‘I THOUGHT I HAD A COLD – NOW I HAVE LOST MY LIMBS’
A DAD of three has been left with no feet and only part of one hand after doctors had to perform drastic surgery to save his life.
Chris Garlick, 46, had to have both his legs and one of his hands amputated after suddenly falling ill with what he initially thought was just a cold.
Only hours later Chris was left fighting for his life after doctors found that he had contracted sepsis, a condition which causes the body’s immune system to attack its own tissue and organs.
Massage therapist Chris, whose children are aged 10, eight and five, described his gratitude to the medical professionals who saved his life, and his wife Karran, who, he says, has had to “hold the fort” while he’s been in hospital.
Chris said: “To watch what my wife has gone through; I’m just so grateful. It was probably the worst you are ever going to get. She would watch as my levels would drop and she would be told I was going to die. But she’s such an amazingly strong person.”
He added: “I’m looking forward to the future because I did manage to survive sepsis. I have survived and I have got things to do. I’m going to be a father and a husband again.”
On Saturday, July 15, Chris, who runs a chiropractic clinic in Cardiff alongside Karran, began complaining of cold and flu-like symptoms.
By Sunday he felt so unwell he was confined to his bed at home.
“On Sunday morning I was feeling really rough,” Chris said. “We were going to take the kids swimming but I said I just couldn’t manage it. So Karran put a film on for the children.”
Karran, 41, returned to the bedroom a while later and found he was running a high temperature, but he was so weak he was unable to get into the bath to cool off.
Chris said: “I couldn’t walk straight and the pain in my head was unbearable, and that’s the last thing I remember.”
Karran had recently started a training course with a view to returning to nursing and recognised some of Chris’ symptoms.
She telephoned NHS Direct and after allowing the operator to hear Chris’ laboured breathing down the line, an ambulance was immediately dispatched to their home.
Chris was taken to the intensive care unit at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, where he was placed on assisted breathing apparatus and given a blanket course of antibiotics.
Karran said: “At four o’clock he was talking to me, and by six o’clock he was near death; literally. For four days they told me he was going to die, so they were preparing me for the worst.”
During the first night, Chris had to be resuscitated. His condition eventually stabilised, but he remained in a coma for a further fortnight.
Karran said doctors discovered Chris had been infected by meningococcal bacteria, which led to the septic reaction.
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs. It is most commonly caused by bacterial infection.
“His lungs had stopped working, his heart wasn’t working too well and his clotting wasn’t working, so he was bleeding everywhere,” Karran said.
“Because his blood pressure was so low, what your body naturally does is try to maintain your vital organs. This means your extremities don’t have enough blood running to them.”
She added: “They were talking about amputations probably a week into his illness.”
A build up of dead tissue, known as necrotic tissue, around Chris’ limbs was found to be causing strain on his body.
Chris was visited by a surgical consultant, who broke the news to the couple that he would have to amputate below the knee on both legs.
Karran said: “I remember he said to me ‘please don’t let them take my legs’, because he loved walking on the beach and he was worried that he would never feel the sand under his feet again.”
On August 30, the day of his daughter’s 10th birthday, Chris went into surgery to have his legs amputated, as well as his left arm above the wrist but below the elbow at Morriston Hospital in Swansea. Surgeons were able to save the palm of his right
Chris in intensive care at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport and, right, seven weeks after his amputations