I woke up from something this morning, but it wasn’t sleep. At least not the sort that a healthy person would experience. I didn’t remember falling into it and I’d been powerless against it. I’d stayed up until 4am, leaving a needle in my foot and using the injection as a bung to stop myself bleeding everywhere between the injections I was doing every 30 minutes. I pumped myself with medication over and over and I knew I was losing, but I did enough to make it to the morning.
I somehow showered, not knowing how long it would be before I was well enough to do so again. I checked my blood. After an entire night of IV injections, the level of acidic bodies in my blood was 2.7. Normal is below 0.6. High is 1.5. A tiny amount of medication reduces their concentration by a lot. And I’d done a lot of medication, so how high had they been?
The threshold for them inducing acidosis (a life threatening medical emergency) is 3.0. They were below that threshold, but still building up the acidity in my blood. My body was still churning out acidic bodies that were lowering the pH of my blood. The lower concentration just meant they were doing so at a lower rate. It bought me time. I felt like death, and then I almost vomited several times. I was barely conscious, I hit the floor. I couldn’t breathe. My heart was racing. My mouth was super dry, and when I drank I just wanted to throw up. I couldn’t face food at all. I couldn’t stomach anything and yet if I didn’t drink I choked on my own tongue.
It was here.
That was it.
I just needed to make it through the lectures we had today (especially the first one, in which we had an exam that I’ve totally, totally failed because my vision couldn’t even focus on the answer sheet), complete and submit the coursework that is due in tomorrow, and then I was going to have to go to the hospital or I was going to drop down dead. Literally. No exaggeration here. I knew I was dying and I went to uni because for some illogical reason, uni stress reigns supreme. My brain freaked out but the freak out was suppressed a little by an immediate and far more intense fear/knowledge that if I didn’t go to the hospital I was going to die. Somehow uni still meant more. Somehow. In my warped, illogical mind that stress overcame all others.
My body was all “Excuse me my enzymes don’t work properly at this pH”
And I was all “It isn’t me it’s our blood, don’t take it out in me!”
And it was all “I’m going to make you pass out a few times in your exam”
And I was all “OMG you poop I can’t even focus well enough to read the questions let alone see the answer squares WHAT ARE YOU DOING STOP TAKING IT OUT ON ME”
And my organs were all “help!”
And my blood was all “Ha!”
And I was all… I’ve got -ve marks because this is a negatively marked exam please help my life. I couldn’t organise my thoughts. I couldn’t think. My head hurt a lot. I had a bin bag in my back pocket in case I finally gave in to the urge to throw up. I could have done better if I hadn’t been in that state, if I’d been in any physical or mental state compatible with studying over the last couple of days.
After the test I was dragged back into an involuntary sleep for half of the next lecture. When I woke I found myself in the same situation as I had done in the library . I felt really, really hot. Sweat was pouring off of me all while I struggled to breathe with such a heavy rib cage and retain a state of consciousness that didn’t want to few in. I’m usually cold all the time. The people around me sat in thick jumpers. I didn’t have the energy to remove my jumper, and when I felt my neck I was cold, not hot.
In the library between lectures I felt a wheezing and a crackle in my lungs and coughed pretty violently and almost non-stop for about five minutes, bringing up fluid until eventually I coughed blood. This alarmed my friends significantly. Like. Significantly. It took me by surprise a little. But I had to finish my coursework. I couldn’t breathe – my lungs were all congested with something and I was all wheezy. I was in a pickle and I knew I would probably end up in hospital before tomorrow (now today) so had to just get it done and submit it preferably between lectures. I continued to cough blood – eventually a blood clot, which made my friends plead with me to go to the hospital. I completed the damn coursework half an hour later with a pulse rate of 144 while I was sat there doing nothing.
My friend said she was dying and needed a nap and that it was so nice that I got some sleep in the last lecture. I just looked at her. Because like… Y’know. You read this, so you know.
I was seriously impressed with my body. Seriously, seriously impressed that it was somehow carrying on, that I was waking and almost fully conscious. It really is a little superhuman sometimes. I kind of wanted to see how long it could carry on, but I was slowly starting to achieve some clarity beyond the fear that was stopping me going to hospital and was able to at least consider going without losing my mind at just the thought.
Acidic bodies down to 0.8. Almost normal, but acidosis still raging. I felt like I shouldn’t go to hospital with that (I was looking for any reason not to go). My actions had saved my life again. An hour later in my lecture I couldn’t decide if the awful and alarming sensation was a heart issue, an acidosis issue, or a kidney issue. In reality it was probably all three triggering each other in an endless loop. I measured my acidic bodies. 4.9. Oh. Hell. No. Houston, we had a problem
Uni Babe knew, and our Brazilian uni friend was sat next to me and he also asked if I was ok and rubbed my arm supportively. The lecturer (my personal tutor, who I DID NOT want to become unwell in front of) didn’t call me out for being asleep. I informed my friend via message, the one that just kept talking about her coursework stress, and after a brief moment to acknowledge the situation she stared asking me for coursework help and to send her my answers (which were submitted so…) and I felt so much pressure to help. Then she said she felt too dumb to live, and I just couldn’t. Everyone around me got super annoyed when they took my phone and read what I was seeing.
I needed to go. But I so didn’t want to. I begged my friends not to call an ambulance, to wait. They didn’t understand that it wasn’t me being an idiot – I was telling myself the same arguments but the monster in my mind wouldn’t budge.
I had no idea that without intervention, I’d only have had a couple of hours left… I’m writing this from the hospital – catheterised and with a fresh central line, multiple fresh scars, and an outraged body.