Page 16 - PIC Magazine Winter Issue 14
P. 16

   Tom Ray is a Sepsis Survivor, a quadruple amputee and a truly inspirational character. PIC Magazine caught up with Tom to hear his story, which he hopes will help to spread awareness of Sepsis and help others to spot the signs.
Tom was a fit & healthy 37-year-old when Sepsis struck him at the turn of the millennium. His remarkable story was documented in the feature film ‘Starfish’ and in an accompanying book with the same title. He now works as an inspirational speaker with Resilience+Co, encouraging audiences to feel positive about recovering from their own setbacks.
Tom, tell us how it all began.
On 9 December 1999 at around 6pm I took a short nap and started to feel fuzzy headed and headachy. I went to bed at 10.30 that night.
I woke at 3am feeling nauseous. I moved to our spare bedroom as I didn’t want to wake my wife up. But I did. Between 3am and 10am I was sick several times and I developed violent headaches, stomach-ache and dehydration.
Late mid-morning my wife rang our GP for advice. He prescribed anti-sickness medicine as he thought I might have food poisoning and said to call back if things worsened. At lunchtime I took the medicine, but I brought it up immediately. I stayed in bed to sleep as the headache was still strong. I felt freezing cold and I was very sensitive to the light through the curtains. I didn’t have a temperature, but I felt like I was drifting away.
By 6pm I was severely dehydrated, and I asked my wife to go and buy some Lucozade. My feet were feeling cold and at 6.30pm I rang my wife on her mobile to say I was feeling extremely poorly. I asked her to come home quickly.
When my wife arrived home, she found me semi- conscious. She rang for help and an ambulance arrived. The paramedics wondered if I was perhaps over-reacting to the anti-sickness medication.
I was taken to A&E. My wife described my symptoms and reported that my hands and feet were freezing and numb. A rash had spread over my chest and face. I was admitted for observation overnight, during which time my blood pressure deteriorated dramatically, and my body turned purple and excessively swollen. My eyes were weeping blood, I had diarrhoea and I was vomiting violently.
I was eventually admitted to Intensive Care early in the morning and was given a 10% chance of survival. Treatment for sepsis had now begun.
Due to the advanced stage of my sepsis I had to undergo multiple amputations. Both my hands were amputated below the elbow and both my feet were cut off below the ankle. My lips and nose and the lower half of my face were amputated. I then had to undergo further amputations to both legs to the mid- calf. My spleen was found to be destroyed and my adrenal function severely impaired.
In February 2000 I was transferred to the plastic surgery ward at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, then to a rehab unit. I was finally discharged in
August of that year but continued to have numerous operations to reconstruct my face.
Prior to my admission to hospital, my wife and I ran our own conference/video production business but following my illness neither of us could continue working. My wife had been 8 and a half months pregnant at the time of my sepsis with our second child, which brought additional financial pressures. Eventually we had to sell our house at Rutland Water and move in with her mother.
      Surviving Sepsis

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