Emma's Story

  • Age: 31-40
  • Location: Midlands
  • Story:
  • NEVER NEVER underestimate how you feel, the signs and symptoms and seek medical attention urgently...


In June 2016 I was rushed into A&E with septic shock.
My symptoms were becoming fuzzy headed then acute shortness of breath followed by abdominal cramps and chest pains. When the paramedics arrived via the NHS 111 line and assessed me within 10 minutes I had a temperature of 40°c and a heart rate of 100bpm. I was shaking uncontrollably.

I was in A&E within 45 minutes from the onset of symptoms.
Within 6 hours of arrival in A&E I developed a rash the size of an iPhone on the back of my calve. I had no marks or bites on my leg at all prior to this.
I was catheterised, given IV fluids and antibiotics. I felt awful, similar to flu but without the runny nose and sore throat.

Over the next 7 days my leg ballooned. Each day sometimes twice the consultant would draw around the infected area with a marker pen until eventually the infection had circumnavigated around my leg from the knee to my toes.
I was on my 7th different IV antibiotic when I suffered acute lower abdominal pain. I noticed the redness tracking up into my groin.
My lymph nodes in my groin were hugely enlarged dealing with the infection causing me further pain. I was on regular oral morph for pain in my leg.

Day 8 the infection started looking better and by day 10 it was improving.
My diagnoses was sepsis caused by cellulitis. I had no indication, no warnings just felt unwell at home.
Probably no different to anyone else but given I had a previous career as a qualified senior nurse in ITU it came as a huge shock that even I didn’t recognise or see any symptoms.

I am 10 months on and still suffering from lymphatic problems in both legs. It’s more psychological for me now.
I am a police officer having changed careers in 2013 and struggling to complete the annual fitness test due to pain in my legs from the poor lymphatic drainage. I’m due to visit a lymphedema clinic in a couple of weeks and have been referred on for some psychological support.

NEVER NEVER underestimate how you feel, the signs and symptoms and seek medical attention urgently.
I can’t fault any of the care I received from the staff on the end of the NHS line, paramedics and ambulance staff to the nurses and doctors. I’m hugely grateful to them all.
BUT no one prepared me for the long road to recovery. My GP informed me it could take many more months to recover. I’m susceptible to having the infection again and the lymphatic system may never recover.
I’m hoping the lymphedema clinic has positive news for me …..

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