Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Official Cause of Death

Streptococcus Pneumonia with complications from sepsis.

It wasn't the flu at all. Yes, he had the flu. But it did not kill him.

He had an infection in his bloodstream, and it traveled throughout his body, attacking his major organs. He became toxic to himself.

Without a spleen, he didn't stand a chance.

250,000 people die each year from sepsis. And my husband is one of them.

All the symptoms he showed were signs of sepsis, but they were also signs of the flu. So when the ER doctor found a positive test result for Influenza A, he looked no further. And even if he had, even if he had run more tests and hospitalized him, Robb would have simply died there - in the hospital, perhaps without me beside him.

He was too sick. Too far along. All the antibiotics in the hospital, even a full transfusion, could not have saved him.

It was a perfectly tragic storm. A tragically perfect storm.

Even if he had lived, he would not have recovered. He could have lost a limb, perhaps all of them. He could have lost the use of a major organ, perhaps his brain.

Sepsis is a thief.

It would have changed us forever. I believe God spared us, in his mercy, for I believe there is pain far greater than death. He spared us, especially Robb. And he protects me, then and now.

So how do I feel? What do I do with this?

Well, I feel a sense of closure. A peace in my spirit. This has a name, and nothing could have changed it. We didn't miss anything, any clues.

God is the Giver of Life. He gives and he takes away. He gave; he took away.

There is much I do not understand, but my spirit finds rest beyond words.

Truly, Robb could have (or maybe should have?) died 20 years ago in the OR on the day he lost his spleen after a fun day of sledding went horribly wrong. But God restored his health; he had a greater plan and 20 more years for Robb.

God's hand was under Robb that day, when he was a freshman in high school. He had more for Robb: a wife, two little boys, a ministry in his personal and professional life.

And I believe he was orchestrating my life at the same time, surrounding me with the people who would walk so closely with me through this greatest loss. And when he had the people in place, the cast of characters, the team to carry the mat, I believe God knew it was time. He surrounded and protected me, and then his mighty hand lifted Robb out of this life.

In the before, during, and after, I see that God is neither surprised nor overwhelmed by this.

It wasn't really about the flu at all.


Mike Falkenstine said...

Tricia, I'm so glad you found out the cause and that your spirit has 'rest beyond words.' I can't imagine what that must feel like for you with what you've been through. Continuing to pray for you as you journey forward.

thewonderfulhappens said...

Wow. I am glad you have answers....and what you said here "Well, I feel a sense of closure. A peace in my spirit. This has a name, and nothing could have changed it. We didn't miss anything, any clues." makes me feel relieved for you. Although it doesn't change anything there must be a small comfort in knowing the entire story.


Thank you, Tricia, for sharing this. I wanted to ask but I didn't want to cause you pain. Praise God for the resurrection.

Sherie said...

Wow, Tricia! I am thankful for some closure and understanding for you. I was not familiar with sepsis prior to a few years ago when my brother got it and then septic shock. It is one of the leading causes of death in the ICU. Still praying for You, Tuck and TY!!!

Lisa Amoroso-Johnson said...

Tears in my eyes. Prayers for you in my heart.

Monica said...

250,000 per year ... my husband was one of them as well. I have often thought it was a severe mercy, in much the way you describe the possible outcomes had Robb lived. My heart is knit to yours, friend. With love to you, Monica

Just My Thoughts said...

I feel the peace in this essay... and I'm glad.

lani said...

God will continue to surround you with the right people, place and time. He is a miracle worker in that way. Glad you a sense of peace in this news. Blessings to you and the boys.

The Kennedy Krew said...

Praise the Lord for this diagnosis. I am so glad you have closure and don't have to worry about what you could've done. Girl - I just LOVE you and your precious heart!!!

Amy said...

Tears flowing as you continue to process in the presence of our Lord. I am so sorry again. I'm so thankful for this tiny bit of closure. I'm also thankful for the way He is carrying you.

Mrs. MK said...

I am thankful for your perspective and the peace that this news has brought.

Allison said...


Terry said...

dear tricia...what a sweet spirit you blame to the doctor or hospital and no blame to the give him all the glory..
if robb would have gone to heaven twenty years ago there wouldn't of been a beautiful tricia, mother of four babies and wife of a true soul mate...
robb left for you two beautiful little boys, one for each hand!
you are a wonderful girl tricia and i am glad that connie ever pointed us to you! terry

Jim said...


I just lost my wife (age 51) to Strep A sepsis...I fully identify with your shock, incomprehension and loss. I believe you go to the same church as my sis-in-law Barb G.

Jim Bratt, Lynden, WA

Jim said...
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