Andrew’s Story

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My beautiful husband, Andrew was 58. We had been together for almost 39 years and married for 37. We have 3 wonderful children and 3 gorgeous grand babies who loved him “to the moon and back” as our eldest grand baby Tom says.

Our lives began to change in March 2023 when Andrew began getting numbness in his leg and pins and needles in his hands. Initially we thought it may have been a symptom of his rheumatoid arthritis which he was diagnosed with 10 years earlier. After seeing our GP and his rheumatologist, investigations began, we found that his upper spine was impacting his spinal cord in his neck. He was sent to a Neurosurgeon who recommended that he have an operation. It wouldn’t “fix” the problem but it would slow down and hopefully stop the degeneration of his spinal cord.

Andrew had the operation on 20/7/23 and a spinal fusion was performed. The operation went well and he was allowed to go home next day. The symptoms and pain that he had been experiencing were improved within days. He seemed so well!

However he began taking his pain killers again at about 3 1/2 weeks post operation, we thought it was to due to his rheumatoid arthritis and so we weren’t overly worried. The thought of sepsis never entered our minds. He didn’t have to see the neurosurgeon again until October.

Life was good. Until Tuesday night  22/8 Andrew began vomiting. He told me earlier that he had a little rash on his inner thigh and on his leg. When I looked, I couldn’t see a rash.

Wednesday 23/8 I bought him some anti nausea medicine. He seemed to get better and ate some toast although he didn’t drink very much. He was still taking the pain meds but more often. I told him we should go to the Dr but he wouldn’t because he didn’t want to sit around in a Dr surgery. He could be stubborn.

Thinking he had a bug, Andrew slept in the lounge room that night so he wouldn’t give me his bug. He wasn’t vomiting at this stage but was lethargic.

Early Thursday morning 24/8, the day he was due to return to work after his operation, he came into the bedroom and said “you better call me an ambulance, I don’t feel at all well.”

The ambulance came, the paramedics weren’t overly concerned but took him to Katoomba hospital to be checked over as a precaution.

Initially the hospital did observations and were a little confused by his symptoms.

He was dehydrated because of his stomach bug, his blood pressure was low, he couldn’t pass urine and he had a rash on his ankle. The staff weren’t concerned about the rash though. Things rapidly became more intense. Due to his dehydration they pushed fluids and antibiotics through him. They moved Andrew into a bigger cubicle and asked me to wait outside. The Dr was putting lines in “just in case” and a catheter was put in.

I remember sitting there and hearing the staff discussing a helicopter. I asked a nurse what was happening but they kept saying a Dr will be out to explain what’s happening to you. They kept saying “he’s very sick and he’s way too young” however they never mentioned sepsis to me at any stage.

Just after 1:00 pm they airlifted Andrew to Nepean ICU, a bigger hospital 9 minutes away by air with more resources. I walked with the Air ambulance team as they wheeled him to the helicopter. The air ambulance Dr asked me if Andrew had ever had a kidney complaint. Andrew had kidney stones years before. He said that that’s what he thought it was. I watched as the Helicopter took off and then followed in the car, dropping in at home to get a bag as Andrew would need some bits and pieces. My kids asked me if they should come down and see their dad. I said it’s been a big day, come down tomorrow, thinking it was a kidney stone problem.

When I arrived at Nepean Hospital Andrew was so uncomfortable with pain, he couldn’t keep still, he couldn’t urinate and he was confused. His eyes were extremely bloodshot.  He was on strong pain medication but it didn’t seem to be making a lot of difference. The rash on his ankle had become raised and purple. When a Dr came to see Andrew I pointed out his ankle and showed him a photo of it from earlier that day. I was told it was unrelated, even though it had obviously changed significantly during the day. I was told that Andrew had “an infection.”

I went home and rang at 10pm. The staff told me he was trying to sleep. I asked them to tell him I love him.

At 2am Friday 25/8 I got a call telling me that Andrew’s organs had shut down, that they did CPR but they got him back. My daughter and I jumped in the car and sped down to Nepean Hospital. A 40 minute drive away.

The Dr met us at the door to ICU and told us that our beloved husband and father passed at 2:36am. I wasn’t there. I can’t forgive myself for that.

My daughter rang my sons who rushed down to see their dad to say goodbye. A Dr came into the room to try to explain what had happened and to be honest I can’t tell you what he said. We were all in shock.

The police were called because it was a sudden death, I felt like a criminal as they waited outside the door, discussing what had to happen next. After we said goodbye, Andrew was transported to the Coroner’s office.

The official reason on Andrew’s Death Certificate is Group A streptococcus /septicaemia, his immune system was compromised due to his rheumatoid arthritis his body couldn’t fight the infection.

Our family has always believed in helping others. Andrews Cause – Sepsis Awareness is our way of raising funds and awareness of Sepsis. Our aim is to stop another family’s world from being shattered like ours was simply by asking.

“Could it be Sepsis”

Andrew’s loving wife and children, Sandra, Ashleigh, John and Matthew, are hosting two fundraising and sepsis awareness events this year through the Facebook group Andrew’s Cause – Sepsis Awareness. If you’re in the Lawson, NSW area you can support Sandra and John by attending their Barefoot Bowls and Trivia Night. Andrew’s Cause – Sepsis Awareness is an incredible way to honour Andrew’s memory and we are so very grateful to Sandra and John for all their hard work.