When Paul Mitton started to feel poorly with a high temperature and aching limbs, he assumed he had a touch of flu and went to bed to sleep it off.
But within 24 hours the 38-year-old father-of-three had died.
Now his brave widow Joanne, from Much Hoole, near Preston, is determined to get the word out about sepsis, the condition which claimed her husband’s life.
She and her friend are now planning a charity ball to raise awareness.
Paul was only 38 when he died at Royal Preston Hospital from blood poisoning on Saturday, August 5 last year.
“He started getting poorly on the Thursday,” said Joanne, mother to their children Abigail, 12, Bobby, 11 and Joshua, five.
“When I woke up on the Friday morning he’d left the house and had gone to work so I assumed he was better and I thought nothing of it.
“I went out Friday morning but when I came back to the house his car was in the drive. He had gone to bed and I thought that isn’t like my husband - he’s a workaholic.
“I gave him Beechams. We just presumed it was the flu but that Friday night, I was up quite a bit looking after him.” Breaking down into tears Joanne, 41, added: “At eight in the morning on Saturday, I went into see him and he was stone cold. He had mottled skin and his legs and arms had turned purple.”
Joanne called the ambulance and on arrival paramedics gave him a cannula and put an oxygen mask on Paul.
“I knew then that it was bad,” said Joanne, who works part-time as a florist. “They had to put him into a chair to get him into the ambulance.
“In A&E, I waited for about half an hour but then kicked off and went in to see him.
“All his limbs were black - it was like a very deep purple. His neck and ears were also purple and his lips were turning grey.
“Because he was in so much pain, they put him into an induced coma.
“I went down to get a glass of water and when I came back my mother-in-law shouted at me that he was in cardiac arrest. “They tried to resuscitate him. In the space of just hours, he’d left us.”
Joanne and Paul, who was a sales director, were married in 2005 and settled in Much Hoole. Joanne says that she and her children are now just taking each day at a time.
She said: “We are just having to get on with it. We have had our bad times. New Year’s Day was horrendous.
“He was lovely, he did everything for his kids. He was a very family-orientated man. Everybody loved him. At his funeral it was so packed that people were standing.
“My family and friends have been brilliant. My mum moved in for about two months afterwards to help me.
“There’s not the awareness out there about sepsis. It kills more people than breast and testicular cancer does together.”
Sepsis is a rare but serious complication of an infection. Without quick treatment, sepsis can lead to multiple organ failure and death. There are around 123,000 cases of sepsis a year in England. Around 37,000 people die every year as a result of the condition.
Because of an injury several years earlier, Paul had lost his spleen which medics say would have bought him extra time to fight sepsis if he had one. The life-threatening condition arises when the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs.
“With hindsight, he’s probably had septicaemia about three times but it never developed into sepsis,” said Joanne. I think each time we just caught it quickly enough and I managed to rush him to hospital because you only have so much time within which to treat it. If he’d had a spleen he could have fought it, he would be with us now.”