We must stand against sepsis

Four years ago, I was a fit and healthy businesswoman and Mum when a bad cough just refused to go away. My doctor examined me on a Friday afternoon and decided I had a chest infection and gave me antibiotics. On the Saturday, I was dying with less than a 5% chance of survival. Total organ failure within an hour of arriving in hospital. My sepsis was a result of acute pneumonia that wasn’t obvious to my Doctor or me. I survived sepsis, but unfortunately, my luck stopped there. I lost my legs and hands as a result of my body overreacting to the infection and shutting down the circulation to my extremities. They turned black and gangrene set in, adding to my infections. Amputations over several operations was necessary, and my life changed forever.

S               Shivering, fever and/or cold to touch

E               Extreme Pain and discomfort

P               Pale or discoloured skin colour

S               Sleepy or difficult to wake

I                I didn’t pee all day

S               Shortness of breath

These are the symptoms that can lead to the condition that kills 44,000 in the UK a year. Of the 150,000 people in the UK that develop it, a quarter of survivors – another 26,500 people – suffer life-changing disabilities, such as organ failure and amputated limbs. I survived, but not before sepsis took my hands and legs from me. The blood poisoning can kill in just a few hours and there are many, many sources of the initial infection – a cut; a knock, another infection that escalates, a cough, a cold, a germ and so on. It is not restricted to old age, bad health, poor lifestyle or vulnerable adults. It can happen to anyone. It’s silent. It’s often mistaken for everyday illnesses. Sepsis is an equal opportunity killer.

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Chris Draper