Life-threatening illness leaves woman in New York hospital for a MONTH after dream birthday trip turns to holiday hell
A birthday trip to America turned into a nightmare for a woman who spent her holiday in hospital being treated for pneumonia and sepsis.
Claire Hodgson of Chester-le-Street turned 50 on December 30. To celebrate she flew with her partner David Gaukrodger to New York city on December 26, where they had arranged trips and to meet up with friends.
But the holiday was a disaster. Instead of a week of fun and sightseeing, she spent a month in hospital while David was in their hotel waiting for Claire to be discharged.
The engineering manager is now recuperating at home. Her recovery is well underway, but she is yet to return to work and doctors are keeping a close eye on her.
Claire said: “At first I thought it was just a 24-hour bug. I wasn’t thinking it was something serious. Then I started to feel really exhausted.
“I thought it must have been jet-lag and Christmas catching up with my body. I’d had a cold too.
“Then I was getting pains in my back next to where the kidneys are. I tried heat pads, but my kidneys were infected.
“Some friends came out to see me and I saw them for about half-a-day. It was on December 30, my birthday, that I decided I needed painkillers. So I went to a Medicare centre, which is the equivalent of a walk-in centre.
“I was told it would cost $200. I’d have paid 2,000 at that stage. When they saw what condition I was in they phoned an ambulance.”
Claire was taken to the Tisch Hospital in Manhattan and given X-rays and other tests before she was told her condition was serious.
She had bacterial pneomonia, which had led to sepsis and blood streptococcus.
She continued: “I was in there for two weeks and I had to have a chest drain fitted. The insurance company insisted I stayed for another week because they were worried that my lung could collapse on the flight home.
“We finally flew back to the UK on January 26. The staff on BA were brilliant.
“I’m a bit shocked now at how quickly it all happened. I’ve never smoked in my life.
“I want to make people aware of sepsis and pneumonia. The doctors said I was very lucky. I only had 30% lung capacity. At the time you don’t realise how lucky you are. It gives you some perspective.”
Although Claire is getting better, she is still keeping hospital appointments. As well as looking forward to working again, she is a massive Sunderland fan and keen to return to the Stadium of Light.
Claire added: “My advice to anyone now is to make sure you have good travel insurance and look out for signs of sepsis.”
Symptoms include acting confused, slurred speech, blue, pale or blotchy skin, lips or tongue, a rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it and breathing difficulties.