Debbie and her husband are both home again, taking it slowly but surely

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I would like to share my sepsis story.

Wednesday 22nd September 2021 4am. I was feeling general malaise the Tuesday but nothing I could put a finger on, I had been to the GP as I had knee surgery and felt I had tweaked something, but didn’t feel the need to mention anything else. When I got home I went to bed to rest. I ended up sleeping through until my husband came in at 4am saying “we got the call, and we have to.”.The call we had been waiting for was for my husband to have a lung transplant and his time was now!

We made the 40 minute trip to The Prince Charles hospital, upon arrival there was a steady regime of things happening to prepare him for surgery. Clearly this took my mind off anything I was experiencing at the time. Around 1015 we went to the preop holding bay with the transplant nurse and social worker to meet with the vast team of Drs and Nurses who would be operating on him. I kissed him goodbye and said “you got this”.

I was emotional and feeling a bit shaky and not “quite right”. The nurse and social worker were concerned and said “let’s get a drink and something to eat” before I headed home to await the outcome of the 5 hour surgery. I said “I will be okay, I just need to go home and rest”. I had a drink and they came back to check on me. They decided that I needed to see someone before I left. So they took me around to the Emergency Department.

After a short wait I was in seeing the nurse and taking a brief history. My observations were classic suspicion of sepsis low blood pressure 70/50, hot and cold, malaise, just not feeling “with it”.
I was quickly put into a resus bay where they were pushing fluids into me to get my blood pressure up. All the time thinking “this all seems a bit dramatic”. I just wanted to know how my husband was getting on. I stayed in Emergency for a number of hours to stabilise me, and really the rest is a bit of a blur. I was told that I also needed to be admitted to be treated for sepsis.

Around 6pm I was admitted to St Vincent’s private on the same campus as The Prince Charles. I was seen by a specialist briefed about my case. He took one look and said get the emergency team from ICU. Next minute I am in ICU with all kinds a hurry, getting arterial lines and picc lines into me. I kept asking the outcome of my husband, but couldn’t get any answer. The next day I awoke in ICU, where I stayed for 4 days being treated for urosepsis, blood sepsis as I was in septic shock.

How did my sepsis originate?

2 weeks prior I had gone to emergency in the middle of the night with excruciating flank pain on my right side. I drove myself as my husband was not well enough to take me. It was discovered I had a kidney stone blocking off my urethra. I would need to go to surgery to have a stent put into my kidney and bladder. This was to remain in place for 2 weeks. I was booked for surgery the 23rd to have it removed, which I was happy about as it felt uncomfortable and irritating the time it was in. So my sepsis originated in my bladder and kidney, with a bacterial and fungal infection. If I had gone to have it removed that Thursday, my outcome may have been very different, as removing the stent could have caused a “septic shower”.

After 2 weeks of iv abs, I went to theatre and  had the stent taken out. I stayed in hospital with issues with my kidney and infection for weeks. As it turned out, my husband “one upped me” he got out of hospital before I did and is doing remarkably well after a transplant. We are both home now and taking it slowly but surely. We got this!

We will never forget the generous donation of a lung for my husband and the excellent skills of the team that treated me for the septic shock. We are forever grateful that on Wednesday 22nd September 2021, we both got a second chance.