Suntan Sea and ICU

I had come home from a wonderful 2 week holiday in Spain with my wife. I felt refreshed and relaxed ready for the working months ahead. With the aim to earn enough to pay the bills and think of where to go next year for our holiday. At least that was the plan and like most well laid plans, things change in a way we do not expect or want.

I was at work for 3 days when I had a very painful right foot and ankle. It had gone a very angry red and purple bruise appearance? I could not recollect dropping anything on it or twisting it. Even my colleges could see I was in intense pain and one kindly offered to drive me home, even though it was nowhere near to his home. I decided to drive myself! It was a 23 mile journey from the centre of Birmingham to my home in Coventry. I wished after the first mile I had taken up the offer, but I got home with tears ready to fall down my grimaced cheeks. I should of took his offer up, "Oh boy" should I of taken that offer! My wife then took me to the local A&E it was not a long wait. The doctor looked and touched my by now extremely painful right foot. "X-ray" and of I went in a wheelchair to the X-ray department. Inside the Radiologist looked at my notes and my bare foot. I could not even put my sock on as the pain was so strong to the lightest of touch. The Radiologist commented on the sight and redness of the foot and asked "what happened?" When I replied to "That I had no idea" At that point she went behind the lead lined glass screen and duly took the x-rays. After another short wait the doctor said there is no breaks but obviously there is something wrong and asked another doctor to have a look. It was not long for the other doctor to retort "Gout" keep it up and see your doctor.

Once the tablets to ease my gout were taking effect I went down with a very chesty cough, as an asthmatic it was not getting better with the usual remedies I was off to the doctors again. Once I had my examination the Doctor informed me I had "Double Pneumonia” Antibiotics prescription straight to the chemist and home to start my treatment.

I dutifully took my tablets on the first day and hoped for a night’s sleep. I woke up at 06:00 popped to the loo and flopped myself back on our bed. As soon as I hit the bed I felt as if my lungs had collapsed and I was being stung by hundreds of bees in my chest. My first thoughts were I was having a heart attack (I have Atrial Fribulation) With my instant groan and writhing my wife was wakened. I asked in a breathless manner I think I need an ambulance. I sprayed under my tongue with my nitro spray but no effect while the wife dialled 999. The bee sting effect was not going away I am sure at that point the wife was looking paler than me. It was not long and the paramedics were in our bedroom. Another nitro under the tongue, oxygen, canula inserted and morphine injected and in the ambulance.

Once at the hospital all my symptoms and prognosis were passed to the doctors and staff. More morphine the pain was not going away my oxygen levels were very low. Back to Xray but this time for a chest x-ray once they had huddled over the xray I was taken to a ward. I was met by a staff nurse that was from the Intensive Treatment Unit and looks at people that are borderline to what care is the most appropriate. I had not really slept for some days by now and as my breathing became more difficult, sleeping was a luxury. As my blood oxygen levels dropped I was having a higher oxygen mix. It was so high at one point I was taken down for an x-ray and emptied one bottle! I was taken into a side room on the ward I was told that they wanted to drain fluid off my lungs. I was sat on a standard high backed wooden chair with me facing the back and leaning on the top. Out came the what I can only describe as a comedy needle by the sheer size. The Doctor inserted and drew out a pitiful amount of fluid as it appears my lungs had compartmentised due to the infection I had. What was strange from this I had not really slept now for 4 days and I was comfortable in the position I was in. I asked if I could stay in the room and try to sleep as I am. They knew I was desperate for sleep and bought some pillows and made sure I was secure. I slept for 3 hours.

Due to my falling stats I was told to put on a large cylindrical clear pvc hood so they could put more Oxygen into me. I am afraid that it was not long before I had to have it taken off. I was so hot it was making me feel even worse. It was not long after that I was taken to ITU I went Blue. I do not remember very much of the next few days.

I take to another hospital to see a thoraxic surgeon but they moved me straight into Critical Care where I was in an induced coma. Had a Traci and put on an oscillator. It all becomes a bit bizarre as I had a second life going on in my head. It was like a well know TV Series

The hospital they moved me to I had not seen as it had just been built. However in my second life as I call it now. I had a Stretched Limo pull up in the car park and little people got out and raced Go-Karts around. The same car park they stopped at to transfer me while I was in the coma? I was recruited to spy on China and Korea. The first week I was on the critical care ward they had some oriental nurses? I was in Korea and could not get out of a chair. A Korean Agent dressed in a blue uniform with a large blue hat. Who wanted to defect and go on the plane I was going to catch. I had 2 chest drains inserted and put on an oscillator I now believe that it was a doctor in his surgical blues and once the oscillator was switched on I was on the plane as they are a very noisy machine? I was treated from time to time in my second life at a Brize Norton Private hospital for a reason I still have no answer for? With all that was going on in my second life I would collate to be anything up to 3 months and not enough room to walk you tough.

My wife and family were going though what I can only guess, must of been the most horrific of scenarios. My wife was told twice in Critical Care that they do not expect me to survive the night. I am pleased to say they got it wrong, I put it down to me being a stubborn person when I want to be. I was moved back to my local hospital when I woke up and strangely I remember asking the nurse that was at my bedside "where I was." "Was I in England and Where?" I could not speak because the Traci stops the voice box working. My hands were not working that well and add the fact that my handwriting on a good day is abysmal note writing was entertaining along with a whisper to complicate it even more.

I was in hospital for 40 days ITU 32 days of which 12 days were in the Critical Care unit. On the day of me leaving I had lost 3 stone. I was walking with a Zimmer frame for 2 weeks and a walking stick for another 2 but only very short distances. I have a paralyzed right Diaphragm with approx 76% lung capacity before my admission. It was five and half months before I went back to work on a phased return. As a welcome back I was informed that I would receive a written warning for being off work for so long. I mentioned the fact that I had informed them on my job application that I had a Heart Condition and Asthma. If you want to issue me with the written warning I will take it further. They did not proceed.

In Closing I must say that the entire doctor’s nurses support staff and every one especially my family have my utmost admiration, love and respect.

This all started in July 2008 after 9 months I still had a lot of muscle weakness, Which meant that after hitting a number of potholes I had 3 vertebra collapse, these have now turned arthritic. I also have a trapped nerve that can numb my right thumb and arm. I suffer shortage of breath which at times can be painful depending on what the weather/ temperature is at the time. For some time I had a terrible short term memory problem to the extent that thought I was getting dementia. I still need to note things down as they can be forgotten but I have improved. At the time of writing this I am in Atrial Fribulation and having a 24 hour monitor fitted soon. Results showed low of 39 high of 169 bpm have been put forward for another ablation and trials for Anderson-Farby disease.

My second life has over time been partly answered as I now know where some of the places that were part of this have been identified as memories of my childhood exploring. But the people involved are still a mystery and still appear in my dreams from time to time.

5 Replies

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  • Thankyou for sharing your blog with us, it sounds like you went through a terrible time, but once again thanks to the ICU staff you are still with your family, who also must have gone through a waking nightmare of their own.

  • Thank you. I still find if I talk about my time in ICU and beyond still helps me. I told my youngest son to go on his holiday aboard before I went into hospital as I was not that ill. When he came back he was faced with me in a coma on an Oscillator with dozens of tubes sticking out of me. He broke down on the spot, he is not man that shows emotion that easily. He went with his wife to see her uncle in ICU but could not go in as it upset him to much. Even though my wife was told twice on different days that I was not going to survive the night she does not recall ever hearing it. The impact is hard and long and makes some things less important and changed my attitude to life in a big way.

  • What a great detailed account of your experience many people will identify with it and even though it shows how stressful being critically ill is your sense of humour shines through.

  • Am completely with you on your '2nd Life' That's just how my stay in Critical Care Units. I lived in a Hospital and then a Local Health Centre. I was next to an Asian guy who one minute had just got married , then his father died in India. Then the whole Ward was full of his fathers memorabilia etc I could go on and on about my 2nd life. I still remember it now so vividly but hope with the help of this Forum and my Psychologist #I can come through it. I think we will all come through by helping each other

    Phil

  • Thank you for reading and sharing your comments I spoke to a person in hospital recently who said about his second life too while in ICU. One thing that helped me is talking it though, as over time things made some sense. However some are still just weird ;)

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