Another mixed week, with an enjoyable visit to Westonbirt Arboretum and a day in hospital after that.
I visited Westonbirt Arboretum on Monday, as I’ve said before they’ve done a great job of making it wheelchair friendly. Most of the paths are very smooth, there aren’t many steep slopes around and any that are can be avoided. There is even an accessible bridge through the treetops!
This visit I wanted to take some pictures ready for our mindful photography group meetup. We set a theme each month, this time it’s “upside down”. Having a focus, excuse the pun, really helps me, I find being creative difficult. it’s also great for my mental health concentrating on the one thing, my brain forgets my other troubles and I’m purely in the moment.
I felt much more relaxed than my previous visit, hopefully I also got some good photos too.
The GP Visit
The next day I woke pretty early with stomach pains, my abdomen had been extremely distended since leaving Westonbirt. I suffered for a while, but as the pain increased and I started feeling nauseous, I relented and rang my GP. After my 2017 saga, which started in a similar way, I was quite worried.
My GP is very good and knows me well so came out within an hour. His first reaction at seeing my stomach was to say “That’s not normal is it?”. He checked my temperature, 37.7 °C, so slightly elevated, heart rate slightly fast, blood pressure 150/87 mmHg, I’m usually about 110/70 mmHg.
After the checks and prodding my stomach he suspected a bowel obstruction. I didn’t argue as he rang for an ambulance. It wasn’t an emergency so they said it would be around two hours, unless things got worse. Just under twenty minutes later I heard reversing beeps outside. I got my carer to check, and yes, it was the ambulance already. We quickly grabbed some essentials like my spare ventilator, spare mask and my phone. There was no time to get dressed, so I went naked except for my socks (and some blankets.
The paramedics were great, listening to my needs, asking more about Duchenne, reading my emergency sheet etc. They also rang the hospital to make sure I wouldn’t be waiting in a corridor.
A Day in Hospital
Arriving at A&E I was put in a side room, checked over and had blood taken )which was rather messy and more went over me than in the vials I think). I was also hooked up to a portable ecg, pulse oximeter and drip. My blood gasses looked good which was one thing, but I definitely needed an X-Ray. Again I can’t fault the staff at Cheltenham General Hospital, they rang through to make sure I could go straight in the X-Ray room with no waiting outside.
After returning to the resus room I got my carer to grab my phone. I wanted to find my discharge letter and advice for future events that had been written on my previous admission. The doctor read this, finding it very useful and agreed they should follow the plan. This meant a CT scan was next. Again they made sure the room was empty and I could go straight in.
I don’t enjoy CT scans, I have to get strapped in uncomfortable positions and my carer can’t be in the room during the scan. The dye injected through my cannula was also not pleasant, quite sore and making my head feel like it was burning for a few seconds.
Being left alone in the noisy scanner was also not good for my anxiety, knowing there’s no way they’d be able to hear me shout if my ventilator played up. You also have to hold your breath at points during the scan, if any ventilator tubing or mask straps were loose this would definitely make them come off. Luckily it went as smoothly as it could, with only mild panic on my part.
The scan showed a pseudo obstruction, so I was admitted to the surgical ward, once they were ready.
After arriving on the ward and settling in somewhat, the surgeon arrived with good news. Although there was definitely something going on my scan matched up with the one taken at my previous discharge. So things should settle on their own and he thought I’d be far better off resting at home. I was discharged and the ward staff rang to arrange an ambulance with a stretcher to take me home.
I knew this part wouldn’t go smoothly, going home from hospital they use private ambulance services. Ever since this system came in things have been a nightmare, you wait hours with no guarantee they will actually turn up. About an hour later the nurse returned saying there was nothing available and I’d have to stay in overnight. This wasn’t even particularly late, around 6 PM, so the private ambulances must knock off pretty early!
I really didn’t want to stay in overnight, so although I was physically exhausted and in pain I decided to make my own arrangements. I sent my carer home to collect my wheelchair, then with about five people and a hoist managed to be sat in my wheelchair. It wasn’t pleasant but everyone did their best, I can’t fault the staff, just the useless private ambulance service.
I returned home wearing a hospital gown, my socks and wrapped in a couple of my own blankets to keep me warm!