November 11, 2016
by Sean Philpott-Jones, Chair, Bioethics Program of Clarkson University & Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Under The Knife
I nearly died last month. This is not an exaggeration. What started out as a bad bout of influenza quickly developed into something more. After five days sick in bed, I was struck with stabbing abdominal pains, a fever that spiked over 105° F, and a severe case of sepsis. Had I not gotten myself to the emergency room, I might have ended up in a coma, or worse, as a result of the raging infection coursing through my blood stream.
I spent a total of 16 days in the hospital, including an overnight stay in the intensive care unit (ICU), as a team of doctors and specialists furiously tried to bring my infection under control. I’m now convalescing at home, 23 pounds lighter and with 6 holes in my chest and abdomen.
For someone who considers himself to be healthier than most men his age, this was a terrifying experience. For a bioethicist who reads, writes and teaches about clinical care, this was also a very humbling experience. Other than a couple of out-patient procedures to fix orthopedic problems, this was the first (and longest) time I have ever spent being treated for a severe medical issue. I learned a lot about what it means to be a patient, lessons that will undoubtedly influence my own research and writing about modern medical policies and practices. In particular, there are five lessons that I want to share.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.