In February 2015, we sadly lost our beautiful, mum, Jackie. She had suffered greatly throughout her life having lived with Rheumatoid Arthritis from the age of 29. She coped by taking a plethora of medications to help her get through the days and raised four children on her own.
Despite this mum loved to dance, whenever she could and her biggest joy in life was her family. Longevity also seemed to be on her side as her mum approached her 100th Birthday and her father, having lived until his 95th year and his sister until 101, we always expected mum to make very old bones. So it came as a shock when the call came to say mum had been taken into hospital with a suspected bowel perforation. She had arranged to meet her sister, Barbara that day but had woken up with niggly stomach pains. She had still managed to have her breakfast and washed up and had told her sister that she would just lie down for a while.
My aunt decided to go over to see her and as mum’s colour was not good and she seemed in more pain, she called an ambulance. The paramedics suspecting it was serious told Barbara, she had probably saved her sister’s life by acting quickly…little did we know.
Mum was taken to a hospital that was not the closest in proximity to where she lived and admitted into A&E whilst they carried out a CT scan and gave her antibiotics. It was soon confirmed that she had a bowel perforation probably due to the years of drugs she had endured and that surgery was needed as soon as possible. Given the fact that she was immunosuppressed, due to the steroids and NSAIDS she should have been seen as a priority for surgery due the masking of infection that occurs with these drugs. Sadly, not only was she not given that priority but was left waiting for hours in a side room, even elective surgery was allowed to go before her, despite the fact that she was clearly now showing all the early signs of Sepsis.
That evening, even before getting to surgery we were unaware that she was already on life support as we were told to go home and she was soon to go to surgery and was stable. By the time she was actually taken to theatre for a laparotomy some ten hours later, they had removed 70% of her bowel and her spleen. She was taken to ITC but we were not informed of any of this, not did we get a call through the night and therefore ignorantly assumed, that she was going to be alright. The following day when my sister called and my aunt was getting ready to take clean clothes in for mum, only then were we informed she was not going to survive; the shock was unbearable.
When we all gathered at the hospital in a distraught state, the staff were immediately asking about us switching the life support off as her kidneys had already failed and her body was shutting down, I don’t think any of us took in the magnitude of what was happening. I cannot begin to describe the horror we all felt when we went in to see her and say our goodbyes.
Mum had always been a petite, blonde lady but now her body was grossly enlarged from the sepsis and I could barely recognise her apart, from the rings on her disfigured hands from the RA. Our Mum passed away with all her family surrounding her on the 26th February 2015, she was 75. We fought a long battle with the hospital over the poor care she had received and eventually we had an apology and a cheque from The Trust that we were happy to donate to UK Sepsis Trust.
The hospital has now created a new 1B, category patient for those immunosuppressed patients that present with a bowel perforation. This means they will be taken to surgery within a two-hour window and they have also raised their awareness on early signs of Sepsis in such patients. As a direct result, patients for this type of surgery are spending six days less in the hospital and their mortality rate has decreased from 11% to 3%, this shows how we can all help to make changes and raise awareness.