Speech, Language, Hearing Sciences
Misadventures with a Systemic Bacterial Infection
Presented by Dr. Jean Lundy at the 2018 NSSLHA End of Year Social, Catherine Curran Lecture Series
At the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) End of Year Social Event, The Catherine Curran Lecture Series, Dr. Lundy gave a presentation called "Misadventures with a Systemic Bacterial Infection". She shared some of the health issues that she was faced with last November. The day after Thanksgiving, Dr. Lundy was found in a coma. She was not responding to verbal or physical stimuli and they diagnosed her with clinical sepsis + staph due to her blood being infected with Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). The infection resulted in very low stamina, acute kidney injury leading to major fluid retention in her legs knees and ankles as seen by a weight gain of 45 lbs in 14 days, damaged heart valves, heart muscle inflammation, blindness in left eye, and multiple septic strokes caused by S. aureus's vegetative mass being deposited in multiple spots in her brain. S. aureus caused behavioral changes in Dr. Lundy as well. She went from only being able to answer 'Jean' to every question, to thinking she was at "a resort and everyone is so nice", to being able to have a normal conversion again all within seven days.
The road to recovery for Dr. Lundy was not an easy one. She had to be readmitted to the hospital two more times; the first readmission was caused by her lungs filling up with fluid and then needing to be drained. Pain was a constant thing, the frequent blood draws caused clots in both of her arms, she couldn't sleep laying down, she couldn't read because she lost so much of her eyesight in her left eye, and foods and liquids tasted bad because of the extended antibiotic use. Dr. Lundy had open heart surgery to have a temporary pacemaker put in because her heart could no longer fire properly. While in open heart surgery, the surgeon scraped a blood clot off the aortic valve and had her mitral valve replaced with bovine prosthetic tissue. She didn't end up needing her pacemaker permanently and had it taken out once her heart had healed enough and could beat properly on its own. Eventually the septic strokes in her brain stopped and neurological tissue began to recover, her kidneys also recovered and the damage didn’t lead to chronic kidney disease. Finally, the quality of vision in her left eye has slowly begun to improve and is expected to go back to normal.
Dr. Lundy stated that the best news she received was that her brain was in no way permanently damaged and she doesn't need any cognitive/physical/occupational/speech-language therapy. Being an outpatient isn't as great as Dr. Lundy thought that it would be. She required medical care such as blood tests, x-rays, a fresh bag of antibiotics every day, office visits to the infectious disease/primary care/ cardiac surgeon/cardiologist doctors, and cardiac rehabilitation sessions (3x/week) for several weeks. It all paid off when she was discharged with no restrictions. She has noticed some things aren't the way that they used to be. For example catching the light rail, walking up flights of stairs quickly and going hiking/snowshoeing all wear her out. Her voice has also changed; she is no longer able to sing or project her voice, but those are a small price to pay considering everything her body went through. The total cost of all her hospital visits was $733,934.85! Luckily she only had to pay $3,300.00! Dr. Lundy is incredibly grateful to have made it through this experience on top and she gained some insight as to just how truly loved she is by so many people.