A MEASURE OF LIGHT: Surviving sepsis and reclaiming my spirit

Kirsten Lavine writes about how a sudden descent into a life-threatening illness inspired her to write a book about the importance of living life to the fullest:

Twenty of these routine procedures are performed a week, all without incident. I, on the other hand, disappeared – both physically and mentally. And it was a long, long time before I came back again.

                           —From: A Measure of Light: Surviving sepsis and reclaiming my spirit

In July 2015 I entered hospital for a routine day surgery called a hysteroscopy. Instead of recovering normally from the routine day surgery, unfortunately, I developed sepsis, a life-threatening condition where the body reacts abnormally to an infection by attacking its own tissues and organs. By the time sepsis was diagnosed two days later, it had elevated into septic shock, and the first night in intensive care my blood pressure was so low that I suffered organ failure and nearly died. I was in the ICU for two weeks, most of the time in an induced coma, and when I emerged from the coma, I had no memories or understanding of what had happened to me. Having been delirious for nearly the whole period, it was only through explanations provided by others that I had any understanding of what befell me.

Unfortunately, in my particular case, the infection was so difficult to combat partly because the bacteria I had was resistant the most common antibiotics, the standard way of treating sepsis. It was only a radiologically-assisted drainage procedure that finally turned the corner in my recovery. But I maintain that it was my own will to heal and my deeply spiritual relationship with the universe that accelerated the healing process.

That morning when I woke up, I looked out the window to the trees and the birds and it was then, in my weakened, debilitated state, that I decided I was going to get better… With this came the feeling that I needed to get out of hospital and get on with things, to pursue my mission and carry on with my life. I felt this very clearly, very confidently, in spite of what everyone else seemed to be thinking to the contrary about my current state. I just knew that through meditation, affirmations and prayers, I had to ignite my own healing and recovery from within.

                         —From: A Measure of Light: Surviving sepsis and reclaiming my spirit

I finally went home after a month in hospital. It has taken me a long time to recover physically and emotionally from sepsis. Part of my recovery has involved documenting my experiences and the lessons I’ve learned in a book entitled A Measure of Light. The book, as well as raising awareness about the potentially harmful nature of sepsis, also champions patients to take charge of their recovery. Most of all it aims to inspire people to try and live their lives to the fullest once again, even after coming through such a traumatic experience.

This journey has been one of self-discovery and pain, of having the courage to stick to what you feel is right and to follow it through, even in the most alarming and adverse circumstances, and without losing the essence of who you are or what you believe in. The experience of going in for a routine procedure and emerging nearly dead has also taught me that there are absolutely no securities in life. But the real danger is being too afraid to live life authentically, to let fear keep you from achieving your dreams.

           —From: A Measure of Light: Surviving sepsis and reclaiming my spirit

I have now begun to live my life as if each day is the last. To that end, a year after contracting sepsis, I followed one of my own life-long dreams and embarked on a solo 3-month journey to Australia. Above all, my experience has taught me how precious and precarious life is and to value its every gift – especially the gift of health.

 

Kirsten Lavine is a UK-based writer, teacher and oral historian. She has written or been involved with various oral history publications, including: Bear in Mind: Stories of the Troubles, Yarn Spinning, Twin Spire Life, From Baltic Sea to Baltic Wharf and Hineni: Life Portraits from a Jewish Community. A Measure of Light is her first true-life account of her own experiences.

 

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