I hope you’ll all forgive my lack of activity over the past month – especially when I tell you it’s because I got sepsis. Now, when I started chemo, this was something we were petrified I might get, yet throughout my chemo my white cells stayed good and actually, I never fell ill with anything that wasn’t chemo related. We’d just started to relax and then boom! It hit.
I woke up one morning and everything seemed fine at first and then suddenly it wasn’t. My left arm was red all the way down to my wrist, it was hot and painful. Tom called our GP for advice and was called back by the practice matron who advised him to call 999 – she suspected I had sepsis.
I had to be carried out of the house and as blue lighted into the hospital, I don’t remember much of the ambulance ride there, except for the paramedics talking to me the whole way there feeling like I was freezing. The reality of my “freezing” state was that I had a fever that topped 41 degrees.
When we arrived I was taken straight into resus in A&E where they determined the source of the infection was my picc line (a line I had put in that I could have my chemo through as well as bloods taken from, I had planned to have it in until I’d finished radiotherapy and then have it removed, sepsis decided it would come out sooner) which they removed. They also had a hell of a time gaining access and getting cannula’s in thanks to the chemo. I don’t really recall a lot of what went on in resus, or how long they were “working on me” (for want of a better term), but I do recall how safe I felt, like everything was well under control. I knew it was a serious situation, but I never once felt like it was beyond the control of the doctors and nurses helping me.
We told them I was allergic to penicillin and I was started on antibiotics accordingly and moved to the Higher Monitoring Unit (HMU). I was on the HMU for a good while before I was moved to a ward, during my time on the HMU I was fortunate enough to be seen by Dr. Arthur (he was Dutch and no one could pronounce his sur-name so he went by his first) who sat down with me and my mum to talk about my penicillin allergy. I wasn’t responding to the other anti-biotics as well as they had hoped and being septic, that really wasn’t good news. It turned out that he wasn’t convinced I had an allergy after all (I got a rash after having it once, which as a baby, could have been entirely unrelated – and as it turned out, probably was entirely unrelated) and we decided to go for it on the penicillin front.
Dr. Arthur, sensibly still prescribed everything from a topical cream for a rash all the way to an epipen in case I was allergic. Fortunately I was not, and I started to respond to the penicillin based antibiotic well. I was then finally transferred up to a ward for the remainder of my stay in hospital.
I was in two weeks in total, two weeks of IV antibiotics and several cannula’s of which got harder and harder to put in, to the point that we ended up calling specific staff members to come and try and cannulate me as they had, had previous success. Being in for so long was hard, I missed my husband and the kids no end. But, I also met some incredible women on the ward, all fighting different cancers at different stages and with different outlooks. I will never forget any of them.
The hard work of NHS staff and the luck of meeting with Dr. Arthur who was willing to put his neck on the line for me meant I am still here writing this post. Sepsis can kill if left to its own devices. So please make yourself aware of the symptoms by checking out the NHS Choice’s website: click here
I managed to start radiotherapy while I was in which gave extra reason and productivity to being there before I was discharged. Sadly I was only home for about 36 hours before I bounced back in – but that’s a whole new blog post for another day. I will catch you up on the next episode (another week as an inpatient) soon – promise!
Lots of love xx