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Sally’s story

Sally's journey began after a small operation to have a gland under her arm removed. This is her story.
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A year ago I died ! However I lived again to tell my story ! Almost out of the blue I was diagnosed with Necrotising Fasciitis having been readmitted to Hillingdon Hospital after having a small gland removed from under my right arm pit, a small operation which had I not suffered from MS, could have even been done under day surgery.

To my husband and family the news was devastating. My husband had seen me getting weaker not picking up since the operation, being told ‘it’s probably the effect of the anaesthetic ’ by the doctor who he eventually spoke to having called National Health Direct for advice.

We contacted our GP the next morning who came round and examined me and although I was not passing water could not find anything to be concerned about. By early the next morning having slept in my electric recliner chair because my husband and son could not move me , we called the Breast Care Unit of Hillingdon hospital. Answer phone, don’t open till 9 am.

Just before 9 am a friend popped in and we were all getting very concerned. I suggested we call the ward I was on and by good fortune my surgeon was by the phone. “Bring her straight in I will see her now ” he said but my husband told him it was impossible to move me, he needed an ambulance. “Try ” he said and for one of the first times in my life we thanked God I had a wheelchair and the riser chair and with my friend’s help my husband got me into the car and up to the ward where my surgeon was waiting.

He did not know what was wrong except he could see I was very ill and had me admitted straight away for a CT scan and tests. There was no problem with the wound . I was put on a drip to balance my fluids . The CT scan showed that the kidneys were not damaged but were not functioning.

It was the second scan a few hours later that enabled one of the other surgeons on his team to spot the darkening growing patch on my right side and I have to thank him for identifying that I had NF, the 6th case this hospital had ever seen. I was told that if I had waited for an ambulance and gone through the process of casualty because things develop so fast I may not have made it!

By now I had been moved to Intensive Care. ‘Sally is very ill‘ he explained . ‘Necrosis’ means death of a portion of tissue and ‘fascia’ is the name of fibrous tissues which enclose and connect the muscles. It is caused by a streptococcal infection which acts aggressively and very fast and starts in a wound or broken skin. There is a very high death rate. We have to operate as soon as possible to remove the affected tissue. This will be extensive and will need plastic surgery and skin grafting.

What was happening was unimaginably unreal and what was to transgress in the next months was just horrifying . The surgery which was done to save my life was abhorrent.

A third of the flesh of my torso was eventually removed and after just over three weeks in Intensive Care in Hillingdon hospital I was moved to the Regional Burns Unit at Mount Vernon Hospital in Northwood, fortunately where I live, where I spent the next 3 months. The plastic surgeon I was under modestly said ‘he only put me back together, the surgeons at Hillingdon saved your life!‘

The skilful nursing care, for I was totally helpless, together with that of the help and encouragement of the physiotherapists and occupational therapists was wonderful in spite of that fact that they had to work with outdated equipment, shortages, using unskilled staff, in unclean and drab wards.

I was discharged from the hospital under the care of the Hillingdon Rapid Response Team which eventually got me back miraculously to almost my old self again . Although left with horrendous and painful scars these are hidden under my clothes and I am now picking up the pieces where I left off just a year ago. In fact I am now starting on my second book, on my life :-

The Unluckiest, Luckiest Person ALIVE !

This was not the first time in my life I had overcome serious life threading illness, putting my family through trauma of almost unbearable magnitude. I now have faced and miraculously come through the experience three times, each time under quite unrelated circumstances. These left me classified one of this country’s chronically sick and disabled. In spite of this my life has continued, blossomed and been full of achievement and love. This is the story I will tell if a publisher would take it up!

I can be contacted by email at [email protected].

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