The above comment, posted on Twitter over the weekend by a profile of a doctor who identifies herself as being from Rondônia, went viral, shocking and infuriating users.
But for Luciane Almeida, 35, from Rio de Janeiro, it brought up painful memories, which she also decided to share on the same social network.
In 2009, Luciane says that, due to a urinary infection, she was hospitalized in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for a week, was placed in an induced coma and had to undergo hemodialysis because her kidneys stopped working.
In 2009, Luciane Almeida from Rio de Janeiro had to undergo hemodialysis because her kidneys stopped working — Photo: Luciane Almeida/Personal Archive
Today, more than a decade later, she has recovered her health, but she has not forgotten the episode that almost took her life. “The hospital social worker even asked my family about possible arrangements for my funeral.”
BBC News Brasil was unable to confirm the identity of the profile that posted the comment that opens this report and took the subject “infection” to a “trending topic” on Twitter, but spoke by phone with Almeida.
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In another development, the Regional Council of Medicine of Paraná (CRM-PR) decided on Monday (23/5) to open an investigation to investigate the conduct of the alleged doctor, who would live in Curitiba and work in an emergency care unit in the region. metropolitan area of the capital of Paraná.
Like Luciane, several other users have reported similar episodes of untreated urinary tract infections involving themselves and people close to them, as well as other health issues.
This is Luciane’s story (the conversation has been edited for clarity).
“It all happened at the end of 2009, when I was 22 years old. I started to feel a burning sensation when urinating. I thought it was cystitis and I self-medicated. The burning went away and I returned to normal life.
Two days later, I felt a strange pain in my back, but I thought it was a problem with my spine. It was a mild, bearable pain. I took an anti-inflammatory and went to the pool. I spent the day drinking soda and eating French fries. At night, I felt very sick and had to cancel the night with my friends. The pain increased in intensity and became disabling. That’s when I asked my husband to take me to the hospital. It was already dawn.
I spent the whole morning there, they did all the tests and the doctor gave me an antibiotic. I returned home.
It was lunch time and I couldn’t eat anything. I went straight to bed. She was exhausted and very nauseous. An abdominal pain that wouldn’t go away at all.
My husband was stressed by the situation and thought I was exaggerating. He tried to force me to eat and I threw up. She was bent over so much pain in her abdomen.
We decided to go back to the hospital. I was attended by another doctor, who redone the exams. When the results came in, she immediately sent me for a CT scan.
I was placed on a bed in the ward to await the diagnosis. It was then that the doctor came to me with a serious face and said: ‘You are already in a condition of septic shock’.
She explained to me that, because of my situation, she could no longer give me oral antibiotics. An intravenous antibiotic would be required. She also said that I would have to stay in the ICU for two days. Initially, I was scared, but I thought: ‘it’s only two days’.
I remember to this day. When I entered the CTI, I said goodbye to my husband and said: ‘do you see how this is not an exaggeration?’. He was very bad, delirious, didn’t say anything at all. The doctor then told me that I would have to administer the antibiotic through my jugular vein.
I started to panic. They had to hold me on the stretcher. The doctor said: ‘I’ll have to intubate you if you continue like this’. I was completely beside myself, but not because I’m a rebel. In infections like that, you end up losing your axis, you can’t think straight.
I was intubated and placed in an induced coma. The hospital notified my mother over the phone. It was desperate for my family. Imagine, I walked into the ICU talking. And from there she might not make it out alive. I was in a coma for almost three days. My family later told me that I was unrecognizable because both my kidneys stopped and I had to undergo hemodialysis.
I was completely swollen. I became a ‘human bubble’. I had hemodialysis for two days, and when they took me off sedation, I remember waking up feeling very weak, because my oxygen saturation dropped a lot during that time. I had to do chest physiotherapy for the rest of the time I spent in the ICU. I also remained with a tube to feed myself, which was later removed.
The doctor who accompanied me to the ICU was categorical: I only survived because I was very young. My body reacted very well to the treatment.
It was a miracle, actually.
When I was in the worst moment of coma and hemodialysis, the hospital social worker called my mother and even asked if my family was financially prepared for my wake.
In all, I spent a week in the ICU and then a few more days in the room. When I left the ICU, I had lost nine kilos. Gradually, I was regaining my movements. I couldn’t even move properly.
During my stay in the ICU, three people died of acute pyelonephritis (when the infection ascends to the kidneys, becoming more severe), but they were older.
And when I returned home, I still had to take antibiotics for 14 days.
The doctors suspected that I contracted a common bacteria, as there was no resistance to the antibiotic. I even investigated to see if I had any underlying health issues that I wasn’t aware of, but there was nothing wrong with me. It was apparently punctual.
When I saw this supposed doctor’s tweet, I was outraged. In addition to showing a total lack of sensitivity, she appears to have no technical knowledge whatsoever.
I’m the living example that a urinary infection is, yes, serious.”
Osvaldo Merege Vieira Neto, president of the Brazilian Society of Nephrology (SBN), explains that there are urinary infections of different severity.
“There are mild cases, such as cystitis, but there are others that kill if the doctor doesn’t intervene quickly. I’ve seen a case of a patient dying in a few hours, especially when it affects the kidneys (pyelonephritis)”.
“This supposed doctor’s comment is absurd. Urinary tract infection can be potentially serious and kill.”
“When you have specific symptoms of a urinary tract infection, you should not wait. You should seek medical help immediately”, he concludes.
See tips to prevent urinary tract infection
According to data from the Brazilian Society of Urology (SBU), urinary tract infection (or urinary tract infection) is associated with the bacterium ‘Escherichia coli’ in about eight out of 10 cases.
But the causes behind this health problem are diverse, including inadequate hygiene, family history, pregnancy, hospital infection, sexual activity and chronic diseases such as diabetes.
Urinary tract infection can affect the bladder (when it gets the name cystitis), urethra (urethritis) or kidneys (pyelonephritis).
Among the symptoms, the main one is urinary urgency (difficulty controlling it), but many patients are asymptomatic.
The most affected are women: it is estimated that more than 50% of them will have at least one episode of urinary tract infection in their lifetime.
This is because the urethra, shorter than that of men, facilitates the entry of bacteria into the urinary channel, which reach the bladder and find a humid and warm environment, conducive to its development.
Elderly people are also more often affected.
And, with the arrival of summer, the occurrence of urinary infections grows — the higher temperatures, ideal for greater frequency in beaches and pools, “favor the increase of humidity in intimate areas, which modifies the population of bacteria and germs common region, causing an imbalance that favors the development of infections”, according to the Brazilian Society of Nephrology (SBN).
According to the SBN, these are the recommendations to avoid urinary tract infections:
- Drinking enough water to provoke six to eight urinations, evenly distributed throughout the day
- Review of hygiene habits, using only disposable toilet paper, avoiding the use of showers and specific products propagated as “safer” with each urination;
- Use of water and soap after bowel movements, with care in directing the flow of water for rinsing;
- Regularization of the intestinal rhythm, as long periods of constipation allow bacterial proliferation due to the presence of dry feces in the rectal ampulla;
- Annual gynecological review, for women and urological consultation for men, especially when they present uncommon cases of UTI;
- Hygiene care before and after sexual intercourse;
- Use of condoms;
- Give preference for cotton underwear, avoiding synthetic fabrics and models “glued” to the body, especially in the intimate regions.