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“I was very lucky” – Andrew Strawbridge: England Assistant Coach’s Unbelievable Fight Against Sepsis

England assistant coach Andrew Strawbridge has a truly incredible story. The New Zealander has battled back against the odds to overcome a life threatening sepsis infection, and has since gone on to raise considerable awareness for the deadly disease.

Strawbridge suffered a life altering attack from sepsis, after picking up an eye infection whilst taking up his role as a rugby adviser upon the pacific island nation of Samoa. Strawbridge expressed how he battled against the illness, despite having the overwhelming odds stacked against him. Strawbridge has lived to tell the tale, and remarkably is enjoying life to the fullest extent, as he balances frequented music gigs with his role in and out of the England camp.

“It’s a while ago now. I was going to Samoa to help them with the World Cup, not this last one, the one before (2015). I got ill on the plane. I had a little graze on my eye. I picked up a little infection at the airport – the superbug. By the time I got to Samoa, I was feeling pretty crook. I got taken to hospital and sent home with some oral anti-biotics.

‘I don’t remember anything else other than that. What happened was, the infection got into my body and I was left unattended for 20-odd hours, and developed sepsis.”

“Blood clots set up on my brain and behind my eye. I went through some pretty grim times. My wife was called over to Samoa to take the body home, essentially. I think I was resuscitated three times through that process. It was pretty grim. She (wife) had pretty horrible things to hear, that you don’t want to hear about a spouse.

“But I was very lucky. There was a guy called Dave Geller over there – the head of ICU at one of the big hospitals here in Auckland. He just happened to be there because his wife was there on secondment as a judge. She was stuff with the legal system in Samoa, so he happened to be there and he came and helped, which is why I’m still alive.

Strawbridge continued to then explain how he pulled through within the Samoan intensive care unit, despite the speculation of the severity of his condition. The New Zealander expressed in impressive detail how he had pushed through with the excessive treatment, and surpassed the expectations that were stacked upon him as he fought for his life in Samoa.

“That was a pretty grim set-up in the ICU there. They had high mortality rates, particularly in children. I’m here because people worked really hard with some pretty average equipment to keep me alive.”

“Then we made it back to New Zealand and eventually I got well enough to leave the hospital. I went to meet the infectious diseases specialist who told me what my life was going to be like.

“I was told that I would suffer from chronic fatigue for the rest of my life and I wouldn’t work again, that I would be impotent and they didn’t know how long I would last. Those were all good things to tell a competitive bastard! So I went home with that ringing in my ears and stumbled along.”

Strawbridge expressed in how he was quite the positive person before the bout with the illness, and the Kiwi’s love for life has only grown since he took on the life altering condition and came out the other side. With blindness now impacting his infected eye, Strawbridge is left with a constant reminder of his brush with death, but is an inspiration to all those that are seeking the fulfillments that life has to offer.

“I don’t think it changed my perspective on day to day things. I quite enjoy life and we all have pretty average times in life. I think I’ve learned to seek the joyous moments, or the contentment moments – or to create them a little bit more than I used to. But it’s still up and down, like anyone’s life.”

“I lost sight in my right eye because it crushed my optic nerve. I may be the only skills coach in the world who actually isn’t that great at catching any more!’”

“I had to see a psychologist because when you nearly die several times they want you to talk to someone. So I did. He was a really good man and explained to me how I might view things slightly differently and I won’t suffer fools gladly, and be a little more forthright in people telling that. The no-sh*t sherlock approach. I think through the process I became a better listener as a teacher.”

Sounding off upon his incredible story, Strawbridge shared a message about sepsis that should be pushed beyond the confines of rugby. The England coach expressed how he has helped build the profile of the sepsis foundation, and laid down the questions to ask, in how we can all look out for signs and symptoms of the terrible illness.

“We all know about it and specialists in hospital know about it. A couple of special people in New Zealand started a sepsis foundation which I had a tiny little part to do with a few years ago. We started that process of advertising around hospitals, ‘ask yourself could it be sepsis?

“It is sepsis?’ It is a sneaky little thing and can be misdiagnosed by even the clearest people. It is amazing how many stories I have heard and it is amazing how fortunate I have been. There are people who have shorter battles with it who have lost limbs and their lives have been inexorably altered. That’s what I want, I would love there to be greater awareness.

“We have people losing their lives in hospital because we have not seen it quickly enough and we are not even getting them to hospital sometimes because GPs haven’t spotted it quickly.”

The post “I was very lucky” – Andrew Strawbridge: England Assistant Coach’s Unbelievable Fight Against Sepsis appeared first on Ruck.

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