£0.69 away from a stay in the ‘secure ward’
I swear to God I am about 2 incidents away from being moved to the psych ward.
Day 5 of captivity and I’m feeling fine – I’ve been feeling a bit weak but pretty good since Day 3 to be honest, and I’ve been railing to go home ever since. Sure, the Bells Palsy may be permanent, but it is improving. No big deal, I’m already married and a half-paralyzed face is pretty much a free pass to collect hordes of disease-ridden animals and talk to yourself when you are older, so I’m more or less okay with this. It’s the whole ‘cycle of acceptance’ thing, right?
I’ve had Bells Palsy before, much worse than this. Sure, it’s never lasted this long even after being blasted with such strong treatments, but I’d already accepted my pirate accent and Quasimodo face the first time it had happened. I was okay with it then, so it didn’t take me long to reach ‘acceptance’ now.
So other than that, I was feeling pretty good. A little weak and shaky, but that was to be expected after a major neuro-flare.
The doctors weren’t pleased, however.
I explained the shakiness to them as best as I could.
“It feels like I’m trembling. Almost like I’m vibrating.” The team of three Rheumatologists took my pulse. Seemed fine. I confirmed that it was much more noticeable when I was lying down, which concerned them greatly. An EKG was arranged, as well as blood pressure monitoring every two hours and blood sugar monitoring every four hours. They were going to continue to observe me for the day while they consulted with Neurology. This was Friday morning. Nothing to really worry about, they said, they just need to re-visit my MRI results and then look into this further.
They assured me that I would be going home for the weekend, as my best friend had flown in and I was desperately wanting to get out of the hospital to see her. I also had to work, I have a family, I missed superhero day at the twins’ school… I needed to get out of here.
But the shaking feeling continued, at times getting worse and then better in waves. I told Paul about it – who was not pleased. He didn’t want me to rush myself out of the hospital just to spend time with Nicole – we had to think of long-term effects here and we were going to do whatever the doctors wanted me to do. Maybe she could come hang out at the hospital.
Friday afternoon around 4pm I was starting to panic. The doctors said that they would be back, but surely they would soon be leaving for the weekend? I had a nurse check what time they were going home. Around 6 she said, and she was certain that they would be coming to discharge me before they left.
Okay, this vibrating thing isn’t that bad. I’m just shaky. Or something. I started asking my roommates if they felt the room was shaking at all. Nope, they didn’t feel anything. It was definitely just me.
“You guys are sure the room isn’t moving at all.”
A young nurse walked in to take my blood pressure and I asked her to get in my bed with me to tell me if it was shaking. She declined, so I got out of the bed, stood to the side and insisted that she lie on my bed to tell me if it was shaking.
“Nurse, you don’t understand. I’m not crazy. Just get in my bed and lay down and tell me if the world is moving.”
Humoring me, she got in for about 3 seconds and confirmed that no, the bed wasn’t shaking.
Okay, it was definitely me then. This was not good.
Well, 6pm came and left and I was devastated. The doctors weren’t coming back, I would be stuck here for the weekend – I wasn’t even being treated, just observed and monitored. This was infuriating. I wanted to be home! I wanted to take the twins to Kung Fu and to meet Nicole at the airport, I wanted to get back to the office and I wanted to eat proper vegetables. I was so done with this, and I was so angry that the doctors had selfishly forgotten me, just keeping me in here for the weekend like it was no big deal.
So when the on-call weekend ward doctor came to check on me at about 2pm on Saturday I was pissed. How dare they keep me in here! At the very least I wanted a day-pass, if I had to sleep here that’s fine but there’s NO POINT in keeping me here when I’m feeling fine! It’s a waste of NHS resources! Aren’t there bed shortages or something?
And then he explained to me what was happening. They had done EKG’s, they had checked my blood sugar and blood pressure and other static tests. He went on to explain that feelings of movement and vibration are neurological, like pain, etc. That this ‘vibrating feeling’ when combined with my Bells Palsy, neuro-flare and some kind of thing they weren’t happy about with my eyebrow meant to them that something more was happening in my brain, and we might be looking at some serious neurological damage here.
He did some quick neurological tests, which seemed fine except for some double vision in one or two areas but otherwise fine. This didn’t look good – I was vibrating like a hummingbird whenever I lay flat.
“Sorry,” he said, “my instructions from the Rheumatology and Neurology teams were very clear. We are to keep you for monitoring over the weekend until we can do more testing on Monday. We can’t tell if you are at the tail end of a flare or still the beginning of it, and we cannot risk permanent neurological damage by having you just go home.”
In a bit of a daze I thanked him and watched him leave, then sitting back on the bed and bursting into vibrating sobs.
We were talking about actual brain damage here. What did I do?! Was this because I didn’t come to the hospital fast enough when this first happened on Wednesday? Was it going to get worse? I couldn’t even call Paul – I couldn’t even speak.
My denial was seriously faltering.
So I started to write, just to get it out. Sobbing hysterically on my bed as I typed away listening to Norah Jones and coming to grips with having something like irreparable brain damage. My curtains were open and I was unaware of how much of a scene I was making until the mother of another patient came over and gave me a hug – scaring the hell out of me (I was rather absorbed in what I was writing) but also very comforting. I even found myself hugging her back, clinging to her for support in a very low moment of weakness.
Okay. It’s okay. I’ll be fine. It’s not a big deal, I’ll be fine. Deep breath.
I called Paul, and told him what happened. He agreed that vibrating like a hummingbird whenever I layed down wasn’t good but that I shouldn’t worry, the great Dr Beynon will sort me out like he always does. Just relax (why was everyone telling me to relax?! How is that not the worst thing I could be doing right then?? Just laying in a hospital bed, relaxing and vibrating like a pager. THAT’S NOT RELAXING! That is terrifying.)
I still couldn’t quite believe this was happening to me. Paul and the girls came that night to visit me, and I even made him get into my bed to check if the room was moving. I’d been asking nurses all day if the room was humming, I was going crazy here, and two steps away from being brought up to the secure ward.
He said the bed wasn’t moving. My spirit died a little just then, finally accepting that there was a good reason I was still in here – that something was seriously wrong with me.
My family left, promising to pick up my best friend at the airport the next morning and then to come see me – maybe we could arrange a pass for me to leave for a few hours or something. Chin up, it will all work out.
And so I cried, again, at watching my husband and children walk out of the hospital ward and again leaving me behind.
Oh God, this was killing me. I was vibrating alone with my thoughts and fears. This went on for hours as I lay in bed on the dark ward, listening to the ravings of Crazy McRacist Pants in the next bed and the nurses trying to placate her. I needed to distract myself – I was driving myself crazy - so I adjusted my laptop on the bedside dresser, curled up on my side, put my headphones in and watched the newest Riddick, crying quietly to myself as I did so. I just still couldn’t believe this was happening. Brain damage. This was serious.
I lost myself in the movie, until about halfway through when my headphone made a weird buzzing sound – the headphone wedged between my pillow and my ear as I lay on my side watching the screen. That was odd. I took it out, gave it the side-eye and re-adjusted it back in my ear, laying back again to watch the movie.
And then it moved again. My earbud was moving, like it was vibrating out of my ear.
What? Neurons fired at once all over my supposedly melting brain. This didn’t make any sense – the EKG didn’t pick anything up, proving that it wasn’t an actual vibration, just the sensation of vibrating. So… why was my earbud vibrating out of my ear?
What if this wasn’t ME? What if I wasn’t actually vibrating – and that this wasn’t in my head?
What… what if it was the bed?
I ripped out my earbuds and leaped out of bed, staring at the thing like it had electrocuted me. I needed to check this out, and wondered if I could convince a late-night nurse to hook up an EKG to just the bed. Okay, okay. Probably not. I quietly pulled the blue paper curtains around me for privacy and turned on my bedside light – this was insane. I’m actually going crazy. No wonder I was still in here.
I put my hand on the middle of the bed. Nothing. I put my hand on the foot of the bed. Nothing. I put my hand on my pillow and there was a very vague… something.
Okay, think Candace, think. It was 2 in the morning and I was standing outside of my bed trying to prove I wasn’t crazy or brain damaged. Think!
I sat back on the bed, picked up my iPhone and googled ‘can an app feel tremors?’. This somehow brought up a bunch of pages about Parkinsons, which did not help my mental state. Okay, okay. I’m using the wrong search keyword. ‘can a phone feel vibration?’. The screen filled with page lists of downloadable phone vibrate signals.
Okay, this was not working. Think back to junior high science class. What is that thing called? Come on, come on…. Yes! ‘iPhone seismograph’ came right up on the App Store on my phone (thank FREAKING GOD I had internet on this ward!) and, putting in my password I paid £0.69 for a seismograph for my iPhone.
Downloading it was the longest two minutes of my life.
A small bleep and it was done – I was ready. If this didn’t prove my theory then I would have no choice but to accept that my brain was melting and I really did have serious, irreparable neurological damage (on – top of the whole neuro-sarc bells palsy thing)
Okay. Okay. I turned it on, made sure nothing was touching the bed and placed it gently in the middle of the bed. Nothing. One bar lit up intermittently.
I picked up the phone and put it at the foot of the bed. Nothing. Not even one bar.
I picked up the phone and put it on my pillow at the head of the bed, and the app lit up like a Christmas tree – the signal bouncing madly at full bars.
I KNEW IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (super large type) I screeched as I punched my fist in the air – a nurse came running in, having a mild heart-attack at pulling back my curtains to find me jumping up and down beside my bed like a proper crazy woman. I rounded on the poor man.
“ I KNEW IT! I TOLD you guys that there was something wrong with the bed! I don’t have freaking BRAIN DAMAGE!!! It was THE BED!!!”
He tried to calm me down. Oh hell no, I was NOT calming down now! And I showed him the app. He couldn’t believe it. I made him get in the bed and he agreed that he could feel it a little bit – but then he wanted to see the app again. He called two more nurses to check this out. Once it dawned on them that I had been kept in the hospital for two extra days because of a FAULTY BED making the doctors think I was BRAIN DAMAGED they started to laugh ( I wasn’t yet at the point where I thought it was funny). They assured me that they would write this in my notes for the morning rounds but there were no other beds for me to use that night.
I told them it was fine, now that I know the vibration isn’t from BRAIN DAMAGE I’d be fine. It would be like an annoying massage – I’d just pop another quarter in this thing and go back to sleep.
But I couldn’t. I was too irate and enraged at the injustice I had suffered. I called Paul in the dead of night – waking him up with “I TOLD YOU it was the bed!!!” I messaged friends on Facebook throughout the night, spitting venom at having had a faulty hospital bed mistaken for brain damage.
I woke up the next morning, refreshed and renewed. Life was again good and I would be just fine. Just a bit of facial drooping, no biggie. I was getting the hell out of here, and I was getting out TODAY. I sat up in bed and stared at the door watching for that doctor like a damn Border Collie.
My roommates, once they heard the story, were howling. The nursing staff were howling. This story was clearly going to be making the rounds around the Royal Free.
The poor doctor came in to check on me, opening with ‘and how is the vibrating feeling?’
WELL THEN! LET ME SHOW YOU!!
He couldn’t believe it. Eight doctors and nurses surrounded my bed placing my phone all over it in astonishment. My roommates got out of their beds so we could all test theirs – nothing at all. Not even a bar on theirs.
They were still under strict instructions not to let me go until Rheumatology cleared me on Monday, but were now willing to strike a deal. I could just come back here to sleep, then be formally discharged on Monday morning.
That poor doctor, I cannot describe his face. He walked out shaking his head – in all his time as a doctor he had never, EVER heard of something like this.
Me? Not so much. This is pretty much par for the course in my life.
So… long story short. I don’t have irreparable brain damage. There was just an electrical fault in my hospital bed.
And that is hands-down the best £0.69 I have ever spent in my LIFE.