An Optimistic Attitude and Prayers Were All That Tanai Needed to Survive

Sometimes things happen in your life and you don’t know why. You question yourself why me or what did I do to deserve this? But what you should be asking is what can I learn from it. I’m finally coming out to tell my story because I feel like I can help someone. I’m not here for opinions but to simply tell my story.

Six weeks after I had my daughter I was offered by the doctors a form of birth control called an IUD. I accepted because I was told that it was safe, and it was the best type. It had never given me any problems up until November of 2017. I had it for 3 years so far. I was told that it was good for 5 years. I went to my yearly checkup in October and was asked about birth control and mentioned that I had an IUD. They checked and told me that they couldn’t find it and that it may have fell out, but I knew for a fact that wasn’t the case. They sent me to get two types of ultrasounds the same day and I was told once again that they didn’t see an IUD. One day in the beginning of November I was at work I had a sharp pain and the bottom right of my stomach and the first thing that popped in my head was is this that IUD? But I tried to brush it off, but the pain was getting worse. I left work 3 hours early to go to the hospital. I went to the hospital and told them what was going on and what the doctors were telling me, so they immediately sent me to get an X-ray done. The doctor came in the with a weird look on her face and said the IUD is in there but its pushed up in your stomach, so you will have to get surgery. She told me to call my OBGYN to schedule a date. I went and talked to my OBGYN, told him everything and even showed him the X-ray picture that they allowed me to take, he also said I have to get surgery. So, I asked him how they would get it out and he told me they would cut me right under my belly button and use a scope. On December 13th I went in to get the procedure done. Instead of 1, I was cut 3 times. One under my belly button and one on each of my side. They were able to get it out, but it was broken into pieces.  I was told that it had moved up to my liver. When I left the hospital, I was bleeding, but my mom was told that it was normal. Overnight I begin to bleed heavier and the pain got worse. I was rushed to the hospital by ambulance and once I got to the hospital my mom told the doctors everything that was going on. They rushed me to have x-rays done and then rushed me to surgery. I was bleeding internally. After the surgery my mom was told that when they opened me up, my ovaries were black and that they had to give me a hysterectomy. After the surgery I went into septic shock causing me to be in ICU for a few weeks.  I died on that surgery table. While in ICU my organs began to fail. I was on a breathing machine, I was on dialysis because my kidneys weren’t working right. Everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong. My parents were told that I was the worst patient on the floor and that they didn’t think I was going to make it. But with faith and God the prayers that everyone sent out, I am here today.

Next week, I have to get myself prepared again for a second surgery to have my toes amputated. But I swear I came so far and I’m not letting anything stop me.

The toughest part about my sickness was being away from my daughter for so long. The grant helped me a lot. It helped me purchase food, clothes and helped my family catch up on bills that fell behind. My message to other survivors is to stay strong!

– Tanai Smith

With No Warning, Mom of Twins Finds Herself Fighting For Her Life

My case of sepsis occurred during December of 2016. I was 33, living with my partner Will and our twin babies, Layne and Evalene. I had been experiencing bouts of severe constipation for many weeks prior, and I found myself taking stimulant laxative pills daily to combat this condition. But even the pills weren’t working, and so out of frustration, I began taking way more than what I needed. So, that week, I had started taking 2. The next day, 3. The day after, 4. Still with no bowel movement. By the end of the week, I had a ridiculous amount of this medication built up in my system. Night time rolled around, and I ate a few slices of pizza and also an ice cream sundae. Eating this food was enough to kick start all those pills I had taken. The next morning, I awoke with the entire room spinning and the most severe stomach cramps I had ever known possible. I also began vomiting right there in bed. I tried to make it to the bathroom right across the hall and immediately collapsed and lost consciousness. I had this feeling all over my body of bubbles, like I was floating in a bottle of pop. Every time the bubbles would make their way to my face and head, I would lose consciousness again. I remember calling my partner at work and telling him to get home ASAP, I was dying. I remember the ambulance crew coming and I was in a pool of blood and diarrhea and pink frothy substance, which I didn’t realize at the time was stomach lining. The entire floor was a pool of this, there was so much, it was in our bedroom and our kitchen up the hall. I remember the panic on the one woman’s face as she was trying to take a blood pressure reading and also a temperature reading and couldn’t because they were so low, they wouldn’t read. She shouted, Lock and load NOW, we’re gonna lose her!!! I remember total terror and the realization that I was going to die, right here in my hallway with my twin babies 2 rooms over in the living room, and there was NOTHING I could do but give into that feeling of weakening and succumb to it. They worked on me at the hospital diligently to pull my temperature and blood pressure up, using heat lamps and heating blankets. My pulse was sky high, also, about 160 that whole morning. I ended up having sepsis, septic shock, hypothermia and a nasty c-diff infection in my stomach. I was placed in the ICU for days and days. I don’t know if my sepsis was necessarily brought on by foolishly using all those stimulant laxatives, but I can tell you I have not even taken so much as a stool softener since that occurred.

The grant money I received was used as a mortgage payment for our new home and our new life we began for ourselves. To know that there is a foundation like this in existence to help us move forward and pick up the pieces of our lives is simply incredible. We cannot properly begin to express our gratitude and I cannot begin to explain how truly important that money was for me and my family. This payment was used to make our very first mortgage payment, and there’s kind of a strange beauty in that I think. It’s fitting.

I wish there was some kind of head’s up I was able to give to others, symptoms to keep an eye out for, but truly, this hit me like a mack truck. There was no warning, no feeling, no premonition. I went to bed and literally woke up dying.

– Susan Filer

Mom Who Nearly Died From Toxic Shock Syndrome Shares Her Message

I don’t mean to sound cliche, but I truly believe that I was meant to see your story today!  I mean, what working Mom of 2 just happens to turn on the 1st day of the Masters (in the middle of a work day, by myself, without my husband’s influence?) Needless to say, I was riveted, relieved (for your survival), thankful, and instantly felt a connection to you and this cause.  You see, I too am a survivor of Toxic Shock Syndrome and Sepsis.  There is so much more to my story, as I’m sure there is yours, but I will try to sum it up.

On May 4th, 2017, I became ill.  On May 7th, I was clinging to life in the ICU.  Here is a post from a Facebook page, “Inspiration for Aimee”, that my friends and family created for me when I was in the ICU just last May.  This was my only way of communicating with my loved ones all over the country during this two week ordeal.  Quite frankly, I believe this support system is a major reason why I’m still here today.

MAY 17, 2017

“Over a week ago, I thought that the stress of our move had just taken its toll on me. I got a fever, aches, chills and, over a course of 36 hours, I went from thinking I had the flu to clinging to life in the emergency room. I was told that I would have been dead if I had waited another hour to come in. This extremely rare case of toxic shock syndrome put my body into septic shock. In short, every single one of my organs was under attack. My fever rose to 106.8 degrees, I was put on a bed of ice (literally), and I was instantly put on 3 antibiotics, 3 blood pressure medications, oxygen, an immense amount of IV fluids, catheterized, and bunch of other things that I never want to think of again. My family (immediate and extended…you know who you are) went into overdrive to be by my side.

Throughout the course of this week, I kept making milestones (which I tried to update on this site). Although my body, vision and mind were and are still not “normal”, writing has been cathartic and my best way of communication. My physical journey is unbelievable to me and thank God for modern medicine. But my emotional and spiritual journey are almost even more incredible. I never lost consciousness throughout this time, so bear with me here as I say this. I did have contact with loved ones who have passed, I saw a white light, for those Catholics out there…I had my Last Rites given to me, twice. And now, I’m back home. I slept in my bed last night, I put my kids to bed (not successfully, but I tried), I woke up next to my husband just as I have done for over a decade. And life goes on…”

There is so much more to my journey this past year: learning to walk again, acclimating back to being a “normal” wife/mom/daughter/friend/etc., skin peeling, temporary loss of vision, extreme fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, a miscarriage…the list goes on.  But in THIS moment, I want to help, I want to spread this message! 

– Aimee H. Follis