An account of Friday 27th May – Saturday 28th May.
After an amazing evening meeting Nina Conti things took a turn.
When we returned home after the show, I went to bed feeling only a little more sore and tired than the previous few days but nothing to really complain about – but then through the night I was up three times to take ‘breakthrough’ morphine to help with the pain. I had, of course, expected to feel more tender after braving a trip to the theatre so soon after my discharge from hospital but this was crazy pain – I was in agony!
Morning soon arrived and with it a whole new set of issues. I couldn’t stop being sick. Every time I tried to eat anything I was sick. This was an issue. I needed to eat to take my tablets and my tablets were my pain relief – so now I had uncontrollable pain and sickness. I spent most of the day in bed, except for when the district nurse came round for her daily visit to change one of my dressings. She offered to call in a Dr but I thought I had things under control and declined, returning to bed for more rest. As evening came my symptoms began to settle as I finally(!!) managed to keep my tablets down. I thought I’d overcome the worst and went to bed hopeful of better things the next day…
How wrong was I…
During the night I woke to a pain I didn’t think was humanly possible to feel. I remember vividly thinking death would surely be a more humane option than the suffering I was feeling. Medication wouldn’t stay down and even a sip of water resulted in continuous vomiting. It was time to admit defeat. Something was seriously wrong. This wasn’t just a case of overdoing it going to the theatre.
My husband called the national cancer helpline for advice. For the first time ever no one answered. I knew my husband was panicked and I was now on a different planet with the pain, unable to move and hardly able to speak I remember mumbling for him to call 999. He did and was told it wasn’t an issue for them and that they would get NHS 24 to call him back.
He tried the cancer helpline again and someone answered straight away (hurray!). After he explained the situation they transferred him to the oncology ward at the hospital I receive my chemotherapy and they agreed I needed to be admitted and that they would send an ambulance. Incidentally it was another 90 mins before NHS24 called back…
I don’t remember much after that, I think I kept falling in and out of sleep. I do remember that every time I came to my husband was siting by my side ensuring I was ok. He’s told me since that it was two hours before the ambulance arrived.
When the paramedics did arrived they came upstairs to our bedroom and strapped me to a seated stretcher so they could carry me downstairs and across the driveway to the ambulance. It was early daylight by this point and I remember a misty rain hitting my skin – I was shaking from anxiety and pain and wrapped tight in a blanket but the rain on my face was refreshingly comforting nonetheless.
The paramedics soon had me strapped onto the trolley in the ambulance and one of them held me during the drive. I remember him reassuring me the whole drive, telling me we would be there soon and that my husband would meet us at the hospital.
By the time we arrived I was a mix of exhaustion and anxiety but I so vividly recall one of the oncology nurses, who had treated me in January, meeting us and taking my hand as I was wheeled to the ward and saying ‘hello stranger‘ and smiling warmly at me. It was a tiny gesture but I knew I was in safe and caring hands and I physically felt so much tension leave my body.
On the ward there was already a Dr waiting to put a cannula in my arm so that an IV of fluids could be connected. Obviously by this stage I was dehydrated to say the least! Bloods were taken too and my surgery site was checked over before I was sent for chest and abdominal X-Rays.
I’m not sure when my husband arrived, in my memory he was there the whole time but I know that’s not possible because he had to sort out our pets and gather together my medication and bags before even following the ambulance. I do remember, once the IV fluids started to take affect and the lovely hospital morphine was masking the pain, that the nurses sat with us and comforted us. They gave us so much support. They made us laugh. They reassured us. They were everything and more and I am so so grateful. I remember one saying to my husband that they appreciated what he must have gone through in the last 36 hours and that he was to go home and sleep because I was safe now. I loved that. The fact that they weren’t just treating me but instead seeing us as a whole unit entwined in this cancer journey – truely person centred care to say the least.
Saturday morning I was taken for a CT scan. I hate CT scans. My first CT scan was an emotionally traumatic experience and I’m never overly trilled at the suggestion of one. However, it was of course painless and fine. The staff were wonderful and it was over in less than 5 minutes. More importantly, whilst the X-rays had been clear, the CT scan started to give some indication of what was causing my pain and sickness.
It appeared that there was a ‘collection’ sitting behind my liver. A ‘collection’ of what remained the question – Blood? Fluid? Infection?
The infection markers from my blood tests indicated the latter and so I was soon prescribed a range of strong anti-biotics to be administered continuously via IV. I was still getting fluids and also had a syringe driver (pictured) administering morphine and anti-sickness. Things felt under control and, although annoyed I was back in hospital, I began to accept that it was the place I needed to be…even when told to expect to be in for at least a week…
Love and light, Fi xx