It was a thursday the day I thought I was going to die. A recent thursday. A couple of weeks ago. I had been suffering from a headache for about 6 days. It wasn’t constant, it would attack me like someone smacking me with a baseball bat, or jamming a rock repeatedly into my head for a few hours then it would go. Then it would come back. I tried over the counter drugs but they were as useless as smarties. The zero hours contract and recent pay screw ups mean that I was loathe to take any more time off; quite simply i couldn’t afford it. Then thursday happened.
The headache came at around 2pm, i’d eaten lunch. And it wouldn’t go. Staring at a screen was excruciating and I was getting stabbing pains every time I moved my finger to type. I thought it would go. I’m not invincible, and as much as I knew that loosing two hours work was essentially loosing travel for a few days being at work was beyong my capability. So i went home. Within two hours the right hand side of my face had begun to tingle, then my shoulder, the tingling turned to numbness that was spreading relatively rapidly down the right hand side of my body. Only the right. Panic set in, ‘I’m having a stroke, I’m 31 and I’m having a stroke’… I’ve known people younger than me who have had strokes and it was all I could think of…that and if it was the case then what the hell I would do, no work, no money and whats the point of an unavailable casual contractor?
By the time I called the out of hours surgery number I could barely lift my right arm to my ear, I managed to get lost heading to the station, a mere 6 minutes from my house and struggled to stay standing on a packed overground. The only positive at that point was that the out of hours emergency clinic was attached to the hospital, an ambulance trip, would be a first, but was not something I was really feeling.
There are many phrases you don’t want to hear from a Doctor and ‘It’s probably not, but’ is definitely one of them. Several hours, several tests, a severe bout of nausea, a ct scan, a drip, alot of tears and various conversations about ‘what a lumber puncture is’ later and they were still using the same phrase and I was in a bed in the acute care ward. Nobody apart from my mum knew where I was.
This was the second time i’d been in hospital. The first was a few years ago when a misdiagnosed urine infection left me with a severe kidney infection and stuck in a different hellish hospital in South East London. I remained for 5 days before discharging myself in a fit of anger and frustration with the entire NHS and it’s appalling bedside manner (I have since supported the campaign to keep the hospital open however would personally never set foot in there again)
That experience was horrific and thus the last place I wanted to be was stuck in hospital. Again. However I was, and the phrase ‘It’s probably not, but’ was still being bandied around. The most recent being ‘It’s probably not, but we’re going to give you an MRI before we discharge you, just in case’ and then they casually added that the likelihood was i’d have to wait until Monday to get the MRI and would be stuck in the hospital until that point.
Whilst in fairness I could understand that I needed to be in hospital, I still had no feeling in most of my right hand side. Any pressure felt like a multitude of bee stings and I was struggling to walk and essentially speak, the absolute fear of staying in was freaking me out. It was, to use the cliche, like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. I didn’t want to go home for fear of having a blod clot in my brain and being left permanently paralysed down my right side and probably wheelchair bound, but I didn’t want to stay in hospital by myself, in the same knickers* and with no shower until monday. Luckily, and this is where being a woman and having a youngish male doctor paid off, I cried so much they managed to organise an MRI (which was clear) and send me home with a strong assurance it was temporary and I wouldn’t be paralysed together. So I staggered home and slept for two days, then worked a ridiculously long twelve hour shift which was also a ridiculously stupid decision.
Since that point i’ve had another MRI (of my spine, also clear although I spent most of the day after wondering what would happen if they did find something as they had cheerily sent me off on my way at the end of it!) And tomorrow I have a neurologists appointment. It eventually took until the Wednesday after, 6 days to nolonger feel any numbness or tingles. They said, in the end, it was a migraine, but had no real causes or reasons… apparently, maybe tomorrow I’ll get some more answers, although to be fair i’m not holding my breath.
Scary situations change you; you feel vulnerable, you question, Is this it? You’re forced to evaluate yourself, your life, what you’ve done, what you haven’t done… it makes you think. In many ways this is the actual stem of where this blog challenge came from. That fear. I looked at the things I want to do and decided to do them; more. And here I am. Day 2 (which is actually day 3) and trying to keep up that momentum…
*friends promised to bring me knickers and various other things if that had been the case.
title: Is this it by The Strokes
image: Iphone by me