Albert was 92 years old when we first understood the diagnosis of sepsis. A fit and healthy former coal merchant from Garelochhead, he lived life to the full and put his heart and soul into every adventure and new experience. A lover of steam trains and boats from an early age, he was known and loved by all in Garelochhead where he was brought up, moving latterly to Helensburgh to be nearer his daughter in 1980.
Albert and his wife Nan celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary and Albert his 90th birthday in 2016. Two years later Nan passed away leaving him on his own, living independently and still driving to the local supermarket for his daily food shop and always a blether with the locals.
In December 2018 while getting ready for the family Christmas holiday, out of the blue he was admitted to hospital with an infection in his knee requiring surgery on Christmas Eve. Always looking on the bright side of things he even told Santa, who was delivering presents round the ward on Christmas Day, that he was more qualified to carry his sack as he had in the course of his lifetime carried thousands of bags of coal!
After a lengthy period of rehabilitation to get Albert walking with his Zimmer he was able to return to his own home in March with carers visiting four times a day and his eldest daughter, Linda, giving up work to care for him on a full time basis which included moving into Albert’s house with her husband Gordon who often went above and beyond to ensure Albert was supported 24 hours a day. At this stage he had a urinary catheter which we were all reminded was a high risk source of infection.
In June we arrived in A&E to be told the odds of dad pulling through were 50:50. The urinary catheter was identified as the source of infection which spilled into his blood which was of grave concern. He had sepsis. The swift action of the paramedics was critical in the outcome.
Strong antibiotics and further rehabilitation to get Albert back on his feet became a familiar process over the coming months. My sister became ultra-vigilant looking out for telltale signs to catch the infection early and seek emergency intervention.
Monthly visits to A&E saw doctors struggling to find effective antibiotics to fight the spikes of sepsis. Dad was becoming more frail and not ‘turning the corner’, as he put it, quite so quickly. Despite all the treatment, dad always managed a smile and a ‘how are you today doctor?’ greeting which he became famous for during his various in-patient stays during morning blood rounds .
Almost a year to the day that Albert had his first infection, he sadly lost the fight with sepsis. His wish was to be at home for his final days. His two daughters were by his side when he passed away peacefully on December 3rd, 2019.
We will remain eternally grateful for the swift action of the paramedics on that frightening evening when dad collapsed. We certainly didn’t have sepsis on our minds as a diagnosis. The skill and quick thinking of the paramedics allowed Albert to beat the odds.
Albert’s girls had an additional six months of quality time – laughs, tears and fun with our wonderful dad. He was simply one in a million. We are eternally grateful that he has left us so many special memories over many years which we will treasure forever .
Linda and Shirley McLean