That first night on the ward was rough. During the day there were lots of staff on and it wasn’t too bad in terms of getting pain relief. The night was a whole different thing.
I awoke with the same searing pain that I had on that first night. Now..instead of pressing the nurse button, I would say I sat for a good hour and quietly wished it away. For one thing I was EXHAUSTED and I really needed sleep. You know like in the middle of the night when you need to pee – but this was worse. The pain continued to intensify and eventually I pressed the button. As I heard the bell echo around the nurse’s station I became aware at how silent the ward was. During the day, the nurses buzzed around the station, answering calls and attending to the growing mass of patients under their care. This time though, the bell wasn’t answered – the tinny sound hung in the air and then eventually stopped. I blinked. Ok – don’t panic – I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation for this. They are probably with another patient. Maybe they are having a meeting. Wait no why would they be having a meeting in the middle of the night. I get frustrated as I try to remember who was on the ward that night but at my last OBs check I was half asleep – but how were you asleep getting your blood pressure done?? I’ve got Narcolepsy people…I can sleep through anything.
I deliberated on whether to push the button again. Like ringing someone’s doorbell – how long do you leave it before you ring again? 5 minutes? 15minutes? Just long enough for someone to eat a sandwich? Gah but some people are slow eaters…
Time drags when you’re in pain. Ok so I’m distracted now. What’s that song…every minute is like a hour, every hour is like a day ….*clicks on Spotify*…it was definitely a JLS song…”Everybody in Love” that’s it!!! Haha gah I WAS missing that Morphine so deep – got me in the feels there Marvin. I was indeed waiting up for it. Ok I must tear myself away from the nostalgia of listening to JLS – BEAT AGAINNNN – ok I’m done. But if I die – would you come to my funeraaaaal? What a lyric like – odd thing to say to someone you are just chatting to on Tinder to be frank. Ok definitely done.
After what felt like forever, and buckets of tears, finally a nurse came. Ironically, he was from Belfast. As I quietly wept he apologised that he hadn’t been there sooner – apparently he had been on his lunch and a nurse on another ward was meant to cover our ward so I was right in thinking no-one was actually there. I did witness a nurse actually come in and turn the alarm off. I was in the far corner of the ward and I dunno if she didn’t see me or WHAT. My silent tears probably didn’t help. I didn’t want to wake people up.
He did my OBs after handing the goods over and tried to chat to me. Noting my accent he goes ‘I’m sure you would rather be at home drinking a Magners than sitting here’ in my head I was thinking ‘What an Irish stereotype’ and went to open my mouth to speak but then thought actually, yeah I would happily drink even a stinkin Magners right now over this. I smiled instead and thanked him for coming. “Anytime – I’m sorry it took so long – it’s always the quiet ones that this happens to – please cause a racket if you are in pain like that again’.
As the morphine distributed through my system I drifted into sleep.
I awake to the noise of the blinds being pulled and the recurring question echoing around the ward “tea or coffee?”
I hear the rolling of the OBs machine and the quick scratching sound of my blue partition being pulled back. I’m greeted by an older lady “Morning! Mind if I take your OBs? Gor..what a view you have here – a corner with a view over the City! You got lucky here’ she winks and the plastic around my arm starts to inflate. A quick beeping and its over. Yeah real lucky I thought grimly, I’m sitting alone with a view over a city I don’t even know. I still don’t know why I’m here and someone is now suggesting I get OUT of bed so they can make it. I tap my phone, it’s 7am…. This should be illegal.
As I walked to the bathroom I began to notice my surroundings, where exactly was I?? The age of people was fairly mixed and I noticed a lot of people had these tubes attached to their nose, not an oxygen tube but a singular tube taped to their nose (I later realised these were feeding tubes).
As I returned from the bathroom I discovered that my bed was being made (they were on the ball). I looked at my phone and noticed a text from my boyfriend ‘Just landed x’. SHIT. I then realised that I had NO IDEA where I even was – never mind direct my boyfriend to my location. I glanced up at the two ladies making my bed (later learned these were auxiliary nurses – yeah I REALLY didn’t know how a hospital worked). Another realisation – I barely knew what hospital I was in never mind the ward.
“Excuse me”. I offered.
They looked at each other blankly.
“My boyfriend is on his way to see me and I just realised I don’t actually know where I am” I laugh nervously.
More blank stares.
“Oh um I was moved onto this ward yesterday evening and I actually didn’t quite catch which ward this was.” I explain.
“This is the Gastro Ward” said one lady, bored already by my questions.
“Oh right ok..so where exactly would you go to get into this part of the hospital..?”
The older lady took a breath and then began to describe a long list of directions, more turns than I could count and actually spoke about ‘the part of the hospital across the road’. Say what?? This hospital was HUGE. If you have ever been to University College London Hospital you will know what I mean.
“Don’t worry love I’m sure he will find you” she patted my arm and moved on to the next bed.
I grab my phone and text him hurriedly before I forgot the long list of directions.
I sit on my bed and get back in under the covers. My stomach was getting those familiar spiky pains and I ask again for pain relief. It knocks me right out and I dream about flying a plane home.
I awake with a sudden jolt. Shit. I grab my phone again, my Whatsapp is going OFFFF. I scan for his name and click into the messages. Phew he isn’t here yet, but he’s on the train from the airport.
It’s lunchtime now and I eat nervously. What if he can’t find me?? What if he comes this whole way and we can’t find each other like some sort of movie? My brain jumps to make me feel better, at least there isn’t a Tsunami like in that film The Impossible where the family lose each other and they go to the WRONG hospital. Jesus. Imagine there was a tsunami. I can’t even swim AND I have this mystery illness. Ok chill…I’m in London not Thailand…highly unlikely to happen. I poke my jelly and stare at my manky tea…the imaginary threat of a tsunami suddenly kills my appetite.
It’s OBS time again. This time it’s a student nurse. She checks my hospital bracelet and asks me ‘Are you Christina?’.
“Eh yes and no” I explain
She looks at me puzzled.
“My name is Christine but it was put down as Christina by mistake and the nurses in A&E said it was best not to change it just incase things got confused with my records” I finish noticing that she is already rustling into her pocket and then walks off.
She returns with a marker and a new bracelet.
“I’ll update it for you” she scribbles down my name and fits the new bracelet on my wrist.
“Oh..okay…um…as long as there aren’t two of me on the system” I say. Then regretting it because I’m sure I sounded like a right little know it all.
“No no that’s it all updated now” she smiles and walks away with the machine trailing.
I pick up my phone and scroll through it then put it down again. I hear the sound of footsteps and then murmuring voices. My stomach flutters, could it be him? To my disappointment, it’s not him. Instead, three ladies come marching through the ward. One is on the phone, ignoring what looks like her mother and sister perhaps?
They stop at my bed and I look up – they are now settling into the cubicle opposite me. Without meeting anyone’s eye they immediately pull the blue curtain around the bed. I notice that the girl on the phone is the patient and she is still ignoring her companions as she climbs onto the bed.
Finally, I hear a nurse chatting to what sounds like my boyfriend…they turn the corner and she says “Is this the young man you’ve been looking for?”. Cameron smiles sheepishly and waves awkwardly. The nurse leaves and he drops his bag and scoops me into a hug, I breathe a sigh of relief.
Ok there was probably more to it than that but this is not a telenovela…
As Cameron shuffled in the uncomfortable hospital seat next to me, I began to open what he had brought me – a Helga from Hey Arnold Nightdress, along with Harry Potter socks and other little toiletries that I was missing. The thought of him deliberating what to bring in the Oxford Street Primark warmed my heart.
I had been waiting on the second scan of my stomach and around mid afternoon a nurse came along with a wheelchair. As she noticed Cameron sitting beside me she asks ‘Would you like to bring your boyfriend, the scan is on the other side of the hospital so you could be away a long time?’
Now, I had no idea what scan I was going for. When I asked her she said ‘Just the same as the last one’. Seeing no issue with this I shrugged and said ‘Yeah sure he may as well come rather than sitting on his own’
A gruff porter collected me in my wheelchair and we began the long journey. Seriously, it was a long ass journey, this hospital was a maze! As we trundled along I became aware that I was entering an almost deserted area of the hospital. Finally, we entered into a small waiting room with just one other patient sitting in a wheelchair. I was a bit amused at the fact I was in a wheelchair at all but they kept insisting that I needed it. It’s funny how the morphine can trick you into thinking you are better than you are though.
I began to study the woman opposite, she was crying quietly into her chair. I awkwardly met her eye and gave her a sympathetic look. Then thought, jesus what sort of scan is this?
The door opened. A tall asian lady with straight square glasses and an equally square short haircut called my name. As I was pushed towards the room (by my boyfriend this time) she asked if he would like him to come in. Now that I think back… why any woman would ask another woman’s boyfriend to come in and witness what was about to happen I WILL NEVER KNOW. I didn’t know what was ahead of me but I would imagine she DID know. If it was me I probably would have said ‘maybe your boyfriend would be better sitting this one out’ or ‘this procedure might traumatise you, lets not subject your boyfriend to it too’.
I had been sitting in the waiting room for quite a while and as I began to lower my head onto the bed I felt my eyes heavy. She asked a number of questions about my pain levels and where it was coming from.
‘That’s fine Ms Donaghy – we will proceed with the scan now”
I noticed that she had another person in the background preparing something. I didn’t really pay much attention until they emerged with the instrument.
Without being crude and because frankly, my mammy reads this blog, they produced what could be described as an instrument with the likeness to a Beauty Works Curling Wand. No. Lie.
I realised then THIS was the scan.
She looked up and said ‘I have applied some numbing cream and that should have taken effect by now’. Er okay.
I find myself focusing on the lights above me and close my eyes.
Five minutes later, I am woken with a nudge from Cameron. He is ashen as they remove the instrument and take it away.
As we wait in the waiting room again there’s an awkward silence. He eventually goes ‘How the hell did you fall asleep????’ I honestly had no idea. Mortified wouldn’t even cover it.