Kai needs HELP! (DEST: SCREWED)

Three months ago, had you asked me what SEPSIS was, I really wouldn’t have been able to give you much of an answer other than it sounded very unclean and seemed exactly like what Lysol ® was created to combat. I’m far more educated about Sepsis, Sepsis Alerts, and Septic Shock now that I look like a dyslexic was assigned to cut my throat. It’s taken it’s toll on my body and I am still fighting this infection as I write this story for you.

 As embarrassing as it is, I’m struggling to beat this illness physically, to pay for the medication to combat it, and afford anything else while I heal and get back on my feet. My savings are gone. I'm looking at months of recovery and pain while this wound heals from the inside out. Such a deep wound cannot be sutured or sewn up because it would create a perfect environment for bacteria to grow. In my case, all this started due to a staph infection and then sepsis due to bacteria that is apparently always all around us...all the time, ready to get in via any skin opening...











Three months ago, I was so happy to have landed my dream job as an IT Consultant for a Caribbean-based financial firm. I left a lower paying IT support position for a well known Computer Manufacturer. In my new position for a firm called Sagicor, I was tasked with tech support as well as acting as facilitator, expediter, and manager in all matters concerning Active Directory, SCCM, Systems Security, and the Enterprise User Experience, managing a team of systems engineers located throughout the USA and Caribbean islands. 





On the very day of my first trip out of the USA to the Caribbean island of Trinidad for this firm, I woke up with my face as puffed up as anything as I had ever seen in my entire life. Two nights earlier, I panfully felt what I thought was a zit or pimple on my chin. I did what a lot of people do, I tried to pop it. Hurt like the dickens and it didn’t pop. It just swelled up more and hurt even worse. 






I absolutely had to travel to Trinidad, the land of REAL Pirates of the Caribbean to meet my engineering team there...but I wasn't even sure if I could drive myself to the airpoint in Tampa at that point. I was worried about missing my first foreign travel for my client, knew I needed medical attention quicly. I texted my client (AKA my boss) with a quick pic of my swollen face and let him know I was going to stop at an ER on my way to the airport. Just in case I needed a shot or something to reduce the swelling, I told myself. It was obvious I was running a fever at that point, my head was pounding, body starting to shiver uncontrollably, even my vision seemed to be affected as everything was getting fuzzy.






That first ER visit at the end of October resulted in ER staff calling a Sepsis Alert (I didn’t even know a Sepsis Alert was a thing until then), then admittance to the hospital, followed by emergency surgery on my face, as well as a full week in the hospital in November.

The primary doctor assigned to my case, informed me that had I flown to Trinidad as planned, I would have died in Trinidad. Later, after traveling to Trinidad, I came to fully understand what he meant. It would have been the end.



Shortly after the discharge from the hospital, I came down with what seemed like a second instance of this swollen, painful infection on my cheek. Fortunately, I was in for a follow up visit with my surgeon that same week. The doctor gave me a sulfate-based antibiotic which seemed to work. The swelling and pain subsided in about a week.



My most recent hospitalization perhaps could have been avoided, but I’ll never know. The Christmas amd New Year holiday season tends to be a financially lean time of the year for me because as an IT consultant, I don’t have any paid holidays. Typically offices are closed, with some shutting down for the entire holiday season.

During the holiday break, a couple of days before I found myself in the hospital ER again, I was accidentally nicked in the neck by hair clippers while getting a haircut. It was just a small nick and the haircutter apologized. I watched her spray the clippers with an anti-septic before she began, so I highly doubt it was the origin of my second ER visit.

Because it hurt more than it should have for a tiny nick and because of my recent medical issues, I called the surgeon who had earlier prescribed the sulfate-based antibiotics and asked his staff if the surgeon could please refill the prescription for antibiotics. I explained what had happened and the fact that my neck was starting to swell. I was told by the doc’s staff that they would speak to the doc ASAP and get back to me that day. I ended up leaving several messages that day because the swelling got even worse.

They didn't call.

The following day, I returned to work, but was feeling dizzy and feverish. I was in the office, working at my desk for a couple of hours when I began to feel worse, like I was back in the same boat that took me to the ER previously. I let my co-workers and boss know that I needed to head to an Urgent Care or ER because I felt like I might be sick again with the same infection and explained to them that I needed to be smart about it.


I first drove to an Urgent Care clinic because I knew there was one located close near my office in Tampa which I had gone to before.  After providing the office staff with my new insurance card, I waited a while and was then told my new insurace for 2018 didn't cover Urgent Care clinic visits. That was my first indication that maybe the insurance, while more expensive than it was in 2017, might not be so great.

I was pretty cranky about getting turned away, but figured it was probably better that I head to the same ER that I had gone to before to ensure they had all the details of my last ER visit, surgery, and hospital stay. Feeling worse as I went, drove from Tampa to St. Petersburg. Walked into the ER at Northside and waited until I could be seen.



The surgeon’s staff called my mobile number just as the Head Nurse in the ER was telling me I had to be admitted because all signs during his exam showed I was dealing with Sepsis once again. I informed the surgeon’s staff on the phone that I was being admitted to the hospital again thanks to their letting my A** flap in the wind when I needed antibiotics immediately. Mentioned they could have spared me a lot of trouble and pain had they gotten back to me the same day like they promised. Feeling lousy, I was not exactly polite to them because I felt they dropped the ball and I was suffering badly for it.



That most recent hospitalization was over a full week (I was discharged 3 days ago on 1/11/18) after two more rounds of emergency surgery were performed to save my life. The general surgeon, the very same one who carved me up last time, removed necrosis (dead tissue) and infected tissue, but could not remove all that is affected. As he put it, “the infection is honeycombed throughout your entire neck and removal of it all wouldn’t leave much left”. In other words, there wouldn’t be enough meat left to hold up my head. Just hearing it turned my stomach, and as you can see from my photos, it takes a strong stomach to look at the results.



Unfortunately, it turns out the most expensive insurance option offered by my employer, Robert Half Technlogy (which I chose thinking it would offer the best possible coverage), is of the crappy, slim coverage variety. (in the fine print on the policy, it's called MEC or Minimum Essential Coverage) All of the the marketing materials provided to help me choose which plan was best, led me to believe it was at least a half decent plan. I've learned now that their very “best” plan only pays a little over two hundred dollars towards a hospital room which the hospital charges at a cost of $12,666 per day (Northside Hospital’s billing staff told me it was $38K for just the room charge after three days, and actually reached me at the phone next to my hospital bed to demand a credit card to charge $5K to on the third day of my stay.)



Did I mention I’m an IT consultant? A consultant, or contract worker. That means no PTO or sick days. No FMLA. No work equals no pay. Zero income if I am not actively submitting billable hours. I purchased short term disability from the same employer offerings as my medical insurance options. (I am still waiting for the 200 or so dollars a week I was hoping for as compensation back in November after missing a week of work, per my policy.) The offered STD policy seems to be even worse than my limited medical coverage policy.

I

am now in a very deep ($250-300K) financial hole and I am not making any income while I fight this and heal. I cannot afford the meds to keep me alive, nor out of pain, nor the bandaging and packing material to keep this gaping hole in my neck safely tended to. 

Fortunately, I DO have a few good friends I’m very grateful for, a great dog, Max, to keep me company and hug when the going gets rough, and, most importantly, I am still here and alive to keep fighting this infection. I’m very grateful to be home, doing most of my own wound care, pushing IV antibiotics, saline, and heparin into a PICC line that runs directly into a big vein, right above my heart, via my bicep. The important stuff now is keeping my PICC clean, minding my med times, and keeping my open wound clean, packed, bandaged, and treated with specialized topical antibiotics which were custom created just for my specific infection, but are so expensive, the pharmacist who compounded it refers to the concoction as "liquid gold". (Which nearly all medical insurance companies will not pay for at all...of course.)









It is only with your help that I can keep up the fight and not fall into the abyss here. It’s super embarrassing to ask for help like this, but it’s Destination Screwed for me if I don’t reach out for a lifesaver...:/



UPDATE: I've lost my job as a result of this illness. As a consultant, I had no job security. Never did. I was worried that this would happen the very minute they told me in the ER that I needed to be admitted once again.



UPDATE: It seems I am losing my home as a result of this illness, unless my Landlord decides to reconsider. I informed him of my situation to keep him in the loop and I was not expecting such a lousy response. He tells me he's had tenants rip him off after running into medical issues and thinks I will do the same...:(



UPDATE: Landlord changed his mind and now sounds willing to reconsider, but he wants $200 more per month and my signature on a new lease at this higher monthly cost. If I were working, it wouldn't be difficult to make it happen, but having been cut loose from my job thanks to all of this, it feels like a kick in the teeth. In all fairness to my Landlord, my rent was very reasonable for the last five years and the market is his market now.









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Kai Robert Moser 
Organizer
Saint Petersburg, FL
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