September is Sepsis Awareness Month, a cause very close to my heart and a blog post which still feels so raw for me to write.
On 27th March this year, a day that is engrained in my memory, I was blue lighted into Resus with what we found out to be life-threatening sepsis; I know just how lucky I am to be here today in a position to spread awareness of this devastating condition. In the UK alone, 5 people are killed every hour from it.
Sepsis (or blood poisoning), is the immune systems over reaction to an infection rather than fighting it. This means that the immune system attacks the body’s organs and tissues, potentially resulting in organ failure and ultimately death if not treated. I went to see two different GPs, and attended A&E with my symptoms worsening, yet it wasn’t picked up at all. It was left until my temperature was dangerously high and my breathing failing that I was taken seriously and not made to feel like a hypochondriac.
The bug that I had in my blood was very dangerous and rife, I was at the risk of it attaching to my heart valves and my joints, and I had to have emergency surgery to have the port-a-Cath removed. I had to have a minimum of a fortnights IV antibiotics which was said to be like the ‘bleach’ of the antibiotic family. I have never felt so ill in all my life, and to be honest I felt like I was going to die; at times I thought I’d be better off dead than dealing with the symptoms I was.
Whilst I was fortunate in getting over sepsis, that was never a given and it was an extremely worrying time for my family and I. We tried in excess of 8 different IV antibiotics before we found any that the infection responded to, all the while I genuinely thought I wouldn’t get through it. Whilst the Sepsis is now in the past, I am struggling with Post Sepsis Syndrome now which is said to last up to 18 months or even longer after the infection itself. This has a range of physical and psychological symptoms, including; lethargy, swollen limbs, joint and muscle pain, repeated infections, flashbacks, nightmares and PTSD. I think the most difficult impact for me has been psychological, the trauma really scarring me.
The month of September is dedicated to raising awareness of this potentially fatal condition, and even more poignant to me as I’ve had another port inserted this week which was the cause of my infection. If you think symptoms you are experiencing could be sepsis, don’t wait, and don’t be afraid to ask if it is a possibility. This condition has changed my life, but I’m one of the lucky ones as it didn’t take my life; hopefully by raising awareness more people will be survivors of this horrendous condition.