Sepsis is (a pretty scary) life threatening condition when the body's response to infection damages internal organs. It's incredibly common, anyone who works in a busy A&E or acute medical department will tell you that they see it multiple times a day. The World Sepsis Day website states that one person dies every 3 heartbeats from sepsis. That is a lot.
Until last October sepsis was something I saw and treated at work. I followed the Sepsis Six guidelines to give my patient's the best chance of survival and involved my seniors early. It was scary but just one of those things. Then things changed.
I called my Dad at 11pm after finishing work to catch up before he went to bed and his phone was answered by one of the barmaids at his hotel in tears.
"Your Dad is on the floor. He can't breathe. We're waiting for the ambulance"
I felt like my whole world was crashing around me. My Mum died when I was 12 and since then my Dad has done a fantastic job of caring for me, he means everything to me. I was hours away from home.
I knew that I had to get to him to make sure he was OK. My now husband (who at that point I'd known for a fortnight and wasn't even really dating) happened to call straight afterwards. He decided I was too upset to drive to Kent so he offered to drive me.
We got to the A&E department my Dad was in about 2 hours later. I used to work there. I rushed into A&E majors fully expecting to see my Dad sitting up on a trolley wondering what the fuss was about. Unfortunately that's not what happened. As I walked into majors there were a crowd of nurses and two doctors around a trolley. My Dad's trolley. He was incredibly confused and groaning in pain, struggling to breathe. I looked at the monitor. His heart was beating too fast, his oxygen levels were too low and his blood pressure was dangerously low. He was covered in sweat from the fever he had.
At first I thought I was just going to sink to the floor and cry. I took a peak at his blood gas results. A lactate of 3.7. Not scarily high, but enough to be worrying. The junior doctor looking after him was giving him fluids but he wasn't looking any better.
He was swiftly moved into resus and another doctor called. Slightly panicking the junior asked my now hubby (who was a Med Reg), if there was anything he'd missed. He hadn't. He'd followed the Sepsis Six guidelines. My dad had oxygen, fluids and antibiotics. They had sent cultures and other samples to the lab and they were measuring his urine output.
As more fluid went in he started to perk up. Suddenly his blood pressure was staying at an acceptable level. Within 6 hours he was visibly more comfortable, in 12 he started to be able to say some words and in 24 hours they were weaning him off oxygen. A further 3 days later they were switching his antibiotics to tablets, and the day after that he got to come home.
I am so thankful that he was given the right care in a timely enough manner that he got better because for a while I really thought that he was going to die. It's thanks to the Sepsis Six and the doctors and nurses who followed it that he's better and we got to celebrate his 60th birthday this summer.
So thank you everyone who has put so much time and effort into raising awareness of sepsis and educating health care professionals on how best to treat it.
(As I have a lack of Birthday photos... hubby is holding them hostage on his camera... this is one of my favs...)