How to begin this blog… this is probably the most horrific and equally hilarious one of the lot. Warning – you probably shouldn’t read this if you are eating. I thought about editing out some of this but honestly, that’s what happened and everyone has bodies and functions, that’s all I’m saying haha. I have split it into parts as there are many twists and turns in this tale.
Let’s talk about Belfast first…
I was beginning to settle into my new job. I was figuring out how to work the printer and reduce the laps between my desk and said printer, working out how their systems differed to what I was used to, arguing with the IT department to get my brand new ill-equipped-for-life laptop set up. These are all things that act as a right of passage at the start. Once you get over that bit then you gotta learn a whole new caseload of clients, all their quirks, points of contact and slip into the shoes of their previous handler like you were there back in time when they first signed their engagement with the firm. That review back in 2001 – I was in primary school but yes I seen it – the way you calculate your VAT now and the special quirks – already on it – their propensity to always be late with info – following my last email GIVE ME YOUR STUFF YOU RASCAL. Oh you give me x and y but no Z. Give me Z. Following my email give me Z. Following following my email this is now urgent. Damnit now you made me tell on you and CC people in. Oh. Thanks for the info – do not hesitate to contact me ETC.
Only an office worker will find the above familiar. It’s an endless cycle of chasing people and that’s only the communication with the client. You then have the other work that they pay the firm to do. This requires more legislation books, frantic HMRC searches and a healthy dose of changes in precedent by the good old ECJ to keep things interesting. Sometimes they have something juicy like deciding if a Jaffa cake is a biscuit or a cake (it’s a cake btw and it matters cause no VAT and they sell lots of them so). But that was ages ago and now they are usually fighting about Brexit and Partial Exemption which doesn’t make for interesting reading. How rude of them.
The above consumed my days along with a few sneaky chats on IM and copious cups of coffee.
Another thing that is required when you first start is training, and lots of it. This time I was being sent to the London office to complete some specific training. The flights and hotel were booked and I was set to go. Three days of training away from the office in paid accommodation – what could go wrong?
As it turns out… a LOT.
Day 2 of the course was coming to an end when I began to notice a pain in my side, it was dull but enough to make me notice. I quickly began to shuffle through the potential reasons for this in my head. Maybe I was hungry. Maybe I was tired from the journey. Ooh I know, maybe I had my Modafinil and didn’t eat enough food this morning with it. You need to take it with food after all and I had skipped this to get into the office. I had ate when I got in though. On and on I wondered where this was coming from as the presenter spoke. In standard Christine-doesn’t-like-to-annoy-anyone practice I continued to sit in silence and act normal. In fairness, it was similar to like bad indigestion at this point.
After the class was over a few of my fellow class participants invited myself and my colleague out for a few drinks. In standard Christine-can’t-say-no mode I agreed and we went to this bar across the road. I was walking, talking and just generally being social, no-one suspected a thing. Did I want a pint? Of-course!
Having that drink was when things really heated up. I consulted with my colleague and decided that maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t ate and they kindly agreed to accompany me for some food. As you can imagine…once I ate things got a bit worse. I then decided to accompany them onward to a Thai-restaurant/bar. We were ordering drinks at the bar when my stomach felt like it was about to eject.
With cold sweat I made my way to the bathroom and was immediately sick. At this point the ‘stitch’ in my side was getting increasingly painful. I thought maybe I had food poisoning and I decided to make my excuses and leave quickly.
I was in central London and for whatever reason Google maps would not play ball. My little man was spinning in circles as he tried to navigate himself and me back to the tube station. I remember walking for 5-10mins in the wrong direction and then having to walk back again. This was not only inconvenient but i also had an increasingly painful side as company. Honestly, you couldn’t make this shit up.
I was also now holding onto my side like someone who had just finished a race at the Olympics. Finally, I found the tube station and found the correct one to go back to my hotel.
The nausea was UNREAL. I sat literally with my head in my hands trying not to take in the smells of the tube and the jittering motion as it stopped at each stop. Even the WOOOOH sound (yous know the one) was making me feel ill.
I got off the tube and realised I was finding it difficult to actually move at my usual pace (I walk really fast). I was walking for a bit then stopping to hold my side. Then I would walk some more. All I could think was that I was by myself in London at night and I needed to get back to my hotel urgently. Finally, I turned the street of my hotel. The nausea overwhelmed me at this point. I think maybe adrenaline had been keeping me going until I was promptly sick at the side of the street. Outside a boutique shop I remember two men standing outside it looking at me with disgust. I didn’t even have the energy to explain. I just whispered a sorry and limped on.
The sweat was pouring off me at this point. I got to my room and pushed open the heavy fire door.
This was seemingly a signal to my side that it was ok to empty the contents of my stomach. The worst thing is that I still suspected that it was food poisoning so I continued to drink water. BAD IDEA.
Everything was making me ‘feel’ ill, I remember watching First Dates and thought that the particular episode was stomach turning so off I went for another trip to vom.
I’m unsure at what count of bathroom visits that I decided that I needed help. I rang the reception and asked them for paracetomol as my side was now in excruciating pain. FYI if this ever happens to you, a hotel can never give you paracetomol no matter how much you beg them – something about being sued so always pack them. They instead agreed to bring up some water to my room.
The first member of staff arrived with bottles of water and cheerfully told me ‘jug them down and wash the sickness out of your system’. STUPIDLY I continued to drink water like it was a magic cure.
The next time I had to request a member of staff to bring more towels and other.. ahem… Items for the bathroom. They sent this wee young kid (ok he was definitely 16 but you know what I mean)up and I will never forget his face he looked horrified at the state of the place.
With no paracetomol and an increasingly painful side I then decided to call Out of Hours. For anyone who hasn’t called them before, you are initially put through to a call handler who will ask you every question under the sun. Does your head hurt? How’s your eyesight? No..I have a sore side. Ok miss do you have any sore toes?? What about your arms are they ok??
I fully appreciate that this questionnaire is to give the doctor who eventually handles your call as much info as possible. However I was barely able to speak/conscious at this point. When all this is done they then say ‘Ok we will get the doctor to ring you back – if you don’t hear from us in an hour call back’.
Needless to say they didn’t ring back. It was now 3am in the morning. I punched in the number again and waited on the line. This time a nurse answered instead of a general call handler but proceeded to ask me all the same questions AGAIN. I weakly told her that I had already answered these and to please get the doctor to ring me back because I was afraid I was going to pass out. She repeated again, ring us back if you hear nothing in one hour or if the pain gets worse, go to A&E.
The pain was taking over now and the phone call had taken all the energy out of me to still be sitting with no solution.
What does one do when the usual avenues have been exhausted?? Google of course.
I was googling mad things like ‘when should you go to A&E’ and ‘how much vomiting is normal’. I had counted and my number was up to 30 at this point.
Eventually I came upon a NHS website which had a list of symptoms which were considered urgent enough for A&E attention. I remember continuous vomiting was one, pain which is getting more severe was another and the presence of blood in ahem..bodily functions was another. Reading this prompted another visit to the gorgeous smelling bathroom.
Bleary eyed and frankly delirious at this point I blinked to make sure I was seeing correctly.
In the toilet bowl was a large ripple of fluid swirling around until it settled at the bottom. It was red. Blood. It was blood.
I reached for my phone and dialled 999.