By Kim Smith
I’m one very lucky lady to have survived sepsis, but I became a quadruple amputee because of it and I’ve been left with post-sepsis syndrome which causes daily struggles too.
In November 2017, I was on holiday in Spain and started getting pain in my left side kidney area. I suspected I might have a UTI and it had gone to my kidneys, but I hadn’t had any symptoms. Then, I started to have severe breathlessness. I thought this was my asthma, climate change or something else. I had really cold hands and feet, and my whole body was freezing. I was shivering, but I thought it was winter so it was cold. That’s when I noticed my speech was slurred and again, I thought this was my medication because that can do that too.
I felt something wasn’t right, something unusual more than just an infection, so I thought I’d better go to the hospital so they could perform more tests. Sadly, they didn’t. They just completed an X-ray and sent me away!
The following day I was struggling to walk I shuffled to the doctor we weren’t able to see in the morning. When I had to go back in the afternoon, he said I had a urine infection and gave us a prescription for antibiotics. The pharmacy didn’t have any of that medication in stock and said to come back again tomorrow.
I went home and couldn’t eat. I felt so unwell that I went to bed and I woke at 4 a.m. and I felt like I was dying, I woke my husband to take me back to the hospital, but I don’t remember anything of this.
I was almost immediately induced into a coma and wasn’t brought around for nine weeks. I woke up back in my local hospital because my travel insurance had finally flown me home. When I finally woke, which took a while, my daughters were standing there and told me what had happened. They said your limbs have died they’re black and the doctor is coming in to tell you they need to be amputated!
I’ll never forget that!
The doctor came in and told me about what had happened and the procedure that needed to be completed. I just said yes that’s fine, how soon can you get them off?
I spent eight months in the hospital recovering and having rehabilitation to learn how to sit up and walk again. It’s been a long, hard journey, but I’m finally stronger than ever.
I understandably had depression and was in quite a dark place at times, but I wouldn’t admit it because I’m stubborn. I finally had to relent and go onto anti-depression medication. This helped, but I’d also started comfort eating I gained 63 pounds. One day, I saw the fat blob in the mirror and decided no more! I’m now back at my old size and the 63 pounds is all gone.
I really do miss my hands it’s just so hard we do everything with our hands, but I have my wheelchair for my legs. I’m currently waiting for a rare double hand transplant which takes between 10-12 hours. I’m so grateful we have the NHS in the U.K. and this is possible.
I hadn’t realised how depressed I was, but I turned it around by raising awareness of sepsis and disabilities, doing talks, and posting videos and information to warn others has really helped me to overcome my awful experience with sepsis.
Please please learn the symptoms it will help save your life!
- Slurred speech or confusion
- Extreme shivering or muscle pain
- Passing no urine in a day
- Severe breathlessness
- It feels like you’re going to die
- Skin mottled or discoloured
For more information about Kim, you can check out her website.
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