I’ve been quiet for a few days. Here’s why.
Four days ago, I was sweeping out the potting shed when I got a tiny splinter in the palm of my hand. It looked like nothing serious. A tiny dot of blood. I inspected the wooden broom handle and could see a rough patch. I hadn’t noticed it before. I nearly always wear gloves. But this time I was in a hurry, and didn’t put them on. I finished sweeping before popping back to the house to run my hand under cold water. I fished out the splinter with tweezers, popped on a plaster and carried on gardening. And I never thought any more about it.
There’s always plenty to do here. Flowers to pick, weeds to pull out. But I started to feel ill. Not quite my usual chirpy self. I couldn’t think straight. I went on the radio on Wednesday, and I couldn’t think of any plant names. It seemed odd. I was struggling. Somewhat preoccupied with family matters, I didn’t notice my hand starting to itch and turn red. But on Thursday morning, I woke up at dawn and my hand was swelling and stiff. And there was a red line creeping up my arm.
I rang my local doctors surgery and told the receptionist what I was seeing. I said I thought it was an infection. I might have mentioned that I’d had sepsis before, three years ago. She said there were no appointments, but she could offer me a telephone consultation, which I accepted. Then I sat and thought about it. The doctor would surely want to see my hand. That would take time. If it was an infection I needed antibiotics, quickly. So I phoned 111, and explained what was wrong. The nurse on the line made an immediate appointment for me at the urgent care centre in Nottingham. I was there within 20 minutes and was seen by a triage nurse 20 minutes later. Within three and a half hours I had a prescription for oral antibiotics. I still had to find a chemist to buy them though, which can be a problem when you are feeling ill. Our chemist in the village closes at lunchtime, which can cause a delay.
Luckily, the antibiotics kicked in straight away and I started to feel better within a few hours. Today, the pain is easing, the redness is less and the line has disappeared. I feel exhausted and “not quite right,” but that might be the antibiotics, as well as the infection.
So the reason I am sharing this today is to remind everyone, especially gardeners, to look out for the symptoms of sepsis, blood poisoning, septicaemia or any kind of infection, and don’t delay in seeking help. Even a simple thing such a splinter, a rose thorn or a tiny cut can be deadly. An insect bite can be equally dangerous.
And listen to your inner voice. If you think you should get urgent help, ring 111 for advice or go straight to the A and E. I was embarrassed to ring up about a splinter! I apologised several times. Also, I’ve been brought up to do as I’m told by people in authority. So when told I must wait for a telephone consultation – I nearly did just that. But having experience of sepsis – following an operation three years ago- I knew not to take chances and delay treatment.
The first signs to look out for are listed on the NHS website :
. High or low temperature
.Chills and shivering
.Fast or irregular heart beat
.Feeling or acting differently from normal- you do not seem your usual self
. A feeling that something just isn’t “quite right”
There are 250,000 cases of sepsis in the uk every year. 46,000 people die every year as a result of the infection – says the UK Sepsis Trust.
Remember, it’s never too trivial a matter to seek advice. An infection can follow from a dental appointment, a tiny cut, a graze, a thorn, a splinter, an illness of some kind, such as a kidney infection. A throat infection. It can follow an operation.
I previously thought only babies or elderly people suffered from sepsis. Before I got it three years ago, I had never heard of a normal healthy adult getting sepsis.
Anyway, after this week’s episode, I’m sure I’ll feel much better in a few days. The antibiotic course is for 7 days and the doctor stressed the importance of taking all of the tablets to the end of the course.
This evening, I’m well enough to walk slowly to the gap in the hedge. The crop is ripening. It will soon be harvest time.
Links : NHS Advice https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sepsis/
They say – Seek help immediately if you think you have an infection of any kind.
I am really grateful to the NHS for the excellent 111 service and walk-in centre. Nurses deserve a medal for all they do.
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Update: I’ve had to change antibiotics twice due to a bad reaction.
PLEASE NOTE: I am not medically trained to give advice. This blog post is merely re-telling my experience and hopefully promoting discussion and further thought. I am amazed to see this post has been viewed 140,000 times. It’s obviously a subject that resonates with many readers.
- The red rose is Louis XIV introduced in 1859. Very thorny. I shall be wearing gloves to prune it! I’ve included a photo because I was standing next to it, mesmerised by the blood red of the rose and the matching slowly creeping red line on my arm. I kept looking from one to the other deciding what to do. It never occurred to me pottering around doing a bit of gardening could lead to a medical emergency. Hopefully, now you will recognise the signs and get help quickly.