We are very upset at losing Cindy, upset that she had so many plans for the future which she cannot now experience, and upset that her position in the family will no longer be filled.
But we are also angry. Angry that until her death we were unaware of the devastation Sepsis can cause, unaware of the signs to look for, unaware of the rapid action needed if the disease is to be treated with any chance of success, angry that Sepsis did not appear to be considered by the local professionals.
Cindy had asthma, and a slight cough, but otherwise was well until late evening when she started shivering. Cindy had attended a regular local asthma clinic the same afternoon where the nurse advised mentioning the cough to a doctor if it continued (we now know Cindy had pneumonia).
That night the high temperature and shivering continued, plus nausea; by mid-morning she was affected by severe diarrhoea, and was becoming drowsy. With no improvement by midday the doctor was contacted, and he diagnosed gastroenteritis (over the phone, later that afternoon). Cindy was becoming unresponsive by this stage, and would not drink any liquid, so now being “out of hours” the NHS 111 service was called, who in turn arranged for an ambulance.
We are now aware that all the warning indicators for Sepsis were present, and it was one of the paramedics who first mentioned Sepsis. After stabilising Cindy in the ambulance she was rushed to hospital and then to intensive care. All this within 24 hours of first feeling unwell. In spite of extensive treatment and care, Cindy died 3 days later.
If we had known about Sepsis and what to look for, could Cindy have been saved? We don’t know, but like to think that others who are aware might have a chance.
We can see how the extent of Sepsis can be greatly under-rated if simple death statistics are examined. Cindy’s death certificate shows the primary cause to be pneumonia, and it is this that presumably will be input into death statistics; but it was Sepsis (and hence organ failure) that killed her.
So please spread the message to all you know and love that Sepsis is a rapid killer, and to look out for the signs if feeling unwell.