So I’m going to tell you all about the day(s) that changed my life forever; this is a topic that I never thought I’d write about but I feel like it’s important to raise awareness and to give others hope that life does carry on after something traumatic!
This is going to be a long wordy post but bare with me – it’s a long story but you’re about to learn the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me…
Nearly two years ago the day after my birthday I couldn’t stop being sick and I was struggling to function – me being me I forced myself to go to work and keep going! But I just couldn’t stop being sick whatever I tried, I got myself an appointment at the GP and was prescribed anti-sickness tablets. I thought great they’ve said it’s a sickness bug and these tablets will solve it – how wrong I was!
The following few days I could barely get out of bed, the sickness had stopped but the nausea hadn’t, I was struggling to breathe without gasping for air, I had stabbing pains in my lower back and ribs that I kept putting off as pulling a muscle, even after taking a shower I felt like I’d run a marathon from the effort of standing and lifting my arm! Still I was in complete denial, I actually somehow travelled to work (3 trains it took to my old job!!) and ended up leaving after 5 minutes after my boss told me off – I have absolutely no recollection of my journey home or the drive back from the station, I was that out of it!
Anyway, 5 days after this all started I finally called my mum and told her something was really wrong with me (it’s true what they say about regressing when you’re sick!). At this point we were actually having the garage conversion done and had builders everywhere! My mum turned up called the NHS advice line and handed me the phone to answer some questions, I couldn’t get an entire sentence out without gasping for air and the person on the other end of the phone immediately reacted by saying they were concerned that I sounded like I couldn’t breathe and were sending a paramedic out immediately. I was MORTIFIED, I just kept thinking the builders are going to think I’m a drama queen and what will the neighbours think, it’s just a stomach bug!
Within what felt like seconds this cheery paramedic turned up and I sat there saying I’m sure it’s nothing and we’ve wasted his time etc. He takes my temperature, which is about 40 degrees at this point and gives me some paracetamol to bring it down, he explains that paracetamol makes you hot and sweaty before bringing your temperature down – right great ok, I tell my mum we just need to stock up on some then and keep laughing it off! Half hour later he takes my temperature again expecting it to have gone down and his face stops laughing and turns dead serious – it had gone up to 44 instead of down! He says we will give it another 15 mins but if it hasn’t gone down he’s got to take me in to hospital – again all I kept thinking was what will the neighbours say and the hospital will laugh at me for just having a bug!
15 minutes later and my temperature is still rocketing – he calls Mr R, imagine receiving a call that starts with “Hi, I’m a paramedic with your wife, don’t panic but I’ve got to take her in to hospital”! Poor Mr R! We get in the paramedic car and I’m convinced I’m coming home that night and that it’s nothing still – little did I know I wouldn’t see my house again until the building work was complete and beyond!!!
I remember arriving at the hospital and being taken in to the triage area and honestly do not remember anything after that, not a thing, until I was lying in a hospital bed a few hours later! Apparently I was completely conscious but in a lot of pain which is likely to have been blocked out.
Within a very short space of time they ran so many tests and drew so much blood for testing, coming to the diagnosis that I had septicaemia and pneumonia, one of my lungs was completely full of fluid (hence the problems breathing!) and my infection count was through the roof! Cue more needles stuck all over my arms and endless trials of antibiotics but nothing seemed to be working (although no-one was telling me that!!). We were due to fly to New York and Mexico 2 weeks later and I was convinced I was still getting on that plane!
About a week later, still in hospital, at 2am in the morning I remember waking up startled to a nurse peering down at me with panic all over his face, he ran off and all of a sudden I was surrounded by doctors and people in surgoen masks – to say I was terrified would be an understatement! This lovely (but scarily gowned up!) doctor leant down and told me that she had to run some tests and if the result came back like she suspected that she had to put me to sleep. Considering I’d just been asleep I was really confused! I sat there internally pleading that the results wouldn’t be what she was expecting but unfortunately she came back and said the words I’d never forget “I’m sorry we have to put you to sleep” I argued and said I didn’t want to and she responded with “If I don’t do it now then shortly your organs will shut down and I will have to do it anyway but it will be more risky” – so what choice did I have but to agree!
My mum, Mr R and my aunt rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night and I felt like I was saying my goodbyes, I kept saying what if I don’t wake up! I was absolutely terrified.
The next thing I remember is waking up startled in another random place with no idea of what was going on, there are tubes everywhere, including in my throat and when I try to talk I realise I can’t! I was so confused and panicked, the nurses came over and explained that I’d been in an induced coma and I was safe, I had a tracheotomy which is why I couldn’t talk.
I clock watched and kept listening to conversations trying to work out what day it was (in my head it was the next day!), eventually I realised it was a WEEK later – I had lost a week of my life and couldn’t remember anything! I had been in that coma with my family and friends coming in and out for a week seeing me with tubes in every place possible, including one sticking out of my lung at the side, on a life support machine! I later found out during this my family had been taken in to a room and told to expect the worst – I can’t even comprehend what they must’ve gone through!
They had put me out with the hope that my body could concentrate on getting rid of the infection only but even though no-one was telling me it still hadn’t worked enough! A normal cold apparently puts your infection levels up to 10 and mine was over 400!!! They then tried a treatment that would draw the fluid out of my lungs with the tube in to a big tub (disgusting is all I’m saying!) this went on for a few days – I had no energy I was literally staring with huge eyes (I was on morphine!) in lala land for days! I was being fed by a tube and going to the loo through another tube – it still gives me nightmares thinking about it! I kept being told the same thing by every doctor I saw, that this normally happened to old people and they couldn’t find why it had happened – until this day nobody knows why or how this happened to me.
Two weeks went past and I started to communicate by writing on a whiteboard and by some miracle the infection levels had started to drop down! I had to have daily physiotherapy to learn to walk again – in my head I thought I was able to get up and just walk but as soon as I got out of that bed I could barely stand, it was the strangest and scariest thing! I was getting excited when I could walk a few laps of the 10m ward – I felt like a child again! Talking of feeling like a child, this entire time lets just say I wasn’t able to wash myself or clean myself, a nurse had to do it for me, I felt so degraded and helpless!
Over the next few weeks I learnt to be independent again, I got excited when I was allowed to go to the bathroom on my own! I was moved to the lower wards and finally after a month in hospital I was told I could go home! (Ok so maybe not exactly, in the last 2 days before I’d got so frustrated I’d cried, slammed my fists on the bed and complained to anyone that would listen that I just wanted to go home – that probably made them want to get rid of me haha – I’d had enough by that point!)
I got home and it felt surreal, I kept thinking I’d be forced to go back there and waking up in the night asking the nurses to remove my drip so I could use the bathroom (cue Mr R telling me to snap out of it, I wasn’t in hospital anymore!) I spent another month at home recovering and trying to get back to normal. I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere on my own for the first few weeks and felt like I was a teenager again! That first time of driving to Asda on my own I was so on edge, I felt panicked and like I shouldn’t be on my own!
It took me months to get back to feeling like myself again and in reality I suppose I never really have – it’s changed me forever – I realised life was too short and I actually actively pushed myself to find a new job that wasn’t so far and that made me happier. It’s changed my perspectives on life in general and not sweating the small stuff so much.
Even now nearly 2 years on there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about what happened – I have a scar across my neck where the tube was and every day when I look in the mirror I feel a combination of hatred for the mark and gratitude for my life – that’s the reason you will rarely see me without a necklace on now to hide it! I’ve spent the last 1.5 years wearing a fitbit to keep watch of my heart rate constantly with paranoia but recently have had the confidence to wear real watches again instead which has been empowering!
The moral of my story is to always trust your gut instinct – if you don’t feel right then don’t ignore it always get it checked sooner rather than later, never take life for granted you never know what will happen and always have faith that even if something does happen that life will go on and that you will be ok – that applies to illnesses, breakups or any kind of trauma, life is worth living and everything passes!
I hope this will help someone one day and that you feel like you know me a little better!
Lots of love