WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE WIDE AWAKE AT 3AM?

The usual advice is to keep away from your phone and other bright screens when you’re trying to sleep. But suppose you’ve tried all that and more besides, and you still can’t doze off? I asked volunteer worker Andy Tudor to write about his Wide Awake at 3am Club on Twitter. He finds himself awake in the small hours for a very particular reason ~ Carol

Ever since the surgical removal of my brain tumour nearly five years ago, I typically only sleep in two-hour chunks, and am wide awake in between. I have no problem getting to sleep. I just can’t stay there for long.

A common side-effect of any brain trauma (e.g. stroke, accident, surgery) is the disruption of the neurotransmitter chemical process which regulates and encourages the brain to stay asleep. The result? Waking up a lot earlier than intended.

I often find myself wide awake around 3am, which can be a dark, lonely place if the mind isn’t occupied. I decided to start a Twitter ‘club’ whereby I post most nights around 3am to keep others who are awake – for whatever reason – company.

This has proved more and more popular as word spreads. I’ve been amazed to find so many people engaging actively.

To provide a welcome distraction to anyone awake at that hour, I try to think up topics that might be quirky. Popular examples of recent posts include:

Do you have pets who don’t care about your dignity? 😂

As there’s a heatwave, let’s see your favourite holiday picture! 😎😄

What’s the dullest photo you have?… here’s mine! 😂

My lad was in this city on the weekend – where was he? 😄

My posts have have a lot of positive feedback on my posts, a recent example being: “Just want to say your 3am club thing really makes me feel better at waking at such an ungodly hour… like it’s OK.”

Assuming my sleep patterns don’t change, I aim to continue posting, to provide support and company to anyone awake for any reason at that time. I also get interaction from around the world, which is great for providing more company for everyone awake. With luck, I then fall asleep again a bit later.

If you’re ever conscious around three in the morning or soon after, please look out for my “Wide Awake at 3am” Club posts.

You’ll find me at @AndyHTudor1 Come over and join in the fun!

***

For those interested, I had a large, low grade (benign) meningioma, up to 7cm in diameter. It was completely removed in a six-hour operation at Southampton hospital six weeks after initial diagnosis in January 2017. My annual brain MRI scans have been all-clear since, and I lead a full, active life. However, I do suffer from brain fatigue and tinnitus, although I have coping mechanisms to manage their effects – but that’s a whole other blog!

I strongly recommend the excellent Brain Tumour Charity to anyone who’d like to know more about the symptoms and effects of a brain tumour. It’s also brilliant for those who’ve been diagnosed – and for their families.

Andy Tudor

WHY WORRY ABOUT SEPSIS?

If you know much about sepsis, chances are the condition has affected your family.

I’ve blogged about sepsis before, but the condition is still with us and has a high mortality. It kills about 48,000 people a year in the UK. Worldwide, someone dies of sepsis every 3 seconds. Survivors have a high chance of serious long-term effects.

Today being World Sepsis Day, I’m parking the levity once again and using this post to sum up – or update – what you need to know about sepsis. 

Understand what it is.

Sepsis is when the body responds to severe infection in such a way that it attacks its own organs and tissues. Without treatment, this quickly leads to organ failure and death.

Most people have heard of blood poisoning (septicaemia) which is much the same thing. But doctors now prefer the term sepsis because there isn’t always blood poisoning in this condition.  

Sepsis isn’t exactly a household name – yet. Personally I still think ‘sepsis’ sounds weaker than either septicaemia or blood poisoning, but we’re stuck with the term that scientists agree on.

Know the warning signs.

The symptoms depend on age, but the main point is that there isn’t any one specific sign like, say a swollen jaw with mumps. A child with sepsis can have a high fever, or an abnormally low one. The younger the child, the vaguer the symptoms.

Here are some signs to look out for in children (from the UK Sepsis Trust website):

In under-fives the symptoms can be particularly vague:

And here are some signs to watch out for in adults (again from the excellent UK Sepsis Trust):

If you just remember two things about sepsis, remember this:

You or your youngster will be more unwell than expected.

Things get rapidly worse, especially in children.

Understand who gets it.

Anyone can develop sepsis from a bacterial infection (or sometimes a virus or fungus). But some are more at risk, like the very young, very old, pregnant women, diabetics, and people on long-term steroids.

The initial infection can be a serious one like meningitis, or seemingly trivial, like a horse-fly bite.

scalpel

Surgery can be linked with sepsis, especially emergency operations on those in poor health, or with peritonitis or bladder infections.

And yes, Covid-19 can sometimes lead to sepsis too.

Know what to do.

Sepsis is a medical emergency and needs urgent hospital care. Don’t waste a single moment.

Sepsis isn’t one disease, but rather a syndrome that cuts across almost every medical speciality. The first doctor you see could be a paediatrician, a gynaecologist, an orthopaedic surgeon, or your GP, and sepsis may not feature at the top of their list. That’s why it’s so important for you to mention it. When you see the doctor or nurse, or speak to 111, make sure you say, “I’m worried about sepsis.”

Thanks for bearing with me. Hope you stay healthy.

Litmann type stethoscope

The UK Sepsis Trust is a wonderful charity founded to save lives and improve outcomes for survivors of sepsis – by instigating political change, educating healthcare professionals, raising public awareness and providing support for those affected. For their general info on sepsis, click here.