If you’re wondering why I haven’t posted for a couple of days (I actually had some pretty light hearted, amusing stuff lined up) then all is about to become clear. I did that thing where I almost die… Again (my body didn’t want you guys to read the light hearted, amusing stuff, it would seem) I’d been unwell for a couple of days, with a very grumpy heart, and I just buried my head in the sand and told myself it would all go away. It didn’t, and I couldn’t fix it this time.
We went out for lunch with my older sister and brother in law and my amazing little nieces, and I couldn’t really walk from the pub to the pub garden. I ran out of the energy to eat. I couldn’t breathe. I was dizzy, my heart was starting to get hiccups.
So, pretty fed up, my mum made me go to the hospital on the way home. I think we both expected a quick fix. Still thinking the primary issue was my heart, I relayed my medical history, and a quick tracing of my heart made the still surprisingly calm yet visibly panicked nurse walk me round to resus, which was entirely empty apart from me.
The nurse in resus remembered me and my heart from three weeks ago. He was pretty awesome, and started explaining that if my heart rate didn’t slow down he’d put me on oxygen to see if he could give it a bit of a break. He tried to take bloods and took hold of one of my mottled hands. When he let go, a large white mark stayed for much longer than it should have – my heart didn’t want to refill my blood vessels. At that moment, my heart just wanted to hiccup, and I just wanted to sleep.
The doctor came over to see me and he, like us, was more concerned about my heart because it was making its displeasure known. As he stood talking, awesome male nurse came rushing over with a strip of results from the blood gas they had taken. My blood. Was essentially. Turning. To acid. And it was bad. The pH was very, very low. I shouldn’t have been able to walk, I shouldn’t have been so well (I felt unwell but I should have looked and felt like death). I, for one, was pretty impressed. And also so terrified that I hadn’t known I was so unwell, that I burst into tears. I’d been on my way back to uni, where I would have just ‘slept it off’ and not woken up. That was a scary thought.
Problem: they needed to put me on multiple IVs.
Problem: my heart wasn’t filling the veins they needed to put lines in, in order to be able to give me the multiple IVs.
Problem: awesome male nurse tried, the consultant tried, random people came to look at my veins. Nobody could get a line in. Nobody could even find a vein – I was shutting down
Then EUREKA, awesome male nurse struck red gold. In went the drugs that were going to save my life
Problem: I started to feel unwell. I was spaced out, my heart was doing its weird new thing, I was incredibly dizzy and my body was trying to pant off the excess carbon dioxide it had accumulated, which was making me so breathless I couldn’t really talk at points. Acidosis hit me like a train.
Problem: 2 hours later my bloods were worse. They tried to get more blood from me, they tried to get more lines in me. They failed.
At some point during the suppressed panic, I gained a new consultant. His team called him down to see me, and he decided he’d like to take on my care. Not because I am interesting or unique or he wanted to test the life out of me for the sake of potential research… But because he didn’t like the fact that I’d been left to end up in that state, he didn’t like the fear in my eyes when I looked at him or the fact that I’d been given up on. He wanted to fix that. He wanted to fix the person laid in front of him on the verge of cosciousness, he didn’t care about his own career and a significant part of me loved that about him.
Awesome male nurse stayed on long after his shift finished so he could take my final bloods in A&E and transfer me to the ward himself. He was so awesome that I’m determined to find a way to adequately thank him for his calm reassurance, professionalism and friendly conversation throughout. He told me he would come back to the ward tomorrow (which is now today) to see how I was getting on, and, knowing why and how scared I am of hospitals, his words of reassurance and genuine concern went a long way in my terrified brain.
Once on the ward the problem came of them needing bloods again. I was visited by many doctors ranging from junior doctors to ICU doctors with ultrasound machines. Eventually they gave up and said I needed a central line. To this, my response was “nope, I have an exam tomorrow, try again.” Until they had all had so many attempts I was crying tears of fatigue. My heart decided this was the perfect time to FREAK OUT. I’m hooked up to an ECG monitor all the time, and sat watching the wiggly line flat line and wiggle and do all sorts of strange stuff which felt even stranger in my chest.
Eventually they got a second line into my foot (where I’m not supposed to have lines as I have type 1 diabetes but hey, it was better than a central line at 3am) They got their bloods, I went to sleep, and woke with another drip stand tied to me via the cannula in my foot as the doctor approached me to take bloods from my artery. The nurses sat at their station in the bay a metre from my bed, wincing as I tried to refrain from falling asleep or moving in response to the pain.
I was meant to revise for my physiology exam tomorrow, I was meant to write a humorous blog post that was actually worth reading. But hey, my body made a date with death and it sure was keen to keep it. So instead I’ve written an awful blog post to try and distract myself from where I am, and am being called “little one” and “baby girl” by my nurse (I’m 20, but it’s kind of nice to be mothered a little bit right now). This morning things are settling, my pH is still acidotic but almost normal. My potassium levels are all over the place but we’re dealing with that too with some IV infusions. They don’t want me to leave today, but they are very aware that a physiology exam is waiting for me. And I will plead until they agree I can leave.
I am sitting that exam tomorrow morning. I haven’t revised and I’m still pretty unwell because yesterday has really stressed out my heart. But nobody at that university is going to get to turn to me and tell me that they told me so. I’m not getting 0% in my exam.
They told me I wouldn’t make it this far. They were wrong. So, so wrong.