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Sarah Hardy

Survivor

October 2019 my family and I had come away to my in-laws’ caravan. The plan was to take our 4 year old out for the day.

Monday we arrived, by the Wednesday I had began feeling poorly. I didn’t want to let my son down so put on a brave face and off we went for our day out. The train journey I felt shivery and sick. I remember looking for handles on the walls to hold on to when we walked around. When we got back I went straight to bed, feeling feverish thinking I had the flu coming. Thursday the sickness continued I also now had a really sharp pain in my collar bone like I’d trapped a nerve. On the Friday I felt so bad I contacted 111 who told me to go to A&E. When there I got told I had a high temperature and the flu and to go back to the caravan rest and take paracetamol.

I took the advice, went back to bed still in a lot of pain and being really sick. The Saturday it continued and during the night I couldn’t get comfortable and had a pain in my side and was unable to catch my breath.

My husband called for an ambulance, the paramedics were brilliant, they knew straight away that I had to go with them.

The pain increased immensely on the way there I remember asking how long it would take to get there and feeling scared.

Some of what I remember from being in hospital is clear, some bits quite hazy and really dark?

I remember being taken to an isolation room feeling out of control of the pain, asking for help, feeling scared.

Lots of different people rushing in and out of the room wearing masks and big suits completely covering them.

I got hooked up to some machines and given lots of pain killers which didn’t help much.

I remember my husband coming and then a doctor told me that my body was shutting down, my organs needed help. I also had something called ARDS (Sepis and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) a life threatening condition where the lungs can’t provide enough oxygen to the body’s vital organs. They were going to have to put me into an induced coma.

I remember feeling a sense of relief that they were going to do this, I was in so much pain, couldn’t breathe properly, was scared and absolutely exhausted, I felt done.

When I came out of it, it was my body’s natural reaction, it had decided I needed to wake up, I remember the lights in the room, lots of staff, voices saying my name, a tube being pulled out of my mouth.

I remember feeling exactly the same as I had before being induced and asked the doctor if he could put me back to sleep, the exhaustion was awful. He told me he couldn’t because once you have been in a coma, if your body pulls you out of it you risk brain damage by going back under. I had to fight now, only awake.

The doctors and nurses were outstanding in the care they gave me, every single one of them. I was kept in the isolation room until they found out that I had something called cavitating pneumonia which had led on to sepsis. (Sepsis and Pneumonia) It meant an abscess was forming in part of my lung. I was then moved into intensive care.

I had to have a drain on my lung to remove lots of fluid, this was very painful but much needed as it removed a huge amount.

I had lots of X-rays, blood tests throughout the day everyday, canulas, pain relief on a button to self administer. My arms and hands got worn out giving blood so they wrapped my arms and hands in warm bandages to try and get it going again.

I remember some of the staff coming to see me, telling me they couldn’t believe I was still alive? One of them I remember came and saw me and held my hand and said he thought I was going to die and said how miraculous it was that I was still here, I watched him leave ICU with his arms and hands in the air doing a jolly laugh saying “you’re alive!”

Yes I am. Thanks to my doctor and his amazing team and I will forever be grateful.

He showed me my X-rays and how quickly the cavity had grown and how fast the pneumonia had spread. It left me with 30% less lung function.

He also told me I’d had sepsis.

I’d never heard of sepsis until being ill. Since then I’ve read up on it a lot, other stories of sepsis survivors and am now taking part in cycle 4 sepsis to help raise money and awareness.

I got support from Sepsis UK afterwards, they were really helpful and easy to talk to. Since being ill, I got diagnosed with ME some doctors call it chronic fatigue syndrome, some post coma syndrome and the sepsis trust called it post sepsis syndrome!

Lots of names basically the same thing. It means I have things like, extreme tiredness/ fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, brain fog, joint pains. A big one I’ve noticed is the inability to get my words out like I used to, I feel very forgetful now and stumble sometimes over my words, I don’t know if to other people its noticeable but it is to me, I feel awkward sometimes and embarrassed that I can’t get out what I am thinking I want to say. I  used to enjoy running before I got ill, now the fatigue gets in my way so I mainly enjoy yoga. I feel I’m constantly saying I’m tired, I feel a bit of a letdown.

There are so many inspiring stories from other sepsis survivors, all ages, all different experiences, all warriors to have beaten sepsis!

I feel very lucky to still be here and extremely grateful.

It’s hard sometimes because what I’ve been left with isn’t physical it’s mental so physically can’t be seen and can feel frustrating and  sometimes quite lonely that you’re not understood or able to talk about what you’re feeling.

Some of the signs of sepsis I had –

  • Fever
  • Cough, with phlegm
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Shaking, chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue

I’d like to finish by saying thanks again to the doctors and nurses that saved my life and the Sepsis Trust for their support and understanding and advice.

As I write this my family and I have returned to the caravan where it all started in 2019.

Our first visit since.. the smells here and surroundings have made memories flood back (hence me adding my story!)

I’m planning on leaving the caravan with much happier memories, I already have a few including my honeymoon! And also it’s the place where I first felt my son kick when I was pregnant! ❤️

My doctor repeated to me a few times, “your life is going to be different now”

At the time I wasn’t really sure what he meant, I get it now.

 

It’s all about how you look at things..

✨ positivity always wins ✨

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