This is the thirteenth part in sharing my personal experience of battling with ill health.
Continuing on from Learning to Breathe Again: Part 2
Ewan came to visit me again on Monday, Mum was slowly getting better but still unable to see me. I already had the speaking valve connected before he arrived. After we had a long hug, I asked if we could FaceTime anyone, I wanted to try and speak while the coughing was minimal.
First, we spoke to Mum, my Nan was also with her. They were shocked when they heard my voice and cried. Secondly, we spoke to Ewan’s Aunt, I remember crying when she appeared on the screen – I will refer to Ewan’s Aunt as Auntie J – ever since I met Auntie J, we’ve had a close relationship and she’s an amazing woman. She helped me through some of the darkest of times. I managed to say “Hello” but Ewan spoke throughout the rest of the video call as I couldn’t stop crying. I can’t remember who else we called.
I had a little nap not long after we finished speaking to everyone. I felt really overwhelmed with how tired I was from just saying a few words. I woke up an hour or so later to realise that Ewan had gone, but it turned out he’d just popped outside. Another nurse had appeared during my nap, not sure why I ended up with 2 nurses.
The male nurse began writing on my whiteboard, I was looking at Ewan thinking, “Oh God, what now?” When the nurse turned my whiteboard around, so that I could read it, I was taken aback and tears filled my eyes as I finished reading what he had written.
“Do you want to go outside?”
I really couldn’t believe it, the thought of being able to go outside, to see different surroundings, to feel the cold air, it made my heart fill with so much joy. It’s the little things we take for granted. My head was telling me this would be the last time that I would get to go outside, but it was my heart that was saying, “No, this is a new beginning”.
Ewan held my hand as I gathered my thoughts, and truth be told, I was excited and I didn’t need to be asked twice. I nodded, as my speaking valve had been disconnected before I’d had a nap earlier, and the nurses rallied round to get everything prepared, I was wrapped up in a blanket, had 2 small oxygen tanks beside me on my bed, a portable monitor that was placed by my side. Once all set, we headed down corridors, and lifts, until we approached a door.
I’d never been to Addenbrooke’s before, this was all new to me. The female nurse opened the door, and the male nurse pushed my bed outside. We were in the middle of a small garden with a few benches, lots of greenery too. The garden was empty, it was just the four of us. The nurses moved my bed into the centre of the garden, infront of a bench, put the brakes on and then walked around.
Ewan leaned on the bed rails to be closer to me. He looked at me, and I to him. His eyes were the most beautiful colour of blue, he leaned close enough so I could see all of his facial features. These little moments felt like we were back on the bench, 5 years ago (now 6), where we shared our first kiss. It felt like the world around us had stopped and it was just the two of us.
I may have been slowly getting better, but looking at all the equipment, and the tubes, it bought me back to the reality of how close I was, to losing everything. But this moment, with Ewan, right here, if this would have been my last then I would be happy.
Our gaze was averted as the male nurse approached my bed; he had picked a few flowers from the garden. I think they were purple. He handed them to me, I looked up at him and smiled, and mouthed “Thank you”. I had lost the use of my grip and I found it difficult to hold the stems, but I really tried.
I didn’t realise my iPad was on my bed, I thought it was left inside. I turned to Ewan and mouthed, “Can we get a photo, please?” he smiled and asked one of the nurses if they could take a photo.
Once the photo was taken, the iPad was placed back on my bed, I wanted to wait until we got inside to see the photo. I looked up at the buildings around me, only to find out 10 months later that this was only a small part of Addenbrooke’s, it was huge! and despite all that had happened in the last few weeks, all the scary stuff and not knowing if I’d make it, I made a promise to myself that things would change, I would make things happen from now on.
I started to believe I was a survivor, a fighter. This was just the beginning of showing everyone how strong I was, what I’m capable of.
I was taken back to the ward, checked over to see if I had to be cleaned and then I could rest. Ewan stayed with me for a few more hours and then it was time for him to go home. Despite an emotional start to his visit, it had been a nice day and I continued to make progress with being weaned off the ventilator. Plus, taking in the fresh air for the first time in a few weeks was beautiful.
India came to visit me on the Tuesday, she’s the best friend I could ever ask for. This was her third visit, I was able to use the speaking valve throughout her visit, even though I spent most of it coughing. I’m not sure if she noticed, but whenever I coughed, I farted. I couldn’t help it; I blame it on all the medication I was on. It was embarrassing but funny at the same time. India kept telling me to sleep if I needed to, which I’m glad because she kept making me laugh and it was tiring me out! When I woke up, she was still by my side, I really appreciated that.
On Wednesday, I realised this had been the longest that I had not seen Mum for, it felt strange and it upset me. Like I’ve said before, I’m a mummy’s girl.
A familiar nurse came and stood by my bed; it was Will! He was looking after me again. Despite a few tears beforehand, the day started off well. I had been off the ventilator for… I lost count how long. Then Will appeared, and a short while later he came over and told me that Mum was able to visit. I was so pleased!
All this joy quickly caught up with me as it made me tired and I soon nodded off. But not for too long, I was awoken by Sam, a neuro-physiotherapist. She was lovely and funny. They wanted to try and get me to sit on the edge of my bed again. Once hoisted and placed in position, there were so many nurses and physios around me, supporting me. I still felt very wobbly, and this was the first session without the ventilator.
I thought it was going well, I was slowly leaning forward to help control my balance but I became panicky, which in affect played havoc with my breathing and had to quickly be reconnected to the ventilator. The session didn’t last very long at all, but it was a lot more than I could have done a few weeks ago!
Sam said that she would come back later in the day to see if I wanted to sit in the recliner.
Soon after Sam and her team left, Mum arrived! She was looking a lot better too. It was nice to be able to speak to her, even though my voice still sounded like Rod Stewart. After a while, with Mum bringing me up to date with things that had been happening at home, Sam returned. She asked if I felt strong enough to sit in the recliner. I nodded as I really wanted to show Mum.
When I was hoisted into the recliner, I was sitting on a pillow to help take the pressure of my sore, and I had a couple of pillows propped up behind me. I was quite comfy. Everyone was chatting amongst themselves for a few minutes before Sam came back over to me and asked if I would like to go outside in the garden.
I quickly replied, “Yes please!” The sun was shining through the windows which made me excited that I would be able to experience sitting in the sunshine again! Oxygen tanks prepped, everything else that I may have needed was ready to go. I felt like the Queen being pushed, in the recliner, throughout the hospital!
It was early afternoon so there were a lot of people about, but it was refreshing to see. I was pushed towards just in front of the bench (the bench in the photo of me and Ewan). The sun wasn’t directly on me, which was good because the heat quickly caught up with me! Nevertheless, it felt lovely to feel the warmth around me. Mum wanted to take a photo of me.
I started to feel really sore, and I tried my hardest not to let it show because I enjoyed being outside, and taking everything into consideration, I didn’t know how much more I would get to go outside. But I could only endure being uncomfortable for so long, I told everyone that my sore was playing up, and thankfully they swiftly pushed me back onto the ward.
While I was being hoisted back into bed, Will had to dash off to receive a phone call at the desk. He came back over and told us that it was King’s Lynn Hospital on the phone, there was a bed available for me!
I was going to be closer to home!