It was so sudden From discomfort at Christmas lunch to sustaining life on Boxing Day By minutes, by degrees, by escalation of seconds, a deadly infection sets in

Christmas 2018 has been a big hot and eventful family lunch for the O’Dowd family The screams of the children opening the presents, Sydney’s temperature soars to 30 degrees Celsius, crackers and corks burst

Normally he started the day with a few cans of Guinness with his father, Vince But Vince noticed that “Mick didn’t seem to be involved in the conversation, he wasn’t like him”

In the driveway, Mick’s four-wheel drive car was packed and ready to go.With Christmas over, he, his wife Katharine and their two children would hit the road for four glorious weeks of camping upstairs victorian country Mechanical engineer, Mick had modified the vehicle, adding a folding kitchen, shelves and drawers

During those busy, happy weeks before Christmas, Mick had felt pain in his right butt but blamed him on being an avid cyclist; he must have pulled a muscle

Mick would take Nurofen, stretch, lay down, sit down, but with everything he tried it hurt more “It just seemed to get worse and worse” says Katharine His mother, Margaret Young , had never seen Mick go to bed like he did this afternoon

That night the pain, Mick said, had become “excruciating” The only thing to do was to go to an emergency

Christmas night was a slow night at Canterbury Hospital By the time a nurse came to see him, Mick was moaning in pain “I remember being outside, leaning against a brick wall, just trying to breathe through the pain “says Mick Endone” really didn’t do anything “

At 7:00 a.m. Boxing Day he was released and sent home with pain relievers Katharine was surprised She could see he was still in great pain

The emergency physician had advised Mick to see a GP if the pain got worse, but being Boxing Day they couldn’t find an open medical center

They couldn’t have known that they were wasting precious time, a time when everything that was to follow could have been reversed Or that it would be a year before Mick came home

Mick doesn’t remember much after that Driving to the hospital, he felt dying

Back at Canterbury Hospital, his blood pressure was low, his heart rate was high, his breathing was shallow

Things suddenly got serious He was transferred to the ICU, then transferred to Concord Hospital, which was bigger with more resources A stunned Katharine “still didn’t understand what was going on”

Mick has been diagnosed with sepsis, an overwhelming immune response to an infection that spreads throughout the body, affecting multiple organs

The infection was raging, Mick’s body was extinguishing Intensive care staff were giving him doses of medicine that were, according to emergency surgeon Paul Della Torre, “virtually unknown”

Mick was on life support He had a 20% chance of arriving in the morning

“Doctors explained that the initial infection in Mick’s muscles was strep A myositis, just a very common insect that somehow got into Mick’s bloodstream and attacked his muscles,” Katharine explains

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Mick was one of 55,000 Australians who contract sepsis each year, at least 7,000 of whom will die

“It causes more deaths than some of the common cancers we know… but more than half the population has never heard of it,” says Simon Finfer, who runs the Australian Sepsis Network

He says that every hour that you delay diagnosis and treatment, a person’s risk of dying increases by about 8%

“If they don’t give you the proper medical treatment in a very small window it can be fatal,” says Mick “The death toll is higher than the roads The sooner you get there, the better off you will be “

Because he was fit and resilient, Mick’s body struggled and responded in small, extra amounts “At no point did we think it was hopeless,” says Dr Della Torre

It seemed like a miracle to Katharine when he woke up from his coma on New Years Day

“I just remember looking at my hands They were completely black and withered I just thought, ‘OK, I’m going to have to have amputations because it’s dead tissue and it’s the only one way to survive this’ “

“She’s a special person”, says Mick’s father, Vince “I don’t think anyone else would have had a love for someone she had for him”

Mick and Katharine, mechanical engineer and town planner, had met 11 years earlier on a dating site on the Internet

It contained a full questionnaire and he was the first person she was matched with.They met at a cafe and got on well

“I thought he was a really interesting guy, very capable of leading an interesting conversation and interested in what other people have to say Also quite at ease in himself”

He was very fit, into cycling and scuba diving, and they shared passions for the outdoors, camping, cooking and traveling. His friends could see he made her laugh

From Mick: “I really really liked her I felt really comfortable with her I didn’t mind having a few beers, which was good We watched the sport together, rugby or cricket “

They went on vacation to India together “It was a very good test”, says Katharine “If you can travel to India and stay friends you are on a good thing”

Fast forward to Christmas 2018, this was a typical young family; two children and busy working “They were juggling,” says their friend Julia Pressnick

But now the couple would find out what they really were made of Who they really were

“I was having a hard time figuring out what that would mean and what kind of life he would have,” Katharine recalls

She searched the internet and came across a quad amputee Facebook group called the Quad Squad and a blog by Matthew Ames, whose story was remarkably similar to Mick’s.

In 2013, an infection entered Matthew’s bloodstream and the only way to save his life was to remove all of his limbs He too had a young family and was also an engineer

“On his blog he has pictures of himself with his children after amputations and he is smiling with his family It was so important for me to see that after going through this he was happy”, says Katharine

He responded quickly to his email “It gave him hope, a sense of what life could be like,” says Margaret, Katharine’s mother

Mick had all four amputations in one operation But even then he still had a long way to go To close the stumps they had to take healthy skin from Mick’s body, creating wounds that needed heal, get dressed, then start over

“It’s been a tough time, so painful,” says Mick “I have donor sites – a big one on my chest, one on my back, one on my side, the left side of my rib cage, and they also took the skin off my scalp three times “

He was in intensive care for six months, unable to speak much of that time because he needed a tracheostomy tube But day by day, Mick got stronger and stronger When they released the tube, “Just being able to eat again was really good and being able to talk to Katharine”

It was a moving day, leaving the hospital after eight months The staff, says Mick, “who kept me alive” came to see him go

“The Concord team went above and beyond There are no words to describe how grateful we are It was a huge moment to walk through these doors”

And then it was more trying months of rehabilitation at Prince of Wales Hospital “It’s a step by step proposition”, says Mick “It’s about setting small goals My goal was just to get home at home “

“The whole time I was talking to Matt and he told me what to expect, how it took a little while to get the right dentures,” Mick says

“They are both engineers and they have very technical and involved conversations They both have incredible minds and incredible determination and an ability to focus only on the next step they need to take to get through through it”

“Sometimes it’s hard to imagine what life was like before it happened,” says Katharine “But you just adjust each day and look for the positives I feel lucky every day that we still have Mick”

“He’s still the guy I fell in love with. Still the same strong, determined, brave and funny man,” Katharine says

“It has new layers of depth I think and we’re lucky to have the family, community and friends behind us that we have”

Mick takes the kids to school in his fast electric wheelchair “I think I’ll have good mechanical hands in the next few weeks, and once I get my arms and hands up, it’ll be over. legs “, he said “So maybe drive a special vehicle in a year or two”

A Few Minutes Can Change Your Life Mick and Katharine don’t dwell on those wasted hours on Boxing Day 2018, which might have seen things turn out so differently if doctors had been trained to check for sepsis, but Matthew and they are determined to educate the public so that this does not happen others

They are working with intensive care specialist Professor Finfer, who, through the Australian Sepsis Network, has taken on the role of trying to improve the health system’s response to sepsis

“This knowledge, expertise and training around the recognition and rapid treatment of sepsis must be deployed throughout the health system – the ambulance staff, the general practitioner or the emergency department,” says the professor Finfer

“And we need people to know when they have an infection to know if it’s something more serious, if it turns into sepsis, and they need to go to the hospital for early treatment. Tell staff who meet them, “Could this be sepsis?” “

Mick would like to go back to working on cars, camping and in the bush, scuba diving He remembers the “beautiful” sunrises over the flat sea passing over the heads of Sydney Harbor

“Google smart home content for people with disabilities is fantastic I have a lot of voice commands in the house I can turn the heat on and off, turn the lights on and off, raise and lower the blinds I am working on the opening and closing of the curtains I can take taxis in a wheelchair I have a lot of independence “

Five years before Mick on his own post-amputation journey, Matthew is confident about Mick’s future

“Mick is the type of guy who makes those choices to focus on the things he can do and looks for opportunities in any situation So my experience with Mick and Katherine is that, you know, I think that they are going to be very well “

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AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time, which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)


World News – AU – Silent killer mistaken for sore muscles nearly took Mick’s life