Mom Of 3 Left On The Brink Of Death After A Tiny Spot On Her Arm Turned Deadly

January 2, 2018
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A Mom-of-three has revealed how a tiny spot on her arm almost claimed her life, after it led to deadly sepsis which doctors assumed would ultimately kill her.

Beverley Gardner, 51, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, first noticed the spot on her right elbow in September – but thought nothing of it.

The spot then quickly turned red and swollen and began to burn, which prompted her family to rush her to A&E where doctors quickly realised it was sepsis.

Surgeons then cut away her infected tissue, which had turned black, and pumped her full of antibiotics in a desperate attempt to keep her alive.

Gardner, left on the brink of death, was then placed in an induced coma for 3 weeks, with her daughters Ashley, 33, Hayley, 30 and Nina, 26, at her bedside.

Then, after defying expectations and pulling through surgery, her life was placed in danger again as she suffered a stroke and battled pneumonia.

Recalling her ordeal for the first time, the Mom said: ‘The doctors told my daughters three times that I wasn’t going to make it.

‘I can’t imagine how terrifying it was for them, but somehow, I’m still here. Everyone says it’s a miracle that I went into that hospital so poorly, and still came out alive.’ 

Gardner, who was treated by doctors at Newcastle Royal Infirmary, said: ‘I can’t fault the doctors and nurses. They were absolutely amazing.

‘For a while, there was talk of amputation, but thankfully, they didn’t have to do that.’

Symptoms of sepsis, when the body attacks itself in response to an infection, are: 

  • high temperature
  • chills
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • rapid heartbeat

However, Gardner, who is currently unable to work, only had a tiny bite-like spot on her elbow, which became hot to touch.

She said: ‘I also started having diarrhoea. Then, my arm swelled-up uncontrollably. 

‘My partner Thomas [56, an ice cream man] was really worried and called Nina [her daughter], who then rang an ambulance.

‘I’d heard of sepsis before and knew it was a killer, but had no idea at this point that it was happening to me.’

After arriving at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Gardner was given an urgent scan, before being raced down to theatre.

There, doctors had to cut open her arm and investigate further. She added: ‘By then, the skin of my arm started going black.’

Doctors were able to make the diagnosis of sepsis fairly quickly.

After the infected tissue was cut away, she was pumped full of painkillers and antibiotics and had to be placed in an induced coma to recover.

While unconscious, she had another setback when she suffered a stroke, but thankfully, she hasn’t been left with any lasting effects.

Coming round 3 weeks later, the first thing she saw was her daughters, who had hardly left her side since the ordeal began.

Initially, she was unable to walk, but has now relearned, helped by intensive physiotherapy.

She said: ‘At first, I just couldn’t understand why I couldn’t move. I had to learn to walk all over again.’

Next, Gardner was moved from ICU to the plastic surgery ward, where she had skin grafts, using flesh from her leg to patch up her arm.

Allowed home last month after nine long weeks – during which time she also battled pneumonia – she has lost the hearing in her left ear.

The doctors told my daughters three times that I wasn’t going to make it. ‘I can’t imagine how terrifying it was for them, but somehow, I’m still here 

Beverley Gardner, 51 

Gardner also lost the use of her right hand but continues to have physiotherapy to build her strength.

Now, by sharing her story, she hopes to raise awareness of the symptoms of sepsis, so people can look out for them.

Ms Gardner added: ‘People need to know what to look for because it comes on so quickly.

‘My body has been through so much, I get quite tearful when I think about it. My girls have been amazing, though. They come round and help all the time.

‘I still struggle with day-to-day tasks. I can’t get myself dressed – but I’m here. And that’s all that matters.’

Gardner’s daughter, Hayley Mallen, said: ‘I didn’t know much about sepsis before this year, but everyone should be aware of it. 

‘What we thought was a small infection turned out to be something much worse.

‘After she survived surgery, we got told she also had strep A and probably wouldn’t make it, then she had the stroke followed by pneumonia.

‘It was like one step forward, two steps back, but we sat by her bedside every day and she pulled through. We are so proud of what a strong, amazing lady she is.’

For information about Sepsis, visit www.sepsistrust.org

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