Me­tami­zole sur­vivor's story

Ex­pat went into sep­tic shock after be­ing pre­scribed con­tro­ver­sial painkiller

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jack Troughton jtroughton@cbnews.es

PA­TRICK Clancy went into sep­tic shock after be­ing pre­scribed the con­tro­ver­sial painkiller Me­tami­zole and spent six weeks in an in­duced coma on life sup­port.

He was given the anal­gesic fol­low­ing a shoul­der op­er­a­tion but after de­vel­op­ing side ef­fects was rushed into in­ten­sive care at Dé­nia Hos­pi­tal after his white blood cell count plum­meted and he de­vel­oped sep­sis.

The 75-year-old was ad­mit­ted on Oc­to­ber 5 last year and fi­nally re­leased from the Fer­ris Hos­pi­tal at Fon­tilles on De­cem­ber 22 after beg­ging to be al­lowed to spend Christ­mas with his wife Julie and fam­ily – he ac­tu­ally re­mem­bers noth­ing of the fes­tive cel­e­bra­tion and ad­mit­ted: “I am lucky to be alive.”

Pa­trick and Julie, both vol­un­teers with Can­cer Care Jávea, agreed to tell their story for the first time this week as in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Me­tami­zole and its risks when taken by north Euro­peans con­tin­ues; they were both quick to praise the med­i­cal teams for their ded­i­ca­tion.

“The care was be­yond ex­cel­lent. I was on life sup­port for six weeks and they would not give up,” said Pa­trick.

“I went up to Fon­tilles for three weeks; the phys­io­ther­apy and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion there was ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic.”

Weak­ened by his time in a mor­phine-in­duced coma, he had to learn to walk and feed him- self again and suf­fered ter­ri­ble mus­cle wastage. “After 10 days I had had enough, I man­aged to stand up and helped by a rail started to walk...some of the med­i­cal staff saw me and started cheer­ing; they thought it was fan­tas­tic.”

AEMPS, the Agen­cia Es­panola de Medica­men­tos y Pro­duc­tos San­i­tar­ios, is ex­am­in­ing the ef­fects of the painkiller – com­monly known as Nolotil in Spain – after a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Ma­rina Alta med­i­cal trans­la­tor Cristina Gar­cia del Campo.

Pro­tect

AEMPS has promised to take ac­tion to pro­tect ‘at risk’ groups, in­clud­ing peo­ple of An­glo Saxon and Scan­di­na­vian her­itage, be­cause of the in­creased danger of de­vel­op­ing agran­ul­cy­to­sis; a dan­ger­ous drop in white blood cells which can lead to sep­sis.

Pa­trick said: “The way I look at it, it (Me­tami­zole) is banned in over 30 coun­tries; Spain hasn’t done it yet but they are look­ing into it.”

Pa­trick un­der­went surgery to cor­rect a prob­lem with his left shoul­der in Septem­ber last year. He started tak­ing Me­tami­zole wanted to stop but when the pain re­turned de­cided to be ' a good boy' and con­tin­ued with the tablets.

How­ever, he started feel­ing un­well, suf­fer­ing pro­fuse sweat­ing de­spite be­ing cold and un­able to pass urine for two days – and hav­ing no in­cli­na­tion to do so. “Ap­par­ently all are symp­toms of sep­sis.”

Julie took Pa­trick for a hos­pi­tal ap­point­ment and told doc­tors, “I don’t think my hus­band is very well,”

He spent 10 hours in an ob­ser­va­tion room be­fore be­ing taken to an iso­la­tion suite, and fi­nally into in­ten­sive care. Pa­trick was put into an in­duced coma as his or­gans – ini­tially his kid­neys - started 'to shut down'.

“They started to try and find the right type of an­tibi­otic; two didn’t work and they said if the last one didn’t work that I was a goner...it started to work,” said Pa­trick.

“Nolotil is a bit like AIDS and takes away the whole im­mune sys­tem, it al­lows ev­ery other bug in.”

In­fec­tion

Julie re­mem­bered Pa­trick de­vel­op­ing a hos­pi­tal-based in­fec­tion and 'so many scans' and be­ing told it was lucky her hus­band’s 'heart was very strong'.

There was a fur­ther scare when doc­tors at­tempted to bring Pa­trick round. Julie said: “They said he might have brain dam­age be­cause he wouldn’t wake up when they thought he should.”

Pa­trick said he came round five days later than ex­pected. “Ping! My eyes opened; I didn’t know where I was be­cause I was so out of it; all the time I had hor­rific vivid night­mares.”

Julie said at times as Pa­trick strug­gled he needed to be re­strained to pre­vent him fall­ing out if bed. “After be­ing un­con­scious for six weeks, when he came round he couldn’t move; he lost all his mus­cles; he couldn’t feed him­self and had to learn how to walk again.”

Al­most a year later, Pa­trick has found he has de­vel­oped arthri­tis, suf­fers pins and nee­dles in three toes of both feet and in his lower left arm, the side of the op­er­a­tion. Strangely, his brain now en­ables him to read and write back­wards and he has to think twice about sim­ple ques­tions, such as which are left and right.

“It is life chang­ing; if I sit for too long my joints lock, es­pe­cially my hips and I feel cold all the time; per­haps it has just brought on old age so much quicker,” he said.

“It knocks 10 tons out of you; it was not just once I could have died but the whole of those six weeks. I am told it was lucky I had a strong con­sti­tu­tion.”

Pa­trick Clancy

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