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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Never-Ending Joy of A&E

Well, last night was fun.
Not.

It all started at about 10:00pm on Tuesday. My normal cough started to become weird. Wheezy, polyphonic, sort of ew. I took 4 puffs of the Ventolin and waited for half an hour.

Nothing.

Took another 4 puffs. Still nothing.

Called 111, answered some questions, including the mainly irrelevant "is there a possibility you could be pregnant?" which I'm sure they even ask 5-year-olds these days.

Then, "based on the information you've given me, I'm going to send an ambulance round to your house."

Woah, hold on, Drastic Danny!

He sent it anyway, and when the two ambulance men came in, they checked my blood pressure - high - and my pulse rate - also high - and my respiratory rate - again, high - and said I needed to go to hospital. This, my friends, was at 11:30pm. On a Tuesday.

Has anyone noticed that trips to the ED for things like pain or breathing etc. always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times possible? Usually, the middle of the night at the end of a very long day.

Anyway, back to the story. I was taken in the ambulance to Royal Blackburn Hospital and put straight into a cubicle. Just a note to people; being put in a cubicle does not necessarily mean you don't have to wait for hours. It still means you have to sit around getting bored out of your mind. You do get triaged straight away if you're brought in by ambulance, but you don't necessarily get priority over, say, a woman in labour or a kid with abdominal pain (been there!), although you are likely to be higher priority than someone who has fractured their wrist, caught themselves a black eye, or been sick a few times. So sorry guys, but priority is priority and if you don't like the fact that someone who is struggling with breathing is being seen before your unusually bad migraine, then you're just going to have to lump it.

When I got in, I was triaged, had bloods taken, a dangly cannula put in the middle of my forearm (seems my weird veins are even weirder now), an ECG done and obs taken. Fun stuff, guys, fun stuff. ECG showed sinus tachycardia, which isn't life-threatening, and obs only really showed the same the paramedics had seen. Eventually, at about 2:30am, I was seen by the doctor, who did a peak flow (best one was at 185-ish) and listened to my chest, asked me loads of questions that I wasn't really awake enough to answer, and told me I had a white blood cell (infection marker) of 16 (normal for my age: ~10) and talked to me about asthma, saying it shouldn't be taken lightly just because it is common, and it's difficult because usually people presenting like I was have a formal, set-in-stone diagnosis of asthma, where I'm just nearing the end of the diagnostic process (based on next week's spirometry) so it's not entirely set in stone, although I probably definitely do have asthma. He told me I should talk to my GP about getting a peak flow meter, and said he thinks I have a respiratory infection and an asthma exacerbation (when asthma gets worse).

The rest is a bit of a blur, but at around 3:30-ish, the doctor came back and said he would give me a short course of prednisolone as well as some clarithromycin, which is an antibiotic. At around 4:00am the nurse came back and gave me a dose of prednisolone along with one antibiotic, and said that she would be back in about 10 minutes to take my obs and peak flow again, to see if the pred was taking effect.

At 4:10-ish, she came back and although in was really tired, we managed to get a half-decent peak flow reading of 200, which is an improvement on my previous one! The doctor came to review me, and although he was originally concerned over the tachycardia (fast heart rate) we assured him this was nothing to do with the presenting problem, and had been going on for a while, so there was no need to keep me in. He brought in the box of prednisolone and the box of clarithromycin, reinforced the idea that asthma was to be taken seriously, and said if I'm ever short of breath or coughing and I take two puffs, four puffs, six and it's still not working, then I absolutely must come in to hospital. He said I have to make an appointment with my GP 24-48 hours after coming to hospital, just to be checked out.

Such fun.

He then discharged me, and my parents and I drove home.

Of course, not before I'd had a chance to nab some BBQ Saucers from the vending machine! They are the only reason I go to Blackburn Hospital at all! ;)

So, with a cracking headache, I got home and crashed in my bed and fell right asleep.

I had the blood tests today that were ordered earlier in the week - again, my veins could not be found, and I had to go to another part of the health centre to have a butterfly cannula put in the back of my hand (ouch) in order to draw the blood. Cheers mum, you've given me your difficult veins! :P

So, GPs tomorrow morning before college (yay), 8 prednisolone and an antibiotic plus my Ventolin and Clenil, and maybe a couple of paracetamol to combat that pred-ache (prednisolone headache) before I go to college.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.
Although if it were summer, then the beach would be more appropriate than the breach...

~Liz