4 years ago Steve Humphrey had no idea that a grazed elbow would nearly kill him.
In July 2016, father-of-one Steve Humphreys slipped at the bottom of his stairs. It was only a small stumble but it marked the beginning of a medical emergency which nearly cost him his life.
“It was such an insignificant fall,” Steve, 42, explained. “I tripped while clearing up my daughter’s toys and thought nothing of it. I grazed my elbow and then just got on with the rest of the weekend.”
The fall happened on Saturday morning and by Sunday night, his arm had started to swell and become painful. Thinking that perhaps he had chipped a bone, Steve, who lives in Fleet, made plans to visit his GP the next morning. But by 7am on Monday, the pain had become so excruciating that he went straight to A&E at Frimley Park Hospital.
“I’d barely slept because my arm was just throbbing. It felt warm and was red and swollen,” he said. “So I figured I should just head straight to hospital and get it checked out.”
Steve arrived at the hospital’s emergency department with his wife, Catherine. After being triaged, he headed back to the waiting room where the pain grew steadily worse until it became unbearable. “I was given some pain killers and X-rayed, but there was no sign of a fracture or a chipped bone,” Steve explains.
Clearly in agony, the doctors continued to assess him and administered antibiotics in case it was cellulitis. Steve’s arm was put in a sling and the nurses kept a close eye on him. “At that point I didn’t think it was particularly serious. I thought I’d be home later that day,” says Steve.
But the pain steadily increased and his blood pressure dropped dramatically. Low blood pressure combined with an accelerated heart rate is an indicator of sepsis and Steve was rushed to the intensive care unit (ICU) where doctors clustered around him. His arm had continued to swell with a strange purple bruising. But when small blisters suddenly appeared, a tell-tale symptom of necrotising fasciitis, the doctors made their diagnosis. “I was told I had a life and limb threatening condition and 30 minutes later I was in surgery,” Steve says. “It was all a bit
of a blur.”
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