BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Septic shock is the most common cause of death in intensive care units (ICUs) in the United States. It happens when an infection reaches the bloodstream and begins attacking major organs like the heart, brain, or kidneys.
For one Livingston Parish woman, her brush with septic shock has been life-changing, in more ways than one.
“I had done a few 5Ks and I was working my way up to a 10K,” said Julie Dunn. “You have to realize, life happens.”
What happened to Dunn was tiny, just 5 millimeters. Emergency room doctors found a small kidney stone in her bladder.
“So they sent me home to pass it,” Dunn said.
Twenty-four hours later, she was in septic shock and fighting for her life.
“It was shutting down my organs,” Dunn said. “Unfortunately, my veins collapsed in my hands and feet and they never did come back. They just turned black, which is more or less dead.”
Within three months, doctors amputated both of Dunn’s feet and hands.
“Sometimes, when i’d see my grandkids and I couldn’t hold them, I’d cry. You can’t pick them up,” she said. “Once I cried it out, I began to look to the future. I began to look to... I’m going to overcome this.”
It took six months of physical therapy just to get Dunn ready to learn to walk again. She says her family and faith got her through it.
“She was ready to go. She thought she was going to get done in two weeks,” said Marilu Major, one of Dunn’s physical therapists.
Dunn quickly realized she would have to learn to walk before she could run. Those two weeks have turned into six months of therapy. She goes three days a week for her feet and another three for her new hands, but Dunn has something other than another 5K in mind.
“I had a life before I lost my limbs, and I wanted to live again,” Dunn said. “I have a wedding in March, and I said, ‘I want to learn to how to dance at a wedding. I want to do at least one dance.’”
Her therapists at Baton Rouge Rehab Hospital were happy to oblige.
“She is definitely going to dance at this wedding, but she was going to dance at this wedding whether we did what we were doing or not, just because of her desire to do it,” Major said.
That wedding is scheduled for the weekend of Mar. 16 and 17. Then, Dunn will set her sights on running again.