In 2011 I was diagnosed with a recurrence of bowel cancer and operated on to remove the remainder of my colon. (Sepsis and Surgery) The operation went well, but a leak developed after about two days and I developed severe sepsis. (Sepsis and Perforated Bowel) I was operated on to remove the poison and create a stoma, and was placed on a ventilator in Intensive Care where I stayed for just over a month.
During that time I had a heart attack, tonic-clonic seizures, abnormal spleen, kidney and liver readings, pneumonia x3, I was packed in ice as my temperature was so high, I was given a tracheostomy as I couldn’t support my own breathing (I was disconnected from the ventilator three times, without success). I was sedated during this entire time, but have fleeting memories of actual events. I had the most horrific, depraved hallucinations which to this day I can remember in perfect detail.
After leaving ICU I remained in hospital for a further two months, regaining my strength and appetite, having been tube-fed for a month. I experienced complete exhaustion, further infections, significant weight and muscle loss plus severe dehydration from a high-output ileostomy. After developing and recovering from pre-renal failure through lack of fluid monitoring (the hospital’s words) I was discharged, but readmitted with acidosis a few days later.
Five years on and I still experience memory loss, muscle weakness, low pain threshold and fatigue, in addition to flashbacks. I am considerably improved generally, but am certainly not the person I was before sepsis, and realise that I probably will never be the same again. I cannot remember a single film or a single book that I have seen or read since being ill – I forget words mid-sentence, I have difficulty processing information. I am very aware that I was extremely lucky to survive, and I am so sorry for all those who didn’t, or who have been far more severely affected than me. (Sepsis and Post-Sepsis Syndrome)