Sepsis – The Silent Killer

The Sepsis Six

The Sepsis Six

I was so drunk on apprehension and high on anxiety that the moment I sat down after the inquest I hit the wall running, at 100mph. The full force of the impact manifesting itself in an all-consuming emotional hangover. In the months leading up to the inquest I had to focus on arriving at the one goal I knew I had to be part of. Representing William, and to be his voice. The enormity of the task that lay ahead of me was overwhelming. I had long since given up trying to deal with people’s expectations. I knew that the only way I would reach that goal was pressure, and the only pressure that was acceptable was from me. Only I could prepare myself for the inquest.

I knew the day would be fraught with tension. I didn’t understand why we were there, and I still don’t understand now. As Professor Peter Fleming said “I think there is a very good chance that his illness could have been treated successfully.” To hear those words made any possibility of healing the wound an impossibility. The wound irreparably damaged. William’s death we knew in our hearts was avoidable but to have those words spoken by a world-renowned paediatric specialist after reviewing the evidence was gut wrenching.

As parents, we are not doctors, we worry, we panic, we ask a million questions but we have every right to. We trust and believe the health professionals that we are forced to rely on. Professor Fleming expressed concern that neither the 111 service nor the out-of-hours GP, had acted on William’s temperature change which had been over 40C on the Friday but had subsequently fallen to 35C on the Saturday, a symptom of circulatory failure, and later we found out, a symptom of Sepsis. We took William to the doctors on the Friday because we were concerned. We were reassured it was “nothing grisly” we followed the guidance and advice we were given. I was still worried and called for help on the Saturday. From the analysis of this phone call, which was played at the 8 hour-long inquest, Professor Fleming said he “was disappointed the ‘algorithm’ used by the 111 service did not appear to have assessed the situation effectively…they are working from a script, not their professional knowledge.” Ultimately, our little boy had been unwell for months with what we were told was “just a cough” in the latter stages he developed pneumonia, this caused sepsis (septicemia).

Who knows what Sepsis is? Who knows what causes sepsis? I had heard of sepsis, septicemia blood poisoning, but I never for one second sat and thought in that last week that William had it because I didn’t know what it was. As parents we had it drummed into us that if our children are unwell, always check for a rash, meningitis, do the glass test, meningitis kills. Every doctor who William saw or I spoke to were always very thorough in checking for a rash, but no-one discussed the symptoms or the possibility of sepsis. We were not warned what to look or check for.  There are several clinical indications for sepsis, one is a temperature over 38C or below 36C and another is a rapid pulse of over 90 beats per minute. William’s temperature on the Friday was 40.1C and his pulse wasn’t even taken. I will never understand, with a doctor’s knowledge, how this was missed. How William’s cough was never investigated and subsequently how the pneumonia was never diagnosed.  Ultimately causing sepsis which took his life.  It is estimated that 3200 people per year die from meningitis, but 37,000 people die from sepsis. I think it’s about time that sepsis should be granted the air time that meningitis has. Parents need to be educated, no more children should die needlessly like William.

We were let down, in the most unimaginable way. It is not fair that William had to lose his life in order to recognise that changes have to be made. What those changes are only time will tell. All I continue to do is just take one day at a time, I no longer pressure myself or set any unrealistic expectations, I’m breathing, that is a huge accomplishment. After all, people can try to imagine what it’s like in my shoes, but no-one can imagine what it’s like being in my head.

Dear daddy, happy father’s day…

Today you are spending your first father’s day without me since I came up here to heaven, so I just wanted to send you a little message.

I am sitting up here looking down at you imagining all the fun things that we would be doing not just today but everyday, but today is extra special because it’s a day that I get to show you just what a wonderful daddy you are.

Nobody knows how many times you’ve cried when no-one is watching. Nobody knows how many times you’ve lost hope, and how many times you’ve felt let down. Nobody knows how many times you felt like you’re about to snap, but you just don’t for the sake of others. Nobody knows the thoughts that go through your head when you’re sad and how horrible they really are but I do, I share them with you.

It feels like the world has stopped but it still gets dark and light, the ocean still has waves, the flowers still bloom and the birds still sing. The rain still rains and the wind still blows. The Moon still gives way to the Sun as it rises in the morning sky. As it does you open my curtains, but instead of thrusting my arms in the air for you to pick me up, I wrap my arms around you and hold you tight. You can’t see me, but I’m there, guiding you through the day.

Daddy, I am here to protect you, and as long as I am here protecting you, there is no-one on Earth that can break you. You made me so happy, I miss you every moment of the day and I love you very much. You can do the impossible daddy, because you’ve been through the unimaginable, I’m so proud of you daddy and I’m so proud of the way that you look after my mummy.

I’m still wearing the smile that you gave me.

Love your little Grumpus xxxx




My Impact Statement

My sleepy boy

My sleepy boy

My dreamy boy

My dreamy boy

I have written down what I want to say so many times but none of it seems right and I’m sure there’ll be things I don’t say but wish I had, the truth is, there are no words adequate enough to describe the intensity of loving William and no words sufficient enough to capture the pain that we feel. William is loved beyond words and missed beyond measure. A pain that we shouldn’t be feeling, a cruel life sentence that should never have happened, today is day 178 of that life sentence. It doesn’t get easier, time doesn’t heal but only serves to widen the gap from when we last held our dear little boy.

We cannot cope missing William, knowing that we are never going to see William again is crippling. All I want is to be with my baby again, and there is only one way that is possible. I do not feel free, I cannot escape from my thoughts, what is now my reality. The clarity of mind that keeps reminding me that William is not part of the world I exist in today. The life that I am forced to be part of, I feel stuck, trapped and suffocated. The cruel joke of the world is that we are still here and William isn’t. It just feels like we are viewing life through a window, seeing it, hearing it but not actually in it. I no longer feel I belong anywhere without William, not even in my own life.

The magnitude of William’s absence is overwhelming and felt by all, even those who did not know him. From the moment we lost William, life has been split into the forever proverbial “before” and “after” William died. I don’t want to escape from this unbearable pain, I know that to feel this much pain is to know this much love. We are exhausted, physically, emotionally, and mentally, the anxiety and flashbacks are debilitating. Losing William has destroyed us, to lose him was to lose myself. In that moment, my soul died too and what’s left behind is a broken shell. We feel like we’re stuck in purgatory, somewhere between heaven and hell. Trying desperately to find another reason to forge through this intolerable pain, an impossible task. Paralysed by our love for William.

At 8:47am on the 14th December, the paramedic turned to me and said “I’m sorry my love, but he’s gone”, I didn’t understand why they couldn’t make him better and I didn’t understand why they stopped trying. William was gone, my little boy was gone. His lifeless body laid on the floor where we had given him CPR. He looked uncomfortable, he looked vulnerable, and he was stiff, I scooped him up and cradled him so close and I begged him to wake up, I pleaded with him to wake up, but he didn’t, he was gone. I knew he was gone, the moment I opened the curtains, William’s eyes staring straight through me, they cut me in half, it was with those eyes that William loved, I ached to hear the words “mummy, I love you” but he never got the chance. William expressed his love in everything he did, but his eyes said it all. Eyes that were so trusting. William trusted me, trusted me to feed him, trusted me to love him, trusted me to put him first, trusted me to be his everything as he is mine, trusted that he was safe with his mummy. The only thing I couldn’t do was make him better, If I could have, I would. That job I had no choice but to rely on the professionals, those that are trained to do so. As William’s mum it was my job to take him to the doctors when he was poorly, and I did, multiple times. I trusted that the examination and diagnosis at each visit was correct. Like William trusted me to look after him, I trusted them. We feel William was let down in the cruelest way possible, and William has paid the ultimate price. There were multiple opportunities to treat him, but we were always assured “it’s just a cough” “it’s just a cough” how can anyone be so wrong? Within 12 hours of speaking to a doctor, our little boy was dead. We were told not to worry, assured “it’s nothing grisly”, I don’t think you can get any more profoundly grisly than sepsis, how was this allowed to manifest, that is what makes this reality so hard to believe. Every morning we get up to the realisation that William is gone. He suffered so unnecessarily, he died in his bed, on his own with his little reindeer, in the place that he should have been safe. those last precious moments he was on his own, what was he thinking, my little baby, he knows what it feels like to die, how is that even possible. I so desperately want my little boy back, I need him back, I want what I can’t have, what has been taken away and that is wholly unacceptable.

In the 382 days that we were blessed with William he made more of an impact than most would in a lifetime.

William was born on my birthday, the most precious gift. After getting used to the idea that we wouldn’t be able to have our own children, William was just meant to be. We were like any first time parents, nervous and apprehensive but it soon became obvious we had nothing to worry about. William made it easy. Our little Grumpus defined me as a person, as his mother, he defined us. He was and always will remain the foundation of our family.

William was his own little person, such a happy, secure and most of all loving little boy. I would often sit and watch him in disbelief that he was actually mine. He was perfect, I can close my eyes and feel his delicate touch, to embrace him and feel his soft skin against my own, feel the weight of him in my arms and to breathe in his beautifully sweet smell when he would bury his head into our neck. When we put William to bed we couldn’t wait to be woken by his sweet little babbling, he would be all sleepy, not quite awake and wanting to snuggle. He’d grab his little reindeer, not wanting to leave him behind, he’d pop his thumb in his mouth, nuzzle into our neck and come into our bed for cuddles. We are crushed that we will never have this again.

You see, William was a clam, patient and content little boy. To sit with William and teach him shapes and colours, to then sit back and watch him learn, to watch him think, to watch him concentrating, to watch him working things out for himself, was a pleasure. Nothing was more fulfilling than to watch his confused little face turn to joy when he mastered something new, so pleased with himself. He would immediately turn to find you, his face lit up as it met yours, the happiness reciprocated, our pride encouraging him further. His infectious smile that would never fail to make you smile right back, a smile that injected happiness into any room. We were in awe of him. These treasured moments were priceless, memories that are irreplaceable. William filled us with a sense of freedom, taught us love with no boundaries, that’s limitless and endless. He was my one constant, we never knew love like this existed. William was our future, to hear his first words, to pick him up and dust him off when he fell over, to teach him to ride a bike, to watch his first nativity, to watch him fall in love, to be whatever he wanted to be, as long as he was happy, all of this is gone, William robbed of his future and us robbed of ours.

William’s death was so needless and unnecessary, nearly 26 weeks on, almost half his lifetime, we remain a family torn apart by grief, struggling to comprehend life in William’s absence. No-one knows a child better than his parents, no-one knew William better than us, a parents instinct should be listened to, we should have been listened to. We can only hope that no other family has to suffer the unrelenting agony of losing a child in these circumstances and that changes bought about by today’s outcome can prevent further deaths and improve the practice of all GP’s, 111 and out of hours services.

There is no outcome that can ease our pain, we have to live the rest of our lives knowing William’s life was taken from him, knowing that he should be with us and knowing that he won’t be coming back. William was a blessing and we are forever thankful that we can call him our son.

William’s Inquest

Hearing from the expert paediatrician professor Peter Fleming that my darling little William could have been saved is the hardest thing I will ever hear. My little boy, gone for nothing xx

A Mother Without a Child