This is an immediate follow-on from the previous post, and it's an extract from one of my hospital diaries. I'm going to be reading it out in my talk tomorrow as an example of what it's like to need to go to intensive care ... and the fear. It is taken straight from my diary as written, with no alterations.
'Some people don't understand why I'm reluctant to go down to ITU. Can't they comprehend the fear? Can they not understand that going to ITU is terrifying, because you know that they're running out of options to keep you alive? I know that's why they want to take me - to keep me alive - and I understand that at the time too, but it's horrible and the things they do to monitor you are painful, and all the time all I can think is that I want to go to sleep and I want to be alive, but I can't have both those things at that one time unless I deteriorate that little bit more and they put me to sleep ... only then there isn't the guarantee that I'll be alive when I wake up.
'Desperate for breath. Desperate for sleep. Desperately trying to stay alive. Trying not to panic. Trying not to cry. Trying to get comfort for my fear from those around me who cannot assure me that everything will be alright. The best advice they can give is that getting upset can only make my lungs worse, and they will do all they can for me. Breathing is hard, lungs hurt, interventions to monitor are painful and obtrusive, fear grips as medications fail to help, nurses try to comfort and get the SHO, who looks afraid and sends for the registrar, who is obviously concerned so calls the consultant, who knows he can do no more here so contacts the anaesthetist, who comes in a swathe of green cotton and a small entourage behind, and they all look worried and take me downstairs to be prodded and poked and have more monitors stuck on me and needles into me, and it doesn't matter where they go, or how much it hurts to get them in, they just have to do it to keep me from dying. All the while I'm surrounded by all these people I'm completely alone, because I can't breathe enough to tell them I'm scared. I plead with my eyes for them to help and for them to stop, and I know it's a contradiction, but I want both those things simultaneously. Death doesn't frighten me, but dying is horrendous, and feeling alone whilst dying is terrifying. Maybe one day I'll be ready for it, and not in a way that is just exhaustion and the inability to keep on fighting, but right now I'm not ready.
'God's in it all somewhere, I know that ... I just haven't figured out where yet.'