It is the answer to the question I’ve been asked the most over the last two weeks; What was wrong with you?
For dear reader, I was laid low. So very very low.
I lay in an NHS hospital bed and cried with the pain and the upset and the anxiety and just the not knowing what the hell was wrong with me.
I really hit a low.
And now I know what was wrong with me I feel rather a fraud because, let’s face it, in the grand scheme of things kidney stones are hardly life limiting. I have beloved friends suffering far worse medical crises than bloody kidney stones. Far worse.
But as I lay there in my hospital bed awaiting a scan which would finally diagnose me; tell me why I was suffering the most crippling stomach pains, why I felt listless, why I was being sick every time so much as a glass of water passed my lips and why it felt like something inside me was BURSTING, as I lay there so miserable I couldn’t even bear one of my loveliest friends visiting from the ward she was working on at the same hospital, I hit rock bottom.
It has taken me a long time to crawl back to this blog. I haven’t felt ‘me’ while I’ve been drugged up with 15-odd pills every day and so I didn’t want to ‘sully’ my blog with that other creature I’d become.
Mine isn’t an unusual or particularly shocking story. I’m never ill so I guess I over reacted. I do not make a good patient. I cannot just lie there and rest. It irritates the hell out of me!
I woke up one Monday morning after a lovely weekend away with the family feeling slightly out of sorts.
By the time I was due to take the children to school I knew I couldn’t drive the car. Grandma stepped in and by the time she came back I was in pain and vomiting continuously.
She whisked me off to my GP and by the time I was there I was in agony. How I didn’t clear the waiting room when they saw me pacing around like a wounded animal I’ll never know!
To cut a long story short, the GP has no idea what to do. I think he panicked a bit. My mother in law totally stepped in and demanded an ambulance and pain relief and pull yourself together man (she didn’t say that, but she totally did in my head) and the next thing I know I’m in the back of an ambulance gasping on gas and air, looking at the clouds in the sky out of the small window I can see as I’m lay there and the only thing in my head are my two children.
Low number one.
A&E is a blur of consultants and tests and paper work and W A I T I N G. And yes, I’m still in pain. The pain relief is merely dulling the pain.
I am sat in a room with my mum and my mother in law. It’s a totally surreal situation, but strangely I’m really enjoying it. We never ever do this. Me, my mum, my mother in law. It’s lovely.
“You need a scan my dear”, I’m told. “It will tell us what is wrong with you and then we’ll know which consultant to refer you to”. I’m either heading for urology (my kidneys are kaput) or to gyne (my ovaries are under question).
Either one scares me.
The whole time I’m in A&E I explain I have private health care and any time they think it appropriate I can be whipped over to them.
But I need this scan. The magic scan. The scan which will reveal all.
The scan will be later rather than sooner I’m told. So I’m put into a bed. One night comes and goes. No scan.
“You’ll have it in the morning”.
The morning comes and goes. No scan. I get chatting to some of the other woman on my ward. They too are waiting for the magic scan. One has been waiting five days. In a valuable NHS bed.
I’m moved wards. I feel a bit forgotten. My second day there and I am drugged up to manage the pain.
I’m sick again. The pain kicks back in and I’ve had all the pain relief I’m allowed.
Still no scan.
I lie in my bed feeling utterly bereft. My ovary could be exploding inside me and all they’re doing is masking the pain. My kidney could be damaged beyond repair. Still no scan.
Low number two.
So very low. I’m refusing visitors. I cry when I think about my children. I feel like I’m no longer ‘me’.
At this point my husband steps in. He’s utterly brilliant. Utterly brilliant.
He does battle with an NHS system which does not want to let me move over to private health care because I haven’t had the scan that everyone is waiting on.
They put up barriers (“it’s just not been done before”), they lie (“they won’t accept you without certain tests”), and they make it as difficult as possible.
But he never gives up and pick pick picks away at them until they relent; there is clearly a backlog and the system is clogged up so let us remove ourselves from it and help the situation, he says. We don’t need to be here.
I have to discharge myself. I am wheeled down to the discharge lounge hooked up to a catheter, looking like death warmed up (slightly) and I sit there hoping hoping hoping that the private hospital will take me in their arms and just diagnose me.
Low number three.
Within an hour of arriving at the private hospital I have had two scans. As soon as they’re done I’m in a bed with different pain relief that works. An hour after that I have been diagnosed with a 5mm kidney stone. Nothing is bursting or collapsing or dying.
The relief washes over me almost instantaneously and finally I feel I can sleep.
A kidney stone. A tiny deposit sat at the exit of one of my tubes trying to get out.
And it is agony. If you’ve heard people say how painful it is before now, they were not lying. I would liken the pain to contractions during labour. And I’ve had two babies naturally, I KNOW how painful that is.
I am discharged and the drugs I’m given to manage the pain and aid the stone on it’s little journey almost laid me as low as the condition itself. My body clearly doesn’t approved.
BUT, but the stone out now, I’ve been rechecked and I’m back on the road to being me again.
I don’t tell you this story to belittle the NHS. I had both my children at the same hospital with no drama whatsoever.
I’ve since discovered that the reason no one could have their magical scan was because the machine had broken. So had I not moved I fear I could still be in the hospital bed now.
The hardest thing for me to grasp was the fact that one minute I was preparing my children for school, and the next I’m being whipped off to A&E in an ambulance with only the clothes I’m standing up in.
I worried the children would worry; that I couldn’t reassure them myself and that they would think the worse.
Once home, I asked my six year old if everything was OK while I was away and if they were worried:
“We knew everything would be fine mummy, because when I spoke to daddy he said he was sat right next to you holding your hand. That means he must REALLY love you.”
Finally I must say a very big and heartfelt thank you to everyone who took the time to email, text, message and Tweet me to see how I was – and even now continue to check up on me. You really did make me feel loved and wanted and cared for, and in an often faceless digital world, it showed me exactly why I needed to come back to this blog and be with you all again.