This is the nineteenth part of a guest serial, in 820 words.
T opened my eyes and realised Mum and Jill were no longer in my room. I looked at the nurse and mouthed, “what happened?” She replied, “We think you had a reaction to the medication”. I just stared at her, bewildered. I mouthed, “Where’s Mum and Jill?”, the nurse replied, “Outside, do you want me to go and get them?” I nodded.
Seconds later, they came back into the room. Mum had been crying, which worried me. Again, I mouthed, “What happened?” Mum replied, “Your eyes rolled back and your arms were flailing, like a small seizure”. I started to cry and Mum gave me a hug.
Throughout the next several days, whenever I nodded off and suddenly woke up, I would panic and then the nurse would rush over, I try and ask if I’m OK, the nurse would then reassure me. It was a long, continuous cyccle. I was too scared to go to sleep, and very anxious if I suddenly woke up. Even with visitors, I would need reassurance. I was beyond petrified of having another seizure, and even to this day I am still scared.
Despite the very disrupted sleep pattern, I continued to make small improvements. Ewan came to see me, while he was there, I was transferred into the recliner. I really wanted to try and drink, but I was still skeptical after the last time. I was offered a syringe of lemon squash, I had never tried it before but as soon as I finished the first syringe, I wanted more! I’ll never forget the first taste of lemon squash; it was like having a drink for the first time.
I could not get enough of it, I ended up having nearly 3 syringes, thankfully I didn’t throw it up!
Although I was making small improvements, I was still coughing and was constantly hot. I needed the fan on non-stop, if someone turned it off then I would tell them to put it back on. Manners went out the window when I was drenched in sweat. Even if I nodded off, I could sense if someone had turned the fan off, so I would instantly wake up and point at the fan so the nurse would put it back on. Demanding even when I can’t speak.
I still had no idea I had double pneumonia, with all the coughing I just assumed it was a bad chest infection.
I was moved to a smaller ward with 3 bays and a side room. It seemed to be more quiet, ironic considering I have hearing difficulties, but you get my drift. I thought I would prefer less people about, but it made time drag on even more.
The next day, I had physio. This was the first session where I tried to sit up, with 3 physio assistants. This was also the first session where I realised, I couldn’t sit up by myself without a lot of support. I had no control or sense of balance whatsoever. I only managed a few seconds before I really struggled to breathe and felt very dizzy. They helped me to lay back on the bed and then manoeuvre me using the sheets.
Later on, that day, I was moved to the ward below, it was the exact same layout as the one I had just came from, which confused me. Then again, it doesn’t take a lot to confuse me.
By this point, I was no longer on any sedatives so I was very aware of myself and my surroundings. The first night on this ward seemed to be OK, I think physio had completely wiped me out so I did have a long sleep. I kept waking up during the night but I wasn’t overly distressed.
After being washed in the morning, the nurse wrote on my whiteboard, “As you’ve been improving, we want to try and wean you off the ventilator. If you become too tired and find it difficult, then we will put the ventilator back on”.
I didn’t feel ready, I’d been dependent on a breathing tube, oxygen masks, and ventilators for what seemed like forever, but it was actually 3 weeks. I admit, I felt more aware of things but I still felt very unwell. I was very hesitant but if they had been closely monitoring me and I’d been improving, then maybe I was getting better. I trusted them so I agreed.
The first time, I lasted 2 hours without the ventilators. Boy, did I know about it! I thought I couldn’t get any hotter than before, but damn! I was coughing so often that I lost count how many times they had to clear my tracheostomy tube. This was also when I started to realise how ill I had been, the number of times they had to clear my tube, which basically collected all the crap from my chest.
That really shocked me, and still does.