Hi, my name is Damian. I am 35 years old and I have met the challenging condition of sepsis 8 times in my life. The first time I met sepsis it took hold of me halfway through a complex kidney operation that led to me becoming unconscious and leading doctors to have to do very invasive recovery procedure. Up until this point sepsis hadn’t met my body at all. This particular episode of sepsis led to an 8 week stay on ITU, which for 10 of those days I was held in an induced coma. I was woken up on the 11th day by a doctor saying “Hello Damian, my name is Anton. Do you know where you are?” My response was that of somebody that had just been brought round after being knocked out by Mike Tyson; there were a couple of expletives, to say the least, and I was quickly brought round by the bright lights of the ITU environment.
I found out afterwards what had happened in theatre was they had rolled me over onto my front to do the end part of the procedure and for 3 minutes I had flat lined. By secondary accounts the surgeon had to quickly work his magic to bring me back with the anaesthetic team. Once I had surfaced back in the ITU environment, the doctors said to me “We will come back when you feel less groggy and fill in the blanks, but you need to know you were seriously ill with a condition which could of killed you.” At this point sepsis wasn’t mentioned, wasn’t spoken about, and I just thought it was complications from my Cerebral Palsy. A couple of days had passed and I asked the senior consultant in charge of ward rounds at that time if he could fill in the blanks for me as my carers and family had started talking about me having severe infections. The doctor came round, sat down, gathered himself, and started to tell me about this wonderful condition called sepsis which kills 120 people a day, and how I was lucky to not be one of those statistics.
The next couple of weeks were like a rollercoaster, learning about this condition to the point where it started to feel, in a weird way, like a friend that went out of it’s way to challenge any medics that were having to deal with me. I still didn’t know how near death I had been that day. I was sent to a general ward to prepare to go home under urology and microbiology medics. After a few days passed my urologist, whom I had known since I was 15, came to see me with his senior registrar and said “I’m going to take the educated risk and send you home. I’ve told your carers to keep an eye on you for the next 6 weeks because sepsis can return when you’ve had it to the level you’ve had.” At this point when he said I can go home I was like a racehorse waiting to get out of the starting gate at the Grand National. As soon as pharmacy handed me my long term antibiotics for my kidney conditions and said, “You can now go home,” I went home and ordered myself the largest Indian order, in my opinion, that an individual can eat. (We all know what hospital food is like!)
I was home for all of 2 weeks before I was admitted back into hospital for another episode of sepsis. The symptoms I had shown on this admission were similar to being completely pissed; slurring voice, temperature rising like an inferno, not being in control, and there was an overwhelming feeling on reflection that I was going to die. It took them 5 hours to implement the sepsis protocols of the sepsis six. Anyone that has been into a busy A&E is able to tell you how disorientating that feeling is but with sepsis that feeling was magnified. I was admitted to hospital for another 2 weeks with IV antibiotics. This yoyo effect of being discharged and readmitted for sepsis went on another 7 times. I’ve now come to look at Sepsis as a weird, challenging, part of my existence but I would ask every member of the public to familiarize yourself with sepsis and it’s similarities to flu and if you are unsure whether you could have sepsis, just ask ‘could it be sepsis?’ If you are a health or social care practitioner then suspect it could be sepsis, just treat it as sepsis until you can rule it out. This is a global problem that isn’t going anywhere so please, let’s educate ourselves about sepsis. It’s so important that the UN have stated it’s a global concern, so the whole reason I have wrote this article is to start the conversation about sepsis and educate families so they can prevent losing people from symptoms that look like the flu. So do yourself a favour and just ask ‘Could it be sepsis?’ next time you are in the emergency room or A&E
If you want to know more about Damian please go to the Executive Coaching 365 link below, and if you want to learn more about sepsis or help me get the message out there, please visit The Sepsis Trust.