Brittany Bley was a busy, single mom who thought she had the flu. But not long after her symptoms began, she found herself being rushed to the emergency center with a fever of 105 degrees and blood pressure that had plummeted to just 40/20. “I normally weighed about 150 pounds, but in just an hour, I swelled up to over 200 pounds,” said Brittany. “I don’t even remember the ER. All my organs had shut down except my heart and my brain. The next thing I remember is being in the intensive care unit at Floyd Memorial.”
While no one is certain what brought on her crisis, she had developed sepsis and septic shock. Sepsis, sometimes called blood poisoning, is the presence of virulent microorganisms or toxins in the bloodstream. Septic shock occurs when an overwhelming infection leads to low blood pressure and low blood flow. Toxins released by the microorganisms may cause tissue damage. In Brittany’s case, the condition necessitated the amputation of part of her right leg and a portion of her left foot.
Brittany spent over two months in the ICU. “I was on a ventilator most of the time,” she said. “Everyone there took excellent care of me. They never let me hurt.” By the time she left the hospital for rehab, she weighed just 100 pounds and had lost most of her muscle mass. “I had a lot of work to do,” said Brittany.
Brittany went to Southern Indiana Rehab Hospital, a Floyd Memorial partner facility. “In order to do my therapy,” she said, “I had to have a shoe insert made to compensate for the part of my foot that I had lost.” That’s when she met her prosthetist, Bill Bley. Brittany learned that Bill was a double amputee. “When he was a teenager in the Navy,” she explained, “he was on an aircraft carrier where they were landing planes. When one plane missed its target, a cable snapped back and took both of his legs.” She added, “God brought us together for some reason. We met on Bill’s birthday, January 17. We went on our first date in August 2005.” Brittany and Bill were married on November 19, 2005, and became a family of six, with Brittany’s daughter, Molly, and Bill’s children, Bill, Jr., Kimberly and Katie. But that isn’t the end of this remarkable story.
On October 16, 2007, Brittany once again visited Floyd Memorial. This time, it was to welcome their new baby boy, Wyatt, into the world!
Do You Know the Symptoms of Sepsis?
In the past 20 years, the number of people dying from sepsis has nearly doubled. Sepsis is a condition where the body is trying to fight off a serious infection. It is often called septic shock because it lowers the blood pressure into a state of shock. Those at risk vary from the very young to the elderly population. Patients with a compromised immune system due to either infection, a chronic condition, chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer or severe injuries are also extremely susceptible to the condition. Knowing the signs and symptoms of sepsis can result in earlier treatment and better medical outcomes. Here is what to look for:
- Chills and severe shaking
- Possible fever, or low body temperature
- Rapid heart beat and breathing pattern
- Confusion, disorientation and agitation
- Rash that is either reddish in color or has small dark dots
- Joint pain at the wrists, elbows, back, hips, knees and ankles
If you exhibit these symptoms, contact your doctor or visit the emergency center immediately.