Fern Britton was ‘resigned to dying’ in sepsis battle

 

‘I was resigned to dying’: Fern Britton was left ‘fighting for her life’ after contracting sepsis following routine hysterectomy

Fern Britton has revealed she ‘was resigned to dying’ when she became seriously ill with sepsis after a routine hysterectomy and her symptoms initially went undiagnosed.

The TV presenter underwent a successful operation last summer, but after going home she found herself in intensive pain and unable to walk.

Following days of suffering in agony and being told to ‘wait and see’, she was admitted to hospital, where doctors discovered she was suffering from E.coli and several abscesses.

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Close call: Fern Britton has revealed she ‘was resigned to dying’ when she became seriously ill with sepsis after a routine hysterectomy and her symptoms initially went undiagnosed.

Close call: Fern Britton has revealed she ‘was resigned to dying’ when she became seriously ill with sepsis after a routine hysterectomy and her symptoms initially went undiagnosed.

Fern, 59, then contracted pneumonia, which resulted in a collapsed lung, and she was ‘lucky to escape’ death.

Speaking about her terrifying experience for the first time, she said: ‘This time last year, I was fighting for my life. I’d gone into hospital on July 13 for a routine hysterectomy (which I had needed to deal with long-standing fibroids), four days before my birthday…

‘The procedure – which was carried out at a local private hospital – went well and I received fantastic care. But when I came home three days later, the problems began.

‘I knew that something was wrong when the pain soared… four days after the op, I was [still] in a lot of pain. I called the hospital at 3am and they suggested paracetamol and a wait-and-see approach, but by the next day the pain had intensified so much that I could barely walk.’

The TV presenter’s husband of 17 years, TV chef Phil Vickery, was then forced to call the emergency services. Initially firefighters were sent before an ambulance was finally dispatched.

Talking to Prima magazine, the mother-of-four recalled: ‘When the ambulance crew arrived, I was being sick and thought, “Oh, I feel better now!” So when they offered to take me to hospital, I refused. That was quite a bad decision.

‘By the next day, I was shivering and my muscles and joints were hurting. However, getting emergency help wasn’t straightforward. The GP on duty at my surgery was too busy to come out and she and the emergency-call handler felt my symptoms didn’t warrant an ambulance.

Agony: The TV presenter underwent a successful operation last summer, but after going home she found herself in intensive pain and unable to walk - with doctors telling her to 'wait and see'

Agony: The TV presenter underwent a successful operation last summer, but after going home she found herself in intensive pain and unable to walk – with doctors telling her to ‘wait and see’

Support: The TV presenter’s husband of 17 years, TV chef Phil Vickery, was then forced to call the emergency services. Initially firefighters were sent before an ambulance was finally dispatched

Support: The TV presenter’s husband of 17 years, TV chef Phil Vickery, was then forced to call the emergency services. Initially firefighters were sent before an ambulance was finally dispatched

‘By now, the pain was so acute that I was having muscle contractions in my abdomen. In desperation, Phil rang the doctor’s receptionist and she overrode everyone to send an ambulance. It’s no exaggeration to say that I owe her my life.’

When she finally reached Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, she underwent tests which revealed she had E. coli in her blood and several abscesses in her abdomen, which required emergency surgery.

She said: ‘On the night of the procedure, I was resigned to dying… The theatre nurse offered to put a plaster over my wedding ring. Instead, I took off my ring and gave it to my daughter, who was with me.

‘I hated the thought of them taking it from my dead body to give to her. So, I said, “You look after it for me”.

‘I survived, but the battle wasn’t over… A day or so later, I developed pneumonia and my lung collapsed. But I pulled through, thanks to the incredible NHS team who looked after me beyond anything I could have hoped for.’

Sepsis develops when the body responds to an infection such as blood poisoning by attacking its own organs.

Given up hope: When she finally reached Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, she underwent tests which revealed she had E. coli in her blood and several abscesses in her abdomen, which required emergency surgery - and admits she was 'resigned to dying'

Given up hope: When she finally reached Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, she underwent tests which revealed she had E. coli in her blood and several abscesses in her abdomen, which required emergency surgery – and admits she was ‘resigned to dying’

Struggle: Now, one year on, the TV personality - who is releasing a paperback of her novel The Postcard - is continuing to suffer from the effects of her condition

Struggle: Now, one year on, the TV personality – who is releasing a paperback of her novel The Postcard – is continuing to suffer from the effects of her condition

It is difficult to diagnose until it has spread throughout the body. Without quick treatment it can lead to multiple organ failure and death.

The Daily Mail has been campaigning to raise awareness about the symptoms of the condition among patients and medical staff through its End the Sepsis Scandal campaign since last January.

Britton said last night: ‘I am so grateful to The Daily Mail who are very good at campaigning serious causes. Make no mistake, sepsis is deadly but can be beaten if treated quickly.

‘I am so grateful for all the excellent and expert care that the NHS gave me. They saved my life and I want to help save the lives of others. Think, “Could this be Sepsis?” Ask the doctor, “Could this be sepsis?”

‘One of the symptons is that you feel as if you are dying. I certainly felt that. It’s hard for me to describe why I felt that, but the pain and sense of losing the fight was very strong. I didn’t say anything though. So don’t just feel it, say it.’

The full interview appears in the July issue of Prima, on sale 2nd June 

The full interview appears in the July issue of Prima, on sale 2nd June

Speaking about the condition, Miss Britton added: ‘We need to be more aware of sepsis. More than 250,000 people contract sepsis in the UK every year, with 44,000 dying from it.

‘It can be caused by something as innocent as an insect bite, so it’s time to take notice of the symptoms, which include nausea and vomiting, high temperature, confusion, not peeing very much – all of which should have been a red flag to the medical services in my case, especially as I’d had an operation just days before.

‘Knowledge is power and it could save so many lives. In fact, acting quickly can save 14,000 lives, according to the UK Sepsis Trust.’

Now, one year on, the TV personality – who is releasing a paperback of her novel The Postcard – is continuing to suffer from the effects of her condition.

She said: ‘Sepsis feels like being run over by a bus and, even a year later, I’m still recovering. The infection gets into every cell of your body – my joints still ache, my muscles do, too. But I am slowly rebuilding my health and regaining my fitness.

‘Phil and I don’t dwell on the experience. But there was a little moment recently when we talked to each other and I said, “I nearly died’. He said, “Yes, you did!”

‘We know it was a lucky escape and, although we were so close before, it has brought us even closer.’

The full interview appears in the July issue of Prima, on sale 2nd June

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-4560508/Fern-Britton-resigned-dying-sepsis-battle.html

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