“That’s… Not compatible with life.” My friend, a consultant anaesthetist said when he called me up this morning and discovered I’d had a pH of 6.9. That was when I knew it was bad, when the thin layer of denial I’d slapped over the wound so that I could keep functioning evaporated and left an ugly mess. This guy plays everything down. It’s not something you want to hear from the mouth of any doctor, but least of all this guy. I knew I was lucky to be alive. I’m only just beginning to accept quite how incredible this fact is, but not enough to let it scare me yet (so maybe I haven’t accepted it at all. It feels surreal. I felt unwell but I had no idea…)
“They shouldn’t let juniors try on you. Don’t let them.” He said when he heard about the difficulties in getting a line into me,
“The consultant wouldn’t let them anywhere near me.” I told him. He asked about permanent lines and I shut that conversation down. The nurse at this stage bluntly told me to get off the phone to him so she could do some stuff. Today I feel forced and manipulated and bullied and out of control and that isn’t good for my mental state at all. They are busy, they are letting it impact their treatment of their patients, and they have no idea how significantly their attitude can change the way a person feels about their hospital experience.
I’d been woken up around half an hour earlier by Dr Survival. He’d apparently been to see me yesterday morning but had left me to sleep. This morning he decided to wake me up. He’s been emailing with my usual consultant for this hiccup and it’s going to take a week before we can begin the new treatment plan. I’m not staying here for a week. I kinda made that clear. Our plan is now to shove me back onto my normal and ineffective treatment plan for the week, and try and get me off of the IVs by at the latest tomorrow morning. I was in bed 16 (the one beside me) a year ago tomorrow. I don’t want to sit and watch bonfire night from this ward again (especially as I now don’t have a window beside me so kinda technically can’t).
I woke up with only 2 IVs. 2 drip stands became one. After Dr Survival and his henchmen left I was streamlined down to 1 IV and my catheter was finally removed. I made it shakily to the bathroom for a wash. The staff had no idea how to transition me onto my normal treatment plan so I had to fight for them to do it right, and my overworked nurse was blunt and moody which made the whole thing so much more difficult for me because it made me feel like dirt and I already felt like a bother here.
My IV is running through the cannula in my hand, so the junior doctor walked in and said they wanted to remove the femoral line immediately and they will “just cannulate you again” if they can’t stabilise me and have to restart the other infusions. Clearly my notes had not been consulted about this issue. You don’t just cannulate me. It takes hours and ultrasound machines and consultant anaesthetists and at least 20 attempts before they give in. There’s no need for it. No need to go through that when I have a femoral line in FOR A REASON. Somehow, empowered by my pep talk from a consultant anaesthetist who had told me exactly what to allow and not allow (and therefore given me confidence because he’s a consultant and coming from him it gave me confidence to fight), I found a voice and refused any more cannulas. She swiftly changed her mind at that point, saying she’d wait until I go home before the femoral line is removed. We don’t really know when I will be leaving (I’m determined that it will be today) but as soon as this femoral line is out I’m walking. I haven’t told anyone this, but I know my mind well enough to know what it will do.
It takes a while to stabilise me off of IVs, which is where the problem usually arises because people freak out when my bloods start to settle to their usual abnormal (my body also freaks out, having become unaccustomed with the awfulness it usually drifts along in). While I’m still on IV, before we’ve even tried taking me off, they’ve done my discharge letter. This pleases me greatly because I assume it means I can just leave. If my transition doesn’t go smoothly and the consultant wants to keep me longer I don’t think he actually can now because he’d have to re-admit me I think… So technically I am free from their… Terror. Feels good to know.
These people are worryingly clueless about my health hiccups, still have yet to give me a single tablet for me heart or kidneys, and are worrying me a lot as a result. I had to correct their plan to one that gave my body at least a shot at not deteriorating again, because their medical knowledge didn’t seem to stretch far enough for them to understand how to medicate me properly. They also seemed completely unaware that I had a femoral line even though I was connected to multiple IVs and only one of them went to a cannula that they could see, and everyone forgot that I can’t really walk.
So I waited for everyone to leave me alone and took myself to the bathroom with a mix of the clothes I came in with, clean underwear, and a pair of women’s rugby team jogging bottoms from WR Uni Friend, and I got dressed in something other than a hospital gown. It felt amazing. I feel human. The femoral line is out of sight. I feel so human that I now refuse to get back in the bed. There’s a mental block there. I cannot. I just can’t.
Bed 15 is temporarily empty while its patient is at an appointment, and had a window, so I’ve made my way over to sit on the window ledge and stare out at central London. There’s something about staring out at normality that detaches me from the distress of being in a hospital. It grounds me and kind of calms me a little. I used to sit by the window all the time whenever I was here before. Sitting here at the minute I feel dizzy and spaced out, and my face and feet feel swollen and tight because I’m all puffed up with fluid… But I can see the entire world from here (or so it feels).
Time to listen to Bastille until the dust settles around me.
No way but through.