Thursday, 22 March 2012

Yet another December visit to Hospital

Milnthorpe Parish Church
Once we had got ourselves back to the Lake District safely, the weather and traffic was horrendous, we began enjoying our break. The weather remained wet and it did not seem to come proper daylight now we were in winter time, but we enjoyed just relaxing in our home, taking it easy and going out for lunches to some of our favourite pubs and some new ones. We have been going to the Lake District all our lives, but there are always new places to be discovered. All the pubs had their roaring log fires blazing and Christmas trees up and everywhere looked very festive. The rain and the dismal overhanging clouds seemed to emphasise the twinkly lights and made everywhere look even more sparkly,warm and welcoming.

View from Bowness

After a day or two I noticed my skin under my dressing was looking red and inflamed again and I had developed two big rashes on each side of my neck, which were itchy and irritating. We were not too concerned, but as usual we kept a very close eye on things. A day or two later, my skin under my dressing was getter redder and the wound had started to weep. This was not looking good and we were beginning to be anxious, so we immediately made a telephone call to my specialist centre. The specialist nurse advised me to go to A&E or at least see a doctor. It would need to be swabbed and I needed blood cultures taking. I knew it may be a bit of a risk, but we decided to just pack our bags and abandon our holiday and get ourselves back home.

We both could not face yet another A &  E department and decided it would be better to at least get home and then review things again. If things had worsened by then, we would go to A&E near home, if not I would get an emergency appointment with my GP the following morning.

I will hasten to add that the redness was not at the entry site and that this, from my previous experience, did look like another allergic reaction, otherwise we would have taken the precaution of going straight to A&E. An infection in the line is always a danger when having intravenous drugs, blood poisoning is always a threat. I was more concerned about being stuck up in the Lake District for longer should I be hospitalised and things deteriorating and me not being near enough to my experts at Papworth should things get worse. Although I felt ninety nine per cent that it wasn't an infection, Christmas was only a few days off and I didn't want this allergy travelling to the wound entry site and then getting infected over Christmas, this was my main concern.

I had had allergy tests taken at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge during autumn, following my bad reaction to the site dressing in summer. They had found I had quite a lot of allergies, latex had been a worry, but it was found I only had a mild allergy and decided that I should really have patch testing for contact allergies next to see if they could find what it is that makes me react to the dressing. I had been referred and had received an appointment for February, so was having to wait on this one in the hope that things didn't really get any worse in the meantime.

We packed in a whirl and made the long journey home. Nothing looked any different when we got home, so I decided I would be better getting a good nights sleep ready to brace myself for a long haul at A&E and the doctors in the morning.

My first port of call was going to be the doctors and I did expect from here that I would be referred to A&E, I have found now from experience, its better to be referred to A&E by a doctor rather than just turning up unannounced. I went down to the doctors for eight thirty in the morning and managed to get an emergency appointment for later that morning. By the time I had arrived home, Papworth were on the telephone, wanting to admit me to the ward so that the PH consultant could check me. Relief. I would be back in the hands of the team who know me, my condition and its problems.

Off we drove, hospital bags in tow, I was hugely relieved not to have to go through the rigmarole of A&E and I would be quite happy to stay in hospital if that was what was needed. Thank goodness we had got ourselves home, but yet again, I felt some disappointment that my body had let me down.

I was given a single room on Baron ward, I'm going to have been on most beds in these wards one day! I was admitted and thoroughly examined, blood cultures and swabs taken as a matter of routine. Everybody agreed it did not look as it should be, but also it did not appear to be infected, although the tests would tell. Some staff wanted to just come and observe what had been happening, just because there are not many of us with this type of intravenous drug and it useful to see what the problems patients endure actually look like when they happen. While all this was being done, it felt a bit like we had come back home again, my door was open to the corridor and lots of staff spotted us as they walked past and popped their heads in to say hello.

As it was Christmas time, it was decided to let me go home and give me a supply of antibiotics, only to be used on further instruction from the ward doctor, should the rash get any worse. We had chance to thank the staff for all they had done for us this year and then off we went home, pleased and relieved I had been checked, relieved we had a back up plan for over Christmas and the consultant working over Christmas was now aware of my condition and had seen it first hand. We would obviously receive a phone call should tests reveal  any further problems.

A day later and Papworth Hospital was headlining the news. It was on every TV channel. Now my second home is in my lounge again, goodness me! Prince Phillip has been admitted straight from Sandringham, where he has recently travelled to be ready for the Royal Family's traditional Christmas celebrations. He was having a stent procedure following chest pains. I knew he would be in the right hands. The press and TV coverage is full of praise for Papworth and quite rightly so I want to tell them. I feel sorry he has had to miss his Christmas and be in hospital, but know if he is anything like me he will be a good judge of when it is better to be safe than sorry. He will know he is in the safest place albeit he will be itching to get back to his usual routines. I'm a tiny bit jealous I am not there when the royal princes visit him on Christmas day and Rob is not on the TV  parking his car in the car park when he comes to visit me, the TV presenters are stood in front of the car park we use! Some people are moaning he is getting five star treatment, but I know better, we all do, whoever we are, when you go there!

We didn't get any phone calls and the rash did not worsen over the Christmas period, neither did it disappear, so we were still monitoring it carefully. We were all ready for Christmas now and had a wonderful worry free Christmas day, except for all the usual drug regime and my usual problems including chest pain. Rose even managed to make a phone call from Uganda to wish us Merry Christmas and Sarah and Oli came and had an evening buffet with us and stayed over for Boxing Day.

I was delighted I was here to enjoy another wonderful Christmas with my family. I had always planned to be, but you never know what is round the corner with this terrible condition. During the Christmas period we also had lots of friends round and again it was lovely to catch up and enjoy the more normal things in life. I can manage eating and drinking (well soft drinking) just as easily as anyone else!

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