Anthony's Sepsis Story

In February 2020, I had been unwell with what I thought was the flu for several days. I then developed a rash on my lower left leg which was diagnosed as a viral inflammation. It was actually an infection, related to a small cut I had received the weekend before. A day and a half later my wife noticed something more was wrong with me and the rash had changed to more of a bruising. Unknown to us, by this time I was already in a state of septic shock and very unwell.

She took me to the local White Cross and I was quickly assessed as critical and transferred to North Shore Hospital with a strong demand they not take their eyes off me. Hours later I was in emergency surgery having large sections of my left leg’s skin and soft tissue removed, as I had been infected with the horribly named flesh eating disease – Necrostising Fasciitis.

My wife was already assembling the family as my outcome at this time was uncertain. Hours later I crashed and my family were told to say their goodbyes as my condition was such “that only a miracle” would prevent my death.

We got that miracle – thanks to an amazing surgeon and the team who had to remove all skin and soft tissue from my entire left leg and foot (fortunately he saved the skin on the sole of my foot). I was then in an induced coma for a couple of weeks. During this time the outcome was very uncertain with a relapse, infection or limb loss a constant threat – not just my left leg was at risk but also fingers/hands and right foot due to the treatment required just to keep me alive. I had swollen up considerably, with 15kg of fluids in my system. There were also concerns around how I would be mentally after the treatment. I was alive but that was all and it was an incredibly stressful time for my wife, family and close friends.

To this day their memories of the event are at times clear and other times very jumbled. From my side, I was enduring extremely vivid and somewhat terrifying coma dreams and constantly fighting the breathing tube in my mouth. (They later changed it to a tracheostomy much to the relief of all). By early March I was able to be transferred to HDU and then later to Middlemore Burns unit who were to rebuild my leg from toes to groin. All up I spent 103 days in hospital, including around 30 theatre sessions, and all this during Level 3 and 4 lockdown.

Smales Farm White Cross and North Shore Hospital saved my life, Middlemore Hospital and the team at Middlemore Burns Unit have rebuilt my leg – so anything we can do to support them – ideally by getting vaccinated and not having preventable admissions is a good start to making something positive come out of the experience my family and I have had. Best of all if everyone starts being a bit more paranoid about fever and the potential for a condition to be sepsis – we can get the numbers down even more.