So, where were we? Ah yes, i remember now- A&E. In total I spent 9 hours there, without so much as a drink of water or a comfortable chair. In defence of my local emergency department it was a busy bank holiday Friday afternoon and apparently my arrival with a letter had confused matters. At one stage (5 hours in) a porter arrived to accompany me to the gp referral unit, and I briefly thought things were looking up (comfy chair, jug of water, no bed but a stretcher with a sheet!) but just as quickly it turned out to be a mistake as it seems the medical consultant on call had advised my gp I should attend through A&E and be seen by the A&E doctors rather than go to the gp referral unit so just as quickly I was back in A&E again. Eventually, around 7.30 pm it was decided I would be admitted and at 9pm I found myself crying (again) this time on AMU (Acute Medical Unit). Faced with spending a night away from my boys, alone, in a hospital bed, I may have freaked out slightly. It probably didn’t help that the medical registrar who’d decided to call his consultant and have me admitted had scoffed at my suggestion that “it might be a trapped nerve?” and told me I definitely had something neurologically wrong with me. Up until that point I’d been kidding myself it wasn’t that serious. Suddenly here I was in an actual hospital bed. So I did what any sane rational person would do and resigned myself to my fate and got a good night’s sleep had an emotional breakdown at the nurses station and threatened to discharge myself. Fortunately, I had a lovely nurse who calmed me down and had the consultant on call come talk to me and give me a more balanced, and accurate picture and plan and I did eventually fall asleep, which is hardly a surprise since at that point I’d been awake since about 10am the day before, so about 39 hours or something ludicrous.
The following morning I was seen by a neurologist who was considering having me transferred over to another hospital with a neuro specialist centre and access to an MRI scanner over the weekend but since I didn’t appear to be deteriorating rapidly they decided instead to keep me and do it on the Tuesday instead. I got moved from AMU to ASU (Acute Stroke Unit) at about midnight that night, which was slightly alarming but thankfully I was only a medical outlier. There I had a lovely big side room with a huge one-way window (like in interrogation rooms in the movies) and my own en suite bathroom so even though it still totally sucked to be stuck in hospital missing my boys all weekend, it sucked slightly less and at least I was getting a good night’s sleep (aside from the 2am and 6am observations that is).
Finally it was Tuesday! I had my MRI scan around 2pm and I was told in the evening that my MR Spine results were back and aside from “mild degenerative changes” it was all normal. I was a bit concerned that my MR Brain results weren’t available but I was assured that was pretty normal and that they’d probably be back in the morning. Well, the following morning they still weren’t back. The junior doctor I’d asked, asked me “Did you definitely have brain done?” I still don’t understand how I would know the answer to that question?! I was lay completely flat on a shelf and inserted into a machine, in which I had no concept of time. It made loud noises and sometime (Maybe 30-40 minutes or so?) later I was taken out. It eventually transpired that an MR Brain and Spine had been ordered by the neurologist but for some reason when I was there radiology had only scanned my spine.
By Wednesday I had reached Pissed Off Fever Pitch. I had stewed in hospital for days awaiting this urgent MRI scan of my brain to find out what in the hell was wrong with me and now I’d found out that only my spine had been scanned. They doctors kept mentioning Guillain Barre Syndrome and lumbar punctures but the stroke consultant seemingly didn’t think it was appropriate for them to “get into” that on his ward and wanted me moving to a medical or neuro bed (of which there were none). Eventually I kicked up a fuss. Not trying to be awkward and make people’s lives difficult but sick of being speculated over and not getting any answers I told the consultant that I was considering leaving. He told me “You surely know, given your profession and your intelligence that there is something wrong here and it wouldn’t be a good idea to go home as you are”. To which I replied “I also know that if you truly thought I had Guillain Barre you would have done a lumbar puncture already!” He asked me to bear with him while he “called a colleague”. An hour later he was back, under instruction from his neurologist “friend” to do a lumbar puncture that evening and to notify him of the results once they were available.
So 6pm saw me hunched over a stack of pillows resting on a table having a ginormous needle inserted into my spine. I tried to be brave but as he put the needle in I got the most diabolical pain in my left leg, a bit like how I imagine it would feel to be shot and as he wiggled it in further it happened again, so by the time the needle was in and my CSF was dripping into the pots at an agonisingly slow pace my eyes may have been watering just a little. In the end he took it out and tried again and this time seemingly struck oil and everyone was desperately unscrewing lids off pots to catch my gushing CSF.
Afterwards I had back ache and head ache and was instructed to lie still and flat on my (sore) back for 3-4 hours. I was given 2 co-codamol (which to me, is like a bag of heroin, I’m so sensitive to codeine) so I duly obliged, dozing in and out of consciousness until I desperately needed to pee, fortunately enough time had lapsed that I was allowed to potter to my toilet rather than any less dignified toileting options.
That night was the first night I actually felt like a patient proper. I was sore, I’d been jabbed (five times in total as after the LP my veins had seemingly retreated so it took 4 attempts to get bloods) I was in bed with a nurse call bell and I was a step closer to actually having an idea what might be wrong with me.
Alas, my wrists fail me yet again and you’ll have to wait, with baited breath (I don’t think anyone is actually reading this, I’m just amusing myself here) for the next instalment.