Christmas last year for me was weird. Every day when my consultant visited me or when I’d had a scan, I waited for the words ‘you’ll be home for Christmas’. Believe me, the team wanted me to be home but alas it wasn’t to be. It was a difficult time for me. My mental health began to deteriorate and not being able to do anything but sit in a chair all day was beginning to take its toll. We decided as a family that we’d plan for Christmas in hospital, but I was adamant that Christmas should happen at home, for the sake of my daughter if nothing else. I wanted things to be as normal as possible for her. I began receiving endless photos on my phone of rooms being decorated, ham being glazed and I was not at all jealous!! I was now 6 weeks into my stay I’d begun to get to know the nursing staff and fellow patients. My physio team visited me daily but could see that I was struggling mentally. Without me knowing, they came up with a rescue package. We began walking around the hospital and even outside! I began to feel a bit more human and my Saturdays and Sundays consisted of me wandering the corridors of Level 7! As Christmas neared, my physios had been mischievously speaking with my consultant and nursing team and to my surprise, they’d arranged for me to go home for Christmas day!! I was emotional at hearing the news but also terrified. I was also so appreciative of the effort the whole team had gone to…. just for me.
That is what makes the NHS GREAT.
Another treat was my dog being allowed to visit!! My Labrador, Cain, was bathed, preened and coifed to within an inch of his life. He’s a very well-behaved boy but none of us new how he’d react in a hospital environment. The day arrived and in he walked. I burst into tears, having not seen my boy for so long but to my dismay, he didn’t care! He’d walked in like a film star walking down the red carpet – everyone loved him, patients and staff alike. Eventually, myself and the physios went for a walk with Cain and I sat in the fresh air (it was bloody cold!!) feeling almost normal (ignoring the tubes and drains of course!). That was a good day but tiring.
The next day, a lovely lady in the bay opposite me suggested we have our hair done by the hospital hairdresser for Christmas! I must admit, I did look a bit scruffy!! The hairdresser washed my hair which, because of the tubes, was an uncomfortable process, but it felt amazing! She put my hair up in a French plait and if it wasn’t for the NG tube up my nose, I would’ve looked quite pretty!!
Christmas eve arrived and as it was a Monday, it was also my fluoroscopy scan day (swallow test!). Every Monday I would have either a CT scan or swallow scan to see how everything was. For weeks it had been the same news – no change! I arrived in the x-ray department, delivered by my personal porter. There was a festive feeling in the air, and everyone was cheerful. I went in for my scan. We were all on first name terms by now and we joked about which alcoholic drink I’d like to swallow today (it didn’t matter how light hearted they made it, it was still a revolting liquid to drink!). I did the usual – took a mouthful, held it in my mouth trying not to gag and swallowed when told. However, the atmosphere changed. The radiography team had seen something, and it was good news!! They told me that the hole in my oesophagus had closed dramatically and was now the size of a pin head!!! There was jubilation in the room, and we all wished each other merry Christmas. I returned to my bed where my parents were waiting. They could see on my face that something was good, and we all had a little cheer. ‘The size of a pin head’ – I’ll take that and celebrate Christmas thank you very much!
Christmas day!!!! – my nurses had already prepared and would be waking me up earlier to drain my various bags and add a cork to my NG (nose) tube! I was up and awake by 5.30. By 7am I was dressed and ready go and by 7.45 I was out of the door! The cavalry. What I’d failed to realise was that I’d have to get into a vehicle for the 1st time in 2 months, move into positions I hadn’t done for a while but much more scary…. seeing the world beyond the hospital. It was very strange being out and about, but it was nice to be home. It was a good day, but very surreal. My family had decided to kindly not eat dinner until I’d gone back to hospital. It soon became time to return ‘home’ to hospital. I wasn’t upset about returning, I was exhausted. I’d also, in a 24hr period, acquired an enormous amount of fluid build-up in my left arm where the mid-line was situated. This resulted in an emergency visit by a doctor on Christmas night, a very painful cannula fitted into my hand and a night on fluids instead of my TPN feed (total parenteral nutrition).