A pensioner who fell ill while on a dream cruise and ended up in intensive care with sepsis has told how doctors saved her life.
She has now warned that the “silent killer” needs to be taken more seriously in this country.
The 72-year-old, who has declined to be named, lives in South Derbyshire and has shared her traumatic experience in the hope of highlighting the dangers of sepsis and recognising the hard work of the medical experts who battled to keep her alive.
She said: “I was alone on a month-long cruise to the Caribbean last December. I had friends on the ship but the plan was for my son to meet me in New Orleans.
“I had a stomach ache the day before and for obvious reasons I isolated myself because I didn’t know if I was contagious but it started to affect my heart and one of the cabin boys found me collapsed and got me to the ship’s hospital.
“All I can remember was the doctor saying I was very ill and I told him not to be so stupid. I didn’t know how serious it was. I had a temperature of 40.2C and you can’t go much higher than that and live.
“I can remember going in the ambulance but I can’t remember going in the hospital.”
The pensioner was too ill to notice when doctors put in drips and a catheter and she wound up in intensive care when the ship docked and she was transferred to hospital in St Martin in the Caribbean.
She said: “I was completely out of it. After a couple of days the doctor said it was an infection and there was talk of it being salmonella but I was in intensive care for two and a half days. It was really scary.”
The mother-of-one said she received the “best possible care” but sepsis is very complicated and can get out of control very quickly.
She said: “I do feel the only reason I recovered is because it was diagnosed so quickly.
“How it starts nobody knows but there is lots of difficulty diagnosing it as the symptoms are often rampant before you realise something is very wrong. There are different sorts of sepsis and it is not an easy fix. Luckily I seemed to recover after they injected me with antibiotics but it is a tricky situation and it just doesn’t do to point the finger at doctors.”
However, the recovery didn’t end there and when she was finally discharged she felt too weak to do anything.
She said: “My arms were black and blue and I couldn’t even get out of my chair without help. I had to stay in the hotel for a fortnight because I was too weak.
“I am still not 100 per cent and it could take another 12 months but I am here and that is the main thing.”
After plucking up the courage to go on her first cruise since in September, she admits she was “very on edge” but would love to go back and thank those who cared for her.
“I am very sad that I cannot go back to see them because I would have liked to have done that.
“If anybody goes to the Caribbean and they are taken to the hospital think yourself lucky because the treatment was brilliant. Without them I probably would not be here today.”