Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I'm THAT sick??

When reading today's blog post, one should have a little background information on the hospital I attended. I transferred to Adults and attended St. Vincents hospital from Christmas 2005. In Dublin you have a choice of two hospitals, each with their pros and cons. I was quite honestly dreading going to Vincents. Gone would be being treated like royalty (like in the Children's) and having my own room. That was the big thing, from now on I would be in a 6 bedded bay. Gone would be my own TV, my own privacy and comforts. It would certainly be different. There is no dedicated CF unit in Vincent's Hospital, and most often people with Cystic Fibrosis end up sharing rooms with other people with Cystic Fibrosis. There are only two single rooms which are reserved for the sickest of the sick. On my first stay there, one of them had a girl who nearly died.

I had spent the Easter weekend in bed. I had had a bath to freshen up and realised after needing to up my oxygen to walk to the bathroom that something really wasn't right. At the time, I didn't want to go to A+E as I thought none of my doctors would be there, I wouldn't get a bed so was happy to stay at home. I was just holding out for Tuesday morning when I could get some help.

My mum rang up the CF nurse first thing Tuesday morning. Usually I play down how sick I am, like when someone asks me how I am I will tell the facts but round it off with a 'But I'm fine/I feel OK/I'm better then this morning'. That Tuesday I shouted after my Mum and told her to tell them exactly how I was. I really couldn't face another day spent in bed. I needed help.

I was a little surprised when my Mum came back and told me they would have a bed that afternoon. Getting a bed in Vincent's the day you request it is very unusual/unheard of, unless you go through A+E.

That afternoon I watched on as my Mum packed some sort of bag for me. I sat perched on the bed wagging my finger at various items I thought I may need. We got the portable oxygen ready and I set off for the hospital.

On arrival on the ward, I was shown to my room. I got a shock as it was literally MY room. The physiotherapist came down to see me, and as nicely as she could, told me I could have called over the weekend. She then told me to lie back as sitting up was too much effort. After she left, I turned to my Mum and whispered "Am I really this sick?" The notion scared me a little but soon after I located the remote control for the FLAT SCREEN TV and got lost in some TV programme.

With my temperature continuing to spike most days, and my oxygen requirements remaining the same, I worried that I might never come off the oxygen. And while I would have gladly stayed on it if it made me feel well, I was determined that I could work and wean myself off.

One week into my stay, I attempted to walk slowly to the bathroom without the crutch of oxygen. I made it. And I made it back. Hours later I was cursing myself as it was decided I was no longer sick enough for the single room and was transferred to the six-bed bay. Who greeted me there? Three other people with Cystic Fibrosis. Charming.

I felt relief that I could see light at the end of the tunnel. I wasn't better by any means but I wasn't on the oxygen all day. That day I had a nap and when I awoke a nurse came into me. Her words were:

"Oh you're awake." (She was very observational that one) "Newcastle called. They told me to let me know that they're pretty quiet at the moment but they're thinking of you."

How nice, I thought. They're thinking of me. I took that to mean when someone comes up and says sympathetically 'Oh I'm thinking of you'. I didn't realise until three weeks later that they actually meant 'We Are Thinking Of YOU!'