NUI Galway graduate Niamh O’Sullivan is best known for her fitness, well being and lifestyle blog, Cinnamon-Soul. Always one for sharing her advice to be fit and healthy, Niamh took to her YouTube channel over Christmas to talk about a cause close to her heart: her father’s experience with septicaemia.
The video was posted as part of her Vlogmas series and now has over 10.5k views.
Septicaemia, or sepsis, is essentially blood poisoning, often caused by a cut, as bacteria enters the blood stream.
“It was all like a movie,” recalled Niamh, as she starts discussing her dad Des with SIN. She speaks of him fondly, saying he now jokes about starting his own YouTube channel.
At the time, the Kildare family was shocked by how quickly it took for the infection to take over. Pilot Des had arrived in New York after a holiday with Niamh’s mum, and was set to visit his daughter who was working as a social media manager there at the time.
“It was December 2016 and my dad and my mum were away on holidays in Sri Lanka. One night my dad got up for the bathroom in the middle of the night and stubbed his leg against a table that was in the room. And that was the end of it, it was the end of the holiday and they thought nothing of it,” explained Niamh.
“He works as a pilot in Qatar and his first stop was in New York and he was going to meet me for dinner, which he usually did whenever he flew to New York. He’d a mild chest infection at the time, and wasn’t feeling 100%,” she said.
“He was very run down and I guess just never made the connection between his leg and how he was feeling in general. He told the other pilots on board and they took over, and once the plane landed they brought him straight to the hospital.”
When he didn’t contact Niamh as soon as he landed, she knew something was wrong. After three hours of searching through different hotels and hospitals, Niamh eventually found her dad in ICU and said “it was completely downhill from there”.
At this stage Des’s blood pressure had dropped to 55/40, which was very low for a man that scuba dives and motorbikes in his spare time.
When the family finally learned her father had septicaemia, no one was really sure what is was. Niamh explained that she found the doctors to be really blunt, and when she asked if her father could die, the doctors just turned around saying “yeah” so casually.
Not realising the danger of the infection, it took the family by surprise hugely. They have since learned that roughly 2,000 people die from septicaemia every year in Ireland alone.
Niamh’s dad ended up getting the front part of his shin removed and skin graphed from his thigh. Now just left with a huge scar on his shin, the O’Sullivan family consider themselves to be very lucky.
“We never thought anything like this would ever happen,” continued Niamh.
“And from the tiniest little cut as well.”
Niamh was overwhelmed from the feedback from her YouTube video and really wants to raise awareness for septicaemia. Her best advice is to ask your doctor: “Could it be sepsis?” – four words that could change a person’s life.
Niamh and her dad also recommend checking out the Rory Staunton Foundation for sepsis prevention, for any further queries or information at www.rorystauntonfoundationforsepsis.org.
Niamh’s blog Cinnamon Soul has been going from strength to strength. Join the other 18.3k of her followers on Instagram for a view into her “everyday authentic life” @niamh_osullivan.
Niamh attributes her blog success to always writing what she is interested in and choosing topics she thinks others “will learn something different from”.
After moving back from New York four months ago to the gorgeous green (rainy) Ireland, Niamh is “delighted” to be back, admitting she really missed home. We can expect many more gorgeous snaps and stories from this ambitious Kildare girl.
By Amy McMahon
Image from @niamh_osullivan