“24 hours?” Nope.
“You said that yesterday.” Is what I actually say.
“If everything’s alright tomorrow-” Nope, nope, nope. Still not the answer I wanted.
“Do I really have to stay? I just want to go home, please?”
“We need the results of your latest blood tests first. I want an ultrasound and more tests to check that your kidneys are ok. We’ll see in 24 hours” We’ll see? So many levels of NOPE.
“I feel fine.” I groan, pleading with her. The internal battle this triggers plays itself out in the expression on her face. “Please don’t make me stay in the CCU another night” And then, before she can answer, I take advantage of her hesitation, “Do I really really need to stay? I can just come back if you need me to? This is all normal for me, it’s fine” She looks at the other two doctors in the room – the ones who’ve been dealing with me on the ward – deep in thought.
“This isn’t normal. You still have pitting oedema and this is a complex presentation…” I should let it go, I know she isn’t keeping me here for fun, but I feel so much better now. And I know I’m better because two things usually happen when I am:
1) My appetite returns with avengance and I eat all the food I can get my hands on, even cheese (and I. Hate. Cheese.)
2) I completely freak out about being in hospital, the boredom kicks in, and PTSD fires flashbacks and into my mind like machine gun fire, taking me back to some awful experiences I had in hospital when I was younger. Then I start to dream when I sleep – nightmares where I relive previous traumatic hospital treatments and wake with a certain doctor’s face imprinted on my brain, shaking, drenched in my own sweat, my cheeks wet with tears.
I ate three breakfasts this morning. And then four packets of biscuits. When the doctor told me I had to stay for 24 hours minimum, my mind left the room and this time I had a flashback to an event I hadn’t revisited in such a way before. My thoughts went back to late last year, to London, to the time I was left with no treatment and none of the meds that keep me alive for 18 hours; the time I pleaded with everyone I saw and they left me alone in a bed die and in response I… very nearly did. I can’t talk about it without crying, but I didn’t realise it had affected me enough to haunt me in such a manner. The terror was raw and overwhelming and I couldn’t switch it off. Get me out of here NOW. In fact, now isn’t soon enough, get me out of here yesterday. Help. I can’t do this any more. Nope. Done. Help. Nope. (Hello freak out) I hold my hands to stop them shaking. I gulp down tears. My voice comes out all funny this time,
“I want my dog, I need my dog. Please.” Not the most rational argument to make right now brain, shut up and let the woman think. But my dog makes everything feel ok, he lets me cry on his shoulder and bury my face in his fur. He doesn’t laugh or judge or misunderstand when I have flashbacks, he doesn’t shout at me for ruining his life or make me hate myself; he loves unconditionally and he is the only living thing I know that will always be there for me, the only thing on which I am willing to fully depend (or voluntarily depend on at all actually). So all I wanted, and all I want right now, is my dog. I am not ashamed to admit that the great love of my life is a chocolate Labrador. He also knows when I’m unwell and wakes me up at night, so he’s actually responsible for the life that he significantly improves too… Anyway, I digress. This is not a post about my dog.
We stare each other out a little, the doctor and I. She turns to her junior, looking hesitant and considerably reluctant. She sighs a little, and still looks a little like her doctor brain and her human brain are at war with each other as she says,
“Cancel (some test they wanted)” Excuse me wait what that worked?! Am I imagining this?
“IF the bloods are ok and your kidney function is fine, you can leave this evening. But only if they are ok and the diabetes team are happy. If you feel unwell again you come straight back to us ok.” Nope, not imagining it. My persistence actually worked. Also I am sooooo done with this and totally not returning to a hospital any time soon under any circumstances (clearly the freak out and the fear that generated it talking here)
“Do you still want the scan?” The more junior doctor asks. Now that I feel better I can actually see his face properly. I don’t really remember all the times he stuck needles in my arteries.
“Yes. Hopefully they can do it today” Hang on… What do you mean ‘hopefully’? I need a little less hoping and a little more happening!
“I’ll see what I can sort out” her junior replies. If you can’t sort it out I’m walking out. The freak out is beginning and there are no uni parents to help me deal with it or switch it off or guilt trip me into returning to the hospital after I run away this time.
“So I can leave today?” I give her a gentle push in the direction I’d like her to head.
“Possibly” I’m not hearing no, which means yes. Excellent. Now, about his exam we have tomorrow…
Optimism overwhelmed me at this point (as my brain got lost in thoughts of epically failing microbiology), because it was the only way to remain whole. Cracks spread through my entirety and I struggled to hold myself together because suddenly I was so done with hospitals and doctors, with being watched while I give my injections and hooked up to a continuous 10 lead ECG that tethers me to a heart monitor and means I can’t leave the room (see, I am considerably less resilient/ strong than people think I am. After five days in the cardiac critical care unit my patheticness has finally kicked in – yes I know that isn’t a word) But the hope of leaving was the tape I needed to hold everything together.
I’m sat here waiting for a scan and filling out my menu choices for tomorrow to order meals I am never going to have to eat. Lunch is here (NHS roast dinner – smells amazing) but I’m nil by mouth until the scan is all over and done with so I can’t eat it (which is a shame because it’s the one meal that all hospitals universally seem to cook well… Ok they just heat it up but still…) The doctors were finally able to give me diuretics today as whatever was stopping them being able to do so is no longer an issue, so this should improve things as far as retaining water is concerned… And I’ve decided I’ll be gone from here by tonight.
I’m on the home straight.
And the exam stress returns.
(Eventually one day university may stop being my top priority, but evidently that day is not today because now I’m majorly freaking out about whether or not I’m going to make it to this exam. I’ve never been so relieved to be stressed about an exam before, it’s dragging my focus away from things I don’t want to start overthinking.)