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Kate's Story

Picture of Kate

I had been dealing with what doctors had thought was pleurisy for a year prior, and was in and out of hospital on antibiotics and pain meds. That week, I had another flare up of what I thought was pleurisy, except this time I had more symptoms than usual. My temperature was uncontrollable, I was hot to touch even when I was feeling freezing cold, I was dizzy to the point I couldn't stand, and I was more confused than usual. Even so, I had put it down to pleurisy and kept working. By the Thursday evening that week, I had woken up during the night in an incredible amount of pain, and crawled to the kitchen where I lay down on the kitchen floor in an effort to cool myself down. I eventually went into my parents room and told them I was in such pain that I wanted to die.

They knew something was wrong and brought me to another A&E, where I was quickly diagnosed with sepsis from my gallbladder. I had the added complication of my liver being compromised by the gallbladder and turned yellow with jaundice during my stay, and it was quickly decided I would have to have a drain in my gallbladder. This was due to be a radiography procedure under local, but unfortunately the pain was too unbearable as the gallbladder was septic, I was awake and experienced a needle go through my liver into my gallbladder, and I was quickly put under for the rest of this emergency procedure. I was discharged home with a drain in my side for 3 weeks after a weeks stay, and had the drain removed 3 weeks later in the consultants office on a Thursday afternoon. This drain was supposed to bridge the gap between the hospitalizations and the eventual removal of my gallbladder, but unfortunately by that Saturday I was septic again, and I knew it - I had no energy, I was dizzy and weak, my hot/cold flashes were back and I was getting very confused and muddled again. I ended up back in hospital for another week and another emergency surgery, this time to remove my gallbladder completely. What should have been a 1.5 hour surgery ended up being 4+ hours as the gallbladder was so septic, another surgeon was called in to assist. 

Before my 2 bouts of sepsis, the only time I had heard the word was in Grey's Anatomy. I didn't know the implications, the symptoms, the seriousness of it and the long lasting effects it can leave you with. For weeks after both hospital stays, I couldn't stop crying and months later still dealt with fatigue, low mood and difficulty concentrating. I was off work for 6 months and never knew anything about post-sepsis syndrome and that these were all symptoms of this.

The biggest thing I can advise is be vigilant. Learn the symptoms. Sepsis is deadly and comes on so suddenly, and can kill so easily. I survived it twice, but others haven't been so lucky. Be sepsis aware.