1 night, 2 hospitals, 2 ambulances, 1 first responder and 1emergency bike

Taking action early and recognising the signs of an asthma attack has not paid off. In fact quite the opposite. I think as a result of taking early action has caused me to spend way more time in hospital than required and also has made me question what the point is if this is the result of what is going to happen.

As an asthmatic I spend so much time going in and out of hospital and always want to limit the amount I do spend there. The logical thinking would be first sign of an attack and you have just about reached what you can do at home, go to hospital get a wee bit extra treatment to get on top of attack and off home with very little fuss or bother.

I was so so wrong!!

Monday night after work I felt a wee bit chesty and just not quite right so I called NHS 24 on 111 but made the fatal error of telling them I was having trouble breathing so they sent round an ambulance. The ambulance just about arrived before I could get the phone back in the cradle!! The paramedics were a hoot and fantastic if only the rest of the night was too be as good.

The unit at the WGH was busy and the paramedics got a bit concerned at the amount of time they were having to wait to hand over they had a brittle asthmatic who was getting worse. So one of them went and found a huge cylinder of oxygen and stuck me on 4l just to tide me over till I was seen. Thank god they did. I was not seen for ages.

I was eventually taken into a bay by a nurse who did my ons which were not great. Despite 4l of o2 my sats were only 93% which shocked me as I had already started dropping my sats. Something which doesn’t happen till late in an attack due to fatigue. She gave me ONE neb and 40mg of pred which she the Dr prescribed without even seeing me. That neb finished and I still felt crap I kept asking for more nebs every time I saw someone and didnt get any. Eventually the Dr came and saw me and stuck me on 15l on a non rebreathe and then had 2 nebs. He was also desperate to get me to take my theophylline for some reason- he even prescribed the wrong dose!!! He went and got the reg as I was not doing great. She prescribed me back to back nebs. I received one of these nebs and put on 10l oxygen as the rebreathe was suffocating. Once again I kept asking for nebs and kept being told I will get one in a minute….a minute passed, 2,3…30 and so on.

I had had enough. And possibly suffering the effects of being hypoxic I was not thinking right I got myself up and took a whole ear of my inhaler and staggered to the end of the ward to the front doors. I got that far before being stopped by a nurse asking me where I was going in such a state and why. I explained I came here to get treated early as my asthma gets worse very very quickly and ever since I had arrived I was not treated and left to get worse- the one thing I didnt want to happen. The nurse went and got the Dr who came with a self discharge card. He said what was it I wanted and etc and they eventually persuaded me to come back. I did as I was so exhausted and felt so awful. Anyway once again.. nebs were prescribe and some pain killers!!! I received 3 nebs and left alone. I was starting to feel very tired and couldn’t think straight. I again kept asking for nebs and didnt get any. My sats at this point were 93 on 10l of oxygen. I was exhausted and my chest was so tight and it was terrifying. I managed to get a nurses attanetion who i told I was leaving. She got the Dr who came back and said he was here now what did I want him to do. I told him I came early to prevent this happening and the worst has happened. I said I was leaving. He started saying did I want him to prescribe magnesium and he would write up back to back nebs. I had said I was meant to be on back to back nebs already but was not getting them so what was the point of prescribing them again if I was not gonna get them. He said this time I would get them..so twice I have not got proper treatment how would I know that a 3rd time I would get it. I had had enough.

I self discharged. I was so scared. I kept getting worse. I had no choice!!! I signed the card but also wrote on it I was going to go up to the Royal Infirmary to be treated!!!I also tried to make sure the Dr documented everything that happened and my reason for self discharging. I knew I was in no fit state to be out of hospital but feeling not safe in hospital was scaring me more than being out of hospital. I got self off the ward and outside. I taxi passed and it took me the 400 yards up the road to my flat. I had 6 back to back nebs to get myself into a state where I could call 999 and get an ambulance.

By the time help arrived I had sats of 89%, my HR was 145 and my BP was 139/105. I was not in a good state. I was given more nebs and blue lighted across to the Royal where I was taken into resus for treatment. A very understanding Dr got what had happened and treated me quickly. The IV’s were up in no time. I had some more nebs and kept an eye on. By the time the nebs and IV’s worked I was feeling much better. They kept an eye on me for 2 hours and then let me go home. The Dr understood the trauma of the night and knew I was sensible so there was no point admitting me as he felt I would get btter quicker at home in my own surroundings than be admitted to a ward.

I am so grateful for the speedy prompt treatment I received from the ERI. I could not ave asked for more. They were super. After spending 7 horrible hours in the WGH I was fixed in just over 3 hours in the ERI. Shocking.

I cannot quite comprehend what has happened. I have never felt so scared for my life. It will really make me think about going to the WGH again and all about getting help early if asthma is not taken seriously.

To add to it once home the post I received the next day included a letter from the ERI asking me to attend an appointment to see the clinical psychologist who is conducting a new project in NHS Lothian for people who had chronic conditions which result in them being admitted to hospital a lot or use NHS 24 often. The project is to put together a care plan where my treatment schedule will be there along with emergency treatment plan, regular medication, likes dislikes etc and what to do if I get ill or turn up. I laughed as this would have been so good to have the other night. I might have got treated properly and not end up as I did.

I hope this never happens to anyone else.

In the next few weeks I am attending the cross party group meeting for Asthma at the Scottish Parliament and I will be sure to tell them about what happened and then the week after that I am in Oxford for the Academic launch of the Research Centre of Excellence for Asthma- again I will tell them about my experience!!!

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