Touched By Angels

Well who would have thought this time 3 weeks ago I was a normal fit healthy girl who was non-stop working, running the charity and practising ready to take my Gold Latin medals on 17th May, swimming twice a week and a “little” walk was 4 miles! Then I had a taste of how it is to be a patient on the receiving end of the amazing care from the NHS!!

On 27th March I was started on a new drug for my hiatus hernia, Omeprazole. I started getting itchy feet when I walked, blamed it on thermal socks and walking boots; my chest was wheezy, I blamed the climate change on my asthma; and my skin would itch, I blamed new washing powder.

I went to a wonderful friend Sarah and Chris’ wedding in Hull on 18th April, in a beautiful castle. We had salmon, crayfish for starter, roast beef and all the trimmings for main and ginger sponge and custard for pudding hmmmm hmmmm. I was a bit wheezy all day, but carried on and took my evening medications. I woke up at 04:20, with a row of bites around my bra line, I thought they had bed bugs (big posh castle and I think bed bugs??) so I took a Piriton and went back to sleep. I woke up at 08:30 with a swollen top left lip side and bottom right side, a rash over my trunk and a swollen left arm. I couldn’t get my watch, rings or bracelet on, I KNEW something wasn’t right. So I packed, had breakfast checked out and started the drive home. As I have an iPhone I sensibly rang my Mum and Dad to talk to them the whole way home (find my phone would have kicked in).

I arrived home, by which point the rash had spread a little to my left arm and chest, so we went to A&E at Northampton General Hospital. I saw a very rude junior sister in Fit Stop, who told her nurse “bloods won’t achieve anything, speak to the doctor and then move on” So I was given 30mg Prednisoline (steroid) and told to wait to see the doctor. Some 3 hours later I finally saw an SHO, Anna.

I went through to the room, where I was checked all over, she said it is definitely a reaction to something. I asked could it be my Omeprazole and she said no, so take it tonight. I was then discharged with a prescription for Piriton (anti-histamine) and Prednisolone (steroid) and told to come back if I get worse.

As I hadn’t eaten we grabbed some food, then headed home for me to unpack and get ready for work.

I decided due to the rash I wouldn’t swim as usual, and woke with my alarm, on fire! The rash was extensive, it was all over both arms, my chest, my tummy, both my legs to mid calf, my bottom, my back my neck my face and even in my ears. I was struggling to breathe and had a distinct wheeze so decided it was time to go back to the hospital! I rang my work sister to say I was going to NGH and then we left (after I had some breakfast and took my morning meds).

On arrival I gave my name, date of birth then got rushed straight through to Fit Stop as I was struggling to breathe! I had swollen up so much with fluid I had no veins, and I normally have amazing veins so finally they put a cannula put in my Right brachial vein (the vein in the crook of your elbow!) bloods taken and then I was rushed straight through to resus!

In resus I was straight on a bed, with 3 nurses tending to me!! 1 gave my IM adrenaline into my Right thigh, it stung like a monkey, but had to be done, NO messing! Another nurse was hooking me up to a heart monitor while the other gave me a salbutamol nebuliser via 5 litres of oxygen.

I looked at my heart monitor (as nurses always do) and this is where I was VERY concerned!! My blood pressure is normally 90/50, this point it was 189/110 and my pulse is normally 60, it was 169!!! My worry at this point was that I knew how close to cardiac arrest I was. So I am breathing deeply, praying and asking my Angels to help. Even though I had the “impending sense of doom feeling” I was not ready to die! I had remembered all my training from Paul Marlow, and all I had going through my head was his voice! Is that a good or bad thing??

More drugs were given, IV (intra venous) Hydrocortisone (steroid) and Piriton, then a litre of normal saline went straight through. I was starting to come down a little so was allowed a coffee. By this point because of all the fluids I had I needed a wee, so asked the nurse if I could go to the toilet. I was offered a commode or bed pan, I asked again if I could walk to the loo. She looked at my heart monitor and said “You can have a bed pan!” So bed pan and inco sheet it was!! I have NEVER wee’d in a bed pan but I have now! I felt too poorly to care.

I had a male nurse looking after me, Martin Collier. I knew the name so asked if he was Alison’s son. I know his Mum through work, so I told him her coffee is much nicer! The rubbish I spoke, but I blame the drugs!! The Junior sister knew me through work (can’t remember her name) and the Emergency Department facilitator was my student many years ago and she recognised me too!!

Some time later I was moved to EAU, having a chest X-Ray en-route. On arrival the lovely team admitted me. This consisted on Fiona (junior sister) Matt (AP) and Harry (female HCA) were brilliant. They took all my history, BP, Pulse, temperature (all of which were still up). Mum had made me a beautiful tuna salad so I ate it about 14:30 SOOOOOOOO hungry!

At this point I was allowed to walk to the toilet but NOT lock the door. Due to the oedema (swelling) I was really struggling to walk but I WAS going to do it!! Back to bed in my gorgeous hospital gown, ECG tabs, heart monitor stickies, and BP cuff!

I was seen by the cardiologist Dr Helen Binns, who thought it may have triggered my psoriasis off so I was to be seen by dermatology too. But that I had had an anaphylactic reaction to something and the Omeprazole was the only option we could all think of which was “new”. She decided I was to stay the night.

The dermatologist came up, Dr Kazeem Salako. He said it is definitely not my psoriasis but what I have is contact urticaria, where basically my body has released so much histamine I was reacting to myself, I had angio-oedmea and also oedema to my heart and lungs, causing the breathlessness. We then agree’d I would walk to dermatology out-patients at 09:30 on the Tuesday morning.

Mumma, Pappa and Wendy came back in and we chatted, with either Fiona, Paul or Harry not far away. Wendy and I were on “breathing watch” with the 2 very poorly patients to my left and opposite. The pleasantly bonkers old lady opposite was being moved to another ward.

Mumma and Pappa went home to collect my overnight bits, something else to eat and some squash.

When they came back, Wendy left about 17:30. I had my tea, Ryvita and garlic spread. When I ate it Paul asked how I felt. My reply “not well!” I had then developed a secondary anaphylaxis so therefore required more IV drugs (hydrocortisone and piriton) another drip, back on the heart monitor, and I got moved to the observation bay, where I was to stay. I had another salbutamol nebuliser and more oxygen therapy. This was to be my bed for the next 3 days!

I stabilised a bit at the point, then I realised how close I was and how poorly I really am (a little knowledge is NEVER a good thing!) So I had a few tears, yes I cried on my Dad. I had been so strong all day, trying not to show them how poorly and scared I was but I couldn’t hold that emotion any longer. Because of my reactions it was hard not to cuddle me so he wiped my eyes, nose and gently rubbed my arm.

I had to send some texts out. I should have been subbing at BNI, so I text the lovely Mr Stephen Church, who kindly stood in for me. I text Ellie as I should have been meeting with Jules to say I was in hospital so I may have to cancel. I sent a few other texts to people and put a status on Facebook telling the world where I was. But at NO point did I put just HOW poorly I was! I didn’t want to scare anyone. I had some amazing, beautiful messages, texts and comments to my thread, I never realised how much people genuinely care! I was deeply touched.

Niki came in, with chocolates about 20:00, when Mumma and Pappa then said “Good night, I love you” and left me in her capable hands. I roped Niki into applying my cream to my back, legs and arms. It’s not easy round all these contraptions you know!! I have to have the cream applied a fair few times a day because of the rash!

Niki left about 21:30, when it was time to start bedding down.

SLEEP, SLEEP, what is sleep in a hospital!! I never realised how noisy us nurses are!!!

On my first day as a patient Mumma and Pappa only left to feed me, and Wendy did not leave my side until she had to go to be picked up for work. I’m not sure if she ever realises how much this meant to me, but it meant the world! I can never thank her enough.