Hi, my name is Tory Pereira!
I’m 24 years old and I live in Statesboro, Georgia.
I graduated from Georgia Southern in May 2015 with a BA in psychology and a minor in sociology. Shortly after graduating I went on a business trip and learned what sepsis was the hard way.
My coworkers and I were traveling from Savannah to New York for a layover, then to San Diego for the day, then to Las Vegas for our business expo. My coworkers and I went out for dinner the night we were in San Diego. They said when we were walking back to the hotel, I was complaining about how much my stomach was hurting, sharp pains. We all brushed it off. When we got back to the hotel, I had thrown up a few times and then at 3am I projectile vomited all over Morgan.
Around 7am everyone started getting ready for our 5-hour drive to Vegas. I was in so much pain from my abdomen I couldn’t move or even walk, so Morgan helped me get dressed then walked me to the car. They said I was in pain and really pale the entire ride.
(I have no memory from the night we were in San Diego until I woke up in the hospital after my surgery.)
We arrived in Vegas and everyone went to set up for the show while I stayed in the car. I still couldn’t walk and my pains were much worse. I hate doctors and hospitals so I was just hoping it was my period cramps or something not serious. When they arrived back to the car they suggested we get food so we went to a restaurant. They described me as looking very ill, super pale and was still in pain so they basically carried me in.
After we were at the restaurant for 10 minutes, my body could not handle the septic shock any longer. I went into cardiac arrest and then flatlined. Luckily there was an off duty police officer who saw everything and ran over to start giving me correct CPR. At this time, I didn’t have a pulse.
The off-duty police officer told Rick, the company owner, to call 911 and tell the paramedics she has no pulse, she’s not breathing, and throwing up into her nose and lungs. The police officer continued doing CPR on me until the paramedics arrived. Morgan thought the off duty police officer was going to break my chest he was pushing down so hard. His chest thrusts are a huge part of the reason I am still alive today.
Rick was on the phone with the ambulance, and the cop turned to him and asked where they were? The cop said they’re not coming fast enough and then made Rick put the ambulance on speaker and started spitting the terminology that he needed someone there ASAP. He started saying his badge number and telling the paramedics to get there like yesterday or they were going to lose me.
When the paramedics arrived they immediately hooked me up to a ventilator. The machine recorded me having no pulse and no blood pressure for about 8 minutes. I’m not sure how long I was out before they got there. Luckily they revived me on scene, put me in the ambulance and rushed me to Desert Springs Hospital.
After I woke up the doctors put me through a CT scan, saw air in my abdomen but did not put me through surgery. The doctor pressed on my belly and asked on a scale of 1-10 how much it hurt. I don’t remember this, but apparently I said a 4 and he said if there was something seriously wrong with you then you would be in more pain. I spent the night at the hospital.
The next morning I went into cardiac arrest and flatlined again. The doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me so they decided to put me into emergency exploratory surgery. The doctors told Rick, the owner of the company, to come say his goodbyes because they weren’t expecting me to survive. I had less than 1% chance of surviving my surgery.
They rushed me into the OR. My surgeon was only expecting to cut me two inches but gallons and gallons of bile and stomach acid just kept flowing out of me, so 2 inches went to 15 inches. I am cut from sternum to pelvis.
My intestines were taken out, cleaned and examined and that’s when my surgeon figured out I was in SEPTIC SHOCK. After discovering a two inch perforation in my duodenum. The hole so big my surgeon could fit two of his fingers through it. It was too big for him to repair so the doctor closed that part of my stomach off, then rerouted my stomach to the left side of my body and reconnected it to my small intestines! It’s so crazy!
The doctors expected me to never eat a solid meal again. They stapled me up with 30 staples and kept me in an induced coma where I was on 80% life support because I was in very critical condition for the next few hours. Then it turned to very critical for the next two weeks.
My kidneys failed and now I was in renal failure. I blew up into a 200-pound water balloon. I couldn’t go on dialysis because my heart rate was 130 – 140 for a solid week. So the only thing the doctors could do was wait and hope. My family and friends were praying.
Another problem I was having was my blood pressure dropped extremely low. The blood pressure medication pulls your blood from your extremities to your organs, this could create amputations on your limbs.
After a week my heart rate finally came down and they were able to perform dialysis! It took three rounds of dialysis and prayers for my kidneys to start working again! The last procedure I had to endure before I woke up was thoracentesis because I had fluid in my lungs. Thoracentesis is when they take a huge needle between the lungs and chest wall to get the fluid out.
10 days in a coma turned into 15 days in ICU and 25 days total in Desert Springs Hospital.
The crazy part of my story is that I still do not know what caused my duodenum to perforate. They say the force that had to have been impacted on me to perforate my intestine would be the force of a car hitting me directly, or a gunshot wound.
Doctors believe in science and facts. When I woke up, my doctors told me I should feel very blessed because they medically could not explain how I survived. My gastro doctor is surprised I went so long with a perforated intestine and survived. He told me on average, a person is in the ER within an hour after you perforate an intestine, I went around 36 hours.
It is truly a miracle I am still alive today and I am beyond thankful to share my story and help whoever I can!
What I’m Doing Now
I truly believed I survived for a reason and that’s to raise awareness of sepsis to the world and to help save lives!