This is written from my own personal experience, following my nightmare of being admitted to hospital with sepsis and finding it so difficult for any healthcare professionals to listen when I knew something was seriously wrong!
My story is probably all too familiar but it still needs to be told. I underwent a hysterectomy in July 2012 which appeared to have been a success, however, the day following discharge, I began to suffer with vomiting and diarrhoea. I contacted the hospital ward immediately to be advised to drink Coca Cola to keep my blood sugar levels up, and I went back to bed. The following day, still suffering from D&V, I then phoned my GP who said she suspected Norovirus (even though I had told her that I had recently undergone surgery) and I vomited whilst on the phone to her, still no alarm bells rang. The next day, still suffering from D&V, I phoned an ambulance as realised that something was seriously wrong only to be signposted by the emergency 999 operator to NHS Direct where a nurse advised I had “probably” contracted an infection and not to go to hospital via A&E but to speak to my GP again.
3 days later, having had absolutely no water or food and suffering horrendous D&V, thank God I was finally readmitted to hospital following an emergency GP appointment who suspected that I had gastroenteritis. I had to suffer the indignity of being carried into the hospital while still vomiting and but by now I was ; and still suffering from horrendous diarrhoea. My partner thought he was losing me.
Following admission and blood tests by the hospital, I was diagnosed with sepsis and E. coli. It was 2 days later before I was given a CT scan which showed a damaged ureter. I had been leaking urine into my pelvic cavity for 7 days by now and had developed a pelvic collection. I had emergency surgery, a stent was fitted and I was in hospital for over a month deteriorating 3 times with increasingly severe symptoms. I couldn’t eat or drink and lost a stone in weight in 2 weeks. It was an absolute nightmare and I thought I was dying. I continued to suffer terribly from vomiting and severe night sweats which were terrifying: I deteriorated 3 times and was extremely unwell. I finally came home in August 2012 but still took another 2 months of recuperation, time off work that I couldn’t afford so I had to return even though I was still weak and recovering from further surgery.
I would like to raise awareness of the symptoms of sepsis to help prevent it happening to someone else. I couldn’t get the hospital, my GP or an emergency 999 operator to listen to me or take me seriously so I am lucky that the GP I saw noticed how dehydrated I was and got me admitted to hospital but he still didn’t consider sepsis but gastroenteritis. I am fortunate that I survived but I realise many others haven’t been so lucky and almost a year later I am still suffering from the consequences with unwanted thoughts and memories and ongoing health issues relating to the damaged ureter.
I just want to highlight that if you suspect something is wrong, do not take ‘no’ or ‘you may have a bug’ for an answer from healthcare professionals. Trust your first instinct and insist that you are seen immediately. This could mean the difference between life and death!