|Particularly apt card!|
A really long week.
Bits of it have felt interminable while others have been just like Groundhog Day.
Thanks to everyone, family and friends, who have phoned, emailed, messaged and delivered flowers and Get Well Soon wishes. I really do appreciate each and every one of them... people have been so kind.
Last Saturday was just like any other. Worked in the afternoon, had dinner, in bed by 10pm, watched some TV, read a few chapters of my book then settled down to sleep. All perfectly normal.
Woke at 2.30, in pain. Lower tummy pain. Really bad lower tummy pain. Nipped through to the shower room and that's the last thing I remember for some time. Pam heard a loud crash and rushed through to find me unconscious on the floor. Apparently I was out cold for around 10 minutes and when I did come round I was very confused.
With the pain getting worse, Pam left me sitting on the loo while she went to ring NHS111, which was when I realised that what was pouring out of me was blood. Lots of blood.
The next few hours are a bit of a blur. An ambulance arrived and I was taken to A&E. If you've ever been in A&E in the wee small hours of a Sunday morning you'll have some idea of what awaited me. It was like Sodom and Gomorrah on a bad day.
In the cubicle opposite a group of six burly policemen were gathered around a trolley, where an apparently unconscious man was handcuffed to the bars. They seemed very keen to talk to him, occasionally poking him to see if he was awake.
A few cubicles down someone was vomiting, loudly and repeatedly and elsewhere people were alternately crying and swearing.... sometimes even the patients.
So, I wasn't lacking for entertainment, although by the time I'd had IV morphine and was hooked up to fluids etc I wasn't really in the mood for watching the various spectacles as they unfolded. If there's one common denominator about being in A&E it's that you leave your dignity at the door. In between trying to ride the waves of pain, and bleeding copiously into a standard NHS commode I drifted in and out of consciousness, the clamour outside my cubicle blurring the lines between reality and dreams.
Aside from the pain relief, IV fluids and twice being subjected to a painful digital examination (yep, too much information?) nothing much happened for around 5 hours. Then a surgical registrar appeared and told me I was being admitted to the surgical assessment unit and would be nil by mouth till further notice.
So, about 7 hours after arriving at A&E I was wheeled to a ward, had the toilet pointed out to me and was left to it.
Obs were taken every hour, and due to technological innovations, pen and paper are apparently a thing of the past. Nurses now carry what looks like a mobile phone, and patients obs/notes/medications etc are entered into it, instantly relayed to the main computer so that they can be accessed from anywhere in the hospital. Remember that bit, it's important.
They're obsessed with recording pain levels. However, the various grades of pain aren't really very helpful.
They go - No Pain - Mild Pain - Moderate Pain - Severe Pain - Extreme Pain.
I have my own Sandra Pain Scale, honed by years of dealing with neuropathic pain.
It goes - Meh - Ow - That Hurts - That Bloody Hurts - That REALLY bloody hurts - FFS KILL ME NOW!
Most of the time it hovered around That Bloody Hurts, with occasional forays up into the realms of FFS. At that point I'd have morphine, which works amazingly well, but drops my blood pressure. However, since I was flat on my back anyway, the low blood pressure was a risk I was willing to take, in order to be relatively pain free
Meanwhile, down the other end, I was still bleeding and had been for 36 hours. Which may also have contributed to the low BP.
Day 2 the surgical consultant came round with his entourage and declared that I was having a diverticular bleed, which would resolve with bed rest and pain relief. I'd have to have a diagnostic sigmoidoscopy, preferably as an outpatient, but as a matter of some urgency.
On the evening of Day 2, a junior doctor appeared and asked how I was. The pain was under control and the bleeding had settled a lot, so she said I could go home and wait for the oscopy appointment to come though.
I can't deny I was surprised, but I was desperate to get home. Hospital's no place to be when you're poorly. But I'd had no diagnostic tests at all, apart from bloods. No scans, no U/S, nothing.
Next day, felt not too bad, still having pain but controllable. However in the evening I had another bleed. Following morning more pain etc. PP phoned the endoscopy unit to find out if my appointment had been generated to be told that they hadn't even received my referral yet. From the surgical assessment unit just along the corridor, via that computer system which ensures that information is transferred instantly. Remember that?
PP got back to ward who said they'd sort it out.
Next day, no better. PP rang endoscopy to be told. Wait for it..... my appointment would be in up to 6 weeks time.
By then, both mine and PP's sense of humour had disappeared completely. In hospital, if one more medic/nurse/auxiliary had told me not to worry and that they would get to the bottom of it *smirk snigger* I'd have ripped their head off and shoved it up their own alimentary canal and see how they liked it.
PP's tether had finally been got to the end of and she rang the ward again, describing in graphic terms how I'd been since last Sunday and strongly suggesting that a 6 week wait for an urgent procedure was, not to put too fine a point on it, taking the piss.
An hour later, the ward matron rang back and said that endoscopy had had a cancellation and they could do me within the hour.
Mad dash back to hospital..... cannula back in, painful enema, (FFS KILL ME NOW!!!) then transferred to endoscopy suite where I was presented with the ultimate in procedural attire.
Don't get me wrong..... I'm a great fan of big knickers but WTF?
|Trust me, you don't want to see the back view!|
I then had sedation (BETTER than morphine) and some time later, none of which I can remember I was back on the ward. Apparently, when I came round I was adamant that I'd been to a disco with kaleidoscopic lights but I'm fairly sure I'm an unreliable witness.
When the endoscopy medic came to see me, he reported that they found several areas of "angry bowel" with patches of inflammation, presumably responsible for the bleeding. The 'skip lesions' were indicative of Crohn's Disease, but they'd taken biospies and I would be seen in outpatients in 2-4 weeks with the results. Diverticulitis was no longer suspected, and the most likely culprits were Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis.
Not good news but not as bad as I was worried it might be.
So I'm back home again. Again. Gradually improving with a few blips from time to time. Pain control is key and we're getting very good at juggling the cocktail of painkillers I've been prescribed. Soft, bland food is the order of the day, although I'm not particularly hungry. Lots of fluids and taking it easy to give things a chance to heal.
Small Dog's nursing abilities have been stretched to the limits....
This was the first time back from hospital on Monday evening. In an inspired effort to take my mind off the pain, SD presented me with her pup, which she then squeaked enthusiastically for 10 minutes until it was removed from her by force. Her preferred position of lying on my tummy has been temporarily rescinded, much to her disgust so she has resorted to squeezing into a gap by my side, or perching on the pillow behind my head.
PP has been nothing short of amazing, acting as my advocate while I was in hospital and afterwards, sorting out the oscopy, keeping my pain under control, keeping me comfortable and making me tempting tasty morsels.
So that's one week of my life I'm not sad to see the back of. I'm tentatively hopeful of getting back into the workroom for some short stints this week, and gradually regaining some semblance of normality.
Never a dull moment eh......?