are at least familiar with the story of how Audrey nearly lost her life four years ago. What many don’t know, though, is that she nearly lost it because of, well, what people don’t know. MORE

Marc and Audrey Leishman host another big Begin Again Celebrity Golf Classic

Three-Time Sepsis and Septic Shock Survivor

I’ve had sepsis three times & septic shock with liver failure once, all within a year and a half.  I honestly don’t know how I survived any of it. The first time I heard the S word it was December 2015 and I was eight months pregnant with my third child. I had severe hyperemesis gravidarum, a deadly form of morning sickness. I was given IVs 24/7, that ran medications, fluids, electrolytes, and calories. I felt a bit off all day, and my PICC line that fed me liquid nutrition (TPN) looked irritated. I had a temp of 99*F, and decided to drive myself to the ER. A few blocks of time are missing. It was the first time I saw those strange containers for blood cultures. The next thing I know, I’m laying in a bed, calling my husband, at work. “I have sepsis. I’m so scared. Please hurry.”  He was pulled over for speeding, and the officer let him go. The rest of the hospital stay is blank. It doesn’t exist in my memory. I don’t know how long I was admitted, and I only know it was around Christmas, because of photos. My two oldest children spent Christmas morning at Denny’s with my mom.


I was released at some point but back all too soon, because our son, Sullivan, was born two weeks later. He was perfectly healthy, and we went home to recover and start our new lives together.  Soon, I fell into a severe postpartum depression, that teetered on psychosis. Looking back, I didn’t want to admit I was sick, or that I needed help. I even went back to work, and pretended life was normal. It was far from that. After my first sepsis baby was born, my husband and I thought it was all a fluke. The hyperemesis, the sepsis, the countless hospital stays – it was so awful, and we wanted a blissful pickles and ice cream pregnancy.

So we tried for one more baby. I found a doctor who specialized in hyperemesis gravidarum, and we created a plan, if I were to get sick again. We had no idea what we were getting into. 


Genetic testing, a D&C, medication & four miscarriages later, I found myself pregnant again, and back at my OB’s office, getting a sonogram. Two babies! There was only one heartbeat, but it was strong. I miscarried the twin, and another horrific hyperemesis pregnancy began.

Some time in April 2017, was the second time I had sepsis. I was about 14 weeks pregnant, and had a PICC line for fluids and medication.  I felt sort of tingly & warm, took my temperature, and went to the emergency department. The insertion site of my PICC line looked slightly red & irritated, and a nurse pulled the line while I was in the ER. Cultures were taken, and I was admitted.


Again, my stay at the hospital is blank in my memory.  Doctors tried another PICC insertion, but could not find suitable veins.  Next step, a Groshong line. Groshong is a heavy duty central line in one’s chest, and much like a PICC, it is able to deliver medications & fluids, but can stay longer in the body & has a lower risk of infection. The cultures came back for the second bout of sepsis, and was a rare yeast. The Infectious Disease doctor had never seen this in 40 years of practice.  Doctors actually used Google to find out more!


The third time I had sepsis was a strange one.  I sat on the couch on Mother’s Day 2017, and felt water on my shirt.  My Groshong line had a tiny crack in it, and so back to the ER I went.  Radiology was called to repair the line, a simple ten minute procedure. When a dressing change is done on a PICC or central line, it is a sterile procedure, including the masks and gloves.  I noticed one of the nurses put on gloves, left the room, and returned wearing the same gloves. Two nurses & one radiology doctor repaired the line without masks and sterile gloves.  I laid on the table, petrified to speak up. Two days later, I was in an ambulance and back in the hospital with sepsis.  I was never angry with the non-sterile environment & risk they took with my health.  I was angry at myself for not speaking up. I had my Groshong line in for just over a month, when I became septic for the third time.  I have really no memory of the hospital stay, nor how long it was, as sepsis has destroyed my memory. I do know I had the infected Groshong line pulled and a new one surgically placed. I went through all of these procedures alone. I spent most of my hospital stays alone.


I was sent home, and placed on TPN, as I was getting zero calories & gained zero weight at 20 weeks of pregnancy.  With TPN, a person should have blood drawn regularly to check their electrolyte panel. I never had a blood draw. A new home health care company took over my care, once I had TPN.  I saw three different nurses in a week, and they all said different things.


The home health care company was incredibly unorganized. One evening, a bit too late for my taste, a random nurse came out to my home to do a dressing change.  She had Mike, my husband, watch, and told me I can do my own dressing changes from now on.

That was the worst piece of advice I’ve ever heard.


About a week later, I called home health for a dressing change, as I am not going to change it myself in the mirror.  I brought up the nurse who asked I change the dressings myself and the company was outraged. Not as much as I was, as they were charging my insurance company $35k a month for my care. I asked for a different nurse to come out and care for my Groshong.  The company tried to find one, and no one was available. Day after day, I called and begged for someone to come out, and was told no one was available.  I began to get scared that an infection might begin. Three days after my dressing needed to be changed, another random nurse came to my home.


I was in bed, as I didn’t feel well. I felt weak, my dressing was hanging off, even though I taped it back, and there was a weird discharge coming from my line.  I had TPN running 24/7, along with medications. Ten days with the same dressing, and I began to feel a sense of doom. The nurse took my temp, and it was 99F, she changed my dressing & was heading out.  I asked her to check my temperature one more time, and it was 104F. She said, “If you start feeling bad, call a doctor.” And she left. Moments later, I was violently vomiting, shaking, and turning a pale gray color. I was freezing cold.  My teenager sat on my bed with me & urged me to call someone. I called a friend and no answer. The teenager begged me to call an ambulance, and the next thing I knew, I’m being wheeled out of the house, and telling my children I loved them. I began hallucinating in the ambulance.  One of the EMTs kept me as coherent as possible. I woke up in the ICU, very confused.I was hooked up to everything. I was in sever septic shock and my liver was failing. I had a Dobhoff feeding tube placed.

There’s a photographic moment, clear as day, in my memory. An obstetrician, an RN, an MD, an anesthesiologist, and one more, I don’t recall. I had a couple bands around my waist to measure the baby’s heartbeat.  I was 25 weeks pregnant.


It was surreal to hear a heartbeat go from the 160bpm, and just drop. The obstetrician placed her hand on my leg. The anesthesiologist asked if we could do a cesarean immediately. The obstetrician said there was no way I would make it through, and she said she was making the decision to save me, because I had children at home.


Everyone stood around me in silence, as I tried to process that my daughter died. A doctor spoke to my husband, outside of the room, told him the baby didn’t make it, and it’s not looking good for his wife, either. There’s another block of time missing, but I glanced at my husband, his face in disbelief, no words, just confusion of what was happening. I shopped for bassinets in the morning & cremation services in the evening. Time passed. Minutes. Hours. Days. I felt something. A kick? My body betrayed me. And another? A soft movement, but I was drugged and delirious. My ICU nurse came in & I mentioned it, and she replied with remorse that it was my mind playing tricks. I asked her to please bring an OB and a sonogram, just to rest my mind.


Warm jelly & the ultrasound wand was now on my tiny 26 week belly, as I was still losing weight & did not look pregnant. The OB scanned and saw a heartbeat, slow but it was there! She couldn’t believe it, brought others into the room. Baby came back to life. Everyone was in disbelief, including Mike and I.  We were warned to expect a very disabled child with extreme disabilities, and possibly not surviving long. Eventually, I was moved into recovery and the doctors tried several times to place feeding tubes, as I would vomit them up, was unable to speak, and one I yanked out in my sleep.  I had seven placed during my fourth bout with sepsis.


The hospital stay is such a blur, and the days and nights run together.  One morning, my obstetrician stopped in to say hello. He had a bewildered look on his face and bluntly said, “You should be dead.”  I chuckled and replied, “You can’t get rid of me that easy!”

Baby was evaluated, had a good heartbeat, but still an unknown of what she would be like when born.  So, we began a very difficult wait. I eventually was discharged from the hospital, and went home. I was incredibly weak, and needed a lot of help, but was too stubborn to ask.  Looking back, I’m not sure how I dealt with day to day activities. A few weeks later, I went into early labor & Juniper was born that evening via cesarean section.  She weighed five pounds, and went to the NICU. I began my recovery from surgery and a very tough pregnancy.

When I was in ICU with septic shock, a blood clot formed. No one was aware of this, as I had no symptoms. The clot traveled to my heart and began to damage it. Eventually, it would move to my lung.


After Baby June was born, I’d visit her in the NICU every day. Recovering from two bouts of sepsis, septic shock, and a cesarean section, I was very weak and tired, but I never missed a day to visit. About two weeks after she was born I had this awful pain in my right ribs, but figured I pulled a muscle. I tried to ignore the pain. The next day, the pain was still there, so I went to get it checked out at the hospital, after I was done visiting Baby June in the NICU.  In the ER, x-rays and CT scans, and blood work was administered and the doctor came back, sat down, and put her hand on my hand. She said I had a massive pulmonary embolism & my right lung had died (she called it infarction). There was fluid surrounding my lung now, my heart had been damaged, and she said she couldn’t believe I was alive, with the extensive damage. My heart and lung will never be the same, and I’ll be on lifelong medication. I had two surgeries to drain fluid around the lung. Two bouts of pneumonia following, which was more hospital stays, one of those, having an anaphylactic reaction to medication I was given.  It is surreal how many times I’ve come close to death.


A year later, I open my eyes each morning and reach for pain killers. My joints and back are in excruciating pain, my muscles, weak. My brain suffered similar to a stroke, and is not the same. My lung, still scarred and will never be the same, and still hurts with a deep breath or yawn. My heart, permanently damaged, as well. Simple things like walking or breathing are so painful. Picking up a baby makes me grit my teeth in pain. I have nightmares, flashbacks and anxiety several times a week. I don’t like to leave the house, because there are germs outside. Post septic syndrome comes with a laundry list of debilitating symptoms. I have a team of doctors including a pulmonologist, hematologist, cardiologist, EP cardiologist, pain clinic, and gastroenterologist. I wear two medic alert bracelets. Seven medications a day and a handicap placard for the car. Coming that close to death left me alive, but broken. It doesn’t seem like a celebration. It’s more of mourning who I used to be.


— Jenny Lorraine



Sepsis and PTSD

On Sunday July 1st, 2018 it was like any other day. I felt fine and cleaned the house most of the day. Later that evening I was feeling really tired but just figured it was from cleaning. I started feeling really cold and was shivering. I went to bed and woke up the next morning and felt like I was getting the flu as I was achy and not myself. I noticed my foot was a little red and swollen. My husband took me to a clinic and they were very concerned. I had a fever and my oxygen was low. They called an ambulance and immediately took me to the hospital. They started running tests. A few hours later my whole foot and part of my leg was bright red. They found that I had cellulitis caused by a cut on my foot.

My oxygen was dropping even more and I was struggling to breathe. They decided to admit me. The next day, after more tests they found that I had severe sepsis and ARDS. They admitted me to the ICU. When the doctor came in and explained everything I just couldn’t believe what was happening. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to me. They told my husband and family that I need to be on a ventilator. I was so scared! So many things were running through my mind. Was I going to live or die? No one knew what was going to happen but we all just hoped and prayed for the best. I was on the ventilator for three days and mostly sedated. When they took me off of it I was relieved. I thought I was okay and going to get to go home soon! Later, the doctor came in and was still concerned. He talked about putting me on the ventilator again if I didn’t improve. I was terrified and begging not to be put on it again. They monitored me for a few more days and eventually I got better and was able to breathe with very little help with the oxygen tube.

On July 10, 2018 my husband went in for a scheduled surgery he had already planned and was unable to postpone. Luckily, it was just an overnight stay for him. I was so happy the nurses let me go see him before and after his surgery. They would wheel me to his room and come get me to take me back to my room. It’s not often you see couples in the hospital at the same time and I was very thankful that I was feeling better to be by his side after he spent the whole time in the hospital with me. On July 11, 2018 we were both planning to get released. We were so happy to get to go home. I was anxiously waiting for them to come take my PICC line out because I knew that was the only thing left to do. A few hours went by and then the nurse came in. She asked if I was ready to go home and of course I was like YES!!! She told me to lean back so she could take the PICC line out. I laid back and wasn’t scared or feeling nervous at all. Just excited to get to go home. She then said okay its out. I immediately felt weird and could barely breathe. I felt gurgling in my chest. She told me I was okay and that it may be anxiety. I then told her I couldn’t breathe and felt like I was going to faint. She knew something else was wrong so she called for the Emergency Response Team. The next thing I remember is the doctor standing over me and an oxygen mask on my face. I remember hurting so bad. It felt like something was sitting on my chest. I felt like I was going to die I was in so much pain. My lower half of my body was numb. I couldn’t move anything but my hands and head. They immediately rushed me for a CT scan and hooked me up to monitors. They told me I was in respiratory failure and had an air embolism from removing the PICC line. They took me back to ICU where they could monitor me overnight. I was doing better and was released the next day. After everything that I have went through I ended up experiencing PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome) and anxiety. My life has completely changed. I am still experiencing anxiety everyday as I think back to everything that happened. I am thankful to be here today and to share my story with you.  I seem to be doing much better although I experience quite a bit of “brain fog”.

I want to thank the ARDS Foundation, Sepsis Alliance, and the Begin Again Foundation. I have found helpful information as well as funding to help with my expenses.  They’re truly amazing! I appreciate everything they do!









“Remember to Breathe”

-Terri Harper