How do you get from Fearnan to Perth in 30 minutes and Perth to Dundee in 15 minutes.
A blue lighted ambulance!!
(This might be a bit of a long one but I need to get it down on paper so to speak)
With severe asthma you think you have experienced everything when it comes to going to hospital so much but I found out there is always a first!
I have been very quiet on my blog recently and I wish it was because I was away doing exciting things but the the reality is that I haven’t. I have been really struggling during lockdown mentally and physically.
A walk with the dog proved too much for my lungs. I was desperate to get home to get my nebuliser as my inhaler was just not cutting it. After 2 neb treatments I knew I needed to go to hospital. Now the conundrum was do I let mum drive me down or do I get her to call 999. One way would mean going through and possibly be exposed to COVID the other would mean I would be taken straight in. We called 999 I didnt think I was well enough to go by car and thank god I didnt.
Lovely paramedics arrived and they were so good at listening to me despite me gasping for breath but they gave me time to tell them about my condition etc. I was bundled up in the ambulance much to Ghillies distress at seeing me go. He was so protective over me when the paramedics arrived at the house.
Just before we left with sats struggling to stay above 80 I got a quick shot of adrenaline and hydrocortisone and off we go. 30 minutes later ( normally a 1 hour 10 minute drive) we arrive in Perth greeted by Drs and nurses in the resuscitations room. First thing I hear from a Dr after hello is him asking one of the nurses to get aesthetics down and get Dundee on the phone. I knew I was feeling bad but didnt think I was that bad!!
Nest came the fun and games of getting venous access and getting a blood gas! None of them wanted to have a go until I just said to them have a go it doesn’t hurt that bad and if it does I will tell you. After what felt like 100 stabs they got a line in my wrist and foot for venous access and they got a venous gas from a brachial stab- better than nothing.
The Drs were great though. Again they listened to me and got my care plan and followed it meaning they gave me magnesium and started aminophylline while a transfer to Dundee was arranged. I was also on back to back nebs at this point. We counted I was given 36 5mg nebules from leaving my house and getting to critical care in Dundee. That is an insane number and Im not sure I have ever had that many in the space of 4 hours.
Arriving in critical care at Ninewells hospital I was worried. I know that Ninewells has been treating COVID patients and I was terrified that my fears would be realised and I would be placed in a COVID screening ward. Thankfully I was not and was in a clean critical care.
I can never say I enjoy being in critical care but as far as critical care units go, Ninewells was in a league of their own. The Dr’s spent time listening to me and I felt included in all decisions. The highlight for me was not having to endure the pain of getting lines in as they were all put in my leg that I don’t feel. It was amusing when the Dr kept apologising for hurting me but I had no idea he was even touching me. Afterwards he proudly said “I have never put a line in not using any anaesthetic”. I didnt want to burst his bubble saying I had no feeling in it even though he already knew that- I think he just forgot!!!
My entire experience at Ninewells particularly was fantastic. The main thing that was apparent across the wards I was in was communication. I was given the opportunity to communicate with the Dr’s, Nurses, Physios and anyone else who came to see me. I was concerned that being a patient who is seen regularly in a different hospital they would want to do things their way which may or may not have been different from my usual. But they always asked me what was normally done. Even down to my nebulisers. As I go off (a term used when someone develops a serious asthma attack very quickly at the slightest thing) very quickly I normally have a little stash of nebules at the side of my bed which I can pop on and then let the nurse know rather than buzz and wait for the nurse to come see what I need, go away and get a neb and then come back. I was relived that they let me do this. The rule at home is that I cant sit and back to back if I need to do that I must let them know on each neb. It saves the nurses time especially when I can do this myself.
Another huge thing that the nurses in Ninewells did was get in touch with the diet kitchen for me on the first day that I was there and then continued to chase them up to make sure I got food I was able to eat. This is something that is never done in Edinburgh and I tend to live on milk or what my parents bring in for me which is really awful so it was so refreshing that the staff actually cared and went to extra effort to make sure I could eat.
I was also seen by the physio too again something that never happens in Edinburgh. I always feel that they see me as young so I am fine and can mobile with no issues. Even before my leg I would get really weak and struggle but now that my leg has nerve damage my mobility is even worse and I would benefit from physio input to keep my strength in my leg.
Once I was more stable and moved up to the ward I was seen by the asthma nurse who wanted to check I had an action plan and my inhaler technique was correct. This has never happened in Edinburgh but also I received a follow up phone calls post discharge to make sure I was getting on ok and if I had any questions. This was really good and reassuring to have incase I wasn’t coping at home.
Another difference I found during this admission was that the nurses did not hesitate to get the Dr to see me if I was not feeling good. In Edinburgh I normally just get given a heap of nebs and told to try and rest. This time if I was starting to struggle and if after 2 or 3 nebs I was still having some issues they would get the Dr who was also very good at acting fast and will give you IV magnesium or IV hydrocortisone before you really start struggling badly which I find prevents me getting tired and gets on top of the attack so much quicker and I get back to where I was rather than being sat on and then ending up needing to go to HDU or ITU from the ward because they left it so much longer.
I know this has been a long post but it was important for me to get all this down as it was a really scary experience but it was also really positive in the way I was treated right from the start through to post discharge.
Now I just need to find my mojo again to get back blogging, doing my advocacy work and patient involvement. I have all these ideas in my head that I need to sit down and get out and start working on!!!