First Day Over
Today was the first day of the HYC summer course and it was brilliant! It felt so good seeing everyone again, and the harmony workshop we did based on 'Steal Away' was actually really relaxing and a good laugh, although I must say, once you've done Tippett you can't undo Tippett. It was pretty impossible not to slip into that gorgeous alto line, even for us sopranos.
On the way back, I also had the most intimate train journey ever. It was peak rush-hour time when I caught my changeover train from Bolton, and I ended up with my face no more that 15cm away from the chests of the two guys in front of me. Plus, I kept making awkward eye contact with these two guys and my grin wasn't particularly friendly given the fact I was in a confined space, worryingly close to people I have never seen in my life, in a position where I could not turn side-on, nor could I turn my back on them because my nose would have been touching the wall, and had I averted my gaze to the floor I would also have inadvertently been staring blatantly at their crotches.
But hey, apart from the moral dilemma that is catching a train, the day was great and I'm looking forward to tomorrow!
Memory Monday - Appendicitis
"Dad, I've got this really sharp pain in my stomach..like, on my right..just..there..can I have a couple of Rennies?"
The sharp pain was getting worse, and I felt sick. I wasn't hungry, so my dad checked my temperature; 38.6ºC, which is high for me.
The pain was now really bad and I felt sick, sleepy and out of it. Walking hurt, standing hurt, moving hurt and my joints were aching (they usually hurt, but this was a flu-like ache) so my dad called my mum and 111. The 111 service told us to go to the Urgent Care Centre at Burnley Hospital at 23:00 and there would be a GP ready to see me.
My mum had arrived home and helped me upstairs to grab my emergency bag (basically a small messenger bag with hand sanitiser, a phone charger, my iPhone, earphones, any medicines I'm taking, wipes, deodorant, water, my sleeping mask and a spare t-shirt) as well as a bowl for me.
We all got into the car and drove. I put my music on to see if I could sleep a bit or at least keep my mind off the pain and sickness.
We got to the UCC at Burnley Hospital and went in. It was all bright lights and brand-new furniture and they gave me one of those card bowls they have. I had to produce a urine sample too so they could check it for protein, glucose and infection.
I was seen by a female GP who said the urine test was negative, meaning it was not a urine infection and was unlikely to be a sudden problem with my kidneys. She examined me, found tenderness and guarding in my lower right abdomen. We were bumped to Blackburn Hospital (where, to be honest, we could have gone in the first place..but then again, the care I received probably wouldn't have been the same if we had gone to A&E) and although there were no spaces on paediatrics, they sent me to the Surgical Triage Unit (B14) and after much discussion we were finally on our way.
We arrived at Blackburn Hospital at the main entrance. It was creepy; WHSmiths was shuttered up, and the video-of-a-nurse-on-a-plastic-cut-out-of-a-nurse who/that always lectures passers-by on the necessity of using hand gel in hospitals was off for a change. Grabbed a Porta 200 wheelchair on the way and spent a few minutes bumping into walls before my mum got the hang of it.
Arrived at B14, did urine sample, and was sent to waiting area.
Nurse called me out and took vitals as well as bloods. The other doctors and nurses nicknamed her 'The Vampire' for her uncanny ability to draw blood from anyone, including me, with my weeeird veins.
Dr Chris saw me with my mum. He was cheery and funny and managed to make me smile even though I wasn't feeling too great. He examined me, and asked me what I was worried about. I said I was originally concerned it might be appendicitis, but I wasn't sure. He said he was concerned about that too, and he got up my full blood count and said my white blood cell count was up, so he would like to keep me in. He asked if we wanted to wait with him for the results of the rest of the bloods but we figured we should go and tell my dad what Dr Chris had said.
Dr Chris told us that the rest of my bloods were fine, so actually I could go home and get some sleep there if I wanted. We all agreed I would sleep better at home, so Dr Chris scheduled me for an ultrasound at 11:00. We went home and turned in at about 03:30.
Had ultrasound at Blackburn Hospital, which didn't show massive inflammation of my appendix, although that is often the case with appendicitis patients anyway, so it was pretty inconclusive. We were sent back up to B14, where I was tagged up with a red hospital wristband.
Had bloods taken while seeing Dr James, a kind and straight-talking guy who told me things as they were. He examined me (dear goodness, how many people?!), reminded me that it is rare that the ultrasound shows up appendicitis, and said he could tell I was in a lot of pain, which is something, considering I have a VERY high pain threshold and I can be in excruciating pain and only be a bit tense on the outside. He said bloods would take about an hour to come through (they go straight from the STU to the emergency box in the labs so they are fast-tracked) and said we could probably go down to the hospital restaurant and get a drink or something. He wrote a prescription for me for Paracetamol and Tramadol, which my dad took to the pharmacy while my mum wheeled me down to the restaurant. I picked at a bit of pasta but really wasn't all that hungry and still felt sick and eating just made the pain worse anyway.
Dad finally joined us and explained that the delay was caused by not only a long queue at the pharmacy but also the fact that Dr James had written up the prescription wrong, so he had to go back and get it rewritten before the pharmacy could accept it.
Went back up to B14, and were told there was a delay because Dr James had had to go to an emergency operation, so we could be waiting a few hours. The nurses were actually really great, keeping us informed so that we weren't waiting around getting frustrated because we were there for so long. I mean, what the heck, we're human, that happened anyway..but at least we knew it was nobody's fault.
Dr James saw us again and apologised for the delay and for the problem with the prescription. Turns out, Tramadol is a choice drug really, in that different hospitals can choose whether it is a controlled drug or not. What the heck?! It's an opiate. It is stronger than codeine. Codeine is a controlled drug…so why should they choose if Tramadol is..? Eh well, I'm not here to rant about pharmaceuticals. So. Dr James explained that my bloods were back to normal, so he didn't feel any urgency to operate that day…but if I was still in pain tomorrow, then to come straight back in at 08:00 because they would need to find out what was going on in there.
We got home, and I took a Tramadol. Note to readers: it tastes very slightly like sushi.
I took another Tramadol and went to bed.
I woke up with my head being crushed in by needles from all sides of my skull. The needles were on fire and the sickness that accompanied it was like nothing I had ever felt before. I sat up in bed and a huge wave of pain came crashing down over my head, my face, my eyes and my throat. My lungs were prickling so I grabbed my inhaler and had a drink of water. The nausea was building, it was crescendoing.
The nausea reached its peak just as the car was about to set off for the hospital. I choked, I couldn't breathe, I felt like I was drowning..and then, completely effortlessly, came the water I had drunk when I got up. My parents cleaned me up and binned the bowl, got another one and we set off for the hospital, while I cried, "get me to the hospital, they can stop me being sick, they can put me to sleep, they can make this go away!"
Then I put my headphones in and listened to 'The Drugs Don't Work', by The Verve.
It seemed fitting.
We reached the hospital, apologised for the delay and were taken immediately to a side room.
A nurse came in and took my blood pressure and sats (just bordering on 96%) and said she would get me an antiemetic and some painkillers. I was short with her, because the nausea was building again and I could feel it coming.
The nurse came in and gave me two white pills, which were apparently the antiemetic. But just as she was leaving, again, the nausea reached its peak and again I choked and gasped for air and again I was suddenly, effortlessly sick in a papier maché bowl. The nurse went and got me an injection of cyclizine, an antihistamine-based antiemetic, and I just wanted to be sick again to get rid of the horrible, ominous, mounting sickness growing in me once more.
Peaked. Choked, gasped for air. Sick again.
Various people came and went. A theatre co-ordinator lady came in and told me I was next on the list. I think they took pity on me because I was the youngest person they had seen in, like, forever on their ward and I felt so sick I refused to lie down because that just made it worse, and the antiemetic didn't stop me being sick or even feeling sick, it just made me feel sick for longer before I was actually sick..so it pretty much just prolonged the torture.
A junior doctor came in and did the neatest and most central cannula I have ever seen, although he brought in a pink dangly cannula and had to go and exchange it for a light blue one as soon as I mentioned my bad veins. He ordered me some fluids, but I was taken off to theatre before they came, so I just got them there.
I was sick again.
A phlebotomist came and took a load of bloods (I swear all the doctors and nurses in Lancashire have been replaced with vampires!) which didn't bother me in the slightest.
Dr James came and talked me through the procedure. He told me I wouldn't be doing the exam the next day (GCSE Maths final exam) and that I would be in a lot of pain. In fact, to quote him exactly, he was going to "stab [me] three times". And you know what, that was the best thing anyone said to me while I was there. It may sound harsh, but it was the truth. It was pretty much literally what he was going to do, and it prepared me for what was going to happen.
I was sick again.
Dr James came back with the consent form for me to sign. A nurse followed a couple of metres behind to hand me fashion statement of the year - yes, I actually made that joke right there in the hospital with sickness, abdominal pain and the worst headache I have ever had, right in front of the surgeon who would be operating on me - namely The Hospital Gown, with the matching accessories, The DVT Stockings and The Paper Knickers.
People kept asking me what I was allergic to and after this happened a few times, I asked the junior doctor why people kept asking me that. Turns out, the red wristband means 'allergies'. Well hey, you learn something new every day!
I was taken to the anaesthetic prep room and given pre-med and general anaesthetic.
I fell asleep in the prep room and was taken to theatre shortly afterwards to have a laparoscopic appendicectomy.
I was shaken awake in the recovery ward, and I opened my eyes to an Asian lady, presumably a doctor, and the nice theatre tech who had wheeled me to theatre both telling me to take deep breaths through the high-flow oxygen mask attached to my face. The first thing I said was, "Hey! I don't feel sick anymore!"
Ohh. That was short-lived.
Anyway, this happened about 6 more times before I decided to ask them why they kept telling me to "take deep breaths". Well, apparently, I reacted a bit strongly to the anaesthetic and as a result I wasn't really breathing; my resps were around the 4-8 mark, which tends to freak doctors out a bit!
The morphine shots the doctor gave me in recovery chose that moment to kick in. I suddenly felt that terrible nausea filling me up again, and I panicked and freaked out, saying, "you've got to get me upright! I can't be lying down! Sit me up! I have to be sat up! Please!" and they sat me up. A little while later, they called my mum down (my dad had gone home to get some things and to sort the dogs out), hooked me up to a portable oxygen cylinder and wheeled me up to paediatrics C-Side.
Various nurses came and went, checking my obs, adjusting my oxygen to a slightly higher flow at the doctor's recommendation, giving me painkillers and checking I was ok.
Dr James came down at some point and checked out my operation sites, asked me if I was alright and answered a few of my questions.
I completely refused to lie down, but that meant battling the sedative effects of the anaesthetic and the morphine…
My dad came up and took over from my mum for a bit.
My sister came over and spent an hour with my dad and I, but I was too tired to do much so I chatted vaguely for about 10 minutes before putting the oxygen mask and my sleep mask on and falling fast asleep until she left at 21:30 and my oxygen was turned off.
My mum returned and slept in a fold-out bed next to mine. We fell asleep in an empty ward, by the soft glow of the monitor by my bed and the dim lighting in the corridor.
I woke up to the sounds of a ward full of children with various broken limbs in various states of surgical need; one or two had already been seen and were just getting ready to be taken into surgery, while the rest were going to be seen at various points during the day. Orthopaedic surgeons came around to see all the different children, and I got another visit from Dr James, checking I'm ok, checking my operation sites, telling me what he saw when he cut into me. Turns out, I'm not a robot after all :D
Children went and returned about an hour later. Some were discharged only an hour or two after they were operated on, but one or two were still there by the time I managed to nibble some fruit and curly fries (definitely the best thing on the Blackburn Hospital Menu!) at around 15:00. I was the eldest there by far (not counting my mum and the nurses!) and I came to realise through that stay that 16 is an odd age; too young for adult wards, but too old for paeds. Paediatrics weren't originally going to take me - although they were fantastic when they did - but the adult ward had concerns that I was young…oh dear. To be 17. Or 15. Or in fact any age but 16.
Two of us left on the ward; a boy with a fractured arm from playing football, and my good self. They brought around the food we had ordered earlier on from the card menus they bring around with bright pictures on them. I had some fish fingers, peas and mash, with ice cream for dessert (perfect for my post-intubation sore throat!) and I managed to keep it all down.
The young boy across from me was discharged, and I put Pitch Perfect on on my iPad.
I was out.