Saturday, 8 August 2015

Calamity Gabi

Hi guys,

So I like to keep things interesting and can never stay in one piece for long.
As I may have mentioned for the past couple weeks I have been having phsyio on my weak knee, although there is no injury there it was left a bit unhappy after the on/off arthritis. The physio and gym sessions have been going really well and my fitness and strength levels are at their highest. I went to the physio on Monday morning, she was super impressed with my leg strength and thought the bad leg was actually now stronger than the other! Great news all round. She suggested I do the normally painful activities like cycling and swimming lengths and sent me on my way with a final appointment booked to make sure things were still going okay.

That evening I decided to head to a Yoga Fitness class. I have done yoga and pilates before and my brother has gotten really in to this class in particular. A group of us went down and things were going well. It was a tough work out but my hyper flexibility meant that a lot of the moves were quite easy. That was until we moved on to a one legged lunge in to a knee raise. All my weight was on one leg and it involved balancing. We were supposed to do a set of 10, and I think I managed maybe 6 before it was really painful, I decided to skip the rest, my knee could not hack this. The constant switching between bending my knees and stretching them out had my legs feeling like jelly, but I assumed this was normal. At the end of the class I wasn't in an awful amount of pain so put it down to a good work out.

The following morning I woke up with some minor swelling in my left knee and a lot of stiffness, I just carried on with my normal actives. The next morning the knee was worse, I iced and elevated and took ibuprofen in the hope it would sort itself out. I had definitely done too much but went on a stroll, thinking it would loosen it up. On Thursday I woke up and the knee was huge. The swelling had gotten even worse and it was now really tricky to walk on. I still didn't take it very seriously and continued to try and act normally. By that evening it was the biggest it had been and nothing seemed to get the swelling down. We decided if it wasn't better by the following morning I would head to Minor Injuries. I had already tried all the normal things, pain killers, ice and elevate, normal movement, resting & hot water bottle so I was getting a bit concerned.

Friday morning came and it was no better. If anything, it was worse. My knee was now double it's normal size I was unable to walk or drive. I couldn't bend or straighten it, it was stuck in a weird position. Minor Injuries it was. I eventually saw a nurse who took all my knee history and decided I should be seen by the Dr as an emergency appointment as there was nothing much they could do. Later that day I went to my GP, who knows me well by now (I've been in and out of there far too many times) and we were laughing at how ridiculous it was that I had managed to hurt myself doing yoga of all things. As she tried and failed to bend and straighten my leg she told I needed to go to A&E... One week after I was discharged for Margaret playing up I was looking at having to go back. I think my face looked horrified and we agreed that we would wait over the weekend and it it was no better by 9am on Monday morning, I would see her again and go up to A&E. I asked what she thought needed doing and she replied, "an op".
Oh great!
I left with anti inflammatory tablets and the promise that if it got any worse I would go straight in.

Saturday was tricky but no worse, I crutched around town with Mum, rested it, iced the knee and took the tablets. I tell you what, crutches are exhausting, but at least it's a work out for my arms and core!  Unable to move my knee I had no choice but to sleep sat up right, with my leg propped up on a cushion. I couldn't lie on my side, how I normally would and was in quite a lot of pain. I drifted off at around midnight but woke up at 2am with such a sharp pain up my leg. I think I must have tried to bend it in my sleep - stupid sleeping Gabi! I failed to go back to sleep for the rest of the night. The pain was worse than ever and the swelling hadn't gone down.
Sunday morning I had had enough, it was getting worse, no better, so Mum took me in to A&E, again.

This time I wasn't at risk of getting really poorly so wasn't rushed through. Instead I had to sit and wait for a Dr, two hours later I was seen by a lovely lady who examined, took down all details and sent me off for an Xray. I was also given codeine for the pain, thank god! The Xray came back clear meaning there were no breaks to my knee cap or anything and the swelling wasn't down to fluid. This meant it had to be tissue damage. She suspected a tear in my meniscus but couldn't be certain, but my knee was locked, which explained why I couldn't move it. She said that due to it not being a break I would not be admitted to hospital and could go home. She put in and urgent referral to the knee clinic for me and hoped I would be seen soon.

I explained that it had gotten worse over a week and that I was getting pretty fed up. She suspected it would be some weeks before I was back walking/driving again. I then pointed out I had a city break in Paris booked for 4 weeks time, she just crossed her fingers. She hoped it would get back to normal on it's own and if not the knee specialist would be able to help. I left A&E with a pack of codeine feeling pretty down in the dumps.

Riding the hospital buggy

Since then my knee has gotten no better. The swelling has remained the same and I need codeine to help with the pain through the night. I am still on crutches and not able to put any weight on it. I don't see how it is going to get better on it's own and am just waiting for a referral. They've said it could be up to a 6 week wait for urgent referrals... what's urgent about 6 weeks I don't know. Until then, if nothing changes, I am pretty stuck, literally. I am lucky in that I mainly work from home and still with my parents so have help, it would be so much worse if this wasn't the case. I have had to turn down other work and don't really have any idea when I'll be on my feet again.
It is the most frustrating thing ever. I am gutted about potentially missing out on Paris, it's my only break booked all year. I am also due to move out the day after I get back which could potentially also be an issue if I'm still not back on my feet.

The left knee which I can neither straighten or bend

Morally of the story, don't exercise.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Margaret continues to be on strike...

Hey guys,

So, I was now on my way to A&E, pretty fed up and little nervous as what could be going on. I assumed a block but didn't know how they even treated one if that were the case. I had read some horror stories but didn't think I was in any way poorly enough to consider those. For starters, I wasn't really in pain, when everything you read says that with a block you should be in agony.

We couldn't decide which hospital to go to, the one with my surgeon who made Margaret or the one with my consultant who knows me and my condition very well, we opted for the consultant one. Upon arrival I realised I had never been to A&E before! I wasn't a very accident prone child and although I've spent hundreds of hours in hospitals, they've never been in or via A&E. I was pretty excited to be going in, I'm a huge fan of medical based dramas and shows so found it really interesting... oh what a loser I am.

I checked in at the desk and sat down for what I thought and heard would be hours of waiting. 10 minutes later I was called in for my assessment. This is undertaken by a nurse who goes over whats happened, makes a file ready for when the Dr's call you when its your turn. She took down a couple of details before taking me straight through, out another door. To the poor people in the waiting room, it must have been ver confusing. There I am swanning in like I own the place, looking completely healthy and un-injured being taken straight through with no wait. They got me a bed within a couple minutes and had me dress into a hospital gown. I had ended up in Majors. For those that don't know in A&E there are three areas, Resus, Majors and Minors. Resus is for the critically ill, things like terrible breaks, strokes, heart attacks etc. Minors is the walking wounded, breaks, sprains, cuts etc and then there is Majors for the people in between who need urgent care but aren't in a life or death situation. Somehow I had walked right into Majors.

I was quickly surrounded by 3 nurses who were all so so lovely. I'm very used to being in medical environments so wasn't really nervous but if I had been they would have settled that straight away. they were all around my age, maybe a couple years older and it was nice to have a chat. I had all my OBS done (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature) before having a lot of blood taken and a cannula put in. I looked at my Mum, things seemed to be getting a little serious, quite quickly. I was given a bay, Number 12, which made me very happy as its my favourite number.

A Dr came to see me and I had to give the details for the 6th time that day, I then had an X-Ray of my stomach to see what was going on.

I then spent an hour or so waiting to find out the results of the tests. This provided excellent time for people watching, one of my favourite activities. After half an hour I knew what was going in most of the bays around me thanks to a lot of loud talking and nothing more than a curtain between us. The Dr eventually came back explaining that although my bloods were completely normal, the X-Ray had shown something partial obstructing my intestine. They weren't sure what this was, whether it was something medically that had gone wrong or food. She explained that she would be now talking to the surgical team about how to proceed and possibly how to treat it medically.

Surgical team?! Things seemed to have escalated rather quickly. One minute I'm ummming and ahhring about whether to bother to see anyone, the next they're talking about surgery! Thank god I had come in. I freaked out a little but tried to stay calm until I knew what was going on. My main worry was that my surgeon, who I really trust, is based elsewhere and I didn't know how that would work. The next time she came in, she thought that the surgeons wouldn't be getting involved (PHEW) and that the Dr's would try and treat it medically. When I asked what this would involved, she explained it would involved putting an NG tube down through my nose and into my stomach, to pump out what is in there. At this point I really freaked out. It's odd that I was more scared of the NG tube than I was about surgery. Ever since my awful colonoscopy experience a couple years ago I have a big fear of being put in pain, whilst awake, when something is out of my control. If I'm going to be asleep I'm not concerned at all but if I'm awake and know I'm out of control of what is being done to me, I really don't cope well. It's safe to say I got in a bit of a panic, which the Dr walked in on. Great! I'm always super embarrassed by crying in public, when normally I deal with things pretty well. She was really kind and explained that I would be being admitted to a ward and so wouldn't be going home today, I can't say I was best pleased but didn't have much choice.

They wheeled me up to the ward at about 11:20, I was placed in what seemed like quite a quiet bay on the Acute Medical Ward. There was just one other elderly lady when I got there who gave me a cheerful wave! I always try and make friends with the people in the beds around me, it makes the time there a lot less miserable. I had my OBS done again before being given a tablet designed to kick start my bowel in to moving. No mention of NG tube was made, which I was incredibly relieved at but also a little confused. Things went from surgery to NG tube to one small tablet in the space of a couple hours. I also hadn't been told what had caused the block or why it had happened. I felt pretty anxious, with the whole not knowing thing. I like to have all the information and to always be kept in the loop.

Mum left for the night about half an hour later and I settled down with an audio book to try and get some sleep...

Sleep never happened.
About 20 minutes after Mum left they finally turned out all the lights, it was about 1:40am ish, I was just drifting off when a lady was bought in, followed by a 3 or 4 person medical team. The lights went on, lighting up the whole bay. The poor lady was really poorly and had Dr's and nurses in and out for hours. She was in the bed next to me so there was no chance of not being disturbed. At around 4:30 she was settled for the night but she requested they leave the lights on... I was pretty irritated at this point and led awake desperately trying to drop off to sleep. This wasn't helped by the huge cannula in my right arm not allowing me to bend it or get comfy. Over the course of the next two hours, two further ladies were bought in, both elderly and unwell. At 6:30 the ward starts to wake up, with the shift swap over starting at around 7:00. I had made it through the whole night with not even a minutes sleep. I looked and felt like death, thankfully at some point during this eventful night, Margaret started to work a little.

For those that haven't ever had the pleasure of a hospital stay they are far from relaxing. They do a meds and obs round pretty early and I was given another tablet and breakfast before 8:30. Then the wait starts for the Dr's to get to you on their ward rounds. This takes time, depending where you are in the queue and how poorly those around you are. A gastro Dr popped in briefly very early on to let me know that from a Crohn's perspective things were okay. There was no obvious flare and nothing too serious on my Xray. He explained that as Margaret had started working he was sure the main Drs would send me home that morning. I was overjoyed and texted Mum to let her know. I was next visited by the main Dr who said he wanted to see Margaret work more before I was allowed to leave. I panicked a little as this was completely out of my control. When Mum arrived we did everything we could think of to get things moving; a walk, fizzy drinks, salty foods, water, a lot of orange juice and lying on my side. Margaret barely stirred but thankfully the Drs decided I was still able to get out of there and processed the paper work at around 1:00/2:00pm. I had the irritating cannula removed and was finally free!!

I was SO relieved but completely exhausted. I went home worrying that Margaret was still not working properly and that I was going to end up back in A&E. Thankfully over the next 24 hours she got her act together and managed to work again. They were never quite sure of what caused the block but I think it was down to food. Grapes, popcorn and lack of water are not a great combination. It's safe to say in the future I'm going to be very careful about what I eat and how much fluid I'm drinking. Popcorn is not my friend.