I stayed awake all night, partially too stressed to sleep, partially too scared to sleep, partially unable to sleep due to an inability to breathe, and partially refusing to sleep in order to inject myself every hour and make sure that I was actually pulling myself out of the medical emergency that my body helpfully decided to plunge itself into in the early hours of this morning. I had to stay awake to make sure I stayed alive. After a couple of hours, I began to feel as unwell as I should have.
My body was grinding to a halt, and I was tired from a lack of sleep on top of the fact that my body was using itself for fuel. Two hours before my exam I was still very much unwell, too dizzy and weak to even hold my head up, and so tired that I felt drunk. Each breath I took felt heavy, like the air was made of soup. My heart was still beating irregularly and doing bizarre things that made me disorientated and dizzy, and I accepted that the ache in my chest was not going to leave. My eyes refused to stay open and yet sleep wouldn’t happen. As the numbers that had been slowly improving (but were still 4.5 instead of a ‘safe’ <0.6) gradually began to climb again, I emailed the relevant people, curled up on my bed, and did the only thing I saw fit to do in that situation – looked over histology lecture slides.
I knew I was in enough trouble to go to hospital, I couldn’t really see what I was looking at, and I was worried that I wouldn’t last through three hours in an exam room. When the adrenaline kicked in as I waited to enter the exam room, I spent several minutes fighting the head rush that usually precedes me passing out. But I didn’t pass out. I was in a similar state to that I was in during my first anatomy practical (although this time my heart was significantly grumpier about the whole experience). Somehow I made it to the exam. Not only did everything eventually come into focus, but I didn’t do too spectacularly badly at the answers. The two topics I was specifically hoping to come up were the two topics I chose to answer questions on, and at the sight of the pituitary gland on the page before me I could actually have kissed the paper. I left the exam room with over two hours left to spare. The triumph was not in the fact that I don’t think I failed, the triumph was in sitting the exam at all when I really probably should’t have. I wasn’t firing on all cylinders, and I still felt pretty awful when I left, but future flatmate and I (and most of the university campus) went and sat by the canal that runs through our campus and breathed a sigh of relief that it was over.
Eventually we gathered a small group of us and headed to the pub for a well earned lunch. I’ve spent the last few hours sat in the fresh air, eating an ice cream (it finally feels like summer!) and am now back by the canal watching two baby goslings with their completely terrifying and overprotective parents. There are more exams, starting with anatomy on Monday. But at the moment, I should probably go and seek some medical advice because I fully accept that this level of health is both unsustainable and alarming.
Things are going very wrong with my health, I’m not out of the woods yet and I feel absolutely awful and can hardly function… but I’m not too bothered right now. I forced myself to socialise and take a break from the suffocating exam stress and my friends are THE BEST, the sun is shining, it’s boiling hot, there’s an awesome atmosphere on campus (everyone is laying around on the grass playing music and revising and stuff), I didn’t completely fail histology like I expected to, and I’m not dead yet. And I did it all with just my friends by my side. I feel a little invincible actually.
And I got an ice cream (that is still clearly the best part… although these baby geese are pretty cute)
It’s finally summer, in my mind and in London.