Emma B
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More difficult times - Part 2 ...The Meltdown

Emma B
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14 Oct 2016

Reflecting on my hospital stay, falling apart and pulling myself back together again

I’d been out of hospital for a week or so and I had an outpatient appointment to continue my chemotherapy.


I hadn’t had a great weekend because I was aching from head to toe and had really painful abdominal cramps from all of the bowel stimulation in hospital.  I’d had a near temperature but instead of ringing the ward for advice I’d just kept an eye out and it had come down.  I then proceeded to mentally beat myself up for not getting in touch with the ward and when it came to my appointment, I’d created a melting pot of anxiety.


When I got to the day unit, the nurse couldn’t get blood from my Hickman line, it was positional because I’d been in hospital and lying down when they took blood, my Hickman was now on strike when I was sitting up.  The nurse had gone away to see if someone else had any ideas of what to do. This just fuelled my anxiety because I’d been without a line for so long and my time in ICU, my veins were shocking.  It’s a running joke in the NCCC that every haematology patient has crap veins, I’d certainly joined them.


One of the nurses then came round and said that all relatives had to leave because there wasn’t enough room for patients on the day ward, so my mam had to go and wait outside.  I wasn’t worried about being on my own, but I was worried for my mam sitting outside on her own when she was already feeling my anxiety and knowing I wasn’t feeling good.


One of my specialist nurses had gone on maternity leave so the other nurse was going to introduce me to her replacement that day.  When they came over to see me and asked how I was, I just burst into tears and couldn’t explain what was wrong.  My new specialist nurse ran straight for tissues after being introduced (what an introduction!).  My nurse is really good at using silence to get you talking and when she did, I just rambled on about my hospital stay, how I was feeling, my fear of going back to ICU and my worry that there was still something wrong with my tummy / digestion.  She asked me if I did think something serious was wrong and when thought about it, I didn’t, I was just being irrational because I was feeling crappy.  She explained that because of the amount of chemo I’d had now, it was normal to start finding it harder and that would also be a factor in the way I was feeling.  I’d calmed down and she arranged for the doctor to come and see me just to give me a once over because of the aches and abdominal cramps.


They still hadn’t been able to take any blood to see how my counts were looking, I was asked to lie down to see if that would help and it felt good to just lie in a room on my own for 10 minutes to collect my thoughts.  The doctor then came in to examine me and she arranged for an Ultrasound appointment to be made to see what was going on in my abdomen and prescribed me some Buscopan for stomach cramps.


When the nurse finally managed to get blood from my Hickman, I was so relieved and I was already feeling better.  I told her about my tears earlier and I filled up again, she’s got such a kind manner and said ‘sometimes it’s better to let it out than keep it all in’, which just set me off again.  She said that she would go and get my mam to come back in while I got my chemo because some relatives had stayed and she thought it was best I had someone with me today. With a regime like mine, I have spent a lot of time on the day ward that I know all of the nurses by name and they know me, so I find it so easy to open up to them and they know that I’m not usually a quivering mess!


I watched some soppy tv and cried on and off for two days once the floodgates were open and I wasn’t really sure why.  I had to ask myself, “what’s wrong and what are you crying for?”  I realised with a bit of reflection that I had got out of a pretty traumatic stay in hospital, I was a stone lighter and I’d put my digestive system through a lot of stress, yet I’d come home and tried to get back to normal.  I’ve learned that’s not how it works.  Sometimes, even if your brain is telling you that you can do certain things, you need to listen to your body and if it’s not up to it then you need to just slow down and give it some time. I am the type of person who when I decide to do something, I want it done yesterday.  I have a very active mind and I’m very independent, I’ve slowly had to accept that I have to adjust my mindset sometimes.


Once I took some time out and accepted the help from those around me, as well as the reflection and giving myself a bit of a talking to, I was emotionally fine.  It took a bit longer to feel physically well, but I didn’t push myself and soon enough I was feeling stronger and could start to do more again.


Once again my specialist nurse was a super woman and helped me through a difficult time, as well as the other nurses in the day ward.  They were all so compassionate and really understood what was going on.  Although I don’t like it when I fall apart, especially in public (!) I needed this release to help me through a tough experience. The last 5 months alone had been quite traumatic and whilst I didn’t feel like it at the time, I just needed to expel some of that emotion and rebalance.  Sometimes you need a good meltdown to give you a timeout to put things into perspective.


As well a as the nurses, my close family and friends were also fantastic on helping through this time.  The only pressure I ever feel is the pressure I put on myself, they were all on hand to help me, to listen, to help, to be patient and all I needed to do was learn to lean on them now and again.


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