Not long after my last post I was very ill. The allergy progressed so that I was very itchy, bright red, nauseous, vomitting, wheezing, and beginning to swell. I took lots of antihistamines, which reduced the swelling and lessened the itching, but my breathing continued to deteriorate. I texted W to say what was happening, and she came and took me to A&E. At my first time of texting W I hadn't been sure whether or not I'd need to go to hospital, but in the end there was no doubt about it, and although we ought really to have called an ambulance W whizzed me up to A&E herself. Things were bad, but they weren't dreadfully dreadful, although I did get sent straight through for immediate treatment without any waiting around, and then I found myself in resus. I spent the night in the monitoring bay of the Emergency Admissions Unit (EAU) unfortunately getting worse, and increasingly tired, but somewhat overlooked as the place was busy with too few staff and several poorly patients. The disadvantage of being somewhat used to severe breathing difficulties is that I am now able to keep relatively calm through it all, which may seem like a good thing, and is to a degree, except that it can give a false impression of how ill I actually am. The gentleman in the bed next to me was quite distressed with his own breathing problems through the night so the staff concentrated on him, which is good, except that it menat that my needs weren't observed until much later. By the morning it was clear that I was in quite a desperate situation and I ended up in ITU on BiPAP for 22 hours. W was with me a lot of the time, despite having work to go to and a huge essay to complete for the last of her graduate diploma. And she told me that when she was leaving ITU for work at one point the sister pulled her aside and said that although I was a doing a little better I still may not survive. This doesn't give me any information I didn't already know for myself, nor W, but when it's said it confirms the truth and is hard-hitting. I'd much rather know these things for sure though - be told the whole truth - so I respect their honesty, and I think W does too. It's hard though. It's always hard. Thankfully, I did make it through and eventually I made it to the respiratory ward, although my usual ward 29 at Freeman didn't immediately have any beds so I had to go to the RVI resp ward. I don't like it much there. Maybe it's partly because it's not where I'm used to and I don't know the staff, but the whole atmosphere feels frenetic and disorganised, and staff-centred to me. They don't know me. I don't know them. They don't know that I know my illness better than them and they seem to find it hard to accept the fact that I do. I was still pretty ill while I was there, and I was getting more stressed out by being there too, so it was a huge relief when I was eventually transferred to Ward 29.
It's very slow progress, and I've been in hospital for 2 weeks now. The breathing is eventually settling and I managed to get off the aminophylline infusion on Friday (at least I think it was Friday...). I've now be transferred back onto oral steroids from hydrocortisone injections and have stopped having to have the intravenous antihistamines as well. All that is good. I'm still on oxygen at the moment, but a fairly small amount now. I'm utterly exhausted though. My body definitely feels as though it's been poisoned and as though it's taking a long time for the toxins to be shot of. Actually, the main problem now is that I have absolutely horrendous water retention. As you know, I've had some difficulty with water retention in previous admissions, but this time it's the worst it's ever been. My skin is splitting because it's so stretched with fluid. The stretch itself is painful. Most of the fluid is around my middle and my hips - hugely gathered around my hips so that I must be almost double my usual size (no exaggeration). My body is so overloaded that my bladder and my kidneys keep going into horrendous spasm, producing pain like I've never had before. I'm now on some meds to help with the spasms, and they certainly help the intensity, though they can still be protracted and very painful indeed. I'm on fairly high doses of diruetics as well as I have so much water to shift and my body wasn't shifting any of its own accord, but still there doesn't seem to be any significant reduction. The nurses say they can see the water sloshing around inside me when I move! I can't fit into my pyjamas. I can only stand to have the hospital gown tied loosly around the top of my neck because any pressure at all on my skin hurts. I did manage just about to squeeze into the bath for the first time today, but it wasn't easy and it was painful. It's demoralising. It's painful. It's embarrassing. It's uncomfortable. It's miserable. Everything hurts. I'm so heavy with the extra fluid that my back hurts if I sit for long or stand for just a few minutes. The weight of the fluid around my middle and up my chest is pressing on my lungs and making breathing harder, and a few days ago an x-ray showed some fluid on my lungs because of the oedema, although this at least seems to be clearing.
I'm miserable. I feel like a beluga whale. I'm sore. I'm in pain. I'm exhausted. My mind is in a blur from the events of the past two weeks and the unexpectedness of the allergic reaction. I'm thankful and surprised to be alive, but I'm so worn out and so sick of hospital.