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Paul Carney

Survivor

On the 1st of March, 2019, I was at work and became aware of a tickle in my throat, and thought that I was starting to come down with a cold. As the days went on, my cold got worse. Fever and flu-like symptoms started, and I made the massive error in thinking that if I rested in bed, I would give myself time to get rid of it naturally. Unfortunately, I had contracted a mutated version of the swine flu, but I wasn’t aware of this at the time. (Sepsis and Influenza)

My condition worsened and the cough turned into a bad chest infection. Antibiotics were prescribed, but I had left it too late. I developed pneumonia, and after becoming confused and unable to talk, my wife called for an ambulance. (Sepsis and Pneumonia) I was fortunate that the paramedics knew immediately that I was septic, and rushed me to the hospital. Quick diagnosis was key in my survival. I live in the far north of Scotland in the highlands, and the nearest intensive care unit was over a hundred miles away. The doctors decided to induce me into a coma, and air-lifted me to Aberdeen Hospital where the best care I could receive was located.

I spent six weeks in a coma. The flu caused sepsis, and my organs began to fail. On two different occasions my wife was told to prepare for the worst, as everything was starting to fail. I was kept alive by machines that controlled my breathing, and I needed dialysis for my kidneys as they stopped working also. Somehow, after many weeks, I started to improve and eventually I was brought out of sedation. I was nearly 56 pounds lighter, and had lost most of it off my muscles. I had to learn to walk again, to sit upright again, and to try to find my voice again after my tracheostomy.

Unfortunately sepsis had damaged my nervous system in multiple places. I could not swallow, talk, or drink fluids for many weeks. My left leg was completely numb, and I had severe nerve pain in my feet and left leg. It has taken me nearly a year from first being rushed to hospital to feel anything like back to normal. Sepsis has left me permanently nerve-damaged in my left leg, but I count myself lucky to even be able to write this story. I am getting ready to return to work, and it has been a long, painful and startling recovery.

I knew about sepsis, but not its horrendous mortality rate that goes on around the world. I was truly horrified, and am determined to make people aware of this common but deadly condition.

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