Harriet Shearsmith is the creator behind Toby&Roo, an award winning lifestyle and parenting blog aimed at sharing the wins and woes of parenting. Harriet is a mum to three children and is lucky to be a survivor of Sepsis following the traumatic birth of her first child. Harriet is dedicating her time and attention to raising awareness for Sepsis and fundraising to try and ensure that no one has to go through the same experience she did. This is her story.
What do you know about Sepsis? I’m willing to bet it isn’t a lot. If someone had asked me before I had my experience with Sepsis my response would undoubtably be “erm, it’s… well I’m not really sure.” I knew it was dangerous, of that I’m certain, but I’m pretty sure I was stuck somewhere between thinking it was something that used to happen back in the day when antibiotics weren’t readily available, or maybe it was something that happened to the young and old, certainly it came from major things – operations and massive wounds that couldn’t be healed easily. Yep, that was about it.
If you had told me, as I’m telling you now, that Sepsis could come from something as simple as a paper cut, a blister or a UTI, I would have been shocked. Sepsis is a silent killer, it masquerades as something else until it’s too late for the patient to be treated, and then it is so rapid in its deterioration that often it’s all over before we had chance to know it had begun. Sepsis is the number one cause of deaths in pregnancy in the UK. The number one. Yet we don’t talk about it much, we don’t raise awareness for it. There are no signs of what to look out for in maternity units, there is less training for medical staff than there should be and it’s killing one person every 3.5 seconds according to statistics- possibly a lot more than we know of too.
Sepsis kills more people each year, roughly around 6 million, than prostrate, breast and bowel cancer combined. It’s a bigger killer than lung cancer and yet STILL there is next to no information out there.
I am a Sepsis survivor and I’m raising awareness for sepsis with my campaign #SuckItSepsis. I want you to help me to raise awareness of Sepsis by sharing your stories, sharing the information and helping others to know that Sepsis is a HUGE killer but 100% treatable if caught early enough. I’m also raising £5000 for Sepsis Trust in the hope that I can aid the fantastic work that they do and help them support families and educated health care professionals.
Here is my story.
In 2011 I fell pregnant with Reuben, my first child. The joy was overwhelming and, like a lot of first time mums, I had a perfect birth plan written out, ready to go and exciting. There were candles. CANDLES?! The birth plan, sadly, didn’t go to plan and I had a really traumatic birth that ended in an emergency c-section. It wasn’t what I wanted but my baby was here. Fast forward a few weeks and I noticed a hard mass, solid lumps around my section scar. I had been experiencing headaches and developed a slight fever mixed with shivers. I went to the doctor, I had been discharged from the midwife that morning, but was told that this was a haematoma and I would just have to wait it out. I think I remember being given some mild tablets to help it disperse but I was becoming more and more disoriented I don’t remember completely.
I went home, went to bed that evening and woke in the wee hours. I was convinced I had suffered a huge bleed, that thing the midwives warm us about, it was happening! I was bleeding! Except I wasn’t, or not in that sense anyway. I rushed to the toilet and called for Adam to bring me a change of clothes, here were soaked with… and that’s when I noticed the smell. Adam came, switching the light on and I will never forget the look on his face. His whispered “your not bleeding, and it’s not coming from there. It’s your scar.”
I was rushed through to A&E, baby, husband and mum in tow. The nurse who was on duty, jovial as ever perkily asked me to take the sanitary towel off my wound and, ‘let’s have a look then darling’. The fluid spurred at her as I pulled back the towel and pushed down. She paled. I remember blacking out as she rushed for the crash team of doctors who would need to spend the next few hours draining the fluid.
I spent 4 days in hospital having high intensity IV antibiotics and another few weeks of high dose age tablets at home. I was on strict rest, unable to really do much and missing my son. It’s a blessing in disguise that I wasn’t able to breastfeed Reuben. Sepsis and septicaemia are one of the things that you cannot breastfeed with as the infection rages through your blood.
The after-effects of this were more than a dodgy shape to an already unflattering abdominal scar, they were huge and long lasting. It has taken me this long to decide to do anything with sepsis because, quite frankly, my husband can’t bare to talk about it and it’s something I have found so hard to relive over the last weeks, despite my usually flippant attitude towards my experience. I didn’t die so, you know, I’ll crack a joke and carry on.
Sepsis is so dangerous, the stories that have been sent to me since the beginning of the campaign are phenomenal and plentiful.
We must do better to raise awareness, we need to tell Sepsis to suck it. You can find the campaign link here: https://www.gofundme.com/suckitsepsis and more about it on my blog here: http://www.tobyandroo.com/fundraising-sepsis-suckitsepsis/
Signs of Sepsis in Children
Signs of Sepsis in Adults