A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ME
I am the mother of two daughters, married to my high school sweetheart for over 30 years. I lived on the mainland United States until 2008, when I took a leap of faith with my family and moved to the Hawaiian Islands, where I lived for 10 years.
In September 2018, my life was turned upside-down when I nearly died from septic shock because of a small, infected cut on my thumb. Because of sepsis, I now live as a double below-knee amputee who also lost the tips of most of my fingers.
When I became ill, I was unaware of the signs and symptoms of sepsis, despite knowing several people who had nearly died from it. I have made it my mission to do everything I can to prevent others from experiencing what I went through. Twenty Percent (20%) of deaths worldwide are caused by sepsis, yet few people have heard of it, and even fewer can identify the signs and symptoms!
I joined the Board of Directors of Sepsis Alliance 18 months after my battle with septic shock. I now share my story to highlight this important public health crisis. I was described in a magazine article as “one of the nation’s leading advocates for sepsis awareness”.
I have turned the worst thing that had ever happened in my life into an opportunity to save lives and limbs. Hundreds of thousands have seen me speak or read articles about my sepsis experience. I have spoken to Washington State, Hawaii, and Washington D.C. policymakers to gather support for issues impacting sepsis and the amputee communities.
I was the keynote speaker at the inaugural Sepsis Alliance Summit in 2020, on the two year anniversary of the beginning of my battle with sepsis. The video of my talk, which Sepsis Alliance posted online, has had nearly 300,000 views. I have built a community of over 120,000 followers on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok combined, where millions have viewed my social media posts about sepsis and amputations.
I have shared my story with many organizations, including The World Sepsis Congress, The New York State Office for the Aging, BioMerieux, Edwards Lifesciences, T2 Biosystems, and Microsoft to name a few. I also supported the successful re-endorsement of the SEP-1 process measure at the National Quality Forum Patient Safety Standing Committee Meeting because SEP-1 compliance highlights early recognition and is associated with lower 30 day mortality.
In addition to my work with Sepsis Alliance, I volunteer with the Amputee Coalition as a Lead Advocate as well as a Certified Peer Visitor. I have also recently begun working as a model and actor representing limb loss. I have been a cover model in a local Seattle magazine that included an article about my fitness journey. I’m actively seeking new opportunities to represent disability in advertising and to share my inspirational story as a speaker.
I am currently writing a memoir with a message called Discovering Your Grit that will detail my experience of nearly dying from a small skin infection that caused septic shock leading to multiple amputations. I will share the many lessons I learned through this ordeal and the subsequent recovery that helped me discover the grit within me. that the reader can read to discover the grit within themselves.