“How are you feeling?” The doctor who last night just kept saying:
We’re going to… Lose her.
We’re losing her.
We need to move.
“Quite. A night.” He says in a way which tells me he was as alarmed by it as I should be, eyebrows raised. He remembers me.
“You’re doing much better, but you did get much worse again earlier when we tried to wean you off of one of the IVs.” (I don’t say that I’d told them I would, that my body usually liked at least 24 hours to get over its ordeal, but they had to learn the hard way. It wasn’t his shift, not his ignorance that plunged me back into an emergency – my bloods became 600% the upper acceptable limit of one chemical within 2 hours of stopping the one IV I needed most, and everything else went topsy turvy with it).
He tells me he doesn’t want my London team involved because he’d like to deal with it himself and he has seen typical versions of this many times. I am not typical. Here we go again, I think to myself, but I don’t need to worry about next steps yet. I am just grateful to be alive.
I’m an interesting case, so naturally, like many doctors before him, his inquisitive mind gets the better of him and he asks a lot of questions. Eventually, he remembers he has a job to be doing,
“Is there anything at all we can do for you?” I shake my head.
“Well if you need anything just holler ok? I’ll be about.” (And from this point onwards I decide he shall be known on this blog as Dr Holler, even though I know his first name and it gave me an idea to refer to him as something else)
I’ve spent all but a couple of hours today asleep. While I was awake the nurses gave me a wash which made me almost die from pure embarrassment. I wanted to sit in a chair but couldn’t even lift my head. The nurses helped me sit in a chair for a couple of minutes before I was so dizzy they had to help me back into bed like I was a rag doll.
My fellow third wheel was here the entire time. He sat reading his book while I slept. He kept everyone updated via messages. He left a couple of times to get himself some food. He went and met the lovebirds and warned them that I was out of it and not like yesterday and looked scarily awful. I think they were pretty alarmed by the state they found me in. Sixth form friend looked pretty freaked out.
I have been very drowsy, but throughout the last few hours I can at least keep my eyes open without someone having to say my name. I am out of it until about 10pm, and then as I play Gin Rummy with my fellow third wheel, I feel more like myself. My hourly bloods are improving again. I look spaced out and the nurse worries and asks if I am alright, but given the state I was in less than 24 hours ago we decide it is a justified and impressively improved state to be in. My words are slurred but I only have to say stuff once now and people understand. I can say more than a couple of words. I am coming home to myself.
I ask if I can go for a walk, not that I can even stand. Everybody isntantly says no, even my fellow third wheel.
“You’re attached to way too many things.” The nurse tells me. I turn to count the number of IV pumps on and working. More than I thought.
There is a cardiac arrest in A&E and one of the doctors runs off to deal with it. They intubate and ventilate the poor bloke, and he is wheeled past me to join us on the ICU as I am half way through this post. He looks middle aged – too young and fit to be in the condition he is in. My heart is dragged off with him as he moves out of my view.
I don’t feel unwell enough to be in intensive care any more. I am not very with it, but I can talk almost normally now. I am allowed to eat and drink as they are now happy with my airway and I don’t choke on/ inhale everything I attempt to drink or eat. They still aren’t happy with how drowsy I am, even though I’m rousable. I’ve puffed up everywhere in response to the huge systemic trauma my body has been through and the fluids it has been given. But people here are intubated, the newest resident has just had a cardiac arrest, and I am convinced I don’t belong in their ranks. I’m fine.
“You are not fine. Half way to disaster just feels a lot better than being millimetres away.”
“If I put you on a ward in the state you’re in, they will send you back. You are… Considerably unwell. And if you deteriorate like you did earlier, I will be shot, and you’ll be in a bit of a situation.”
“We want bloods every couple of hours and we need to keep a close eye on you. Especially after earlier, I think we were a bit premature.”
“You think you’re out of the woods but from where I’m standing there are still a hell of a lot of trees about.”
“ICU beds are like gold dust, trust me, you won’t be kept here any longer than you absolutely need to be. No offence, but we want everyone out as quickly as possible, we need the beds.”
I give up protesting upon hearing all of this, because I don’t have the energy to say more than a sentence or two at a time, even though my words are now at almost normal speed and volume, and the voice that says then is a a lot more recognisable as my own (even if hoarse). Also, I can’t find an argument to come back at that with.
I feel great in such an awful state simply because I’ve been so unwell that anything other than that feels fabulous. This time yesterday I was starting to drift in and out of consciousness. I was seeing double and my eyes couldn’t focus. The panic was just beginning. An hour later they thought they were going to lose me. I will never forget hearing those words. We’re going to lose her – the last two words said to his colleagues quietly so that my fellow third wheel didn’t hear, but with enough emphasis that we all heard them.
And I remember on the way to theatre hearing Dr Holler calling my name as he ran alongside the trolley holding the rail, and just… Drifting out of consciousness again and coming round to his panicked Scottish voice saying,
“She doesn’t have time, we don’t have time.”
And the female voice that snapped back,
“I know, why do you think I’m running?!”
I can still se the concern on every face for the few brief seconds my eyes would focus. At least ten people around me, fighting the fight my body couldn’t any more.
This evening the ICU looks very different, not what I saw when I first came round. Clearly my brain was being all weird and had a hazy perception of reality. I keep falling asleep involuntarily and sleeping for hours. My minion cuddly toy that the boys won at the arcade is here (sixth form friend’s girlfriend brought it into A&E yesterday). Everybody seems to love it and one doctor even made a diversion to inspect it.
I have no energy to do anything. I couldn’t even push the tray my dinner was on across the little table, let alone move my body which suddenly seems to weigh as much as a small continent as far as my muscles are concerned. Each movement takes a lot of focus and seems to happen in slow motion. I’m just so constantly exhausted. All the time. There is no energy even to sit myself up, although in the last half hour I have finally managed to lift my head off of the pillow, which is a huge success.
I’m alone here for the first time. My fellow third wheel finally left his little camp in one of the relatives rooms, and has gone back to the holiday park to take a sleeping tablet. He says he is going to go for a swim in the morning early and try to get the bus here so he doesn’t have to wake for the others to wake up and give him a lift. He didn’t leave until 10:30pm and I feel so awful that he was here for so long, and I can’t understand why anyone would be so kind as to just be there. I’m not used to it. The nurses got the wrong end of the stick and thought he was my boyfriend! I explained that we aren’t, but at this stage I was super out of it so I hope I was clear enough to understand.
In protest at my fellow third wheel’s absence, one blood result is creeping up and so Dr Holler keeps popping by to keep a close eye and advise on the rate of my IV. Everything else is going down though so it’s all good. I haven’t started freaking out yet, so I’m clearly not well still. But this will be ok. I am so grateful to have been lucky enough to make it to this situation, the outcome was very, very nearly a trip with the grim reaper.
No way but through.