On 3rd December 2018, late evening, I left ICU and went to a ward. My memories of this day are vague but what memories I do have are quite clear. I’d spent the day on and off a commode…and I don’t think further detail is required; suffice to say that my body was waking up! I spent the day feeling humiliated, embarrassed and incapable; having people wipe your bottom and clean up your mess repeatedly is no fun. But they did it with care and compassion and amongst the tears we sometimes had a giggle. It had been a difficult day; emotional, unsure of what was happening and a day of being prepared for the move. I didn’t know what to expect but I was excited, as it was a step closer to home.
The porters arrived to take me up to the ward. There was no emotional farewell, in fact there was no farewell at all – nobody came to say goodbye or wish me well. The porters didn’t speak and my delirium mind went into overdrive once more. We arrived on the ward and it was very busy…and hot, very hot! None of the staff knew where the porters should put me and I instantly felt an inconvenience. I was pushed into a corner of a 4-bed bay. There were windows and even though it was dark, it was my first glimpse of the outside world. Families were visiting their loved ones and it was noisy! Panic set in and I began frantically pushing the call bell. Nobody came. Nobody came to say hello, or to comfort me or to just simply reassure me.
For what seemed like hours, I lay scrunched up on the bed, uncomfortable and desperate to get someone’s attention. I wanted to be out of the bed and remember trying to wriggle under the sidebars! Eventually a young lady came. It wasn’t the caring, 1-1 care that I’d been used to. She wasn’t unpleasant but she couldn’t empathise with what I was going through or been through. Instead, I was making a fuss and told to stop ringing the call bell. I felt like I was in prison and I felt like I needed to escape. My heart rate increased, I became breathless and the monitor alarms began ringing. This time a nurse came and explained that I couldn’t get out of the bed, that I needed to rest…. and then she went away.
Reality hit me like a brick wall – I wasn’t in ICU anymore. I was now on my own and I had to look after myself. I video called my family and although I can’t recall the conversation, they convinced me to accept the offer of oxygen from the nurse. I began to calm down, by which time the ward was a little quieter. The lights went off and everyone began to sleep. Unfortunately my body wasn’t done with me yet and I soiled my myself, again. Now, I confess I was too embarrassed to ask for help. I didn’t want to be a nuisance so I attempted to clean myself up. It was at this point I realised I’d got a catheter and became aware that it was this that I was pulling on! I admitted defeat and rather embarrassingly asked for help…Crownhill Ward was to become my home for the next 68 days.