A favourite quote and a way by which to approach life.

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Monday, 27 July 2009


Or rather the lack of judgement. I made some serious misjudgments during this most recent asthma attack, which I'm certain were related to how poorly I was (judgement being affected by low oxygen levels and high carbon dioxide levels in my blood), but which could so easily have cost me my life ... and nearly did.

My first misjudgement was hanging on as long as I did before I got help, but as I explained in my post at the time, this was in part influenced by some previous experiences I've had at A&E and RVI and my therefore my extreme reluctance to go to either of those places, especially without someone who can speak up for me when I'm unable to speak at all. Of course, if I hadn't been quite so poorly I'd have been able to act sensibly and call an ambulance much earlier on, but my head was so scrambled by the lack of O2 and increased CO2 that couldn't think straight at all. This is scary. I think it was all made worse by the fact that it happened at night when I didn't feel like I could wake any of my friends, which again was probably a misjudgement as I'm sure they'd much rather have me wake them for help than find that I'm dead!

My next misjudgement was to walk to the GP surgery. I will never know how I got there, and believe it can only have been through the grace of God that I made it, because I really ought to have collapsed and probably died in the street ... or rather, the backlane - another misjudgement since they're so much quieter than the street and therefore I was less likely to get assistance from a passer-by. The only defense I have is that the backlane route is marginally shorter than the main road route. I literally staggered in a blue-tinged heap to the surgery and had to stop for breath (such as I could breathe!) every few steps. It really is a miracle that I got there, and I really ought not to have tried. If I were to continue insisting to myself that I see the GP instead of dial 999 then I at least should have asked for a home visit.

My lack of ability to make sensible and rational judgements at the time is highlighted by the very random nature of the things I put in my bag to take to the surgery with me. Now, somewhere inside I knew that I'd end up going to hospital from the surgery, though I was hoping with all of that part of me that knew it that I'd come straight to Ward 29 at the Freeman. I packed my medications, knowing that hospitals generally like this as it means that they have all your meds for at least the first few days until pharamcy come up with a hefty supply for the rest of the admission. Other than that I didn't take anything of any remote use - no pyjamas or toiletries. No, I took children's books, cross-stitch and tea bags! Again, this is an indicator of how unable I was to think straight, especially as I always keep a small case packed with all the hospital necessities in it, and although I got the case out I left it at home.

It's frightening, you know. It's frightening how completely unable I became to make the right decisions, and how quickly that inability happened. This attack was one of those ones though that snapped extremely quickly and snapped extremely badly so that within minutes I was in dire straights. I mean, what possessed me to think that updating my blog was what I needed to do instead of calling for an ambulance?! I know that it was an attempt to stop feeling quite so alone in the situation - a kind of reaching out - but it really wasn't what I should have been doing.

I know that the situation was made worse/more difficult for me because the events occurred during the night. I've had similar attacks to this in the past, but mostly they've been through the day or evening and I've felt much more able to contact friends, even if that's just been a text saying 'I'm not so great.' I'm not always very good at letting on what 'not so great' really means, but my friends are astute enough to pick up on my understatements and have done what's needed to be done - take control and tell me what I need to do, even though I already know somewhere inside what that is. As I say, this time I couldn't think straight enough to realise that my friends wouldn't mind being woken in the middle of the night and suffer some tiredness through the next day if it meant I stayed alived.

I need to come up with a plan for any similar occasions in the future. I don't know what this plan is going to be, and I don't seem able to think about it on my own. Everytime I try to come up with a solution my mind goes into the same muddled mess as when I was that poorly, which I think is probably due to the trauma of the events. I've drafted a letter to my GP asking if they might be able to help me come up with a strategy for future occasions, although I'm not certain they'll think themselves the right person for this so I'm giving them the clear option of telling me just to get my act together and do it myself if that's what they think is right. We'll see.

I know that I made a whole series of misjudgements this time, and I know that I was incredibly lucky to survive them. I can laugh at the randomness of what I took with me to the GP surgery, but I also know that it's an indicator of how poorly I was, and that's scary. The whole thing has been scary. I'm still trying to get my head around, and still not doing a very good job of doing so. I still think it's going to hit hardest when I get home, but there's no sign of that yet.


ginge said...

yes, call us! markos is self employed and i'm on mat leave; no excuses!!!
consider yourself scolded/reminded that you are loved and we'd rather not find you dead.

Sarah said...

I'd be happy to be woken on the middle of the night (well, I'd put on a happy face).

Wanda said...

Hi Becky,

You know I'd be more than happy to knocked up in the middle of the night.


B said...

i'm very glad you're still alive.

it's very easy to say 'yes call me even in the middle of the night' but i realise it's not that simple when your judgement is gone. i wish i knew what the answer was. maybe a conversation to have with all the medical staff when you're better? they are supposed to help...

to be honest i was relieved to see your blog post that morning. it meant you were alive. and i'd spent that evening trying to tell myself that you knew your illness and would have phoned for an ambulance by now if things really were that bad.

lesson learned for next time. judgement is impaired when o2 is short. i'll make sure in future!

Anonymous said...

Is there some objective measure you could use? Like, if your peak flow is below such and such, then you *always* call someone to come and make the judgement for you. That way, there's no decision to make at the time.

PS I really enjoy your blog.