From January to July last year I had a recurring UTI (Sepsis and UTIs). It kept coming and going but I self medicated and over counter medication seem to work. However July 2015 that all changed. I was extremely busy and stressed at work as I was under threat of redundancy. My husband had to visit his 90-year-old mother in Edinburgh for a week and I was left at home alone. My UTI returned with a vengeance and I handed a urine sample into my doctor’s on the Tuesday. I was able to go to work but didn’t feel well.
I called the doctor’s on Wednesday, but they didn’t have any results back. I had a terrible night on Wednesday with a lot of pain in my back. I took strong painkillers and got some sleep. Still went to work next day…still no result of urine test. Surgery said they’d chase it up. Struggled through the day and had another terrible night with back pain that literally put me on my knees. More painkillers! Amazingly (and stupidly), I went to work on the Friday. I had terrible pain in my back and called the doctors who told me to collect a prescription from the surgery.
I started to feel sick and went home. My husband was still in Edinburgh so I had no one to collect my prescription! Fortunately a family friend collected it for me. I called my husband and asked him to come home as I felt so bad. I started to be sick. I have never felt so awful but thought I only had a UTI or at worst a kidney infection. I went to bed but kept on being sick. My husband arrived home that night. I was up most of the night vomiting. In the morning I asked my husband to call the doctor as I was worried the antibiotics were not working as I couldn’t keep them down. They said to go straight to local A&E.
As soon as I arrived the nurse took my temp and blood pressure and said that I was to be admitted as my temp was high and BP low. She put in a drip and also gave me something to stop me being sick. At this point I didn’t feel too bad. I was transferred to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness by ambulance and on arrival they put in a catheter, gave me a chest X Ray and had blood taken. By the Saturday afternoon I was starting to feel agitated and my husband arrived. He was asked to wait in the family room and then all hell broke loose. He told me about 8-9 nurses and doctors rushed passed him into the ward. I was surrounded by anxious faces telling me I was gravely ill with sepsis. Never heard of it! They tried to get a line into my arms but due to my blood pressure being so low my veins had collapsed. I was then taken to HDU and they told me they would try a central line in my neck. This too was unsuccessful. They kept telling me I was seriously ill. They then transferred me to ICU. I was lucid and chatting to the consultant but absolutely terrified.
The last I remember was a mask going over my face. My poor husband was told to contact our children as I may not survive. My son and 2 daughters were at T in the Park and travelled from Perth to Inverness by taxi. They arrived around midnight to be told that they should prepare themselves for the worst and that I was seriously ill. By this time I had had a central line inserted and had had a scan to see where the infection that was raging through my body had come from. I had kidney and respiratory failure and been intubated. I was in an induced coma for 4 days and eventually started to recover.
I had urosepsis leading to septic shock caused by E Coli. I was very, very lucky. I was move to a ward on the Thursday and despite a couple of setbacks, moved to our local hospital 1 week later for rehabilitation as I was extremely weak. It’s 7 months now since I got home but I am still suffering from chronic fatigue and panic attacks connected to septic shock and my stay in ICU. I have problems in my neck where the line was inserted and some muscle and nerve damage in my leg. I still use a walking stick to get about. I don’t expect to be able to work again for the foreseeable future. I feel I have got off lightly.
I am so grateful to the nurse practitioner and GP that immediately spotted sepsis and the expertise of the staff in Raigmore Hospital who worked tirelessly to save my life and support my family through this terrible time. Never take your health for granted…my life changed overnight due to this terrible illness. It is good to know through Sepsis Alliance that I am not alone.