Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Feeling Poorly

Well here I am 1 week after it all happened, but the events kinda started a few days before that, I had better recap and bring you up to date.

Last week I was feeling a bit run down, kinda tired all the time, and having very dark poo. Obviously I put that down to a temporary thing, possibly a stomach bug or something. It wasn't until I went to work on Wednesday that things started to get worse. Got to work as normal, but was feeling a little light headed, not having had breakfast yet I thought I would soldier on and see how I felt later on. Had breakfast, but still not feeling any better. Daryl remarked that I was looking a rather pale today and so I wandered into the toilets to have a look. Lo and behold, I am as white as a sheet, wow I thought to my self, that is pasty. Leaving the toilets I continued my day, that was until someone called me over to check something, and a s I bent over to see it, I came over all dizzy and wanted to be sick. Off back to the toilets I went, nausea subsiding, but the dizzyness remained. Ok time to do something about this, do I ring my doctor and not get an appointment for a couple days or go to A & E and be seen pretty quickly. Best bet, ring NHS direct and see what they say. After getting through and describing my symptoms, the answer was simple GO DIRECTLY TO A & E. DO NOT PASS GO DO NOT COLLECT 200

I am not a number.......
So, quickly informing work of my situation, a lift is procured and to A & E I went. For the next couple of hours I am poked prodded, interviewed, blood taken, blood pressure measured and to a side room I am instructed to go, where I am connected to an ECG to check my heart trace. Another consultant comes in, asks me the same questions again, a whispered discussion between himself and a nurse and I am fitted with a cannula and connected to a machine another to keep a check on my heart rate. 115 is my heart rate, not sure if that is the anxiety of being here or a symptom of what is wrong with me. Yet another Doctor comes in, takes one look at me and swiftly informs me I probably have a bleeding ulcer and have to be admitted immediately, without waiting for the results of my blood test. A porter is summoned and I whisked off to a private room, and told to make myself comfortable.

Maybe an hour later another porter knocks on my door and informs me I am to be taken to have a chest x-ray, here we go. That is dutifully done, and i'm transported back to my private room where I wait a few more hours before some food is brought in, and I sit, eat and wait whilst watching the One Show on the TV. At around 8pm yet another porter knocks on my door only to be transported to a ward where I may have to stay for a few days. Here I was informed that by haemoglobin level was a lowly 6.8, were as the average should be around 14/15. I was in the best place that I could be.

Just visiting, I hoped
Well here I was, admitted to hospital with a suspected stomach ulcer and only in the clothes I was standing in. Earlier on Peter, a mate from work, had asked if there was anything he could do for me, and as he had my spare key for my house I took him up on my offer. I told him that in the boot of my car was my gym bag with a full set of clean clothes and if he could drop it off on his way home from work later that evening. Of course being the grand person he is, he did just that. As he could only stop for a short while, it being out of visiting hours he then asked if I needed anything from home, so a short list was compiled, as I had no idea how long I was to be staying here.As of midnight I was to be nil by mouth for tomorrow the camera was to enter my throat and give me some answers, but in the mean time I was to chill and chat with Peter Monk. 

Peter Monk was in the next bed to me and had been here for over a week with an inflamed liver, he was so glad to see someone who was not over 70 and soiling themselves. We chatted about anything and everything that came to mind, and as he put it, I was able to provide some sanity in what was an unreal situation. That being said, we made the best of it, laughing at our respective situation and drank glasses of water as if they were beers, getting to know each other. Just before midnight we retired to our respective beds, with me dressed in hospital provided pjamas. At least I would have some real clothes to wear the next day, courtesy of my good friend Peter.

it was something like this but green
Sleeping was difficult, due to the unfamiliar surroundings, not knowing how things would progress the next day and the cannula in my arm. Due to being nil by mouth I was allowed to sleep in a little longer, but 7.30 I awoke for more tests and observations.  I kept my mum informed the best I could, but with a rapidly draining battery in my mobile and the public payphone being out of order, it was a little problematic. With a HB level of 6.8 the quickest way of getting it higher was a blood transfusion, so for the next 3 hours someone elses blood was slowly mingling with mine. To be honest it did make me feel a little more alert, definitely needed that then. Peter was taken for a scan of his liver, so I read the papers and Viz he had with him to keep my mind of my situation. Around 1pm my friend Peter came to drop off a bag of bits, t-shirts, pants, books, toothbrush and my phone charger. Again he was unable to stay long, what with it being out of visiting hours and work, but I was glad to see him.

A little around 2.30pm a porter appeared to take me for my Endoscopy, to be honest I wasn't that worried about the procedure, for it should give us some answers and how to proceed from here. The new hospital is a warren of passageways, rooms and wards, the porters must have a built in GPS to navigate it all. Again it's all about waiting, the nurses are so busy here, but proffesionality is paramount, and care is in equal measures. Eventually I am to face the camera, a little fear slithers down my spine, but it will soon be over, and I will know. A spray is delivered to my throat, to numb it and possibly stop you from gagging. The camera itself is on the end of a long black tube, maybe as thick as your little finger, but the screen is behind be as I lie on my left side and the investigation begins.

Firstly the tube slides down your throat and you are instructed to swallow, as soon as you have down it goes, not a pleasant sensation, but not too nasty. All that is about to change. The doctor operating the camera has to make it turn and twist to follow your insides, this is where it gets nasty. Part of the tube is rubbing against that little point in your throat that makes you gag, and gag I did. For the next couple of minutes my body convulsed and twitched as the doctor made his was right through to my large intestine, the nurse had her hand on my shoulder telling me to breathe deeply, yes it works, but any more movement and the gagging continues. My eyes are streaming, small amounts of vomit are being removed form my mouth as the doctor takes a few samples from the lining of my stomach for further testing. One last deep breath and the tube is rapidly extracted from me, should I have requested sedation, hmmmm, for a few minutes discomfort as opposed to many hours of feeling drowsy, discomfort is for me thanks.

Mr Endoscope
Sitting up I wipe my eyes, put my glasses back on, wipe my mouth and generally make myself a little more presentable, as for being embarrasses, why, they probably see it many times a day. Straight away the doctor informs me that yes I do have a ulcer, it is in my duodenum, and is beginning to heal, good news then. We chat about how and why, but the prognosis is good, relatively. With this department being so busy it takes a while to summon a porter to return me to my ward, but it allows me to think about where I am with what has happened to me, a sense of relief washes over me. A senior nurse chats with me about possible bacterial infections and treatment, again the future looks good, it is just gonna take a little time.

Back on the ward it is lunch time, potato pie and mushy peas, never has food looked so good. To be honest the food has been quite good, so no complaints there, you know how I like my food. Tucking in, me and Peter discuss our respective outlook, both are positive, time, without sounding trite, is what is going to heal us, that and prescriptive drugs. A little later we are sitting chatting about whatever and a nurse comes in to inform me that over the 3 blood tests I have had, my HB levels started at 6.8, went up after the transfusion, but went down a little, but not too much to be concerned about and the consultant would be discharging me the next day, as long as there are no further complications.

mine is of the Duodenum type
Peter and myself continue chatting for the rest of the evening, he has visitors so politely I give up my chair, climb onto my bed and continue reading my book, Stairway to Heaven by Richard Cole. A warts and all account of touring with Led Zeppelin from the perspective of their tour manager. Again an uncomfortable nights sleep follows, but I have managed to keep my mum informed of where I am, she seems relieved, but still a little worried, she is my mum after all.

The next day brings another set of observations, this is kinda routine for all of us, well they have to know how we are after all, this is a hospital. Thanks to my friend Peter I have clean clothes, so after an uncomfortable shower, dammed cannula, I feel clean and refreshed. All I have to do I wait for the consultant to discuss my treatment, and I will be on my way out of here. Simply put I must have had the ulcer for quite some time, and once in a while it bled, but I never really noticed it until the other day when it must have bled quite a lot. My future is be comprised of a weeks intensive antibiotic treatment of the bacterial infection along with drugs to protect my stomach from the acid it produces and allow the ulcer to heal. This is to be followed by another 3 weeks of the same stomach protecting drug, but only 1 tablet a day instead of 2, and to be followed again my 8 weeks of another drug to keep the level of acid in my stomach under control. This will be topped off with 3 iron tablets a day to help get my HB levels back to to a relative norm. Plus at least 2 weeks off work to rest and recuperate.

Mr H
Peter is to be allowed to go home on Saturday, but to return on Monday to continue his treatment and observations. We sit and chat for the rest of the day until finally I am given all my drugs and shown the door. Peter walks with me and we say our goodbyes, another friend for Facebook and wish him well with his treatment in the future.

Sometime around 7pm I finally get home, quickly unpack, phone my mum to let her know i'm home and what the future holds for me. Time to put my feet up and relax, for the next couple of weeks that is exactly what I have to do, that and visit the doctors for regular blood test to make sure my HB levels are rising.

So that is where I am am at the mo, yesterday I gave a blood sample for testing, and will get the results on Monday. Probably another blood test next week to see if I am fit for work. Generally I feel fine, but walking gets me a little out of breath, and as for stairs and up hills, well my heart still quickens, but that is normal while my HB levels return to norm.

Now to catch up with some of the things I have been putting off, mostly reading books and watching films, but having being prescribed rest, what else is there I can do.

As I said before, time is a great healer, and in my case that is so true, that and many drugs to help me along. So what the future holds only time will tell, but for now no alcohol, no curry, and limit any physical exertion. So it's slippers on, get comfortable and do as little as possible.

Many thanks to all those who expressed concern for my well being, and a special thank you to my good friend Peter, and my mum, just for being.

One last thank you to all the staff at The Royal Blackburn Hospital for all your care and proffesionalism.

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