Our Mum, Dad’s amazing wife, Grandma to 5 and friend to so many – Geraldine (Gerry) Hutchinson was admitted to Doncaster Royal Infirmary via A & E on 14th January 2010 with stomach pains and weight loss. Despite a private CT scan earlier in the week which was seemingly fine, she was diagnosed with a blockage in her bowel (a tumour) which was operated on on 16th January 2010. This was Mum’s only stay in hospital in 33 years, her previous stay being after the Caesarean birth of my twin sister and I.
The operation was a success and we were informed that the cancer although advanced was isolated and the operation had removed all traces, and once Mum was recovered she would require some chemotherapy but that would be it. Great we thought, the word cancer strikes a fear which makes your blood run cold, to be told that operation had taken it all was a miracle. Sadly our miracle didn’t last.
On 24th January 2012 Mum began to noticeably worsen, she was breathless, hot and cold, slurring her words etc; this was reported to the Ward Sister who said that Mum was tired as she was on a 4 bed ward and that she would move her back to the single room that she had occupied post-operatively. We know now, with the benefit of hindsight, that this was probably the start of Mum’s difficulties; a CT scan was performed and discussed over the phone with the Consultant on call as it was a weekend. The scan showed some gas or fluid in Mum’s abdomen which could have been a leak from her operation; however the decision was taken to treat her conservatively rather than re-operate and it was this decision which lead to criticism by HM Coroner. Mum’s condition deteriorated by the day, we ensured that during all waking hours that a family member was present at the hospital, we knew that things weren’t right, she was our Mum and we knew instinctively that we were losing her, but still we placed our faith in those treating her who were telling us she was getting better.
Intervention came on 2nd February 2010 when the surgeon who had operated called in the Intensive Care Consultant for an opinion, he immediately took Mum up to HDU and things were looking on the up. Mum was conscious and appeared brighter although it was a mixed bag, on occasions she was intubated and sedated, but we were all hopefully with 1 to 1 care that Mum would recover. Sadly this was not to be, on the evening of 6th February/7th February Mum took a turn for the worse and the family were all called to the hospital, where we were informed that Mum was in severe septic shock which was described as ‘hopeless’, we were asked for permission to withdraw treatment, Mum died with us (her 4 daughters) and our Dad by her side 30 minutes after her treatment was withdrawn.
Sadly our grief was compounded by the hospital issuing a death certificate which stated the Mum had died from LRTI, totally at odds with what the Consultant in Intensive Care had told us; thankfully the Consultant referred Mum to the coroner for post-mortem and although the intervening weeks were horrible, we finally got an interim death certificate which stated the true cause of death, this was only finalised after the Inquest which took place some 14 months later. Mum’s cause of death was sepsis as a result of a retro peritoneal bleed or abscess on her operation site on her bowel.
What saddens us greatly is that sepsis is so preventable and Mum could have still been here if only our voices had been heard by those at the hospital and if only they had the knowledge to recognise the symptoms early enough; sadly for us for our Mum it was probably too late by the time she moved to HDU but if your campaign means that some other family don’t have to go through watching a love one deteriorate before their eyes and then decide when they should die, then all power to you and all at UK Sepsis Trust. My Mum wasn’t there to see me get married in June of last year nor will she see any grandchildren that me and my twin sister may be blessed to have – no one ever expects their Mum to not be with them at the crucial milestones in their life, we all feel robbed of her love and life is just that little bit darker without her