Would you recognise the signs of Sepsis? This is a story of someone who was unaware that she was critically ill.
In the Summer of 2018 I was 51, I was in good shape, but my body was most definitely going through a change. I knew something different was happening, hot flushes, swollen joints, I remember it well. It was a hot June, I had fans everywhere, bedroom, office, lounge and a portable one in my bag. I had to call my GP to check on some other results, standard stuff, and I mentioned the hot flushes and irregular periods.
Apparently, it was the menopause, part of me felt happy about it and part of me felt sad. Little did I know how seriously ill I was going to get.
Life was a bit hectic and I was due a break. On my travels, to the SW my hands were on fire! The cool aircon in the car gave me slight relief, but boy did my joints ache! It was cooler in the SW than it was at home, but I still remember thrashing around like a salmon trying to get into my wetsuit, the perspiration was not helping the situation!
Holiday done, I traveled home and the heat in the home counties was stifling! It was not until 48 hours later after I got home, I started feeling a little off colour. A bit fluey and a sore back, I took myself off to bed thinking it was just a 24-hour thing. I was home alone, and I was hot and cold, 2 duvets and a blanket and it was still around 20 degrees outside.
I remember it was the middle of the night and I was finding it hard to breathe and my whole body ached. Laying down was uncomfortable but I remember sitting up and trying to take some deep breathes. However, my lungs did not seem to fully expand and take in the breath. Falling in and out of sleep you could easily have mistaken it for just a rotten bug.
My phone is always by the bedside so I rang 111 explained my symptoms and was told a Doctor would call me back. This is when I got into trouble, I fell back asleep and missed the call. Waking around 9 am feeling a little better I got up and watered the plants, my neighbour saw me, and I apologised for still being in my PJ’s. She asked if I was alright, I replied saying I have got some sort of flu. At no point did I think I had Sepsis.
Sepsis can easily be mistaken for the flu. Back off to bed I went, wrapped in as many duvets as I could find, around midday I rang my partner asking him to pop in and see me. Three hours later I was in the hospital and all I can say is that I felt like I was going to die. It was well over a week before I came home. The doctor told me that had I not been so fit and healthy I may not have fought it as well as I did.
The positive outcome of this story is bittersweet. Whilst in hospital I was diagnosed with PKD which is genetic kidney disease. At the time nobody in our family was aware we carried this.
What did I learn from my experience?
To take care of yourself and never be too busy that you don’t take notice of the changes. I had missed that I was often going to the loo. Also, the colour of my urine was not as it should have been. Never ever feel you are troubling the NHS, if you ever feel something is not right call them immediately. If you are on your own call a member of your family or a friend straight away.
If you’re worried about Sepsis The UK Sepsis Trust website is a really good source of information