It was 8 weeks ago yesterday that I was wheeled onto that ward called an old Indian man named Aron by my new nosey neighbours all over the age of 85.
It was 8 weeks ago that I had my observations and blood sugars checked every hour all through the night as my 5stone 13lb body continued to struggle.
It was 8 weeks ago today that in the early hours of the morning my parents received a call from the hospital….. “Your daughter has taken a turn for the worse. You need to get to the hospital now.”
It was 8 weeks ago that I received CPR which saved my life.
So what happened? All through the night my blood sugars kept falling and I was given sweet things to eat and drink. All I wanted was sleep. My heart was going like the clappers and my blood pressure refused to come out of my boots. I was exhausted. Then in the early hours I started to feel very shakey and clammy. I assumed it was my sugars dropping again as I had felt this feeling before. With there being only another 20 minutes until my next observations, I took it upon myself to have some chocolate in the hope I would bring my sugars to a more acceptable level and then I wouldn’t have to bother the nurses. I drifted off into a strange type of consciousness. My wonderful nurse came to take my observations. She was talking to me. Asking questions. What was she saying? I could see her but it was almost like she was at the end of tunnel. Everything was distorted. My hearing, my sight. I couldn’t even really feel my body. Then I remember her saying loudly and firmly…. “Charlotte! Are you okay?” Was I okay? I managed to make out the words; “I don’t know?” She ran off to get someone to sit with me and watch the monitoring whilst she bleeped the doctor. By the time she came back I was no longer aware of time, where I was or who anyone was. She bleeped the crash team who come out for critically ill patients in a matter of minutes. As the nurse was watching my monitoring ……… everything stopped. The alarm was pulled and everyone jumped in to resuscitate me.
I was confused all day. Drifting in and out of sleep. It didn’t occur to me that both my parents, my brother and boyfriend were there all day when they should have been at work. It didn’t occur to me because I had no idea what the time was. I was completely disorientated. The crash team advised my parents that this was normal and visited a few times to see how I was doing……not that I remember. I kept repeating questions like, what day it was. Followed by why aren’t you at work? I would be given feeble answers with awkward glances at each other. Then I itched my chest……….the pain shot through me!! I looked under my gown and saw wires reassembling spaghetti and marks on my chest. I asked what happened? “You’re just poorly” dad said. Due to my state of confusion and exhaustion that answer satisfied me. I asked my nurse when she thought the doctor could see me so I could go home as I had a 5k inflatable obstacle course to complete in 2 days time and I had organised the team and all our things to dress up in! She just laughed at me along with everyone else. I laughed too….. but I was serious! Even if I walked round!
About 6pm a doctor came over to speak to my parents. They had been in contact with my Professor at a specialist hospital in London about, if this was PAS related, needing to transfer me there. He felt it wasn’t and it would be better for me to stay at my local hospital and they would advise on how to manage my PAS, most importantly my Addison’s Disease as I am totally steroid dependant. I was confused. I asked what was going on. The doctor turned and said; “Well, about your cardiac arrest this morning……….” That’s all I heard. This sense of panic, fear, vulnerability took over my body. I felt as if I were drowning. I burst into tears as memories came flooding back. It was like remembering a dream. Only this really did happen. Seeing my mum dad and brother at the end of my bed in the early hours absolutely beside themselves. People all around me. Monitors. Beeping. Needles. It was all too much.
Over the next few days as my cognition improved and I became more orientated to time, more memories kept creeping back.
I felt devastated.
I felt guilty.
This happened due to malnutrition.
This happened because of PAS.
Seeing my family so upset was (and still is) the most heart breaking feeling in the world.
I just wanted to say sorry;
I’m sorry I put you through all of this.
I’m sorry you got the phonecall no parent ever wants to receive.
I’m sorry I pushed myself too hard.
I’m sorry I didn’t listen to my body when it was begging me to stop.
I’m sorry I kept putting off having a feeding tube.
I’m sorry I hid a lot of symptoms from you because I didn’t want you to worry.
I’m sorry I was so determined on completing my nursing degree that it nearly cost me my life.
I’m sorry mum has had to give up work to become my full time carer.
I’m sorry that your daughter in her 20s has moved back home and taken over the house with all her equipment.
I’m sorry your sister can’t come to visit you in London.
I’m sorry I’m a burden.
I don’t want anybody to feel sorry for me because I am the one who is sorry. If I had listened to all the doctors, friends and family and my own body, I would have taken time off nursing to be tube fed and get the rest I needed. Instead my stubbornness was my downfall. This is why I am more determined than ever to use that stubbornness to fight this! I am listening to people and trying to be a model patient! It hurts so much when I see pictures and listen to people talking about holidays and going out. I’ve spent the last 8 weeks of the summer in bed. But at the same time I want to hear and see these things. See the smile on people’s faces…..life is for living! It was bittersweet when all my nursing friends excitedly wrote on our group chat that they all passed their final exams that I missed whilst being in hospital. At first I was beaming, I felt so proud of them. Then I had a feeling of sadness that they were leaving me behind. I wouldn’t graduate with them.
But like I said, life is for living so that’s enough doom and gloom. I promise this is the only one! I’ve told the girls that one of them had better invite me as a guest to graduation because I couldn’t be prouder. I’m going to whoop PAS’s dirty great ass and get back out there!
Anyway, I have Grace, the most beautiful unicorn in the world. Jelly makes everything feel better….. What’s not to smile about?