Wednesday didn’t go as planned and I ended up in hospital. I haven’t really written about what happens when I go to hospital, but get asked a lot, so thought I may as well share! Plus writing this gave me something to do while I was actually in hospital.
I had a virus for a couple of weeks, like I said in my standby post, and I wasn’t getting on top of it. Then on Tuesday I made a stupid error and decided to try and wash since I hadn’t for about a week. This proved a bit much and my body decided to protest by giving me an upset stomach. Which is bad with adrenal insufficiency. So I had a bit of an ‘oh crap’ moment and contemplated ringing an ambulance. I got my hospital bag (it’s always packed) out and put it by the front door just in case, but I hate hospital so I was desperately trying to avoid it.
On Wednesday a friend came over to ‘babysit’ me while my husband went out for the evening. I laid down most of the time but I like talking a lot to this friend, got too over excited and I overdid it. Cue lots of nausea, numb legs, stomach cramps, lots of dizziness and pain. It wasn’t an adrenal crisis, but extra Hydrocortisone did very little and I didn’t want to get to crisis stage so, much to my husband’s joy, we went to hospital just before midnight.
I don’t usually have to wait when I go to a&e, much like someone who’s having a heart attack doesn’t have to wait. I have a card that looks like this:
And there’s some kind of flag on my name because when I say my name and give my card over, the receptionist skips a lot of the questions and goes to tell a doctor I’m there so I can get seen immediately. Then I usually only sit down for a few minutes until the next triage spot opens up and I go to the top of the queue. Which doesn’t go down well with the other people waiting.
I told the triage nurse what had been going on and she did the usual obs. Then she said she was going to ask her consultant what he wanted to do with me and would come straight back. We went back into the waiting room and a few minutes later she appeared again with my barcode stickers stuck all over the sleeve of her uniform (means she’s sorting me out with tests) and said ‘I’ve got you a room but I had to kick someone out first so give me a couple of minutes. If need be I’ll bleed you here while we wait’.
Her student nurse, who was also in triage, came to get me and took me to a room in the majors section. Which meant walking past a corridor full of ambulance triage patients also waiting for rooms, which didn’t go down well either. Massive bonus points to the student nurse though- by now I was looking particularly sweaty and a funny colour from the little bits of walking around and feeling really sick. So I asked her for some anti sickness IV and she said ‘oooo yeah I’ll get on that because if you’re sick then you need IV hydrocortisone really fast’. Which means she’d gone away and had a quick look at what my condition was, since she hadn’t heard of it in triage- I was impressed!
Within a few minutes a senior doctor came to assess me. She said that she also thought it was viral too and ordered X-rays, bloods, IV HC, IV fluids, pain relief IV and the anti sickness. A porter came to get me for X-ray (more queue jumping) while the doctor gave the instructions to the nursing staff. X-rays are used to check for any infection or internal problems because I might also need IV antibiotics. I usually have chest X-rays but this one was an abdominal one because I was saying I had lots of pain.
Back in my room, I got my IVs the doctor ordered. A healthcare assistant came to put a cannula in, which is a needle in a vein in your arm where they can take blood from (which she also did) and put drugs in, done by a nurse. IV HC gets pushed straight in, it’s a massive dose in comparison to the tablets I take, as does the anti sickness. Then paracetamol and fluids get hung to go in more slowly. From checking in at reception until this point was about 45 minutes, so pretty fast. It’s usually about now things slow down because I’ve had the urgent checks and drugs so out of immediate danger, so I try to work out if I’m getting admitted or not. A good way to find out is by asking how long the fluids are prescribed over. If it’s over 8 hours, I’m staying at least that long.
Except this one was only over an hour and then they’d review me again. It also takes an hour for blood tests to come back from the lab so my husband said he’d wait until we knew for sure before deciding to go home or not. IV HC is a wonderful drug. The guy who discovered it said it was like watching people rise again from the dead because they could suddenly sit up and chat. For me, because it was heading towards morning, it meant my body could actually go to sleep rather than keep itself awake so as not to die (which is what it was doing).
When I woke up the fluids had finished but I hadn’t been reviewed. This usually means that the ED docs want the medical team to review me which means I get admitted to the ward. Me and my husband have this debate every time but he never wants to leave me because he has this hope that they’ll say I can go home. Sure enough, medical consultant in green appears a bit later and says he wants me to go to the endo ward if there’s a bed. So I send my husband home and decided to go to the toilet.
Now that I’d had the IV HC, I was a bit more with it and noticed how ridiculous I must look to everyone, having left the house in my pjs. Plus I had to take my IV bag and paracetamol drip with me because I hadn’t been unhooked yet. This is the look I was styling:
There’s hardly any beds on endo because there are fewer endo patients than other departments who need beds, so a lot of cancer patients get put on there because there’s not enough beds on the cancer ward for them. Which is annoying because it means I then have to go somewhere else and block someone else’s ward with a bed I don’t need- it’s a cycle. They were really short on beds generally though because rather than ending up on an assessment or short stay ward, I ended up in the emergency women’s unit and gynaecological ward. If I were a more sensitive type of person (can’t think of a better word), this could have potentially been a bit emotionally scarring and could have caused further drops in cortisol and more problems- a woman of child bearing age being put on this ward, surrounded by people talking about babies/pregnant women. Pregnancy would kill me right now. But a bed is a bed, and not dying is my current priority! So it’s not something I can worry about.
When you get moved to a ward the nurses have to do a new intake, which is where they do more obs, ask you questions about whether you can walk around unaided and feed yourself, make sure you have your meds and get to know you so that they know why you’re there. I told my nurse about my HC being on a strict timetable and could she make sure it was charted for a time rather than just put down as a normal dose. Then it was time to get some sleep.
The healthcare who put my cannula in in ED gave me the option of where I wanted it, which was nice. I hate it at my elbow because it makes doing anything which bends your arm painful and hard work so I asked for it in my hand, which is a lot better! Except I sweat a lot when I’m not well and the plaster had lost its stickiness, so when I turned over, the whole lot kind of exploded out and bled everywhere. I’m not coordinated at the best of times but especially not now, so I was trying to avoid waking my bay mates, trying not to bleed everywhere, and also trying to reach my call button. The healthcare came in and had the patience of a saint because she didn’t remotely get annoyed that the bed she’d literally just made was covered in blood, as was the floor and me and somehow I’d got it inside my shoes. She just sorted me out, sat me in the chair and made the bed again for me. She was pretty ninja like though because she managed it all without waking anyone else up, stopped me from tripping over twice and got me a cup of tea.
I thought I’d washed all the blood off my hands, but when I went to the toilet the next morning I looked like I could have been in some kind of horror film there was still that much blood stained on them. Oops.
There’s always a Betty or a Barbara on my bay in hospitals (fact- must have been a popular name in the 30s). I don’t know why, but there always is. And they tend to have dementia which means they get really anxious at night and shout ‘help me’ all night every 5 seconds or try to escape. This week, there was a Barbara but only with the start of dementia, so it was thankfully quite peaceful!
The nurses had a bit of a rant in the middle of our bay when they were doing the drugs round the next morning. They were moaning about being sent medical patients (like me) and not having the medication to give them. So I already knew they were going to struggle with all of my meds. Worryingly, there was nothing written on my chart at all drugs wise. I gave a brief explanation of my adrenal insufficiency and why I needed HC right then but I don’t think they understood. So they let me take my own meds for that dose which I had with me and said they’d ask for the medics to review me to work out my other HC doses. I said it needed to be done within the hour, otherwise it would cause both of us massive problems later in the day otherwise, and, even though one nurse admitted she hadn’t a clue what I was on about, she did fix it within the hour.
There was quite a nice sunrise to watch.
Doctors do a ward round in the morning where they decide your plan for the day and if you can go home or not. Because I was on a random ward, I was seen by the medical doctors rather than the gynae doctors. The consultant had rounded up some enthusiastic juniors to bring with him to talk to me. This happens a lot when I’m in hospital because I’m an ‘unusual’ case so a good teaching case. I don’t mind- I’ve done my bit for the NHS this week now! Medical consultant said it was viral, increased my oral steroids and said I was feeling better so I could probably go home but he wanted to check what endo said first. Endo said as long as I knew what sick day rules were I could go home.
Paperwork takes a while so I knew I’d be there until after lunch. I didn’t need any prescriptions thankfully, otherwise I’d still be there waiting now!
I fought it out with the bedside phone, as there’s next to no mobile signal in that hospital, and a friend came to free me and look after me for the afternoon while my husband was at work. My ‘look’ was even better when I left the hospital, clashing patterns is a fashion statement right?!
I said to the intake nurse that I was following a low carb diet for pre-diabetes but she didn’t have a clue what it was. And there weren’t any low carb options on the menu while I was there. So we decided that as I’d already broken the diet for the day, Burger King on the way home really couldn’t do any more harm! It tasted so good since I hadn’t eaten junk food for ages!
My hospital stays aren’t usually for very long *touch wood*, but the IV drugs and fluids help me get on top of whatever illness my body can’t quite fight by itself. I usually have to go in once every 3 months. This time I went before I got really sick, so hopefully I might be able to bounce back a bit quicker!