I sat in front of a person I had never met before in my life, and admitted that I was scared, because I needed to say it to someone who it wouldn’t hurt. And I didn’t stop there. I told her I’d contemplated running away with the grim reaper, I told her that I didn’t know what to do at times. I told her I felt weak and stupid and ashamed about the state of my health. She looked right at me and told me that it was extremely common for people in my situation to feel the way I feel, and to consider the things I have considered but like to think I would never actually do. She took away the shame of it, and in a way it was sad but comforting to know that I am not alone. She said she deals with young adults specifically. She said that the situation I have been left in, particularly in regards to the massive amounts of medication (hello injections!) was ridiculous.
“So lots of ambulance rides then?” She said, as we discussed my medical history.
“I don’t call ambulances.” This is true. It’s always other people who unnecessarily bother ambulance crews on my behalf. If I’m conscious, even barely so, I walk two tube stops to the hospital nearest my uni – even when I can hardly breathe and barely move (one time a bus driver took pity and drove me to the hospital for free). I usually collapse when I get there, and the doctors ask me how on earth I even managed to walk from the waiting room in that state as they hurry me through to resus, but my body is a little bit superhuman when it wants to be. “I avoid hospitals for as long as I can, which means I usually leave it far too late to go to one – like… Until I can’t really move.” The PTSD conversation followed.
It was my blood that got me, or rather, betrayed me. The appointment was almost over and we decided we’d just take a look at a particular thing.
“I was not expecting that.” I was a little stunned,
“I was hoping we wouldn’t see that.” Came her reply, “I thought I’d check while you’re here, just as you don’t feel unwell with it any more. I didn’t want you walking out of my clinic and people wondering why you ended up back here!”
The level of one thing in my blood was 6.5 times the (highest acceptable) normal amount. And I had absolutely no symptoms, because I’m in such a rubbish state of health all the time that it masked the medical emergency brewing in my blood. I had expected slightly raised results, but the number she showed me was like a punch in the gut. I just stared at it. I knew what it meant. In London they called ambulances for me and admitted me for levels half as high as what I was looking at. Usually they at least order a whole range of bloods to see how my body is dealing with the situation. My heart sank and my thoughts raced and the panic set in. But this woman knew about my PTSD. She knew I was so scared of hospitals, and I’d very vaguely explained some of the stuff that happened to me on children’s wards when I was younger. She understood I didn’t want to be there, and I think she saw me start to freak. Plus, I pleaded with her.
“I mean, you know, maybe if I… (ramble ramble ramble). Maybe that’s just normal for me now? So we don’t need to worry about it.” I tried to talk my way out of the situation. She raised her eyebrows at me and I knew there was no worming my way out of this one. I deflated, kind of like a balloon does when you let go of it before you’ve tied it off. The chair held me up as I slumped into it.
“My grandparents are in the waiting room, I’m meant to be going home with them.” And they are already terrified of my health do not do this now, please do not do this to them. By this point, to my surprise, I really was quite worked up. She sat back down in her chair and looked at me, clearly thinking over the situation and weighing up our options.
“It’s the start of the weekend so I can’t even do anything…” She looked a little deflated herself then, “Ok…. I know how difficult this all is, so… let’s try to keep you out of here.” Hope sort of swelled within me, alongside an astonished relief
“Ok. Great. Can I leave?” I wanted to get out of the room before she changed her mind,
“But we need a plan.” I was willing to agree to anything to leave the room.
Injections every two hours – I can deal with that. I already give myself enough of them every day.
“If you feel worse, or this gets worse, or this plan isn’t working… You come straight back here.” Nope
“Ok.” Well we all know you aren’t going to do that. My brain helpfully pointed out.
She said something about a symptom or two and said that if I experienced such an event, “You come back here immediately.” Small problem – that hospital is an hour away from where I am now sat, but I didn’t have the heart to remind her how far away my grandparents live, and I was’t going to worry anyone by explaining why I couldn’t go and stay with them. Also, I’m totally not going to a hospital. Just… Nope.
“You’re very blasé about this. It’s serious, you know.”
“I’m not blasé about it, I know how serious it is but freaking out isn’t exactly going to help.” I do not want to lose all control, not now. I know I’m freakishly calm but for some reason I can’t be anything but that. It is the only way to be. This is what it is and I am trying to think my way out of it.
She calculated the amount of medication I needed, and it was administered.
“I mean it, you come back if you need to. Nobody here is going to judge or lecture you. You can’t afford not to come here if this gets any worse.” I nodded, still freaking out, flashbacks peppering my mind like machine gun fire, the same panic and emotion overwhelming me as it did when the events actually happened, the never healing wound of PTSD torn open again. Tunnel vision took over then – I was focussed on one thing – getting out of that room before I lost the ability to hide my shaking hands, and the terror gave way to nausea and hyperventilation… And tears.
I walked out of the clinic room, a time bomb ticking away in my blood, fuelled by a malfunctioning body, and I smiled an uneasy smile at my grandparents, who were sat in the waiting room. To distract them from asking about the appointment, I said I was hungry as I shakily grabbed a cup of water from the cooler in the corner, and my granddad happily declared,
“You’re definitely my granddaughter” which honestly felt awesome, because someone was proud to be related to me (ish).
When my grandma asked me about the appointment as we waited for Granddad to arrive with the car, I told her it had gone fine. It was a lie, and shame and guilt writhed within me as the words left my lips, but I couldn’t shake the thought that she had been so scared of having me to stay, so worried I would get ill (and clearly with reason). I tentatively told her my bloods had been a bit off, and she instantly began to freak, so I told us both what we wanted to hear,
“It’s fine. It’s all sorted now. Fixed.” Body, this is NOT “a good day to die hard” – Die Hard (I love those films SO MUCH)
I got in the car and we drove away from the hospital I should probably be in, as my heart sank and I thought to myself, what the hell have you just done. Stop running. Stop hiding. Get your head out of the sand, put the brakes on, and go to A&E because you know your body and you know when it’s this far gone there’s no way you’ll catch up to it. You’re just freaking out. You’re not even thinking logically, you’re just feeling and acting on those feelings. Damn it where is uni dad when you need him? Ok no that definitely isn’t a helpful train of thought right now. I wanted to get out of that environment, I was panicking. I didn’t want to face reality. I couldn’t deal with it and there was nobody to talk me out of the panic and into the sensible option. What did I do? I ate fish and chips, and we went home to get my stuff.
As we pulled into my road, we found out that the people four doors down have just got a golden labrador puppy (because they were walking it around in front of their house). Are. You. Being. Serious?!?! NOT FUNNY WORLD, I’ve had enough of your crap today. Rub salt in the would why don’t you. I grabbed my stuff, my granddad battled to fit my wheelchair in the boot of his car (I wanted to leave Winston at home, but everybody insisted that he came along too), I gave my dog a million and one hugs and kisses, told him how much I love him, and then we set off to Sandwich (which is the name of the old little town where my grandparents live).
Honestly, I don’t know what comes next. Worryingly, the fear is gone. I’m not ready to go there again yet – the whole medical emergency and too many IVs to count, and stressed out medical staff lecturing me on the severity of the situation because they don’t understand that I’m so not calm that the only way to stop myself running out of the building at the sight of their name badges is to just switch off every emotion (and that I left it so late to seek their help not because I didn’t care, but because I was stuck in denial, and then trying desperately to fix it myself, and then had a huge mental battle with myself just to go and enter a building with medical professionals in it)…
I’ll diffuse this time bomb myself.
Or die trying.
(I sincerely hope I don’t mean that last part). I don’t know what to do. Every option is wrong. Every option involves a freak out and guilt. Nobody knows how unwell I am right now. I can’t do this to them again.