New year's eve

About this time of year, three years ago, I began to notice occasional difficulty swallowing. It was December before I saw my GP. and was sent for an endoscopy. Just before Christmas i got a phone call from the hospital, would I go to ward 3 at about 1 o'clock on New Year's Eve. I thought that was very odd. Hospital appointments are never at "about" any time, and never on New Year's Eve. It must be very urgent. And I could only think of one thing that urgent. When I kept the appointment I was told I had esophageal cancer.

There followed weeks of tests, scans and xrays, long exhausting journeys through the snow, worry and misery.

On the 2nd of March I had an esophagectomy, and was recovering well, when things began to go wrong. All I can remember was sudden pain and wanting to go home because I knew I could breathe in my own bed, and I couldn't breathe there.

I'm told I had developed a duodenal ulcer which had perforated giving me a subphrenic abcess and then pneumonia.

I just know I woke up in hell. I was certain the nurses were going to kill me and the nightmares were terrible. They still haunt me.

So many odd things happened, I don't know in what order, or what is real.

I made up little rhymes to the rhythm of the ventilator.

The nurse's faces were all distorted , like in a funfair mirror, and they laughed at me. I dare not open my eyes in case they were there. Sometimes they imitated my family's voices

Once the staff performed very unusual sex acts in the middle of the ward.

Then I was wheeled along a corridor to a machine that was going to cut my head off.

I'm told I had an "away day" when I wouldn't wake up.

I'm not sure how long I was in ICU, I think it was about a month, and another month on the ward. All absolute hell for my family. I don't want to think about it , but I can't not think about it.

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  • You had one of the biggest operations there is and with the added post-op complications no wonder it has had such an effect on you. The crazy thoughts you describe are typical of delirium and very common. It seems to me that you have unanswered questions and that is why it keeps playing on your mind. Have you considered going back to visit the unit that you were a patient on to get some explanations that helps some people. Some units also encourage relatives to keep a diary so that it can be read after the event to help the person who was ill make sense of what happened to them. Best wishes for your future ongoing recovery.

  • Thank you for your comment, nurseeducatorcritcare it seemed to give me permission to have a good cry, and I feel better for it.

    My daughter kept a diary for me which I have read again and again. It has helped a lot, but it also made me realize what my family went through. My daughter visited every day for eight weeks, driving 60 miles a day to do so. She says she kept getting telepathic messages from me pleading for help.

    I discovered recently that one odd thing really did happen. I was surrounded by doctors but non of them looked at my face or spoke to me, I don't think they knew I was aware. They were all looking at my chest and one said "necrotising fasciitis"

    He told my daughter the same thing.

    It shows how confused I was, I didn't think "well, that's me finished", I thought "how interesting, I wish I could see it." but I couldn't lift my head.

    Fortunately he was wrong, The area of dead tissue was caused by the blood supply being cut off during surgery as I had had surgery in that area before. It took more than a year to heal.

    I had always thought my brain had made up the necrotising fasciitis bit until my daughter talked about it the other day.

    I also had an anastamosis leak and C.Diff. as well as the subphrenic abcess and pneumonia.

    One day, the surgeon, a lovely kind man, whispered to me "You WILL get better" My family were told "Some people recover from this."

    But the nightmares were the worst thing of all.

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