What is Sepsis?

Sepsis, in layman’s terms, is the most severe, life threatening, and extreme form of infection, which has either originated or migrated into the bloodstream, overwhelming the body’s own immune system and consequently shuts down each organ and each system within the body that are vital for our survival (hence the high mortality rate it carries).

It is defined by ‘Sepsis Alliance’ – one of the leading charities for those with Sepsis as:

Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. In other words, it’s your body’s overactive and toxic response to an infection.

Other information websites and charities for those affected by Sepsis can be find on the webpages linked below:

Unfortunately, Sepsis isn’t uncommon in those with severe and/or multiple illnesses; mainly because the vast majority of us have long-term/life-long medical tubes and lines in our body to keep us alive (feeding tubes, IV lines, catheters, colostomy/ileostomy, tracheostomies etc).

However, every stoma (surgically-created ‘hole’ in the body) are direct entry points and breeding grounds for bacteria to enter the body; IV lines in particular (PICCs, Hickman, Groshong, Broviac, Port-a-caths etc.), as there is only a short distance to travel before the blood stream is reached (the point that the body turns septic).

Something that I’ve learnt (and learnt the hard way!), is that if the bacterium/fungi/virus has colonised any adaption that you use regularly to access the bloodstream, is to have it removed.

At the start of 2018, I developed an infection in my Port-a-cath, which was immediately replaced to a Groshong line, but only after long discussion about the ifs and buts, because it would mean that the new line would be placed in the final, viable vein in my chest.

Only weeks later, blood cultures that were taken from my new line were positive. Given the previous discussions that went on, I followed the guidance from the Microbiologists; throwing a cocktail of antibiotics/anti-viral/anti-fungal drugs at it, with the hope that each would be enough to kill the infection permanently.

In the space of 9 months, after fighting a total of 5 bouts of Sepsis (4 of which landed me in ITU and 1 in HDU), the line was removed and luckily replaced with the Hickman Line I have today.

By my own opinion, if not completely removed altogether, Sepsis is a viscous circle that isn’t easy to break or resolve, and we often have to accept the realistic risk of fatality, because we depend on these tubes and lines to live; for nutrition, medication, breathing, digestion etc.

Recurrent Sepsis is very risky, but those risks are outweighed by being alive!

Below are some quotes & awareness poster: