This is the eighth part in sharing my personal experience of battling with ill health .
*Trigger Warning: Distressing scenarios mentioned in this post*
Continuing on from The Last Time.
Very early hours one morning, I was woken up by nurses, and saw paramedics around me. I thought something bad had happened. I was moved onto a stretcher by a transfer board and all of my things were either put by the sides of me or near my feet. I had no idea where I was going.
I was wheeled out of a set of automatic doors and the cold instantly hit me. I was taken into an ambulance and a lady sat near me. It felt like a really long journey and I remember coughing a lot and nodding off.
When I woke up, I assumed I was in another hospital, but there were no signs to say which hospital, well, not large enough for me to be able to read them. The corridors were endless, I started to think I had died because it seemed like I was going nowhere.
I was wheeled into a small room, which had about 3 or 4 bays, side by side. I was transferred from the stretcher to a hospital bed, again by a transfer board, and then everybody left me. I was in the bay next to a window.
Nurses came by, later on, and was changing the cannula’s and putting new ones in, and god knows what else.
“Nobody will know I’m here, I’m never going to see anyone ever again”, I sobbed.
Dying alone really dawned on me and I’ve never been more scared in my life.
I was pleasantly surprised to wake up and see daylight shining through the blinds. A man came and stood by the side of me, he tried speaking to me via my headset and microphone, but he was speaking so fast that I had no idea what he was saying. Despite feeling groggier, I just kept slowly nodding and shaking my head while he was talking to me. I don’t know what I agreed or disagreed to but I did understand one word.
While he was still talking to me, I thought, “Where have I heard Addenbrooke’s before? I know it’s a hospital and its somewhere in England. So, I am definitely still in the same country”.
Once he left, I thought, “Well, I don’t know who he was, or what he said but at least I know where I am now! But will everyone still not know where I am?”
A nurse came by, not long after, carrying some towels. She bought some shampoo with her too, and helped me to understand that I was going to be washed, and my hair too. She was very gentle and, despite everything that was happening to me, she made me feel really comfortable which helped to reassure me. Then after she cleaned everything up and changed my sheets, she left.
Some time went by before 2 women came in to see me. One of which wrote on my whiteboard, “We are physio’s and we want to try and put a small tube up your nose”. Despite the fact I still had a breathing tube in, I thought, “Well, how are you going to do that with everything else that’s either on me or in me?! But they know what they’re doing so let them get on with it”.
That’s until they started to put a tube/pipe up through my nose, I’m going to call them pipe cleaners because I still don’t know what they were called, and kept pushing for it to go up further. “What on earth are they doing?! Am I really awake for this?” I winced as it caused a lot of discomfort. After several attempts, and so much more wincing, they stopped. Thank God!
They then started trying to clear my chest by these weird manoeuvres, it was really bizarre!
Anyway, that wiped me out and I fell asleep soon after they left.
Throughout the day, more people were coming in and out, and I still had no idea what was happening.
I was staring out of the window, when I saw two people walk closer to me. It was Mum and Jill.
They could tell I was surprised to see them, and I bloody well was! “How on earth did they know I was here?” I mumbled, and after many attempts, Mum understood what I was trying to say. “You got here alright then?” she asked. I just shrugged because it felt like I was on a magical mystery tour. I think it’s clear that I was still sedated.
“They phoned me this morning to tell me you got here”, Mum added. I kind of forgot at the time that we were in the day and age where technology is used.
Like I said, I was sedated.
I was so relieved to see them! Jill kept trying to make me smile by writing random things on my whiteboard. She has a tendency to come out with random crap a lot of the time.
As daylight faded, doctors were standing around me. A male nurse sat beside me watching the monitors. I didn’t know what was happening. Mum and Jill went out of view, and because they didn’t tell me where they were going, I started to panic. I tried to look at the monitors that the nurse was staring at, I figured they were showing all of my STATS.
A man came in with this heavy object and placed it near my feet. After attaching wires and stickers to me, the machine started to light up. It was a heart monitor. I realised that, from nurses and doctors watching the monitors, for which it felt like forever, that this wasn’t good.
I asked the nurse if he knew where Mum and Jill were, if the inevitable was going to happen, then I really didn’t want to be on my own. I could feel my heart break, I needed Ewan and he wasn’t there.
I remember being moved to a bigger ward, it seemed more busier too. It was getting really late at night and a nurse moved a recliner alongside me. They let Mum stay because nobody knew if I was going to make it through the night. She held my hand and I never wanted her to let go.
I kept waking up throughout the night to check if Mum was still next to me holding my hand. Despite everything, I felt safe knowing Mum was holding my hand.
At one point, I woke up to see a nurse talking to Mum. She then wrote on my whiteboard, “You’re being moved to another ward”. I nodded and watched on as the nurse and Mum got everything ready to be moved.
The corridors were really dim at night, but enough light for people to see where they were going. I remember squinting as we entered the lifts, the ceiling lights were so bright.
We arrived in a small square-shaped room and Mum started unpacking my things.
The nurse, who took us there, was talking to Mum for a few minutes, then she started to write on my whiteboard. “They’ve found a room for me to stay in, I will still be nearby”.
I didn’t see Mum for hours after she left, then again it could have been minutes as it felt like time was going so slow.
I remember wearing an oxygen mask, and it was really overwhelming, especially with also having a breathing tube in. When the oxygen mask was taken off, the nurse tried putting a pipe cleaner up my nose again, and still, it was really uncomfortable. She stopped trying after a few attempts.
I know I kept nodding off, I just couldn’t fight the tiredness.
I woke up and was instantly emotional. I knew it was March but I didn’t know the date, I frantically tried working out what day it was, in my head, but I was becoming more stressed out. I was worried that I’d missed Ewan’s birthday. While sobbing, I kept shouting, “I’m sorry!”
I was so relieved when I saw Ewan walk up to my bed, but he was wearing the t-shirt I had got him for his birthday, so that answered my question. I had missed his birthday.
The realisation made me cry even more and I kept telling him that I was sorry and that I had let him down. He tried his best to reassure me that it was OK, but I still felt guilty.
Mum arrived shortly after and when she saw me, she started crying. I think it bought back memories of her step-dad (my step-grandad) as he also had Ataxia, but he died from Pneumonia. Then seeing me in the exact same situation, I guess she thought the same would happen to me. I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like, for Ewan and Mum, seeing me like that.
It’s true when people say you don’t know what is around the next corner.
Suddenly, a group of nurses and a short, thin woman came up to me. I remember the woman clearly as her glasses were almost bigger than her face. She was actually quite scary looking!
A machine was bought into the room, it looked like a huge robot arm. I thought, “I hope that don’t come anywhere near me, I don’t even want to think what it does!”
And it bloody well was being wheeled over to me.
Eventually, I realised it was a portable X-Ray scanner. I thought, “That’s a clever contraption!”. Once the X-Ray was done, everybody crowded around me again. I looked at Ewan, scared, not knowing what they were going to do. He tried to be strong for me and smiled gently.
The scary looking woman put a new oxygen mask over me. This one seemed more powerful and overwhelming than the last. I was becoming more and more sleepy with each breath I took.
Then it all went black.
If you would like to continue reading my story, then please head over to My Time in Intensive Care.