My Sepsis Story – One Year On
It’s been just over 12 months since my sepsis experience, which I contracted after the birth of my second daughter. In the light of BBC 1’s Panorama’s documentary Britain’s Sepsis Crisis this evening, I thought it was time to revisit my experience.
When I went for my C-section on the morning of the 8th September, I felt relatively calm, all things considered. Despite Neve’s arrival being slightly earlier than planned, the fact I’d driven myself to hospital in labour (not recommended!) and my elective breech section suddenly becoming an emergency, I was in control. I didn’t panic, I took lots of deep breaths, talked through things with my anaesthetist and even when my uterus had a bleed as I was being stitched up resulting in a lot of pressure and tugging to fix it, I stayed calm.
A few hours later, I was in recovery with a baby in my arms, and I felt like the happiest mother alive. I couldn’t wait to introduce Erin to her baby sister, and my biggest worry was guilt at the thought of spending my first few nights away from my eldest, who I had given a bedtime story to before bed every night since she was a baby herself. When we got our discharge a few days later I was overjoyed at the prospect of having both my girls at home together under one roof.
I didn’t expect that after just 2 days at home as a family I would be returning to hospital, where I would stay for another 4 weeks.
I was one of the 250,000 people in the UK every year to have contracted Sepsis, with my section scar being the source.
Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning or septicaemia, is a potentially life-threatening condition triggered by an infection or injury. When you have sepsis, the body’s immune system goes into overdrive as it tries to fight an infection. This can reduce the blood supply to vital organs such as the brain, heart and kidneys. Without quick treatment, sepsis can lead to multiple organ failure and even death.
Shockingly, despite many people in the UK being unaware of Sepsis, it is now the UK’s 2nd biggest killer – with more fatalities than breast, bowel, prostate cancer and road traffic accidents combined.
Panorama has found that Sepsis is the cause of 14000 avoidable deaths each year in the UK – with a huge 37% of patients not getting the antibiotics needed for sepsis within the first hour. It seems that I most definitely was one of the lucky ones.
I had contracted an infection in my section scar, and having failed myself to recognise the signs of sepsis, (If I’m honest I didn’t even really know what it was!), I didn’t realise anything serious was wrong. I just felt odd. Thanks to the quick thinking and fast acting doctor at my local walk in centre, who recognised the warning signs, I was in a High Dependency Ward just 1 hour after diagnosis, getting the quick treatment I needed to fight my infection. It is fair to say her actions that night saved my life.
At my 6 week check I was told that had I gone to bed that night things could have been VERY different. For each hour that passes the chances of survival lower considerably. These words will haunt me forever.
I found the figures on Panorama quite alarming, that the signs of sepsis are being missed, meaning people are losing their lives or being left with life changing symptoms.
September is Sepsis Awareness Month, so if you do one thing today – make sure you know the signs of sepsis. Whether its for you, a friend, a loved one or a child, understand that sepsis is dangerous, and any signs should be treated with the same urgency as you would signs of meningitis or chest pains. Do not delay, and get seen straight away.