This is the third part in sharing my persnal experience with battling ill health.
Continuing on from The Beginning of The End.
Since March, I had been keeping track of my weight, I was almost 18 stone. By September, I was 12 stone.
I thought I had a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) as weeing was really painful. With everything else going on, health-wise, I knew it was best to get checked. Mum took me to see a nurse and after doing a sample, she tested it and the result was that she “thinks” I have a slight UTI, so she prescribed me some antibiotics, more specifically, Nitrofurantoin.
I took the first tablet at around teatime, my instinct, when I first saw the capsule, was telling me that something bad was going to happen if I take this – despite being reassured it was safe to take. I reluctantly took the tablet.
I woke up the next morning to tingling in my left arm, I had a habit of sleeping awkwardly so I put it down to that. I asked if someone could read the side effects in the leaflet. Nobody was willing to read them because they knew I would have been paranoid – I always read the leaflets, they are there for a reason!
My instinct still carried through and I refused to take another tablet. After a short nap in the late morning, I woke up to tingling in my right arm. Now both arms were tingling, and because I didn’t know the side effects, I put this down to not doing much since I first woke up. Still very tired, I had another nap.
I woke up late afternoon and my upper torso was tingling. I couldn’t ring anyone. I decided to try and push myself to walk into the kitchen, I found it very difficult to maintain upright whilst walking – I had already noticed that I had been ‘walking like a drunk’ for quite a few weeks now, so this new symptom really confused me. It took all my energy and a long time that by the time I had got into the kitchen, I had forgotten what I wanted. Frustrated, it took me the same amount of time to get back into the living room. I flopped onto my recliner, exhausted and instantly fell back asleep.
I woke up in the early evening to discover my entire body was tingling, even my head which scared the hell out of me! I tried telling my family about how I felt and that this tingling sensation had spread throughout my body since this morning, but my speech was very slurred. I wasn’t sure what was worse, how I was feeling or the fact that nobody believed me.
I remember being really angry and tried to get up from my recliner, but as I tried to stand my legs were wobbly, I couldn’t feel any strength in them and I felt very off-balance. After several attempts, I managed to stand up – how I don’t know. All it took was one attempt to take one step and I collapsed.
I landed in our dog’s basket – I know it sounds funny but at the time it really was painful. I was in a very awkward position, my head was against the staircase, the rim of the basket was digging into my back, my arms were flailing. I felt the entire left side of my face drop and I really thought I’d had a full stroke. I’d never been so scared in my life.
Still nobody believed me.
After a while, I managed to roll onto the floor and remained laying on my front for the next hour. Crying. Wishing somebody would help me or even ring for an ambulance.
It took me over an hour to crawl to our downstairs toilet, which is a 3 second walk from our living room. From thereafter, my sleeping pattern became erratic.
Still tingling the next day, I felt a bit more ‘with it’ so I went onto my iPad and looked for Nitrofurantoin side effects, and what I discovered, sent alarm bells ringing.
Every person that had commented on this page, regarding the side effects, had experienced a bad reaction to the antibiotic and 90% of them ended up in A&E.
My instinct was right from the moment before I took that tablet. I try not to think of what could have happened if I’d taken the full course of tablets.
I showed Mum the comments and she rang 111 straight away. They sent out paramedics who carried out an ECG, tested my blood sugar, blood pressure and oxygen levels. After Mum had told them about all of the symptoms, they said it was best to go to A&E to be monitored. Ewan supported me whilst walking to the ambulance – this was my first ever ambulance ride and I sure as hell hoped it would only just be the once!
I laid down on the stretcher and the paramedic put a blanket over me then strapped me in. Ewan sat in one of the seats opposite to me. Due to a past experience from when he was younger, Ewan felt very anxious about the journey. I knew this would upset him and I felt guilty, I kept saying “I’m sorry”, even though I couldn’t help what had happened. I always think the worst in any situation, and I asked the paramedic if something really bad was going to happen or if I was dying, she tried to reassure me that it was a reaction to the antibiotic. We got to A&E about 10pm.
I was taken into a side room, the next hour was a blur of blood tests, ECG’s, observations, etc. They asked for my medical history and that in itself had taken about 20 minutes to sum up what had been happening throughout the last 9 months, and even when they left the room, I forgot to mention something!
The results came back negative and all clear but they wanted to continue to monitor me for the next few hours. I slept on and off until 4am, we were told that as the results didn’t show anything, they were certain it was a bad reaction and discharged me. Ewan and I sat in the hospital entrance for the next 2 and a half hours as Mum was unable to pick us up until 7am.
While we waited, we watched hundreds of nurses and doctors arrive around 6am. My heart went out to them, knowing they would soon be starting a 12-hour shift, caring for people, saving lives. The real superheroes.
October passed by quickly as I spent more time sleeping than being awake.
The day of my appointment at Moorfields Eye Hospital, in London arrived. Thankfully, the time of my appointment was near lunchtime and didn’t have to get a ridiculously early train. This was my first train ride as a wheelchair user and the first time Mum witnessed my involuntary movements while I was asleep. I kept, without knowing, kicking the woman opposite me – if you ever read this, I’m still so very sorry!
Moorfields is a maze! We were directed to different areas throughout the next few hours while an array of specialised tests was carried out. Some were standard eye tests, but the more I had, the more detailed they were and the more my eyes were put under so much strain that by the last test, I was crying hysterically because I could not handle anymore. All the tests were painless, but they drained every ounce of energy I had.
I’m very thankful for my wheelchair that day because there was no way I would have been able to stand for more than a minute on the way home.
A few days later, I had to go back to King’s Lynn Hospital for the ultrasound and internal scan. The nurses were very lovely and put me at ease within minutes. Both were painless, but cold – the tests, not the nurses! By this point, I had lost track of what results I was waiting for – hearing, vision, bleeding, and possibly more.
The following week, on Monday, Mum received a call from Moorfields, they wanted to see me on Friday.
I thought, “For fuck sake, what now??”
Fortunately, my best friend, India and her boyfriend were in London that week and offered to come with us to the appointment. I hadn’t seen India for 2 years and I was worried as to how she would react to seeing me. We always were in contact with each other and she knew about my health, but this would be the first time she actually saw me.
As soon as she saw me, she ran up to me and cuddled me. In that moment, I could forget everything and focus on the love I had for this girl. We always carried on from where we left off. It was a good hour or so until my appointment so we talked and had a laugh, which was refreshing as I had not genuinely smiled in so long.
While we were in the waiting room, I was trying my hardest to hold back tears – I was scared of what news I would be given.
Time passed and I was called in. The four of us sat there whilst a Consultant told them my results. I kept asking what was happening but I just got told that it would be explained to me soon.
It was frustrating, it was my appointment and nobody would tell me my results there and then.
After ten minutes, we were told to go to an office. But in the corridor before the office, my wheelchair suddenly stopped. I turned around to see what had happened and saw Mum burst into tears with India comforting her. That was the last straw, “What the hell is wrong?”, I snapped.
Mum couldn’t tell me. India pushed me towards the seating area in front of the office we had to go in and sat next to me. She told me, “Your optic nerve is severely damaged, they can’t do anything to reverse it”.
I couldn’t speak, I just cried.
The office we were about to go in, was where I would be registered as severely blind.
If you would like to continue reading my story, please head over to Was This Going To Be My Last Christmas?