From November 2018 through to January 2019 I was critically ill. I experienced the NHS at it’s finest and was cared for by the most fantastic team of nurses, healthcare assistants, consultants, surgeons, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, cleaners, the list is endless.
Quite simply, I owe them my life…….
In 2018, after 3 years of struggling, I was diagnosed with a rare condition called Achalasia. In simple terms, this is where the oesophagus doesn’t work properly making it difficult for food or liquid to pass from the mouth to the stomach. There is no cure for Achalasia, it’s a progressive disease and there are only palliative options.
I was offered a complex procedure called a ‘Heller Myotomy’. A cut was to be made at the lower sphincter of my oesophagus allowing solids and liquids to flow freely into the stomach. To prevent reflux, I was also to have a fundoplication or ‘wrap’ from the stomach to the oesophagus. It was not a cure but instead offered a means of relieving the symptoms.
On 21st November 2018 I went in for surgery. The procedure went well but my oesophagus ruptured during surgery. Having gone undetected during my post-operative recovery, I suddenly took a rapid, dangerous descent downhill. All that I had drunk in the 24/36hrs following surgery, along with other fluids, had been filling my abdominal cavity. I was critically ill and my body was experiencing one of the most severe types of trauma possible. During emergency surgery my abdominal cavity was flushed with 10 litres of fluid. I had early onset sepsis, my left lung collapsed, my kidneys began to fail, I went into shock and multiple drains, tubes and lines were inserted.
I found myself on the Intensive Care Unit at University Hospitals Plymouth (Derriford), waking from a medically induced coma. Then began a very slow, painful recovery waiting for my oesophagus to heal naturally, whilst being nil by mouth for the entire time. My world along with that of my family, had been turned upside down. 84 days in hospital from ICU to the ward was without doubt, the toughest battle I’ve ever had to fight.
During my time in ICU I experienced severe deliriums: Vicious, vivid nightmares, visions and hallucinations, thought to be brought on by infection and medication.
I’ve created this blog to support my recovery. I now have a new best friend, PTSD! I have been very fortunate to receive rehabilitation and psychological support from the ICU rehab team – without them I’m not sure where I’d be. Me and PTSD walk hand in hand through life, reminding me of what I’ve been through but also reminding me how very lucky I am.
This blog allows me to process my thoughts whilst sharing my own personal experiences of life as an ICU patient and beyond.
I hope the blog will evolve over time, continue to grow and become a useful resource for years to come to those who are seeking support in a confusing time.
My one request is that you treat my blog with kindness. The grammar or written English may not always be perfect. I write how I speak; I write from the heart.