I remember waking up on a Monday morning, the 1st Feb 2011, feeling a little under the weather- a slight temp and pain when going to the loo. I regularly suffered with water infections so usually self medicated at home with pain relief and lots of fluids. As the day progressed so did my symptoms, I felt like I was coming down with flu. I didn’t want to be ill as I was going to a football match for my husband’s birthday on the Tuesday! It was Norwich vs Millwall, a game I so did not want to miss. So I took the usual ‘over the counter’ medications to control the symptoms, with only brief relief.
On the Tuesday, I woke up in terrible pain in my flanks with extreme tenderness- I felt like I had been punched, it was agonising. I was sweating a lot too, even though I was freezing! My joints were aching. I decided if I did not improve I would contact my GP the next day, as I assumed I had flu being the time of year. I managed to get through the day. Just. I went to the match. I couldn’t enjoy it due to the pain. I started to shiver violently and could not control it. The drive home was agonising. I was in so much pain and cried all the way. I managed to crawl into bed.
I contacted my GP the following morning. I could not get an appointment, but the receptionist suggested the nurse contacted me. After what seemed like ages the nurse contacted me, I explained my symptoms, and she told me I had a UTI and prescribed some antibiotics over the phone, which my husband collected for me. I was being treated blind. I was holed up in bed wearing many layers. Despite my high fever of over 380C I was shivering. My appetite was non-existent, by now I had not eaten for 3 days.
I started the course of antibiotics immediately, but it soon became clear they were not going to work. By now I was desperately ill, it took a lot of strength to contact my GP and I did manag to get an appointment. By this point I had developed a nasty cough, the pain was intense and I looked like aged about 10 years!
I took a urine sample with me. I remember my urine was very cloudy and had this toxic smell about it. My GP tested my urine and it tested positive for everything. Literally. Even while I was trying to talk to her I was crying and in a lot of pain, shaking violently. She sent me home with new antibiotics and tramadol to help with the pain. I crawled into bed as soon as I got home. Fully clothed, my hairline was soaked, yet my shivering was more violent. The pain in my flanks and joints was unbearable. I don’t think I have ever cried so much in my life. Giving birth was a breeze compared to this!
I was told the antibiotics should kick in after 24 hrs, but was warned I might need hospital treatment. On the Friday, I had not improved. I was taking any painkiller I could get my hands on, was not eating and could barely drink. The nausea I was feeling was overwhelming. I would either be in bed or sat by the toilet retching. By now, every time I stood up I felt incredibly faint and dizzy. I spent most of Friday in a drug induced sleep.
I woke up at about 11:30pm Friday evening. It had occurred to me I had hardly passed urine that day, but was more frightening was the pace my heart was going at, I had to breathe fast to keep up! My husband then contacted NHS Direct. By now I was shivering violently, my temp was over 390C, I was confused and felt extremely sick. I had never felt so ill in my life, at this point I knew it was serious. I started begging my husband to call an ambulance. I could hardly move or walk and even standing up made me want to fall down.
NHS Direct told my husband to give me plenty of fluids and paracetamol. My mother in law took one look at me and said I needed to go to hospital. And NOW! After an hour on the phone, we managed to get an appointment with an out of hours GP. Even now I can’t remember the drive to hospital. Fortunately we don’t live that far from our hospital. I remember walking in and waiting to be seen by the doctor. I was struggling to stay awake. I was not sure whether it was due to being ill, the medication or just been absolutely tired.
I walked into the doctor’s office, well I say walked: I shuffled as I was just too tired to stand. I had to produce another urine sample. This was difficult as I was having problems passing water. I managed to squeeze a small amount out after a while. It was painful. I walked back in. He took my vital signs and tested the urine. I was tachycardic, had a very high fever and low BP. I was admitted immediately and became an emergency. Without falling to the floor, I managed to walk into the ED where I was greeted by 2 doctors. By now I was clueless- I was confused. Within 5 minutes I was cannulated, was on IV fluids and was administered what looked like a huge dose of antibiotics. I was given pain relief for pain and the fever and something for my rapid heart rate. I was being monitored closely with obs being taken like every 15 mins. The look on my husband’s face to this day haunts me, after explaining to the ED doctor about my symptoms and how I felt I managed to fall asleep. To this day I now know if I had not gone to the hospital when I did, the outcome would have been very different. I managed to somehow avoid ITU. I’m sure I had an angel watching me!
I woke up few hours later and I thought crikey I really need a wee! Anyone would after several bags of fluids which were still slowly dripping into my arm. I was eventually moved to MAU and had several tests carried out including an ultrasound on my kidneys and a chest X-ray, where I learnt I had some cloud patch thing on one of my lungs, I’m not sure whether it was caused by the sepsis or infection spread from the kidneys! Luckily my kidneys were unharmed considering the severity of the infection.
I spent a week on a ward where I was having IV antibiotics 3 times a day for the week before being discharged and taking more oral antibiotics for about 3 days afterwards. Never would I have thought at my age I would suffer a potential lethal life threatening illness. I was young, I ran most days and ate healthily and was rarely ill. I thought I was invincible!
It took me many months to be fully recovered from the illness. I had not eaten for a week so lost a few pounds and was weak. I had 2 more bouts of infections in the kidneys but these were caught early.
I consider myself very lucky. I believe it was the prompt actions of my family and my doctors that saved my life and preventing the sepsis from becoming critical. To this day I have no idea what was responsible for the infection and have done much research into the condition and read stories from other patients.
I believe I got off very lightly and am extremely lucky.