My interest and passion for raising awareness around sepsis stems from surviving sepsis myself in 2008. I now realise how lucky I am to be here, how quickly it can take hold and how important it is that it is spotted and diagnosed and treated quickly.
In 2008 a couple of months after being discharged from hospital (following a cycling accident) I was recovering at home when I began to feel unwell. I thought I had flu and dosed myself with paracetamol over the weekend thinking I was a bit run down. By Monday I felt much worse so my husband ran me down to the surgery and they diagnosed cellulitis and referred me to my local hospital. I was asked to go to A and E. Once there I was triaged and it was felt I had an infection but they were unclear whether the infection was in my leg or in my jaw. (I had a number of injuries, fractures, and haematomas on my face/jaw, hips and legs. So I was passed between various departments and then sent to another hospital to get checked out by their Max/fax department.
Although the need for antibiotics was mentioned on many occasions none were given and I continued to deteriorate with a high temperate/rigours/vomiting. 18 hours after first presenting at my GP’s I was admitted to an emergency bed. Although I felt dreadful I enquired re the antibiotics as I had not been given any. They had not been written up so there was a further delay but eventually drips were put up and treatment started. After 10 days I was discharged on full bed rest and with my legs bandaged from ankle to thigh.
A couple of days later the rigours started again so my husband took me back to the ward I had been discharged from a couple of days earlier but they said I needed to go to A and E. After a delay of approx 5 hours I was seen, my legs were unwrapped and foul smelling discharge poured from various crevices in my left leg.
I was seen by an orthopaedic surgeon and IV antibiotics were started and I was told I would need an urgent operation to remove necrotic muscle and hopefully save my left leg.
The necrotic muscle was removed and after another 10 days in hospital I was discharged. It took me a long time to fully recover, the work on replacing my fractured teeth had to be delayed due to sepsis episodes (to allow my body to recover) and this led to a breakdown. (I was ashamed I’d had an accident, ashamed I’d not spoken up, ashamed of the NHS etc etc-sounds crazy now, I know but I was unwell!)
I’d worked for over 30 years for the NHS but was not well enough to return to the role I had prior to my illness so worked 4 days a week in patient safety. As part of this role I attended The Patient Safety Conference and met Martin Bromley and mentioned my experience to him. He agreed with me that there were many lessons to be learned from my experience and suggested I made a film about it. So I did and the next year was asked to present the film at Conference.
After making the film Ron got in touch and we met up at a Ball in Harrogate and I then got involved with the Sepsis Trust.
I’ve probably said enough now (probably more then you wanted to hear!) but if you wish to know more the short film about my experience, which I now share with Doctors, Health Professionals and the public to raise awareness can be found at:
www.patientstories.org.uk by navigating to “Julie’s Story.”
Making the film and working with the UKST has enabled me to turn what was a very painful and shameful experience into a positive public purpose…..
So …I’m keen to help raise awareness with the public and Primary Care and have put up displays in my local GP Surgery and some local pharmacies. I’ve also given talk to groups locally whose interest has been raised by publicity generated by press releases from my local MP following the Sepsis Parliamentary Receptions.
I want to encourage people to “Think Sepsis” and not be afraid to ask either for themselves or a loved one “could this be sepsis?”