“Everyone was amazed I was alive”: Dundee mum’s terrifying sepsis ordeal

© DC Thomson
Pam is now recovering.

A Dundee mother has told of how she nearly died from sepsis after mistaking the condition for common flu.

Pam Cartlidge, 38, was hospitalised at the start of the month after her health gradually worsened, with doctors “amazed” she had survived for five days with the illness.

She is now recovering and wants to raise awareness of the potentially fatal condition.

Pam, from Kirkton, said: “It just came out of the blue – I started to feel unwell on Monday, November 6.

“The symptoms are so similar to the flu, so that’s what I thought I had. I had fever, sweats, shivers, was aching from head to toe and was retching.

“It got worse over the next few days and by the Friday I could barely get out of bed and get the kids ready for school. I felt worse than I’ve ever done, like I was dying.

“My mum came over and she ended up calling 999 at the suggestion of my son, as I was so ill.”

Pam was checked but was deemed not to be in a critical condition. She was given anti-sickness tablets and injections, after which she appeared to be improving.

However, her blood test results showed something was amiss. “I had to go to hospital, where they did various tests and gave me antibiotics, but still couldn’t work out exactly what was wrong.

“Then one doctor who examined me immediately worked out it was sepsis, which was attacking my kidney. They thought it was due to a urinary infection I’d had.

“I had to be put into isolation for five days as my immune system was so weak. Everyone was amazed that I was alive, because I’d been deteriorating for so many days.

“They said that another 24 hours and I wouldn’t have been there to tell the tale. I was in hysterics over it all.

“The key thing to stress is that sepsis doesn’t go away on its own, it only gets worse and it’s fatal if left untreated – so if you have any concerns, get yourself checked out.”

Pam is now recovering at home with the help of her husband and three children.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a rare but serious complication of an infection, most commonly caused by infections in the lungs, urinary tract, abdomen and pelvis.

You are more likely to develop sepsis if you’ve recently had surgery, a urinary catheter fitted or if you have to stay in hospital for a long time.

Sepsis is caused when inflammation spreads from the site of the infection to other parts of the body through the blood, if your immune system is weak or if the infection is severe.

If left untreated, sepsis can cause multiple organ failure and lead to death.

Symptoms of the condition include fever, hypothermia (lower than normal body temperature), fast breathing and heart-rate, extreme pain or general discomfort, pale or discoloured skin and a confused mental state.