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Sepsis Survivor but still Suffering

My name is Sarah. I am a survivor of sepsis but sadly live with the consequences every day

Sepsis an ongoing battle
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In April 2018, I developed sepsis from cellulitis in my leg.   It was an awful time, and my family were fearful that I would lose my life because I was so sick.  

My memories of the events are jaded.  Initially I became unwell with sickness and slurred speech.  My husband and the Accident & Emergency Doctors initially thought I was suffering from a stroke.  Tests showed this was not the case and I was discharged with oral antibiotics. 

Two days later I was much worse.  I returned to hospital and after a barrage of tests they diagnosed me with a condition called sepsis.   This is a reaction, which happens when your immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to damage your body's own tissues and organs. This can be fatal if not dealt with promptly.   In my case this had stemmed from the cellulitis in my leg.  

I endured prolonged illness.  I was in hospital for a long time and spent a period in intensive care on a ventilator and dialysis, as I suffered respiratory failure and acute kidney failure.  My husband was told to go home and tell our children to prepare for the worst.  My cellulitis in my legs was severe and required significant dressing and care to resolve. 

I now suffer with a condition known as “Post Sepsis Syndrome”, which is the term used to describe a variety of consequences which stem from having severe sepsis requiring intensive care and a prolonged period of rehabilitation.  

I am severely tired all of the time, I have flashbacks and recurrent memories of my time in intensive care which can be vivid and occur at any time.   I find I am breathless, and my mobility is much more hindered than it once was.  It has affected my relationships and my ability to work.   I require care and support from my family and am lucky that I have a good support network. 

When I first started to look around for support from my experiences I found that there was nothing in the area I live, nobody to share my experience with who knew first hand what I was feeling and experiencing.  

I made contact with the UK Sepsis Trust who were very understanding and supportive.  They helped me to set up a local support group.   Before the Covid pandemic we would meet regularly at a local village hall.  Sadly, Covid has prevented us from meeting in person but some of us still keep in touch virtually.   I am hopeful that the group will be able to meet again soon as I found it very helpful and hope that by writing this article other people who may have suffered sepsis may wish to contact us to share their experiences and seek help.

Contact: The UK Sepsis Trust on 0800 389 6255 for support
Or email: info@sepsistrust.org
The local support group has a ‘closed’ Facebook page which is open to local people who have experienced sepsis.

Nicola Evans
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