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 and occupational therapists. Quite simply, I owe them my life…….
In 2018, after 3 years of struggling, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease known as ‘Achalasia’. In lamens terms, Achalasia is where the oesophagus doesn’t work correctly. There are many associated symptoms including the inability to swallow solids or liquids, regurgitation, weight loss…..the list is rather long. I was offered a complex procedure called a ‘Hellers Myotomy’, where a cut is made at the bottom of the oesophagus effectively stopping it from contracting and therefore easing the movement of solids and liquids. It was not a cure but instead offered a means of relieving the symptoms.
I went in for Surgery on 21st November 2018. The procedure went well but unfortunately my oesophagus ruptured during surgery (a known risk of an HM procedure). Having gone unnoticed during my post-operative recovery, I suddenly took a rapid, dangerous descent downhill. All that I had drunk in 24/36hrs following surgery along with other fluids had been seeping out of the hole and 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, my left lung collapsed, my kidneys began to fail, I went into shock and multiple drains were inserted.
I found myself on the Intensive Care Unit (Pencarrow) at University Hospital Plymouth, 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 and my 84 days in hospital was without doubt the toughest battle I’ve ever had to fight.
Somewhere in amongst all of this, I experienced what I now know to be severe ICU deliriums: Vicious nightmares, visions and hallucinations, thought to be brought on by infection and medication.
I’ve decided to create a blog to help 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 what state I’d be in. So, 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.
I’ve become very curious about Delirium within ICU patients and it’s something I am keen to explore. I will share with you my experiences and things I have learnt from my journey. I hope the blog will evolve over time and continue to grow. Or maybe it will come to a natural end and remain 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 and therefore if this annoys you, I ask you to politely walk away rather than passing judgement. Thank you