Teenager in tears told she ‘probably has stomach bug’ – until doctors did a scan

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A young woman who was suffering from agonising stomach pain was told it was “probably just a stomach bug” until an emergency scan was performed by doctors revealing a life-threatening condition.

19-year-old Sophie Dixon began to experience “crippling pain” and cramping at home on November 7 and with the pain worsening took herself to Whiston Hospital’s Acccident and Emergency department the following day.

At first she thought it was an upset stomach but the pain became “absolutely unbearable” so she could feel something was very wrong.

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Sophie, who lives in St Helens, told the Liverpool ECHO : “It started on November 7, late in the evening – I had what I can only describe as period-like cramps in the middle of my stomach.

“I told myself it was nothing, or just something I’d eaten, and went to bed.

“I woke up the next day with crippling pains in the middle of my stomach, it was absolutely unbearable, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t think about eating or drinking, the pain was indescribable.

“The pain moved to the right side of my stomach and got progressively worse as the day went on, and then I started vomiting, so as a last resort I went to A&E.”

On arrival at the hospital’s A&E at around 8pm the following day (November 8), Sophie spotted a sign stating the average waiting time that evening would be around 11 to 12 hours – she said this is when she knew she was ‘in for a long night’.

Sophie claims that after around three hours in the A&E waiting room, she was offered paracetamol by a triage nurse to manage the pain she was experiencing and told it was likely ‘just a stomach bug’.

Sophie added: “Whilst waiting, I was hunched over, crying in pain, and vomiting.

“I waited another few hours to see the triage nurse again, this time she asked me to go into a little bit of detail about where the pain was.

“She got someone to take my bloods and said that she had to send them off and get the results back.

“I asked her what she thought the cause may be and she said more than likely just a stomach bug.

“She gave me more painkillers and sat me back in the waiting room where I waited for a further six hours before getting seen.”

A spokesperson from Whiston Hospital has informed the ECHO that Sophie did undergo regular observation and was given anti-sickness medication twice between admission and 9.10am.

After waiting in ‘agony’, Sophie was assigned a doctor just after 9am who soon discovered the problem was much worse than a ‘stomach bug’.

Sophie said the doctor – who introduced himself as Dr Billy – went ‘out of his way’ for her and gave her ‘110%’ from start to finish, adding she is ‘thankful’ he was there.



Whiston Hospital

The 19-year-old said: “He took me to one of the private rooms where he and another doctor did an ultrasound – but they said that they couldn’t confirm appendicitis just purely based off an ultrasound.

“Billy said he would try and convince other members of the Medical team to get me a CT scan.

“He came back to me shortly after and told me that he’d managed to bump me up the list and I could go in for an urgent CT scan immediately.

“The pain at this point was at its worst. I couldn’t breathe. I was crying in agony and I couldn’t even stand up for the CT scan.”

The CT scan found Sophie’s appendix had burst and she said bacteria was ‘leaking into her stomach’.

A cannula was put into her hand and Sophie said Billy advised a nurse to give her morphine for the pain.

Sophie said Dr Billy even stayed for an hour beyond his shift to ensure Sophie was seen to with optimal care.

Sophie, who works as a care support worker, had to stay at Whiston for just over a week following her surgery where she said her experience was ‘great’.

She said: “The nurses on ward 4A were all incredible and the care was nothing short of spectacular.

“I’m just so thankful to the surgeons, ward nurses, and Billy.”

A perforated appendix causes bacteria to leak into the abdomen, and without prompt medical attention can lead to the potentially fatal condition peritonitis.

Sophie paid thanks to the doctor on a community Facebook page where she explained the events of the night hoping Dr Billy could get the recognition he deserved.

In the post, the support worker wrote: “I can’t begin to say how much it meant.

“It’s a long shot him seeing this but if you know him give him a hug from me.

“Absolute star.”

The Facebook post has been liked by over 800 people and people across St Helens have applauded the work of Dr Billy with some labelling him an ‘angels’.

One person commented on the post with: “Sometimes these people go above and beyond, this is why they are angels and should be rewarded and paid as such, glad you got what you needed and hope you feel better soon x”

Another wrote: “That’s amazing.

“Good to know even in the toughest situations our healthcare professionals are going over & above to help us!

“Thanks Billie & all medical staff who have battled through this terrible & demanding time.”

A Trust spokesperson said: “As with all other hospitals across the country, Whiston Hospital’s A&E department continues to experience a significant increase in demand and this has, at times, led to unavoidable delays.

“Patient safety remains the priority for all our staff who are responding to this increased pressure with exceptional professionalism whilst continuing to provide the highest standards of care.”

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