Hi... I’m Dan, Lydia's husband.
In September 2018, my family’s world changed in an unimaginable way. My wife Lydia, a fit, happy and healthy 41-year-old and mum of our two young children, fell critically ill with Sepsis and an underlying infection of tuberculosis (TB). She spent 11 days in a coma on life-support close to death. I’m so thankful to say that she has survived against the odds.
Unbelievably, she had to have both her legs amputated below the knee, together with the amputation of her right hand at the wrist and the fingers of her left hand, undergoing 5 major operations in the last 7 weeks.
I’m hoping to raise funds to get the best possible prosthetics as I want to make sure Lydia can get back to doing what she loves and get her life back.
Below is our story so far, including some pictures which show how shocking Sepsis can be.
Thank you.WHAT HAPPENED
Lydia had been experiencing a chesty cough and wheezing for some time, which we were told was asthma and a series of common chest infections. In early September Lydia was eventually referred for investigations, including an Xray, CT scan and a bronchoscopy. At the end of September 2018 over a period of 3 days, she rapidly deteriorated with a high fever and extreme shortness of breath. I called an ambulance and she was rushed into hospital and diagnosed with Acute Pneumonia (later diagnosed as Pulmonary Tuberculosis) and I was told her body was in Septic Shock.
With respiratory failure and other organs failing, she was transferred to one of the few hospitals in the UK which offered a life-saving machine called ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) and put into an induced coma. Initially the doctors did not hold out much hope for her recovery, but against all odds, she began to recover. The ECMO team had done their job, and when Lydia awoke from the coma 11 days later, she was completely unaware of the previous events, and found herself facing the onset of dry gangrene in both feet and both hands and also at the tip of her nose.
At one point Lydia had 15 different intravenous drips and lines going in and out of her body. She was on a ventilator, a kidney machine and the ECMO, as well being treated by a cocktail of various drugs and being fed with nutrients. These were all needed to keep her alive but incredibly sadly, a result of the treatment for the Sepsis, was to cruelly restrict the blood flow to her hands and feet. At one point during the first week, most of her face had turned a mottled blue/black, but thankfully, this reversed as the medicine dosages were reduced as she gained in strength.
The pictures below show what Lydia awoke to:
Lydia was in an isolation room for a total of 7 weeks, during which time, all visitors were required to wear masks and gowns. During her time in hospital, she also experienced other serious complications, such as two emergency heart drains due to fluid forming around the heart; temporary Kidney failure; a blood clot on the lung; a Tracheostomy; daily blood tests and X-rays to continuously monitor her condition.
Whilst in hospital, Lydia’s muscles deteriorated significantly, and she lost over a stone in muscle mass and has experienced some hair loss. The tracheostomy meant that she was only able to suck water through a sponge and was fed via a tube to her stomach.
In the early weeks, the doctors had to continuously drain fluid from her lungs, which were badly damaged by the TB infection. Sadly, her lungs remain affected and whilst over the last 7 months, her lungs have slowly recovered with the help of a 6 month antibiotic treatment, they will never reach full capacity again. The TB infection has caused permanent damage, but we are hopeful that she will be able to get back to 80% lung function in the long-term. Where she caught the TB still remains a mystery.
These events have taken their toll not only on her physically, but mentally for all the family. The hardest part of the journey for Lydia was initially a 4-week separation from our 2 children. No communication was possible between them due to her condition in intensive care.
Having spent a total of nearly 8 weeks in Hospital, Lydia was finally able to come home in late November 2018. However, her journey was far from over, as she was at this point just beginning her journey to recovery and rehabilitation. WHERE WE ARE NOW
There was no immediate rush to make decisions about the dry gangrene, so she spent 4 months recovering at home, though with regular outpatient appointments at three different hospitals. In addition, we sought numerous opinions from different hospitals around the country who had expertise in dealing with gangrene. Daily visits from an amazing team of District Nurses were required to dress the wounds on her feet and hands, but unfortunately, the daily spikes in temperature became a worry and at the end of February 2019, we reached the point where the risk of infection to the open wounds in her feet and hands became too high. Lydia took the impossibly hard decision to go-ahead with below knee amputations to both legs and amputation of her right hand at the wrist. Sadly too, Lydia’s left hand needed amputation to each finger and the tip of her left thumb.
Thankfully, her nose recovered well, without the loss of any flesh, though she has been left with permanent scarring, which can hopefully improve with time.
The amputation operations have been carried out throughout February, March and April 2019, across two hospitals. On the 25th April, Lydia had her fifth and hopefully final major operation (which have all been under General Anaesthetic), which was to release her right arm from her groin area where it had been surgically attached for 5 weeks as part of a skin flap and grafting procedure. Being so restricted in terms of movement, this has been a particularly difficult period for her.
Despite the clearly devastating and traumatic events of the last 7 months, it is important to me to be able to tell you that Lydia has been incredibly brave and outstandingly strong-minded throughout. She has been and remains truly inspirational and though she doesn’t believe that about herself, she has shown what a truly remarkable person she is.
After everything she has been through so far, Lydia is now looking forward to the next stage of her journey which is to be two months of intensive rehabilitation at a hospital in London, where she will learn to walk again and we can begin to rebuild our life.THE FUTURE AND A BIT ABOUT LYDIA
Lydia wants to be able to do many things, but importantly to her, she wants to be able to do the normal things we all take for granted. Her first goal is to hold her children's hands and walk them to school again!
Before all this happened, she was very active and spent her free time enjoying the gym, dancing and skiing. She was also extremely creative, doing a lot with her hands; playing organ & piano since the age of 9, she also had a passion and talent for art; she enjoyed a career in event management and was an occasional dresser behind the scenes at fashion shows.
Naturally, Lydia was initially very doubtful that she would ever manage any of these things again, but I know she will adapt and face the challenges head-on and being given the opportunity to obtain the best arm, hand and leg prosthetics, will help her achieve her goals and rebuild her life.
Lydia is such an independent person and having to rely on others has been very hard for her to accept. For the last 7 months, I have cared for her with the help of our amazing family, as there has been very little she can do for herself. This will change over time, as I know that she will get her independence back, but it will take patience, determination, time and money.
Lydia is a brilliant mum to our two children aged 9 & 11, and they need her to be back to full strength. She is the perfect wife to me. We have been together 24 years and we have the most amazing, supportive network of family and friends that are helping us through this tough time.
Naturally, I want Lydia to regain the best possible quality of life she can obtain, she deserves it. I know her better than anyone does, and she will be incredibly determined to turn her situation into a success story for both her own benefit and for the benefit of inspiring others.
She is the sort of person who when told she cannot do something, she will go ahead and do it anyway!
Lydia leaves a sparkle wherever she goes, and I'm asking for your help to get that sparkle back.OUR AIM
To make sure Lydia can get back to what she loves doing, she is going to need the best leg, arm and hand prosthetics that the money we raise can buy. Having done a lot of research, we have seen there are many amazing prosthetics that will help Lydia achieve her goals. We hope to afford the best combination of functionality and cosmetic appearance.
Lydia is going to need: 1. Left and right leg prosthetics
- she wants to be leading as active a lifestyle as possible and different sets of prosthetics will be needed for different activities including running & swimming.2. Right-hand bionic prosthetic
- we are hoping to be able to consider and afford advanced prostheses such as the hands available through http://bebionic.com/ 3. Left-hand cosmetic prosthetic
- Lydia's left-hand will now become her dominant hand. However, we would like to obtain the most advanced prosthetic coverings such as those found here - www.dorset-ortho.com Or www.npdevices.com 4. Ongoing maintenance and upgrades
- unfortunately, the above prosthetics are not simply one-off purchases. 5. Private Physiotherapy
– regular physiotherapy is key to getting the best from new limbs. 6. Home and Car Adaptations
– there are a few alterations needed in the short-term.
A huge thanks goes out to anybody who can help us raise funds, be it through donations, your own fundraising activities or just by sharing our story through social media. If you do wish to raise any funds for Lydia separately, kindly contact us first. Not only can this transform Lydia's life, but of course the lives of all the loved ones around her.
We are very much looking forward to a family road trip later this summer, which will mark the end of nearly a year of constant worry. It will be some much-needed time away from hospitals. We planned this trip earlier this year, to give Lydia something positive to focus on for the more immediate future - she deserves it!
Lydia has started to document her recovery on Instagram which can hopefully be used to inspire others who might find themselves in a similar situation.Thank you for taking the time to read our story.Dan & Lydia Galbally and family