The words that no one wants to hear from your doctor: ‘’I’m going to have to admit you to hospital’’. Just when you think that things are getting better and then everything just comes crashing down around you. I hated the idea of being in hospital; they’re crowded, full of long queues and hours of waiting, but after the initial shock, it was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. I’d never had to stay in hospital before and it felt like I’d just been hit by a bus. I didn’t have all the facts so I didn’t know why I needed to be admitted. I thought that I was getting better when in fact my anaemia had got worse (my blood count was at 50 when normal is more like 120), my infection rate had hit the roof and my protein levels (proteins basically make up everything in your body) had halved. So what I thought was going to be a follow-up appointment turned into a surprise emergency hospital admission.
My stomach was full of butterflies, my chest was tight and stressed, my head was spinning with all the possibilities of what was going to happen to me. I arrived at the Queen Alexandra Hospital Portsmouth, was given my own room with a bathroom (thankfully) and waited of my consultant. Firstly, he decided to remind me that 50% of people that are admitted to hospital as I was usually end up having surgery. So while he was talking to a surgeon, I was told to do my homework. This was terrifying. I didn’t really accept just how much of an impact this was going to make on my life or just how serious UC actually is until surgery became my next step. So, the week started with surgery being my only option and for anyone to hear that your life and your body is going to change so drastically I just didn’t know what to think or how to feel.
Over the course of the week I went through a sigmoidoscopy, some seriously strong steroids being pumped directly into my bloodstream (which left me with an almighty moonface), the first batch of IV therapy in the form of infliximab, and a blood transfusion to help the anaemia after an infusion of iron did absolutely nothing. I was being very closely monitored with blood being taken before the sun had even woken up, a blood thinning injection that is the worst thing in the world (it really hurts), and my vitals being checked every hour. I was like a pin cushion.
It was all so scary. I was in a room on my own, in the top floor of a giant hospital, with no wifi and just my thoughts for company. But as the week went on I started to finally relax. I realised I was in the best place; the nurses that were looking after me were incredible, bringing me endless cups of tea and fabulous conversation. Every morning like clockwork I was woken at 5.30am for blood tests and steroid injection, I showered and got dressed, I did my hair and put a full face of makeup on. Trying to put makeup on with only one hand and my left for that matter (I’m right handed) was a challenge in itself. I spent an two hours everyday putting my makeup on and doing my hair to look my very best. Not because I was seeing anyone in particular or wanting to impress the cute doctor looking after me, but because it added a bit of normality to my day. If I was going to be stuck somewhere I didn’t want to be then I was going to make the best of a bad situation, and attempting a smokey eye with one hand was the best way to do that.
I went down every morning to the Costa coffee on the first floor for a bacon sandwich, cup of tea and watched the world go by. The people coming to visit new mums and their tiny newborn babies, children coming to see their grandparents and husbands coming to see their wives. So many different people, so many different stories and all smiling. Strange considering where I was. So, what started out as being hit by a metaphorical bus, turned out to actually be a pretty good week. I had visitors every day to take my mind off the setting and for the first time in my life I relaxed. The threat of surgery was in the background and I just focused on the people around me; the nurses monitoring me, my doctor making sure he was taking the right course of action, my friends and family attempting to distract me from everything else. I left the Queen Alexandra Hospital with the plan of IV therapy for the next year, a cocktail of medication to get this damn UC under control and the most relaxed I’ve ever been. I learnt that my doctor knows best and he knows how to look after me; that I needed to get off google and stop self diagnosing, to make time for the people around me that love me and most importantly, to make time for myself to actually get better.