*WARNING! MAY BE UPSETTING FOR SOME READERS – DESCRIPTIONS OF CRITICAL CARE SCENARIOS MENTIONED*
It was the day, that I had been dreading for ages, ever since I got the appointment letter. When a patient is discharged from Critical Care they usually have a review about 6 months later.
I didn’t feel ready to face this. I was petrified. Not because of sharing my progress but seeing everything again. Seeing nurses and doctors that cared for me, when I was really ill. The possibility of seeing the photo, of myself, when I was in an induced coma. Knowing that I was going to be given the chance to go on to the ward and see the bay I was in.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do, part of me just wanted to ignore everything that had happened but another part of me just wanted closure. I was still suffering with flashbacks and really weird dreams so making all these decisions just seemed 1000 times more difficult. I was extremely worried that if I were to choose to accept these decisions, that I would feel even more traumatised. I decided to make the decision based on depending how I felt in the moment.
I needed my mum and Ewan to be with me, to face this. They have been with me every single day since it began, they had seen me at my worst.
We arrived at the hospital and sat in the corridor, near where the review would take place. At that point I didn’t know I was 2 doors away from Critical Care. I was watching people walk past in the corridors and one of my previous physiotherapists walked past. He came rushing over to give me a hug, asked how I was and how I had been getting on with physio. He was super proud of how far I had come, walking 1 metre with a walking frame.
*Due to this video involving members of staff, I am unable to share on social media, I apologise*
After a few minutes of chatting, he had to go back to work. I hadn’t seen him since June so it was really nice to catch up. After what seemed like waiting for an eternity, a nurse approached us. She was speaking to mum, I couldn’t tell what was being said. The nurse then went into the room, opposite to where we were sitting. A few minutes later, she emerged from the room and gestured for us to come in.
It was a standard meeting room, with a man already sitting at the table, I did not recognise him. I noticed my file on the table, and it seems to grow even bigger every time I see it. Little did I know, my file held something that I would never forget.
The man, who turned out to be a consultant, began speaking. On the inside, I was panicking so much that I didn’t want to even try to understand what was being said. I just kept darting my eyes around the room desperately trying to find something else to focus my attention on. Although, my mum caught my attention and said, “We’re talking about your flashbacks” I just replied, “OK” but this time, I tried to be brave and look up at everyone,
As the consultant continued speaking, the nurse was flicking through my file. She stopped and then handed something to my mum, instantly she cried. I then realised what it was.
The photo of me from when I was in a induced coma.
Did I feel ready to see it?
My mum looked at me, tears streaming down her face, I nodded and took a deep breath. I looked away as mum handed the photo to me. When I had the photo completely in my hands, I gazed upon it.
I stared at the photo, my face expressionless. The first thing I saw were the machines, in total there were 6. Various drugs pumping into my body, dialysis and a breathing tube. I followed the direction in where the tube ended, then I saw her. Me.
I looked like I was dead. I looked peaceful despite everything that was around me. So many negative emotions were racing through my mind, anger, denial, devastation, heartbreak. It suddenly hit me how ill I was. That’s when I broke down in tears. I would never wish upon anyone to realise that they were/are dying. Theres just no words to describe it. I couldn’t take my eyes off the photo.
It seemed like hours had flown by, just by looking at this photo, when it was actually a few minutes, Mum said to me, “Do you want to go onto the ward?” My head was telling me ‘No’ but my heart was telling me ‘Yes’ because I needed to know what Ewan and my family went through, I needed closure. So I just replied, ‘Yeah, OK.’ But before we left, mum suggested that I should show the video of me walking 1 metre to the consultant and nurse.
The consultant was amazed because they really didn’t know if I was going to pull through, let alone walk again. He said, with frustration, “This is why we need more places like (name of rehab)!” I 100% agree with him because it would be highly unlikely to receive the amount of therapy, that I had got, anywhere else.
He kept repeating how amazed he was, by my progress, when we went back out into the corridor. I didn’t know there were 2 entrances to Critical Care, therefore I didn’t know where we were going. We went through one set of double doors, waited until they closed behind us, then the nurse opened the second lot of double doors infront of us…and there it was. Critical Care Unit.
As we entered, everything just went in slow motion. I sat infront of 2 bays, one of which was the bay I was in. So many thoughts were going through my mind, ‘I nearly died there’, ‘I laid there, praying hard that I would pull through to the next day’. A very tall doctor walked past us, looked at me and smiled, went to continue walking then done a double check at me. The nurse said, “Do you remember Ami?” The doctor replied, shocked “Yeah!”
Soon, a sea of members of staff came over to see me and began talking with my mum and Ewan. I couldn’t help but look at the patient in the bay I was in. He had machines around him, he was asleep but all I wanted to do was to sit beside him, hold his hand and tell him that everything will be OK. I had no idea who he was. In the next bay, a patient but with 2 family members at their bedside. I was tempted to give them a hug.
I began shaking on the inside, I saw all the machines that kept me alive and i will admit, I felt physically sick. I knew I needed to see this. I needed closure. It was difficult coming to terms with the fact machines saved my life. Whoever created them, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Every single member of staff who was present was astonished and immensely proud of my progress.
To the Critical Care Unit at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, England, UK…thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done for me, for supporting my family throughout this terrifying time, and lastly, for giving me a second chance at life.