This blog is Part 4 of my hospital experience during my fight with cellulitis. If you’d like to read Part 3, you can do so here.
I was sat in a clunky, brown wheelchair staring out of a window that looked over the city of Bristol. The sun was setting and a pinkish-orange hue hovered on the skyline. It looked warm outside and as I gazed outwards, I couldn’t help but wander if I’d get a chance to experience the heat before it inevitably turned cold again (Brits will know the feeling).
It was cooler in the new ward, more modern too. There were fewer beds; more staff and everything felt cleaner.
During my stay in hospital I had a few visitors: friends, family friends and family. Charlotte wasn’t so much a visitor, but more of a stand in nurse. When visiting hours were over, she was allowed to stay. It was Charlotte who made my bed and helped me go to the toilet. She fed me, washed me and entertained me. It didn’t take long for the staff to realise that she was relieving them of certain duties, which meant they could focus their efforts elsewhere. I think they enjoyed her company as much as I did!
By this point I had pain everywhere in my body. The infection made me twitch and spasm uncontrollably and my leg was blistered from heel to thigh. The remedy? Liquid morphine. I took it on the hour, every hour. It was such a relief, although, it did inspire some strange, vivid dreams involving lions, my friends, and Ikea furniture.
Don’t even ask.
After one night’s stay in the new ward I was given the option to have my very own en-suite. I gleefully accepted the offer and moments later; I was wheeled down the corridor. Usually private rooms are only for patients that are contagious so germs can be contained and kept at bay, but in my case, it was because I was easier to look after than other patients. They could herd everyone else together and leave me to it. As you can guess, I very much enjoyed the solitude. Or so I thought.
My parents, sister and some friends of the family had just visited. We laughed and shared stories for an hour or so but eventually, it was time for everyone to leave – they had dinner plans for Mum’s birthday. As my Dad left he asked, “Are you going to be alright?” to which I smiled and nodded. They headed off and shut the door behind them. I was alone.
The next three hours were horrible. As I stared at the ceiling it dawned on me that we still had no answers from the doctors. Why wasn’t my body fighting back? The claustrophobic room was small and bleak. I was afraid, lost and had no one to turn to.
The following morning I was back with Charlotte. A nurse entered the room, quizzed me on my stools, and swiftly left. It was a rollercoaster start to the day. A short while passed and my family returned. I told them of the previous nights struggle and as they sought to comfort me, a brigade of doctors suddenly marched in. There were three of them: two doctors and one consultant. They looked very serious, almost mob-like and seemed to tower over me. Arms folded and pens on ears, they fired questions back and fourth between themselves in military fashion until eventually, they revealed some news to me. I was on the mend. My infection rate was dropping and finally I was turning a corner. The double dosage of antibiotics was working.
I sat back in the bed and just smiled. I have never felt such relief as I did in that moment.
Later on I asked Charlotte to put some music on. It had been over a week since I had heard something other than hospital alarms and people groaning. We looked through photos on my laptop and as the music played I started to cry. It’s the little things you appreciate when everything is hanging by a thread.
Because my leg was beginning to heal, the en-suite room was reallocated to patients in greater need so I went back to my previous spot. With a new lease of life I attempted to shower on my own. Because the cellulitis started in my toes, I had to keep my left foot on a basin to avoid contact with the floor. I was loving every minute in the shower, but it wasn’t till I had finished that I realised the water had gone beyond the curtain. I pulled it back and to my horror the water had reached the door of the bathroom. In a panic I hobbled to the door and when I opened it, my jaw dropped. I had flooded the entire ward.
There wasn’t a nurse in sight. I looked around the ward and sat on a bed was an old man with his arms wrapped around his knees. Terrified for his life he proceeded to wail, calling for help as best he could. Alas the help never came and he was left stranded on an island of bedding. The water headed for every corner of the room until thankfully, Charlotte entered the room to prevent certain chaos.
I got into bed with a sheepish smile. It’s not everyday you flood a ward.