Norwich woman who survived sepsis to take on 50-mile Tour de Broads bike ride
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017
A Norwich woman who suffered a heart attack and was left bedbound in hospital after contracting sepsis will tackle a 50-mile charity bike ride as she battles back to recovery.
Doctor Philippa Borrill, 28, has spent the last few months building up her strength after the serious illness left her unable to work or stand for more than a few minutes.
On Sunday, she will take on a 50-mile ride as part of the Tour de Broads cycle race in aid of the UK Sepsis Trust, in a bid to raise awareness and cash for the cause.
It was last winter that Dr Borrill, a scientist at the John Innes Centre, in Norwich, first noticed flu-like symptoms, initially brushing them off as a seasonal cold. But when her condition worsened, she visited her doctor - and after fainting in his office she was rushed to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.
As doctors worked out what was wrong, she suffered a heart attack and was put into intensive care for three weeks.
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'My partner and family were by my side,' she said, 'but I don't really remember much at all.
'I lost a lot of short term memory - I'd be talking to doctors who knew me, yet I couldn't remember them.'
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She was transferred to the high-dependency unit for another fortnight, where doctors performed a tracheostomy to help her breathe.
'There were a few weeks where I was awake, but didn't really know what was going on,' she said. 'I couldn't talk for a long while, so I had to point at charts or hope nurses could lip read.'
After another two weeks in a ward, she was finally allowed to leave - with a long journey to full strength still ahead.
'I had to leave using a zimmer frame and I had about three months off work,' she said. 'It was quite a shock - my mum came and lived with us because I couldn't stand up for more than a couple of minutes, and I couldn't walk for more than 100m without a walking frame.'
Dr Borrill, who lives in Three Score and cycles to work, estimates that she is now back to 95pc of her former strength - and is looking forward to Sunday's ride.
Having set herself a target of £1,000 using MyDonate, the only fundraising site in the UK to not take commission, which Dr Borrill described as 'essential', she has now passed £2,000 for the Sepsis Trust.
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What is sepsis?
Sepsis is a rare, but serious, complication of an infection which can lead to multiple organ failure and death.
Symptoms in adults include a high or low body temperature, chills and shivering, a fast heartbeat and fast breathing.
Nausea and vomiting, feeling dizzy, slurred speech and severe muscle pain are symptoms of severe sepsis or septic shock.
In children, mottled or pale skin, lethargy, fast breathing and a rash that does not fade when pressed are signs to call 999 immediately.
While the condition is rare, it kills about 37,000 people a year.
Dr Borrill said her battle with sepsis had been the 'worse experience of my life' and the bike ride would be a chance to turn it into a positive.
'Sepsis kills more people than other well-known conditions yet most people don't know much about it,' she said. 'I thought this was a chance to raise awareness and make a difference.'
Call NHS 111 urgently if you've recently had an infection or injury and notice symptoms.