Getting Over It

Over the years, I’ve received loads of emails and messages from people who were grateful that I taught them about sepsis. They’d never heard of it and now know it exists. Maybe that knowledge could save a life. So, why is it that I can recite by heart the one negative email I got?

“Yeah, we know you almost died. Blah, blah, blah. Get over it!”

That came in on Sepsis Day, which isn’t even officially a thing yet because advocates are still working on trying to have it declared by the WHO. Same as Sepsis Month, September, which starts next week.

This leads me to wonder what “getting over it” means. Sometimes people only hear the tone of the message and not the words. They assume it’s self-pity when, in my case for sure, it’s gratitude. In 2012 I made it through by the slimmest of margins and promised myself I’d spread the word about sepsis any time and anywhere I could. Later, I happened to host a show with a man who lost his son to the same misunderstood, misinterpreted illness, who has the same mission in life. So Ken Eastwood and I discussed it once a year. We told our stories with the best of intentions: helping others.

Sepsis infographic outlines four signs: temperature (very high or very low), infection, mental decline, and a feeling of being so ill you might die.

Last week, Joe Biden mentioned his personal story of grief and loss in his nomination speech at the Democratic National Convention. His words prompted this tweet from an alleged journalist/human being:

In case you’re hoping the tweet was misinterpreted as negative believe me, it was meant as a shot. That’s how a man with genuine emotions over losing two children and his wife is interpreted by a clump of cells that’s trying to shop its book.

I know that talking about one’s health or trauma can be super boring. When I was recovering from sepsis, some friends obviously distanced themselves from me. It caused me to reconsider whether I was a Debbie Downer. A serious illness reminds people of their own mortality. It hurt but I got it. It wasn’t about me; it was them. And that’s how I have to interpret any criticism of discussing my ordeal in hopes of sparing others from it.

I will never stop talking about the signs of sepsis. People die because they don’t know they have it. Just the phrase, “I am concerned about sepsis” would have made a world of difference in my case, but I simply didn’t know.

Everybody has a story. Some have deep and lasting trauma. Lots of people have brushes with death. But this one is mine and while I’m over it, I’m not going to stop sharing it, in the hopes of preventing more cases like it. Otherwise, what was it for?

14 thoughts on “Getting Over It”

  1. Eight years ago all ready? At the time I new something was wrong and I recall having this really strong eery feeling of potential tragedy looming, but i know not why.

    Since then through your posts I’ve learned lots about sepsis and become far more aware of how easily it can be over looked. Glad your still with us and keep spreading the word.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. Nietzsche said something to the effect that we only remember what hurts – if you’re like me, that thoughtless, even malicious comment hit home because you wondered deep inside if that troglodyte’s comment had validity; if other people feel that way, too. But when those little voices inside subside, we realize that what we’re doing has more importance than what this person recognized. Stay on your path, stay on message and know that even if one person doesn’t care (and then takes the time out of their miserable life to let you know) you’re helping far more people than you can possibly ever know. Because of you, my head pops up whenever I hear the words “septic” or “sepsis”. So, thank you. THANK YOU.

  3. You are absolutely right Lisa — it’s not you, it’s them. My hubby was diagnosed early last Fall with C and told several of his friends. Only one telephoned every day or two, but the others were silent. Not even an email to ask “How’re ya doing?” He was hurt. We decided not to tell any other friends until all the treatments ended late March. He is doing well and is taking the opportunity to talk openly to men over 50 about getting regular PSA tests and checking results against past tests — even talked to his dentist yesterday. It seems now that he has gone through all the procedures, it can be a topic for discussion. People don’t have to be compassionate after the fact but we kind of expect our friends to be compassionate during. Keep doing your part to spread the word about Sepsis. Sending hugs.

  4. Hello Lisa. I appreciate you sharing your experience with Sepsis, as well as reminding us every year about it. Knowledge is power. There will always be haters out there. Block em!

  5. Hi Lisa. The person that said “get over it” is a jerk. I bought and read your book about sepsis. It is a horrific condition. You were lucky to survive. I’m glad you did.

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