Wednesday night nearly destroyed me - to the point that on my way home from work I got off the tube at the first outdoor station to lie on a bench in the rain to try to reign in my overloading immune system. I then got back onto the next train and called my husband - he would need to pick me up at the station, I was clearly dying.
It got much worse as the night wore on, but I didn't want to seem a hypochondriac. You know how it is. When I awoke at 3am without the use of my right arm I felt that maybe I should call 111, the non-emergency healthcare line in the UK, for some advice.
Their advice, given my medical history and all, was to get to the nearest hospital A&E within the hour, or she would send me an ambulance.
Feeling that she was just being unreasonably alarmist I went back to bed until around 5, when feeling returned to my arm with a vengeance. I woke Paul - yeah, we would have to go to the hospital.
Getting to the hospital and triage itself was an adventure worth writing about, but perhaps for another day - I'm bagged already and just had to share this part of my very bizarre last two days. I was seen extraordinarily quickly, brought into a small cubicle in A&E and was visited by a parade of doctors and specialists until my Rheumatologist was called down, who immediately drugged me up and made arrangements while I promptly fell asleep. Narcolepsy certainly has its' perks at times.
You know when you're sleeping, and then suddenly you wake up because things are horribly wrong? First off, the A&E had become eerily quiet. Also the room was somewhat different. Secondly, I had to pee like a race horse and thirdly, the blood in my IV line was going up the wrong way... a long way up the wrong way.
I sat up in a panic, seeing the air bubbles that had also formed in the IV line. This was not good. Murky memories of junior high science class and learning how spies can kill people by stabbing an air filled needle into a vein, any vein. Clearly I was going to die. Whether or not that was at all accurate was completely beside the point, the last thing a person ever wants to see when they take a glance at their IV line is the whole thing full of bloody air bubbles. Something was clearly not right.
And I really had to pee.
I looked around frantically for the nurse buzzer but couldn't find one. In fact, I seemed to be in a different room, though I could still hear the buzz of the A&E a little way down the hall behind my closed curtain. I was in a larger room, the bed was placed directly in the middle and nowhere near any kind of buzzer. Or anything else for that matter. The side rails of the bed had been raised and I was sat there in my flimsy hospital gown, kind of wondering where I was and what the hell time it was.
Okay, maybe Narcolepsy does suck.
I needed help, and I needed it now. So I did the Canadian thing and waited patiently for someone to come help me. Except that for about 10 minutes of siting up nicely and attentively in bed, nobody came to check on me. Nobody even walked past my curtained room with cement walls. Okay, this was a bit weird.
So I had to commit the ultimate rudeness, and call out.
A little louder now. "HELLO? Excuse me? Is anybody out there?"
I swear to God the lights gave an involuntary flicker and I had a mega flashback to the first episode of the Walking Dead, emitted an 'eep!' and started hyperventilating, still very concerned about the blood filling my IV tube.
Okay, this was ridiculous. I would just have to get up out of bed and go find a nurse to help me. No big deal. Except for these stupid rails - how do you get them to go down?? I gripped the rail with both hands and peered down the side, looking for some kind of lever, but finding none. The other side - still nothing. I shook them. I tried pushing them back and then flipping them outward. No movement. I kicked one. Still nothing.
I debated skooching down to the bottom of the bed and just getting out there, but was worried that if I did the imbalance would tip the whole bed up like a teeter-totter and I would be found days later face down on the floor and having been crushed by my bed-contraption.
I gripped the rails and tried skooching forward rather violently to jerk the entire bed forward with the momentum. Nope, the breaks were on tightly. It might tip, but it wouldn't roll. Damn.
Okay then. The blood kept going up the line and the bubbles kept creeping closer to my vein - I had to get out of this bed! There was no other way, I was going to have to climb out over the side.
Despite what it sounds, this is not an easy task whatsoever. First off, I was already tangled up by my bloody IV line and the loose strings of my flimsy hospital dress-gown that was really just getting in the way. I was sitting up, but couldn't get over the side from that position for fear, again, of flipping the bed completely. So with all of the careful precision of a beached whale I flailed and flopped and rocked and turned until I was eventually on all fours facing the back of the bed, now very well tangled within my dark red IV line.
I took a moment to catch my breath before again peering down the side, trying to figure out how I would do this. The bed was surprisingly high off the ground. Surely much higher than it should be. Also there were no decent looking footholds. Spurred on by the slow flowing bubbles of certain death I lifted my left leg up into the air and behind me as though I was in some sort of downward facing dog yoga pose, trembling the entire bed with my effort and carefully raised it up and over the rail, gripping the opposite rail for fear of tipping the entire thing over. I had visions of a flying hospital bed and my IV being yanked out and exploding - like a scene from Carrie.
OMGOMGOMG I just needed to get out of this stupid bed. Thank God I'm so freakishly tall, as I was able to lower my left leg completely over the rail and down toward the floor - nearly reaching the cold cement with my toes but alas, not quite there. The bed was still shaking violently from my twisted balancing effort (how could nobody hear all that squeaking?) and I made a leaning-jump for it - my left foot now planted firmly on the ground and the rest of me now riding and gripping the bed rail like a Quidditch broomstick, expecting the whole bed to take off at any moment.
Okay! Whew! I was out of the bed and stood straight to untangle myself, getting a good look at the now really red IV line and wishing I was back in the bed as a new wave of nausea washed over me. Alright, alright. Keep going. I was out of the bed, I just had to walk over to the curtain, stick my head out and call for help. No big deal.
Except that my IV line wouldn't reach that far. I was literally tied to the bed. If I stretched I could get a good three feet from the flimsy blue curtain separating me from the rest of the world. I tried calling for help again. Still nothing. A little louder and more forcefully this time - still nothing at all. Maybe something visual would help? If I could move or pull back the curtain maybe? Okay. I can do this. Not a big deal, I usually have excellent balance. Well, for the most part. I crept toward the curtain to the very end of my IV line's allowance of distance, stretching out my IV arm toward the bed to give me that little bit more distance. I couldn't reach the curtain with my other arm, but I could do it with my foot, surely. So, like a freaking ninja yoga master I stood there in a position of one arm stretched out toward the bed and leaned, raising my right leg perpendicular to my body and Chun-Li kicked at the blue curtain, pulling it away from the wall and to the side. I had an opening!
I kicked at the curtain some more, calling out a strained "Nurse! Excuse me!" to nobody.
Alright fine, this wasn't going to work. I stared out the curtain but still nobody came by. How could this be? The A&E department had been hopping for the last six hours! Where the hell was I?
This was dire. I was about to bleed to death, have some sort of bubble-heart aneurysm and pee myself. There was nothing to it, I had to go get help. And I would have to take the bed with me.
I pushed. I pulled. I heaved. That bed wasn't moving and I would have to figure out where the brake release was. The first lever wasn't it - I pressed it with my foot and the bed shot down to just above the floor. The second lever wasn't it either, but I could lift the bed back up to an unnatural and nearly comical height). I walked around it again, careful to hold my IV line like some sort of leash. the next lever I tried wasn't it, but at least I could now get the bed rail down. Finally I hit the right lever and the brake released, shooting the bed I was leaning on into the wall with a bang.
Still nobody came.
And so there I was, slowly pushing a large hospital bed with a bloody bed sheet (was that my blood?) across the room and slowly peeking it out into the hall, not sure if I was going to encounter medical staff or zombies, but tied to this beast on wheels by my IV pole. I pushed it out further into the hall, still nothing. I pushed it through the blue curtain and all the way into the flickering, darkened hall and looked around, my first foray into a world of other people in what seemed like hours.
I was at the far end of the busy A&E, in what seemed like a fairly empty and disused 'wing' of sorts. Down the hall I could see the busy nursing station and medical staff darting from room to room in their blue scrubs, attending to the wailing and yelling of patients and their families. There was a set of police in one open cubicle, barring an irate woman from leaving, and a grown man crying over an IV in another. Crying babies and a drunk guy yelling - no wonder nobody had been able to hear me.
But they could clearly all see me, as they all turned to stare in shocked silence as I calmly and slowly pushed my empty bed down the hall and to the nurses station, my open gown flapping in the breeze behind me and clutching my bloody IV line. I pulled up and parked my bed in front of the nursing station, to the staring silence of about eight doctors and nurses, held up my bloody IV line and asked if this was something I should be worried about. Before anyone could answer I then declared that I had to pee quite badly and would someone be able to unhook me or should I just take the bed with me to the loo as well?
Everyone then came rushing around the desk to help me at once, someone fastening my gown, another person clearing my IV line, someone making the bed that I had pushed there with clean sheets and another person unhooking to guide me to the washroom - all asking why I hadn't just used my buzzer.
It turns out that I was being admitted, but until a private room was ready for me on the ward I had been moved, while I was sleeping, into an isolation cubicle down at the far end of the hall. So no zombie apocalypse, nobody had forgotten me. I was just being quarantined. Like the guy upstairs with Ebola but without the armed guards.
Yeah. And to think that was just the start of my two day hospital stay of weirdness this time.
Granted, the isolation and quarantine was to protect me but still. I hate private rooms.