September 22, 2022

Doctors just told me to take paracetamol after an asthma attack – I ended up fighting for my life

WHEN Yvonne Wiggins started having trouble breathing, she thought it was just because of her asthma.

The 56-year-old developed the disease later in life, so it was something that was always at the forefront of her mind.

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Yvonne Wiggins developed asthma later in life and the condition was always something in the back of her mindCredit: Yvonne Wiggins
As well as living with asthma and Crohn's disease, Yvonne also helps her son Asha, who has cerebral palsy (pictured above)

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As well as living with asthma and Crohn’s disease, Yvonne also helps her son Asha, who has cerebral palsy (pictured above)Credit: Yvonne Wiggins

She decided to make an appointment with her GP who first told her to take more pumps of her asthma inhaler, take paracetamol and drink plenty of water.

But the mother’s condition continued to deteriorate and after five appointments Yvonne, who lives in Hastings, was rushed to hospital with fatal sepsis.

Speaking to The Sun, Yvonne is now sharing her ordeal as part of Sepsis Awareness Month and to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms you should never ignore.

These include confusion, cold, spotty arms and legs, a high or low temperature, and not urinating as much over a 24-hour period.

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You may also have blue or pale skin, difficulty breathing, and a low, high-pitched voice.

After that first date in December 2018, Yvonne’s condition continued to worsen and she became frustrated.

“I had never experienced anything like this before and I was getting stressed. I kept thinking ‘oh my god, it’s getting worse’.

Yvonne, went for a second and third appointment, and was told that because she had asthma, it was common for her to catch a viral infection.

She added: “They told me again there was nothing they could do and they sent me home, I just had to believe they knew better.”

She had two further appointments, and on the last a separate GP advised her to take antibiotics because she had asthma – a drug that other GPs had previously advised against.

“I just felt like they were giving me the drugs because it was Christmas Eve and they would be closed.

“I just wanted to spend Christmas and thought if anything happened I would at least have the prescription.”

On Christmas Day, Yvonne was still struggling and had to take 10 asthma pumps a day just to breathe.

“I was out of breath,” she said.

The day after Christmas, the whole family came to lunch and Yvonne couldn’t join in the celebrations because she was struggling.

They were told they would have to plan my funeral. I could only move my eyes and I didn’t know where I was

Yvonne Wiggins

“At lunch, I just told them that I felt very bad and that I would take antibiotics and go to lie down.

“As soon as I entered the room I passed out and when I woke up I couldn’t breathe and was rolling in pain.

“I was in a lot of pain,” she said.

Yvonne also suffers from Crohn’s disease, which causes inflammation of the digestive system – so she thought it was a complication of her condition.

Slowly Yvonne slipped in and out of consciousness and when the ambulance arrived she was unconscious.

“They took me to the hospital and diagnosed me with sepsis and I was in a coma.

“With sepsis, your organs come first, your kidneys, your lungs, then your heart.

“I was on life support, hooked up to a lot of machines and my blood pressure was at an all time low.

“My family learned that it was not going well and that I only had a 2% chance of survival.

“We told them they would have to plan my funeral. I could only move my eyes and I didn’t know where I was.

Signs of sepsis you need to know

Sepsis is usually triggered by another illness, and most people with sepsis are thought to have had an infection before.

These infections can be pneumonia, abdominal infection, urinary tract infection or wound.

Sepsis Research FEAT says the symptoms are:

  • very high or low temperature
  • uncontrolled chills
  • confusion
  • urinate less than normal
  • spotty or cold arms or legs
  • rapid or difficult breathing
  • rapid heart rate
  • feeling dizzy or fainting

Experts say: “Each of these symptoms on their own can be an indication of other health conditions that may still require medical attention.

“But a combination of these symptoms, which get progressively worse, means you need to see a doctor urgently. Early recognition and prompt treatment can save lives.”

After spending three and a half months sleeping, Yvonne finally woke up and was paralyzed.

She had to learn to walk, talk and eat again.

“Everything was so difficult, it’s just the things we take for granted.

“I couldn’t remember my friends or my family, I could only remember my son Asha.”

But little did Yvonne know that while she was going through her battle with sepsis, her son was also going through the exact same thing.

Asha, 24, has cerebral palsy and had previously been admitted with sepsis.

While Yvonne was being treated in Hastings, Asha was at Homerton Hospital in London.

She said: “While I slept in a coma I knew something was wrong, I felt it and I kept seeing it wrong.

“As a mum I had always been by his side but I was so fragile and couldn’t speak and at the time my family couldn’t tell me he was sick.

Since their ordeal, Asha and Yvonne have recovered well, with the help of personal trainer Ollie Golden.

‘FORGOTTEN CONDITION’

Yvonne has now hailed the work being done by the charity Sepsis Research FEAT, which aims to stop sepsis by funding lifesaving research.

She added: “What they are doing is groundbreaking research and no one else has done anything like this before.”

With the help of Sepsis Research FEAT, Yvonne is raising awareness as she believes it is a “forgotten condition”.

“Personally, I rarely see anything about sepsis and its severity.

“I feel like it’s not taken seriously.

In order to prevent others from going through what she and Asha went through, Yvonne said if you’re not feeling well, you need to talk about it.

“Listen to your body, hold on.

“Especially after Covid, it’s really difficult to get a face-to-face appointment with a GP now.

“People have to listen, and you have to be persistent and not wait to be controlled.”