Last week I was hospitalised but not for my mental health this time! Wednesday night I was having trouble breathing for the first time in my life. I had had fever the previous day, and I woke up unable to take a proper breath.
As Dr. Google told me that this is something that I’m supposed to be able to do, I called the NHS direct. Finns are known for ‘not wanting to make a fuss’ when it comes to matters of ill health and I was perfectly happy going to an out of hours service but apparently breathing is so important that it warranted an ambulance.
Jesus Christ, not again.
I was checked over by two incredibly nice paramedics, who of course had to be told about my mental health background. At first the paramedic #1 thought that breathlessness would be due to anxiety. I protested, saying I’ve never in my life had a hard time breathing, even during a panic attack.
I answered multiple questions about my mental health. Am I taking my meds? Religiously. I was asked to lie down for tests and one of them moved my hair off over my eye.
I bet he wasn’t expecting me to have my left eye.
Finally we got to establish that my breathlessness had nothing to do with anxiety. The paramedics voiced their concerns about the sounds in my chest so off to the A&E we went.
One of the paramedics went to my flat to get my things.
“I’m going to try on your knickers”, he joked as he turned to leave.
“Go right ahead, they were a quid from Primark.”
He brought back a hospital bag I had been smart enough to pack before and even turned off a fan that was still on in the bedroom. I was touched by the casual considerate gesture.
At that point you could say that I was in a bit of a pickle. I was struggling to breathe, with my right side feeling like someone was trying to wiggle a knife between my ribs. We didn’t know what was going on, the paramedics were guessing my lung had collapsed. Before heading out for the next call out they came to say bye.
The gentleman who had turned off my fan shook my hand.
“Not many people can make me laugh.”
That was a little spec of gold dust during a stay that would go on for five more hours. After blood tests and x-rays I had propped myself on a chair with a bundled cardigan as a pillow (as it turns out you need to sit really upright with breathing difficulties). It wasn’t busy at the A&E at this point, I was the only person sitting at the two rows of plastic seats.
Then a smelly drunken man sat next to me.
His blabbering didn’t make much sense so I ignored him the best I could. After all, breathing was of the essence. My lungs felt like they had shrunk into halves. I tried to catch the eye of any passing staff member for help but was ignored by all of them. He smelled disgusting, which wasn’t making breathing any less of a struggle.
I had stickers all over my chest for my heart rate observations. All of a sudden this winner of a human being started touching the stickers. Whenever men start complaining at me ‘not all men’ when I bring up sexual harassment, I’d like to preserve this image to them.
Me, in pain, feverish, alone and struggling to breathe at an A&E late at night.
While drunken man is helping himself to my tits.
Even at a fucking A&E.
At that point I was too unwell to look but if staff did walk past, none of them did anything.
Then the man was invited into another room for tests.
I stopped a passing doctor and luckily enough no questions were asked. He was thrown out immediately and I was allowed to go rest in a bed, accompanied by a plethora of apologies. I was too tired at that point to care. Despite pain medication my side still hurt and I was given stronger stuff to help with it.
It took ages to see a doctor but finally I was seen by one and taken at a ward.
I ended up staying for two days and during that time I was reminded what I hated about being at hospital. It’s like being a child again. Someone else has taken over. I know it’s necessary but some consideration wouldn’t go a waste. I hate being patronised and that’s my exact feeling when I ask ‘what was my temperature exactly’ and only getting ‘fine’ as an answer instead of a number.
That wasn’t what I asked.
Also nobody knows what the fuck is going on and everyone asks me as if I do. Are you going to a scan today? I don’t know. Why are you on a drip? I don’t know. What are they thinking of doing with you today? Fuck if I know, stop asking me! Not knowing what’s going on and the hospital-wide game of broken telephone added to my anxiety massively, which isn’t helpful to breathing.
Luckily I only had one unpleasant encounter with a nurse, who just stood there gawking while I was all of a sudden wheezing and struggling to breathe.
“Does this happen often?” she asked. She must’ve thought it was anxiety.
This is literally why I’m here, dickhead.
I had someone check my blood pressure and whatnot.
“They look great”, she said to me with an expression that this information alone should’ve been enough for me to start breathing normal.
She helped me to turn the bed more upright and I caught my breath again.
After a shift change I asked to talk to someone and had a lovely nurse sit down and listen to my concerns that I wasn’t being taken seriously because of my mental health background. She assured that wasn’t the case and said she would make sure to mark down in my papers that I need to be better informed about my treatment.
At night she had to wake me up several times to have my blood pressure taken and a new dose of antibiotics set into the IV.
The last thing I felt before falling back asleep was my sleeve which she very gently rolled back down.
You don’t need more to know someone is a good person.
So yeah, I have pneumonia. So don’t expect posts from me every day for a while.