It’s Saturday afternoon, I’m having some quiet time with my family. My mobile telephone rings. I instantly see it’s a call from the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. I answer it, it’s the little lovely young GI doctor, Alex, I saw on Thursday. Your swab results are in. I hear him say. The oral antibiotics you are on at present are the most suitable for this infection. But I think after the length of time you have been taking them we should think about you coming into hospital and going on an intravenous antibiotic. What do you think? I quickly gather my thoughts, and immediately my mind is racing and I am weighing up in my head hospital versus home. We chat on the telephone. And to be honest I am not truthful about how awful I’m feeling, or how much discharge is coming out of the site. After a discussion , we agree I will stay at home and see my GP on Monday, with a promise if I feel worse before my GP appointment I contact the hospital and go in.
A couple of hours later my professor from Thursday emailed me in response to my husband and sister doing a fundraising run for The Ann Edgar Charity. I replied saying thanks – at the same time I took the opportunity to let him know the GI doctor had phoned me. I also told him his I really felt; which was pretty awful. I was breathless, sore, leaking discharge and had palpatations. I wanted to curl up on the floor. Prof sent me an email back and said I should come into hospital. Steve took me into the hospital.
I arrived at the acute receiving unit. Waited no time at all. The nurse came and got me and Steve checked me in with the receptionist. The nurse told me what would happen. I would get bloods taken, give a urine sample, get a cannula put in. And then get transferred to a ward.
I was to get routine blood tests and blood cultures. Oh boy did they have trouble getting blood out of me. Every time the nurse had vein in her clutches it vanished. It was like they were playing a game of hide and seek. I’m sure for the medical staff it must be very frustrating. It wasn’t as if I didn’t have any blood to give them. On one of the attempts the nurse managed to secure the vein, then the damn thing wriggled away. As she took out the needle blood ran down my arm soaking the sheet and the hospital gown I was wearing. Eventually the second nurse managed to get the routine bloods taken. The cannula proved an impossibility for two nurses, they both gave it three attempts. They apologised as if it was their fault. My veins are awful and even the phlebotomist has trouble getting blood from me these days so I pity the nurse that gets assigned to me if they are new to taking blood. The nurse explained the doctor was on her way to give me a full examination, she will also put the cannula in, as well as take blood cultures.
The lovely looking young lass approaches. To be honest though on first glimpse she looked fairly stern and unfriendly. If you were to judge a book by a cover I would have got it wrong. She was placid, caring and made me feel at ease. She explained everything in detail she was going to do. The young doctor did all the necessary, she listened to my chest, took the the time and helped me to sit up from a lying position. My stomach felt like I had done several hundred sit ups, every move more than ached. The pain affected my mobility. She gave me a thorough examination and then scoured my arms for a suitable place to insert the needle. These blood cultures weren’t going to take themselves. Her head tilted to one side eyes scanning the surface of my arms. She gently taps the bone at my wrist. This will be sore, but it looks like the best place for me to take blood. She inserts the needle and slowly the blood comes. Once the syringe is full, she transfers it into a glass tube and mixes it with a solution before sending it to the lab. Now for the cannula. That wasn’t easy to get in at all. It hurt, it took a couple of attempts. I have got to admit I was pleased once it was inserted. The doctor told me she wanted me to get intravenous antibiotics started and a dextrose drip. She said I didn’t look well and thought I really needed to get settled for the night. I was transferred to the ward, for the first night I was in a quiet room all to myself. What I felt I needed was some feed and plenty of sleep.
The plan for my hospital admission was to keep me on fluids. Get the intravenous antibiotics going – give me a full five day intravenous course. While I’m in monitor my blood sugar levels. Regularly check my blood pressure, temperature, sats. My temperature was elevated when I was admitted. My blood pressure has a tendency to drop like a stone. The nursing staff were outstanding , nothing was too much trouble. They were always busy and the ward was full however, I was still given the time I needed and never once felt awkward when asking for anything. The staff all seemed to work together , they looked happy in what they did. It made the stay much easier. I got a ct scan whilst I was in hospital. The radiographers were lovely – I was feeling really rubbish that day. They pushed the wheelchair close to the bed and elevated it to the most appropriate height. They took an arm each and helped me onto the scanner. I shuffled my arse till my head was at the pillow. The radiographer put a pillow under my knees. In came the radiologist. He introduced himself, shook my hand and asked how I was. He looked at my gastrostomy tube. We discussed the scan. Many people drink liquid before ct scans – he told me he was going to put liquid through my gastrostomy tube and while the scan was running he would administer contrast through my cannula. I told him the gastrostomy tube has a catheter tip. He carefully linked up the syringe to my gastrostomy tube and pushed through the fluid. The staff were brilliant. They are put under a lot of pressure in the scanning/X-ray department. Trying to fit in emergency scans between routine appointments.
My stay in hospital was made much easier by the kindness of staff. I met some interesting patients whilst I was in. All made the time go quicker.
I was in hospital for 6 days. I got my final intravenous antibiotic at 5.40pm. At 6.30pm I got changed from my pjs into warm clothes. By 7.00pm I had my discharge letter my medication, was all packed and Steve had arrived to drive me home. I was so happy to be going home. I couldn’t wait to get home to our cosy cottage.