HOPE FROM TRAGEDY: SPEAK­ING OUT ON KILLER SEP­SIS

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The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - FRONT PAGE -

Life is busy for Stephanie Bain who is jug­gling her nurs­ing course in Aberdeen with look­ing af­ter her daugh­ter, Aria, who has been a bless­ing in the most poignant of ways.

Stephanie’s brother, Dy­lan, al­ways en­cour­aged her to study and adored his niece to whom he is god­fa­ther, but he’ll never watch her grow up.

Be­hind every busy mo­ment, of which there are plenty in moth­er­hood, Stephanie is re­minded of his ab­sence but is de­ter­mined that hope can come from the fam­ily’s dev­as­tat­ing loss.

Dy­lan fought Leukaemia through­out his child­hood and de­spite time spent in re­mis­sion, the can­cer re­turned.

De­ter­mined to fight, Dy­lan didn’t lose his life to the dis­ease, how­ever, but to sep­sis – an in­creas­ingly com­mon and life-threat­en­ing in­fec­tion which took hold in just two short weeks.

Stephanie takes com­fort from her be­lief that Dy­lan had truly “had enough” and slipped away peace­fully af­ter his fam­ily made the de­ci­sion to turn off his life sup­port ma­chine in April this year.

Along­side a sky dive to cel­e­brate Dy­lan’s 16th birth­day, which he didn’t live to see, Stephanie has also been rais­ing aware­ness about sep­sis on so­cial me­dia.

In the UK alone, sep­sis is re­spon­si­ble for 44,000 deaths every year, more than bowel, breast and prostate can­cer com­bined.

De­spite this, a re­cent sur­vey found that 44% of peo­ple in the UK have never heard of sep­sis and have lit­tle idea that it is a life-threat­en­ing emer­gency.

Stephanie hopes that by speak­ing about her grief, fam­i­lies may no­tice the warn­ing signs be­fore it is too late.

WE AL­WAYS THOUGHT HE’D PULL THROUGH

Every time some­one passes away, peo­ple ob­vi­ously say they were a won­der­ful per­son and it has al­most be­come a cliché.

That re­ally was the case with Dy­lan though, I was 10 when he was born and I can hon­estly say we never ar­gued and I adored him im­me­di­ately.

He was first di­ag­nosed with leukaemia when he was only seven years old so he had to grow up pretty quickly.

He hated the treat­ment at first and didn’t re­ally un­der­stand what was go­ing on.

It was a con­stant bat­tle to get him to have dif­fer­ent tests.

I think grad­u­ally Dy­lan just ac­cepted things though.

He was ma­ture but he had a great sense of hu­mour as well.

I would of­ten go to him for advice and he was al­ways very sup­port­ive. He was a bun­dle of fun.

“Dy­lan let out a scream and to this day I can re­mem­ber the noise he made. No fam­ily should ever have to hear their loved one in such pain”

Treat­ment lim­ited what Dy­lan could re­ally do so he spent a lot of time in­side – he never got a chance to have many hob­bies.

When the can­cer re­turned, he was so mat­ter of fact about it. He said that he had fought it once and he would fight it again.

I never grew bored with Dy­lan’s com­pany and as a fam­ily we are all griev­ing in our own way be­cause he left such a mas­sive gap in our lives.

There are mo­ments when I ring mum and she can’t even speak for the grief. It’s heart­break­ing to watch her suf­fer.

Dy­lan had al­ready been through so much with treat­ment and at one point he even had to learn to walk again, and he was very prone to in­fec­tions from colds to shin­gles.

We were al­ways con­vinced that he could pull through any­thing though. Then he be­came re­ally sick due to a bac­terium in his bowel.

Doc­tors said it was clostrid­ium dif­fi­cile and al­though we ques­tioned the sever­ity of the vom­it­ing, we thought the in­fec­tion would pass.

I re­mem­ber telling my mum to keep an eye on him, but then ev­ery­thing start­ing hap­pen­ing re­ally quickly.

Dy­lan’s skin turned blue and his eyes rolled to the back of his head.

I was at home with a new­born baby when all the fam­ily were called into hos­pi­tal.

I’ll never for­get see­ing my brother ly­ing there in the chil­dren’s ward. It knocked ev­ery­thing out of me.

He was mak­ing whin­ing noises as he breathed out and I was try­ing to pull my­self to­gether for his sake.

There were so many IV lines snaking into his body but they couldn’t get ac­cess to his veins, so they used in­traosseous in­fu­sion.

This is where a nee­dle is drilled di­rectly into the bone to ac­cess bone marrow.

Dy­lan let out a scream and to this day I can re­mem­ber the noise he made. No fam­ily should ever have to hear their loved one in such pain.

The sound will never leave me and it was the hard­est Dy­lan had ever squeezed my hand.

The de­ci­sion was made to place Dy­lan on life sup­port and be­fore he went to theatre, we all spoke to him.

We gave him kisses, cud­dles, tried to make him gig­gle.

I told my brother, ‘I love you, lots and lots’ and Dy­lan said the same back. Then we had to step aside and watch Dy­lan be wheeled out the room. It tran­spired that Dy­lan had sep­sis and he was sent to Glas­gow via air am­bu­lance.

His con­di­tion wors­ened though and day blurred into night, we didn’t leave his bed­side.

We tried to tell him what was go­ing on in the world and I told him sto­ries about Aria.

I’m so glad he got to meet her and he knew he would be her god­fa­ther, even though he didn’t make it to the chris­ten­ing.

There were mo­ments when we thought he might get bet­ter be­cause he opened his eyes, but his or­gans were fail­ing. As a can­cer pa­tient, he wasn’t el­i­gi­ble for any trans­plants and his lungs were haem­or­rhag­ing.

Noth­ing more could be done, and Dy­lan slipped away on April 29.

Since telling Dy­lan’s story on so­cial me­dia, I’ve been over­whelmed by the sup­port and sto­ries from other peo­ple who have lost loved ones to sep­sis.

Dy­lan faced so many bumps in the road but he al­ways man­aged to find his way round them.

We had hope that this time would be no dif­fer­ent.

We do believe that he was telling us enough is enough though and I take com­fort from the fact that he wasn’t in pain when he died.

If I can re­duce the amount of pain for just one fam­ily by telling his story, then I can con­tinue to move for­ward and Aria has been my big­gest rea­son to keep go­ing.

Sep­sis is hardly ever spo­ken about and more peo­ple need to be aware of it, be­cause it can turn life threat­en­ing within hours.

We didn’t lose Dy­lan to can­cer, we lost him to some­thing we didn’t even know much about.

While we can’t fault the speed of the di­ag­no­sis or his care, noth­ing can ever bring him back and we will never stop miss­ing him.

Stephanie Bain with her brother Dy­lan, who lost his life to sep­sis

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