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

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Not as planned

I was hoping to post an update last Thursday, but it didn't happen because I had a visitor just as I was about to set to task.  So then I determined that I'd do it on Friday instead, but nothing went to plan on Friday and after a week of struggling on at home with what turned out to be 'flu, I ended up in hospital.

As I say, the lurgies I've had weren't 'just a cold', but 'flu, and for all the wishing in the world things didn't settle.  I was reluctant to go to my GP partly because I know there's nothing a GP can do for viruses so there's no point in going to the surgery and infecting everyone there, and partly because I was pretty sure that the effort it would take to get to the surgery (even in Taz) would set the lungs off into a catastrophic state.

 Late last Thursday night I was a little anxious that things weren't improving (in fact I got rather cyanosed on moving from the sofa to the bed - a very bad sign), and I was very aware that the weekend was fast approaching and that medical services reduce significantly over the weekend.  I compromised with myself and decided to phone the GP surgery in the morning and get a telephone consultation with the doctor.  I somehow managed to wake myself up with the alarm at 8.30am on Friday and set about the task of getting through to the surgery, but as soon as the lines open they become almost permanently engaged, so it took me 7 minutes to get through, by which time the receptionist told me that there weren't any telephone consult appointments left for that day.  She went on to say that there were, however, lots of contact appointments at the surgery, so there'd be no problem if I could get up there.  I explained my predicament of not being horrendously short of breath at that precise moment (although she interjected saying she thought I did actually sound very breathless), but I was concerned that getting myself to the surgery would set my lungs off big time.  'Oh,' she said.  'In that case, all I can do is to get the on-call doctor to phone you up in the next 20 to 30 minutes.'  Now I don't know about you, but to me that sounds rather like a telephone consultation, which is what I'd originally asked for... 'Yes, that's absolutely fine.  I'll keep the phone by me.'

The doc phoned back within twenty minutes, and I immediately knew that I'm far too frequent a customer at the surgery as she greeted me with, 'Hello, Becky?  It' M.  Dr P.'  First name terms.  She didn't even call me Rebecca, as on my notes, but Becky because she knows me so well (and I always sign off cards, letters, etc that I send them as Becky, so they know that's what I like to be called).  Anyway, the conversation was relatively brief.  Dr P could tell that I wasn't great, although not in crisis, and she said that one of the things that concerned her was not just that I'd been struggling on at home on my own with 'flu for the past week, but also that I was phoning them for advice, which I hardly ever do.  That, she said, meant that I was concerned, which in turn made her concerned.  I saw her point.  She fairly quickly decided that I ought to go to hospital, and when I suggested that the exertion of this might set things off, she came back to me with, 'In which case you need to be there, don't you think?'  Again, she had a point.  Dr P tried to placate me with the suggestion that I may just be kept in hospital for a few hours while they observe me, but I knew that once I was in the hands of the medics I wouldn't be going home any time soon.

'So do you want me to call you an ambulance then?' Dr P asked.
'No, not really,' I replied, with the edge of a joke in a my voice.  'Could you maybe see if Ward 29 have a bed first?'
'Okay.  I'll phone the ward, speak to them there, then call you back.'
'And Becky?' She called down the phone just as I was about to hang up
'Pack a bag, because you're going to hospital whatever.'
'Oh. Okay.'  So disappointed, but I knew she was right.  I knew I needed to be going to there really, even if I didn't want to.

I didn't actually need to pack a bag as I keep one packed and stocked all the time, but I did need to think about brushing my teeth, getting meds together to take with me, getting the last few 'luxuries' such as mobile, kindle and book, letting my mum and W know, and then maybe changing from pyjamas to clothes.  I managed a few of those things before the doc called back to say that I was in luck, Ward 29 had a bed, she'd called a 20 minute ambulance, and she hoped it would be an easy and short admission.  She is very lovely, and most importantly very good.

So here I am on Ward 29.  To be honest I've felt like something of a fraud because I wasn't in my usual state of total desperation when I arrived, but I actually don't think I would have made it through the weekend without going splat, and I have been on the aminophylline infusion ever since I arrived.  As one of my friends who's a GP said when she came to visit me, 'You're not a fraud just because you haven't ended up in ITU this time.  Most people don't go to Intensive Care when they come into hospital.'  Ah, yes, good point, S, good point.  So I'm not a fraud, and I know it really, and of course I wouldn't have been kept in or put on the aminophylline if I were, but it makes me think about how used I have become to being desperately ill when I usually arrive in hospital...

I am mending.  I'm still on the infusion at the moment, but we're hoping to try to get that down in the next couple of days.  My temperature has also been much more settled today, and whilst I'm still a bit snuffly, I'm doing okay.  This might turn out to be a shortish admission for me :o)  though of course I'm saying that ever so quietly so that my lungs don't hear and don't go getting any ideas about acting up.

As seems to have become the way of things during admissions over the past couple of years, I have once again swelled up immensely with fluid retention.  Aminophylline is meant to have mild diuretic properties, but it appears to have had the opposite effect with me ever since the POTS started.  I am currently gargantuan.  I am whale-like, and the only relief is that, despite my marine animal appearance, I don't yet appear to have developed a barnacle problem.


Dawn said...

I know exactly what you mean by feeling like a fraud because you're not as poorly as you usually are when being admitted!! Whenever I say that to people they look at me like I'm mad. I suppose to them, struggling to breathe is bad whereas I have varying degrees of struggling to breathe, ranging from irritating and frustrating to needing immediate medical assistance.

I'm sorry to hear that you've ended up in hospital. I hope you manage to get the aminophylline down and you stay well, so that this can be a short admission and you can get back home.

Sending you hugs! Dawn x

Diana West said...

So sorry to hear that you're in hospital, Becky, but at the same time glad that you seem to be getting better.
Keep breathing!
Best wishes
Diana xxx

BeckyG said...

Thank you Dawn and Diana for your hugs and well wishes :o) They cheer me :o)

Dawn, your description of people looking at you like you're mad when you say you feel like a fraud is very familiar from this admission. You're also right about geting used to being breathless. I am ever so used to it ... perhaps dangerously so...

It'll be great if this admission can be a short one as I'm due back at univeristy the week after next. It'd be good to have a bit of time at home before launching back into studies. First things first though, and that's to get the aminophylline down. I'm hoping for an easy ride with it...

Thanks again.

vivinfrance said...

Becky, I'm so glad your on-call GP was on the ball, and that you had the good sense to ask before you were desperate. It is comforting that you are on the mend, and NO WAY are you a fraud.
Thinking of you.

BeckyG said...

Thank you, Viv :o) I know really that I'm not a fraud, but it's weird how these feelings can get hold of one sometimes. I think I get anxious about things like that too after my last experience at the RVI HDU too... Thanks again for your love and support.

Laila THOMAS said...

HI Becky, I'm Laila, Live in australia and have Catastrophic brittle asthma. I have never thought o google before, and found your blog.
I have had 20 resuscitations this year, can't count the number of attacks. I am type 2, so, i am either breathing or not. I don't do the mild or constant wheeze anymore.. just stop breathing. lungs slam shut and can't get any air in or out...
thank you for sharing your life, I have only read a couple of posts ,but don't feel so alone.

BeckyG said...

Hi Laila, and welcome to my blog. I'm so sorry to hear how catastrophic your asthma is, but I'm glad that you don't feel so alone after reading some of my blog. That's one of the things I set out to do - reach out to others with brittle asthma, wherever they might be, and show them that there are other folk out there who understand and live a similar, precarious type of life. It can be a very frightening condition, that so few understand, so one of my other aims has been to give those who don't have asthma, or have never heard of brittle/catastrophic/difficult asthma, what life can be like. At the same time, I try to live a life that is more than asthma - I try to live along side it, rather than 'suffer' with it - and show some of that too.

Anyway, welcome, and thank you for reading.