Again, again, it's another long time since I last posted, but this time it's because I'm in hospital.
I've had some horrid tummy pain for a few weeks now, which suddenly got much worse in the afternoon of 11th July. I tried to call my GP surgery to see if there was any chance of an appointment, but their phone line was down for some reason, so I trundled along on the off-chance that I might be able to see a doctor. The receptionist asked if it was an emergency, and although I wasn't altogether sure, I said that it probably was. I was told to take a seat and that I'd be seen after the booked appointments - what I expected.
While I waited the pain was getting worse and I was feeling more unwell so that by the time I saw the doctor an hour later I felt really quite rubbish. He examined me carefully but it didn't take huge observation skills to see that I was in a lot of pain, which Dr Cn said concerned him because, he said, 'I know you're no wimp.'
The doctor wasn't all together sure what the problem was, but suspected appendicitis with some symptoms being masked by my regular high dose steroids. He called an ambulance, requesting it be blue light, but somewhere along the way the message got confused and the ambulance took over an hour to get to me, by which time the surgery was meant to have been long closed.
When the ambulance arrived they got me on board and then ambled along to the hospital Emergency Admissions Unit (EAU), as the doctor had arranged. I was taken straight to a bed in one of the bays and then waited. And waited. And was refused pain killers because I hadn't seen a doctor so hadn't had any prescribed. And I waited, and the nurses kept phoning the surgical docs to come to assess me and my ever worsening pain, and they kept not coming and I waited. I thought it would have been quicker to have gone along the corridor to A&E, and I still suspect it would have been because I waited four and a half hours before the surgical junior got to see me. Mind you, once she did at last get to me she stepped right up to the mark and I was quickly seen by her seniors several times. They were certain I had appendicitis and I was fairly quickly taken to a surgical ward, stopping on the way at CT for a scan.
Apparently they usually use an IV contrast dye to help show everything up on a CT scan, but they hadn't on this occasion because they were afraid I might be allergic to it. Unfortunately it meant that the scan was inconclusive and I'd have to wait until the following morning to see the consultant before any surgical decisions would be made. In the meantime I was prescribed IV antibiotics and a fentanyl PCA (Patient Controlled Analgesia). At last, some pain relief.
It was a long night with barely any rest, but the staff were nice enough and keen to keep me stable at the very least, so they checked on me regularly and told me to let them know if I needed anything.
Come the morning and I was exhausted, having slept very little, and quite frankly, the possibility of an enforced sleep during surgery, as the consultant explained his plan to be, wasn't an entirely unwelcome prospect. It looked as though I would have an ultrasound scan and then have an investigative laparoscopy, with a probable appendectomy. I would spend a couple of days in ITU, probably on a ventilator, to make sure that my lungs were stable, then return to the surgical ward for a few days before being allowed home.
So there was a plan, and although I didn't relish the prospect of surgery, at least it would fix the problem. I relaxed a little. I fell asleep a while. I woke up, and I couldn't breathe.