On Christmas Day my Dad, Chris Trueman, enjoyed a big family get together like he did every year, and on Boxing Day my partner and I took most of his money at cards (this was a first – he never lost). On Sunday 30th December- less than 5 hours before his 71st birthday- he died of Septic Shock.
On Thursday 27th December my father was called into his doctor’s surgery following his annual emphysema check. I found out early on Saturday evening when I called my dad (it took my mum’s car breaking down on me to find out he had been feeling unwell for 2 days -parents!) that his GP had told him he had a low White Blood Cell Count. I asked him how he felt and he just said he was feeling unwell (no mention of any fevers etc) – he was more interested in bragging to me that he had passed his emphysema breathing check (he had mild emphysema). Although I knew that low white blood cell counts made it difficult to fight infection I wasn’t too concerned as I thought the doctor would have carried out a thorough check and given dad the correct advice following his visit. I consequently told dad to get himself into bed and keep himself wrapped up which he said he was going to do.
Sunday morning first thing I phoned dad to see how he was, only to be told by my Mum that she had called a doctor out on Saturday night only to be seen by a nurse who diagnosed him with a chest infection together with a high temperature. Despite her knowing about his low white cell count, she prescribed him amoxicillin tablets! I’m not a medical expert, but even I know that chest infection + low white blood count more than likely will equal pneumonia especially in older people and with emphysema there could be major problems.
I immediately rushed round and on seeing my Dad, who at this time was in a lot of pain on his left side and was looking pale around his nose, called for a doctor who thankfully turned up within 10 minutes (unlike the ambulance to take him to A & E which took over 1 ½ hours) and immediately diagnosed him with pneumonia! It was all a bit of a blur from here. He was admitted at 1.15pm into A & E and within 1 hour he was having major trouble with breathing. My mum, sister, brother and myself were then transported to the relative’s room and told they were going to sedate my father and put him on a ventilator, and that he would have to have dialysis because of too much acid in his blood, but that as his blood pressure was so low he had a high chance of a heart attack. By 7.10pm my dad died from multi organ failure caused by severe septic shock.
I don’t know if the outcome would have been affected by my Dad’s underlying problems, although he was a relatively fit man who played golf 2 times a week and did gardening as a part-time job. I do feel that things may have been missed at the early stage, as my Dad had to print out his own information from the internet on what to look out for with low White Blood Cell Count when he was feeling so poorly on Saturday, and then wasn’t admitted by the nurse (who should have been a doctor and consequently misdiagnosed a chest infection) when he had all the signs of possible sepsis. Who knows what the outcome would have been, but knowing what I know now about Sepsis and to ensure that my dad’s death was not in vane, I would like to help Ron in his quest to spread the knowledge on how to diagnose the biggest killer in the UK and to help save lives – perhaps you can too!
Although we are all experiencing great pain at the loss of a much loved husband and dad, we would like to remember him for all the great times we shared. He was a wonderful family man and loved his ever growing family but most of all he loved his golf – this is what kept him sane! New Year will never be the same!