Alastair Craig and his wife, Brenda, shared many happy years together after meeting when they were both 50 and getting married a few years later. But Alastair’s happiness was shattered and he was left heartbroken when Brenda was taken from him by sepsis. He knew about the illness and of its potentially devastating consequences but, like most of us, he didn’t expect it to affect anyone close to him.
“My wife Brenda and I met ‘the modern way’ online when we had both just reached 50 in 2007 and married four years later.
“Brenda was a Customer Service Assistant with Scottish Canals with two sons from her previous marriage, both of whom live in Vancouver. I have a son and daughter from my previous marriage.
“In January 2020, Brenda experienced severe pain in her lower back and was diagnosed with a kidney stone and given treatment to expel it. When this appeared to fail she was admitted to Glasgow Royal Infirmary for an operation to blast the stone away. Unfortunately this proved impossible and she had a stent fitted to facilitate the passage of the stone.
“Two weeks later on the 17th of February she went in for day surgery to remove the stent. She was supposed to leave later that afternoon but at about 1700hrs she phoned me to say she had been kept in as her blood pressure had dropped.
“I visited her that evening and returned home. At about 0400hrs on the Tuesday morning there was a knock at the door and there were two police officers there who told me that the hospital had contacted them to alert me to the fact that Brenda had been taken into ICU.
“When I arrived Brenda was awake but a bit agitated, partly through lack of sleep, partly through painkillers. I was told she had been diagnosed with sepsis and her condition was causing the medical staff some alarm. They told me that her sons should maybe make the journey from Canada.
“That afternoon they put Brenda on dialysis as her kidneys were not functioning and they were in contact with the Liver Unit in Edinburgh regarding a possible transplant. At about 2000hrs she was taken for a scan to determine the level of damage that her liver had suffered and, when she came back from that, the decision was made to sedate her in order that dialysis could be resumed. I stayed in the hospital that night.
“When I awoke at 0600hrs her nurse told me that she had undergone six hours of dialysis, that her blood pressure was still erratic and that they were making her comfortable. Within an hour her blood pressure started to drop dramatically and her heart rate began to fluctuate. At 0730hrs the doctor on duty told me that she was unlikely to see out the day. Four hours later the light went out on my life.
“Just over 48 hours after entering hospital Brenda passed away peacefully. Her sons arrived from Canada that night.
“I knew about sepsis before as I am friendly with the brothers of Corinne Hutton who had her hands and feet amputated after suffering acute pneumonia and sepsis.
“I was aware of how deadly it was, of the devastating consequences it could have.
“I just never thought it would affect anyone close to me directly.
‘I know Brenda was ‘unlucky’.
“I now know women can be more susceptible to it, particularly after surgery such as hers.
“I now know we all have Ecoli in our gut and that generally it is good for us.
“I now know that even minor operations carry that risk.
“I wish I didn’t know these things now.
“I would like the opportunity to make people aware of this horrible event. Not to scare them but just to raise awareness.”