The thing I love about halloween is that I was suddenly free to walk around looking like death and nobody batted an eyelid. It was perfectly acceptable to hide my deteriorating health under some face paint (which made several people think I’d been beaten up, so perhaps I went a little too realistic there). I was scared. Not only because as we walked past the park, somebody set off some fireworks right where we were walking… But the thick fog had returned to steal London from sight again, and in typical pathetic fallacy, my health once again obscured my view of everything else. And that was the fog that scared me. The real terror this halloween lay under the face paint.
For the past few days I’ve been stuck in acidosis. I’ve injected into my veins over and over again to hold it off, but I’ve been drifting in and out of consciousness and feeling like I’m dying (because hey… That’s the end result of this situation unless I deal with it). I should have gone to a hospital a few days ago, and I’d have been rushed through to resus and admitted back then, when I felt so much more well. But with PTSD due to experiences I went through in hospitals when I was younger, it isn’t that simple. For three days I have been having an argument with myself, pleading with the PTSD to back off and let me go to the place I need to go to stay alive. For three days I’ve lost the fight. I’ve wanted to scream with frustration. I spent my weekend living in the library just so that if I died I wouldn’t die alone. I sat in a busy area so that if I collapsed and was unconscious, maybe someone might call an ambulance and do what the monster in my head wouldn’t let me do. I didn’t want to be alone, but I didn’t want to be with the people I knew – they’d worry, and they seem to be being pretty insensitive on the whole at the moment.
I sat in the library for 7 hours, knowing nobody had any idea just how dangerous the situation was, and I wrote another thing that’s been published on The Mighty. It’s entitled, When Health Issues Feel Like Wearing A Superhero Costume, and it is based on a post I wrote on here a couple of months ago (it also has an extraordinary amount of typos in its publish state – such as the replacement of certain words with ones that have similar spellings which I am sure are the work of autocorrect, but for which I can only apologise). I procrastinated like a pro. I slept on the desk in front of the computer while using my coat and a pizza twist (that I eventually ate) to save a computer for my old friend from sixth form, who was at the time the only person I knew would react in a way that didn’t break me. She knew not to tell me to go to a hospital because she understood that I was already screaming that to myself, begging myself to go. She’s waited many times until I hit the floor, and then called ambulances and picked up the pieces of me that are left behind. I was comfortable to be around her, and I was super proud of her for facing her own demons that morning. She didn’t keep persistently asking me to help her with her work after I made it clear to her how unwell I was, like others did. She didn’t freak out on the outside. She just sat there and worked, occasionally checking I was still alive and ok.
I was alive. I was nowhere near ok. It was bad. It was serious. I didn’t need to know it, I could feel it. I was beyond the point of no return. But how long could I continue until it took me? There was double fear then. Fear of the actual event occurring, because I knew it had the power to kill me, and I knew it was very advanced, as I couldn’t see properly or think or… Human. And this fear that I couldn’t go to the hospital, and that I couldn’t override that ridiculous mental block – this fear that I might leave it too late again because of a freak out I could not control. And still the same individual talked about how stressed they were over coursework, and I felt like an awful friend for not caring enough, but I was freaking out. In my mind I was running to the hospital and being stopped by this thing, this feeling. Every time.
I left the library late last night, and returned home only to collapse. In lectures today I fell asleep. I don’t sleep in lectures unless I’m really, really unwell (i.e. it is never voluntary). I woke up and I could feel it again. Beyond the point of no return. When it gets this bad you can hold it off, temporarily increase the pH of your blood so that it is a tiny bit less acidic and your body feels fantastic because in comparison to how unwell it was, it has regained some sort of function… But you get to a point where it isn’t possible to fashion rudimentary IVs and battle on, where that isn’t enough, you need so much more. It isn’t possible to keep consuming litres and litres of water to try and normalise your pH, topped up with isotonic sports drinks to try and balance your electrolytes in the same way they would in a hospital. You need bicarb. and magnesium and potassium in high quantities. You need drugs you don’t have… You just… carry on until you can’t any more. You carry on knowing you need to go to hospital and wanting so badly to get help, but unable to because of YOUR OWN MIND. You get so frustrated at your own stupid self and the illogical nature of the situation that you could cry. And people don’t understand. They tell you to go to the hospital. They say they’ll go with you because they are worried, and you worried them, and the guilt of that writhes within you. But they don’t understand. They can’t do because even you don’t understand.
“No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. For fear being an apprehension of pain or death, it operates in a manner that resembles actual pain” – Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, Part II, Terror (1757)
So I stood opposite campus tonight with Uni Babe (after a spontaneous meal out with Portsmouth Uni Friend after we both passed a restaurant together, had exactly the same thought, looked at each other and just said yes), waiting for WR Uni Friend to show up so we could head to a halloween party. And I couldn’t stand without swaying. My heart rate was over 140bpm when I had been laid doing nothing and I dreaded to think what it had increased to. My breathing was heavy and way faster than is healthy, and Uni Babe wanted to abort our plans and go straight to the hospital. I thought I was going to end up there. I didn’t want her to freak, and I didn’t want anything to shock her, so I prepared her for what might happen so that she could decide whether or not to stay associated with me tonight, and told her what to do if it did happen (she stayed. We were the only sober ones at the house party so her and WR Uni friend used me as an excuse to escape the awkwardness, and Uni Babe took me right to my front door after my first ever ride in an Uber. Multiple people asked me to message them so they know I am alive and well. It all made me feel so bad, so guilty).
For me to say that I might end up in a hospital things have to be… As bad as they
I have an exam tomorrow morning during my 9am lecture, and I’m not putting in an extenuating circumstances form (which means I can’t miss it or I fail). I’m too scared to after all that happened last year. Uni stress is slowly building again and I honestly cannot find it in myself to do any work right now amidst the fog of my health, but I’m not going to miss stuff. I want to go a semester without missing a thing. Just one semester.
On the 5th of November it is exactly a year since I almost died in an anatomy practical and my entire view on life was changed by my two Uni Parents (also the last time I saw the only consultant I’ve ever felt comfortable in the presence was, who understood my PTSD and was considerate of it when planning admissions and treatments). The 5th of November is also the date that 3 year old me was diagnosed with diabetes (I only learned this a couple of years ago. I didn’t even know that acknowledging your diagnosis date was a thing in the diabetes community until a few months ago). The 5th of November is also bonfire night, and I can’t wait to go to a firework display with my friends. I have multiple lab sessions this week, and three assignments due in (probably should finish/start those…). I don’t have time to be dying faster than everyone else around me. I don’t have time to carry that weight right now. I wanted to go for a run this afternoon to run it all away, but standing made me dizzy enough that I knew I could never run. I briefly wondered if I’ll ever get back to my attempts to get sponsored and help various charities via my journey back to running again. And then I tried to bury myself under the tiniest remaining scrap of my denial.
But I know I’m going again. I very nearly died last week (and several times throughout the weeks before that), and I don’t think I ever managed to get out of the woods. I know what is coming and I don’t know how to face it. I don’t want to. I get in a panic at the thought (panic doesn’t even do it justice. My mind completely implodes on itself and crumples and refuses to think about anything for a while while it sorts itself out and tries to move on).
This is the part where I break. Something has to give – the acidosis, or the PTSD. Neither cares about what happens to me.
I’m so unwell that I’m scared to sleep. I just need to make it through all of tomorrow’s lectures, then I’ll submit the piece of coursework which is due in soonest, and I’ll re-evaluate everything then and see if the fear will let me live, see if the PTSD will let me respond to a current fear instead of the ghost of a former one (except it isn’t a ghost – it feels fresh and real and exactly the same as it did then. And it isn’t a fear. It’s a pure, unimaginable terror and a wild, untameable panic). PTSD makes no sense to me. NO SENSE. It’s so frustrating. It’s like being strangled by… Yourself. It doesn’t let you do things. In this case, I’m astonished at the power it has had in stopping me going to the hospital so many times over the past few weeks. Here is an article/story I found online about what it’s like to have PTSD.
Anyway. Just needed to let that out.
No way but through.