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shingles

Mum you need to run

Hello its me, mum, writing from my bed at 12.49 pm, why? you might ask, such a fit, healthy 61 year old who conquered Mount Everest (30 minute run felt as big as that) is sitting in bed. Well the story I am about to share starts with a warning – If you are heading towards 60, go and have a vaccination even if it costs.

I finished my second 30 minute run and felt pain in my lower back on both sides. So painful I called my gp. I started the conversation with “I never come visit you, not that I don’t like you, its just I am never ill, but I am now, something terrible feels like its kidneys, what do you think. “Go straight to A&E and tell them I want you checked for aorta – omg what on earth is wrong with me.

Mum, lets run to A&E, well we chose the car this time.

Its the spring/summer of 2020, historical moment which will be talked about for the rest of time, the coronavirus, so going to the A&E isn’t top of anyones list of places to visit. As we approach the hospital I closed my eyes and said a prayer, so many people must have paced outside waiting for news of their loved ones – I have an idea of what that could feel like, when NaNa was in special care because the secondary bone cancer had compressed her back and she needed an emergency operation to save her life, but no family member who could persuade her to go through an MRI scan that had to happen first – I travelled back from our holiday, two kayaks strapped on a tiny peugeot 208 travelling over a 100 to the hospital hundreds of miles away. I was so scared she wasn’t going to make it. We, being my beautiful daughter and I rushed in at midnight to see her, and then as she was ground floor, we camped in the car outside the window where she was with the absolute promise from the nurses they would come get me. My early teenage daughters and I didn’t sleep much at all. She did make it through that time. i wondered to myself how many cars sat in the parking waiting to hear news of their loved ones.

You have to go in to the hospital alone now – If you are reading this in 50 years time you will never understand how stark the difference for people has been – A bedsit -v- a house with a garden? In between jobs -v- City bank. People had the time of their life or the worst time of their live with nothing much in between. I will talk about this another time.

An abrupt receptionist whom I told was rather abrupt asked for details, I think she was startled when I said “you are being very abrupt” – most people she must talk to like that would give as good as they got and I don’t doubt she would convince herself that it was them and she didn’t deserve it doing such a worthwhile job. I wondered to myself if she felt so comfortable protected by the PPE that she could speak to people how she wanted, like she was hidden. “Oh” she said. Well that morning I needed care, nurturing and to feel safe. Then a group of Doctors came in to the reception and one turned to me and said “you look in pain, we will get you seen soon” and I felt in good hands.

Blood tests normal,

if the pain gets worse come back

I went out to my daughters sitting on the grass waiting for me and recited what they said, “but what is it mum” Mouth to one side, awkward, I said I don’t know he did blood tests and said they are okay and I should go and come back if the pain gets worse. “what about the aorta” ??? my youngest daughter asked. Awkward face.

The pains got worse and worse and worse and worse it travelled to the front as well and now just on one side it felt like someone was inside of me with an electric shock touching nerves and my only solace was laying flat down. Two weeks later my daughter came home from her apartment overlooking the Thames with all her belongings, I can’t tell you why just yet but that is the best news I have had in a long long time.

A consultant introduced himself. “You can’t come back to A&E” he told me in a stern reprimanding way. “But I was told to” I piped up. Madam this is an emergency department – bloody hell I thought, most of the staff are having a really bad day. He undid my jeans and opened my zip. What the fuck, sorry people 61 year old just swore, how bloody dare he. Again he said “This is for accidents and emergencies you need to take pain killers I will give you a strong one it might make you dozy if you are not used to medication” he said abruptly. oh no how stupid I had been I actually admitted I don’t take pain killers – I had carefully explained that a pain was there to tell you you needed to rest, take care. How would I know how bad something was if I didn’t. Imagine if I had a break in a bone, took pain killers and walked on it and damaged it. No pain is there to instruct you to slow right down. I still believe that.

“You are being abrupt” I gathered my tongue. “I came two weeks ago and I was told if the pain got worse I had to come back” I realised at that moment they didn’t mean that, what they meant was we are busy go home and don’t come back, we will tell you to, so you will leave quietly.

Scan arranged by GP

Within a day I notice red spots on my tummy and I suddenly remembered from my google search the heading SHINGLES and pain in the flank. I booked an urgent appointment with the nurse who confirmed I was correct, she gave me Anti-viral but informed me I couldn’t go out partying because the anti-virals don’t work with Covid.

The pain was like nothing on earth – if you are a female reading this please do not worry about child birth – shingles is like 10,000 million childbirths. At one point I spent 5 days completely flat on my back, the only place I could rest without pain.

Should I go to the scan, I am wasting a slot and someone might need it I thought. “Yes mum” go and get checked.

The scan day feels like the worst day of my life now – she went over my ovaries and I could tell from the expression on her face….

To be continue

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