A Patient's Story
My name is John, and I am one week away from my 75th birthday. This last year has been a traumatic one medically which has completely changed my life and the way I live as the result of an infection which is antibiotic resistant.
Whilst [at university] I shared a house with an engineer and pharmacy students. The topic of antibiotic overuse came up on many occasions. Interesting that this is still a topic more than 50 years later.
Until recent years I was blessed with good health and had no need of antibiotics, although one of the pharmacists from my student days who is still a close friend continued to warn of the dangers of overuse. I have led an active life, playing cricket and squash in my younger days and subsequently tennis and latterly golf which I played until I became ill in the summer of 2020. I travelled extensively overseas with my wife approximately three times a year and owned a villa which I have now been forced to sell as with my continuing treatment I can no longer travel overseas.
This year I have had lung cancer (operation in 2020) and a repair to an aorta stent (originally done in 2012). Although both operations were successful, I came home with a urine infection which within a week of discharge had developed into urosepsis, and I was rushed back into hospital. After antibiotic treatment in hospital, I was discharged with a tablet antibiotic which I believe was ciprofloxacin. This lasted only a very short time until another sepsis attack had me back in hospital.
I then had various antibiotic treatments and stays in hospital and was eventually discharged to [an] OPAT team on a pump system (piperacillin plus tazobactam). By this time, I had been told that the infection had lodged in the aortic stent and would be difficult to treat but the consultants were hopeful that these antibiotics would work. This treatment was successful for 9 weeks when another sepsis attack had me back in hospital again.
This was my longest stay with various antibiotics tried. I do not know which ones. I was also referred to hospital for consideration of removing the stents. The chances of surviving this operation were considered to be less than 50% and there was no guarantee that the infection would be completely removed, so it was concluded that the operation was not viable. Eventually I was again discharged to the OPAT team on a regime of amikacin and ceftazidime. This is a joint procedure with the OPAT team doing the morning treatment and my wife doing the lunch time and evening treatments. However, the team have been extremely helpful in flexing this, when necessary, after my wife was trained in both the Bolas and the IV.
To date this has proved successful although given my past experiences there is always the concern that the infection will break through again. Living with that concern is stressful and we hope every day that it will continue to be successful. We continue to hope that a solution to eradicate the infection will be found and a breakthrough antibiotic could solve this.
Living with this infection has affected my life in many ways, not least of which was the 62 days I spent in hospital and the multiple trips to hospital in an ambulance with blue lights. I remain very tired and do not have the energy or strength to do things I could do before this. I can no longer play golf and I cannot walk very far. I cannot have the hip replacement operation that was scheduled just as Covid hit. I cannot travel overseas and have had to sell our villa. On a daily basis I have to plan where I will be so that I am able to have my treatment at the set times. This then constrains my daily outings and makes holidays and day trips difficult. My wife must organise her life so that she is available to carry out the daily treatments and attend the assessments at hospital.
As above my experience with antibiotics is mixed, but thanks to the hospital teams - they are keeping me alive.