I’m not one for serious chats over breakfast but whilst mindlessly eating my cereal this morning with the ramblings of BBC Breakfast in the background, my ears pricked up at a particular news story.
Fortunately it wasn’t Brexit. Or David’s departure. Or Mrs May’s arrival.
No, I was more taken by the familiar sound of sepsis. In particular the story of Melissa Mead whose one year old son William died from this quick and fateful killer in 2014.
I also have a son of the same name and as any parent would, I felt a terrible sadness for this poor mother whose adorable son had been taken so horribly and so fatally.
But it wasn’t just the similarities of motherhood that spoke to me. Only very recently I too fell victim to the dreaded sepsis myself. In fact it was just over two months ago that out of the blue I fell ill with pneumonia. At first I thought it was flu and on the advice of a doctor on the telephone, I accepted I just needed to ‘sweat it out.’ As a healthy 37 year old, I had no reason to think otherwise.
Only it wouldn’t go and I gradually got worse. I was breathless, fatigued, nauseous, coughing constantly and more sick than I have ever, ever felt.
After a week of suffering at home, I crawled down to my doctor’s surgery- looking back I’m not even sure how I managed to get there. The events after this are quite vague but needless to say, having taken one look at me, within about five minutes my GP had recognised the warning signs. I was checked over, given much needed oxygen for my dangerously low stats and an ambulance arrived to ship me off to hospital.
Pneumonia wasn’t my only problem. The infection was so bad, my immune system had gone into overdrive. It was touch and go for a while but after receiving the necessary intravenous fluids and antibiotics, things did stabilise for me and I began my long, and excruciatingly slow recovery back to health.
It was only weeks later that I realised how close I had come to being one of the 44000 people who die from sepsis every year in the UK. It sounds gruesome but there’s nothing more sobering than realising your own mortality.
Today, it was widely reported that NICE have urged medics to consider sepsis earlier when treating patients with suspected infections. Sepsis should be viewed as urgent a case as a heart attack given its rapid and fatal consequences – severe organ failure, shock and sadly in some cases death.
As a healthy woman I shouldn’t really have caught pneumonia. I shouldn’t really have been hospitalised. I certainly didn’t expect to have sepsis. When you read about those most at risk it’s the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and children who are in the firing line. Not somebody like me.
But the truth is we are all at risk of infection and sometimes the smallest virus can escalate into a terrible trauma. People like Melissa Mead should be applauded. It takes a huge amount of strength and courage to talk about the death of a loved one, let alone a child. But she is determined to raise the profile of this condition that can happen to any one of us, at any time.
If I’d have been more educated about the symptoms of sepsis I would definitely have seen my GP sooner and perhaps prevented myself from being as ill as I have been. I’m just grateful for how my doctor saw the signs and reacted appropriately. Let’s hope today’s guidelines encourage more GPs to do the same and prevent needless deaths.
Originally published on The Huffington Post UK – click here.