So what happened since I became an a&e breach statistic in the middle of an a&e crisis? I don’t know what the other post says about where I went next etc but I ended up on AMAU for 2 nights before transferring to a respiratory ward.
AMAU was it’s usual hectic self, really noisy and complete lack of sleep, so I was pretty glad to get out of there and into a side room for some peace! Even if it was the side room with the picture that haunts me!!
Spent the day just relaxing and starting to feel a lot better, and spoke with the asthma nurse who said I would probably get to go home the following day as I was doing so well. My lungs had other ideas!
I woke up after a couple of hours sleep and just felt unable to breathe. I went through all the breathing exercises I’ve been given and tried my inhalers for a bit hoping I would just settle and be able to go home the next day as planned. After about an hour I caved and called the nurse for a nebuliser. She came straight in and stayed with me for a bit before calling the doctor to review me. (I later found out that she said I looked like I was struggling a bit but then just started to go blue and developed a really loud wheeze).
Doctors and nurse practitioners came and took blood gases, gave me loads of nebs, IV steroids and magnesium and at some point an ITU consultant managed to get into the room without me knowing! When I struggle to breathe all I want to do is lean forward, I usually sit over the edge of the bed and just look at the floor. I know who is in the room by their shoes…so I really have no idea who people are sometimes! Liz sat next to me on the bed and took my hand, I thought just to feel my pulse, but then she made it known it was her. They got another blood gas and left me on back to back nebs and oxygen, and Liz said she would be back to review me in half an hour, my gases were doing ok so I should have settled in that time.
Half an hour later she was back and another doctor took my blood gases again. My oxygen level had dropped quite dramatically (would you expect any less from me?!) and so they made the decision to take me to ITU.
I was taken there pretty fast, hooked up to monitors, had another arterial line inserted and was started on IV salbutamol and high flow oxygen straight away.
I’ve never felt the need to hold someone’s hand when getting a line in before, I think the first time I had an art line someone held my hand but it didn’t hurt too bad, I probably would have managed without. But this time, thank goodness Charlotte decided to hold my hand. Art line from hell! It was horrible. Took almost an hour for it to be put in too. After that, it was pretty much a settled day in ITU. I was clearly the healthiest patient there. I always think I’m pretty ok with what goes on around me, I see patients like this a lot, but you forget how different it is to be a patient sat opposite somebody on a ventilator, next to somebody who is dying, in the same room as a family being told bad news. It’s not nice, and definitely something I need to remember when I’m back to nursing!
In the evening they decided I was doing well so they halved the rate of my IV salbutamol infusion with the hope of switching it off that night and getting me to the ward the next day. I’m not sure quite what time it was at when they reduced it, but when my family were visiting, I went from happily talking to them, to completely struggling for breath in about half an hour.
People think I cope so well with all of this, but if you were to see me in that time frame, between feeling fine and getting sick, you’d know I don’t! I get really agitated and quite mean. I start to ignore people when they talk to me, I give snappy answers when I eventually choose to listen to people, I can’t sit still, everything annoys me, and I’ll make it pretty clear to you that you’re annoying me too! I don’t mean it. Mum and I joke about it afterwards because we can see it as a signal for things going wrong, but I do turn into another person, and a horrible one at that!
Some friends came in to see me, it wasn’t perfect timing on anyone’s side really but I said to let them in. They’ve visited me loads before and I thought if they were turned away at ITU they’d think I was a lot worse than I was.
The salbutamol infusion was increased again and a few hours later I was more settled again. They left the infusion for the night to give me a break and in the morning they decided to send me to HDU. During the evening they attempted to wean the salbutamol again, another failed attempt and it was put back up and left at it’s usual rate for the night. I had a million blood tests taken, literally over 60mls of blood taken in one go! I hardly slept at all. The next day I took it pretty easy, slept on and off for most of the day. I found out I tested positive for some sort of respiratory virus that would be the cause of my flare ups, but as it’s a virus it’s only supportive treatment that will help, I just have to fight it off and let it run it’s course. The salbutamol was weaned slowly and successfully and so I went to just having nebs every 2 hours instead. All good progress!
I managed to sleep well last night, I didn’t even wake up most times they switched the neb and oxygen over, and I don’t think I ever felt the blood pressure cuff inflate every half an hour. So I’ve woke up feeling a lot more human today 🙂 I have no arterial line, they’ve stopped my fluids, and I can go to the ward when a bed is available. Onwards and upwards!