So… it’s coming up to the end of the first day here and boy what a day. After leaving my house at around 8:30am…. I made the trip to the Royal Brompton. Walking into the historic building this hospital is housed in is always a little strange. Wooden staircases which are next to modern elevators and corridors packed with chairs. the hospital is just about waking up.
As I get to the 4th floor and Lind ward. my home for the next 5 days, I book into reception before meeting my nurse for the week Ines and being escorted to my bed. As she leaves me to unpack the mass of stuff I am busy checking out the views from the 6 bedded ward I am on. There is only myself and another lady at the moment, so it is lovely and quiet.
Ines comes back and we start with the good old MRSA swabs, pop them all in the tubes for testing, pee in a pot and take baseline peak flows, gases etc all before we start to go through all the medications I have with me, the signing of consent forms, filling in of the usual data and generally laughing way too much than we should be…. as in comes Andy the consultant.
I must say that most of the Doctors here are incredibly good looking… no like Grey’s Anatomy good looking …..
A couple of juniors and my asthma specialist nurse Emma joins in, so we start to run through EVERYTHING and I mean everything, the history, we are going through all the notes they have pulled together from the hospitals far and wide. There are folders and letters and test results all over the bed and the tables. We are pulling a full on history, they even have the police medical reports from the assaults… at the end of this time it is pretty clear the plan of action and the first load of tests they want to run. So I am booked in that morning for a DEXA, CT, X-Ray, EGC and bloods. Along with some allergen testing, gases and a quick dietitian review.
So off I go, down to the basement for the first of my tests a good old DEXA scan, for those that don’t know what this is a DEX
A scan is a special type of X-ray that measures bone mineral density (BMD). DEXA stands for “dual energy X-ray absorptiometry”.
You basically, whip your clothes off, cover up with a blanket and lay on the bed. The will start to ensure you are in the correct position and a block is placed under your knees so they can look at your spinal area, before removing that block and then placing a tunnel like object over you foot and taping the other. The whole thing takes about 20 minutes and its just that little shelf like scanner moving over you in tiny movements to give them images. In fact here are mine from the scans today ….
Next up I shot over to (I say shot, its the room opposite the DEXA scanner room), laid on the bed and had my usual chest update. A computed tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays to make detailed pictures of parts of your body and the structures inside your body. Now I could’t get any pics in here, but its a basically a flat bed you lay on and a scanner comes over you as a big tube, it can be a little closed in if you are not used to it. For me though this is a baseline one and so for once I don’t have the contrast dye in, so it is a quick chest scan. You do need to hold your breath and follow instructions but it really isn’t that bad …. promise
After finishing up in the basement, I have to trundle up to the ground floor for the next load, I must say that having the freedom to walk around and not wait on the porters is lovely.
Heading straight for X-Ray, I pretty much walk straight in, whip my bra off (floozy I know) and walk into the X-Room.
Having a chest X-Ray is pretty simple, you walk up to the plate/box, stand pressed up against it, hold your breath when you are told to and **snap** your picture is took and you are free to go.
As you can see I am firing out all the tests this morning, the benefits of being here is there are very few queues and you can go from one to the other.
Once I had made myself decent again, it was time to head for my ECG.
An An electrocardiogram (or ECG) is a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. It shows the heart’s electrical activity as line tracings on paper.
This is mine from today, to get the readings they stick little pads on your skin, 2 on the ankles, 2 on the wrists and a couple on the chest. You do need to be topless for this one, but it is totally pain free. To the little pads they click on little electrodes and for a few minutes you need to stay still and silent (yes hard for me I know) and boom… it is done.
Last up in my rounds of testing on the Ground Floor is bloods, so I take my ticket and sit in the queue. People are coming and going in this one, plus to the dude that was smoking outside just before coming in, SERIOUSLY!!!!! Back to my day… I finally get called and trot in …….. little did I know it would be tests for everything and then some.
Still a small price to pay and quickly done thanks to some awesome veins. Having all my tests to go for at the moment done, I head back to Lind Ward via the shop to grab a treat of some sparking water.
All of this was before lunch…. talk about getting organised and off to a flying start. So here we are and lunch is arriving, for me its a Jacket Potato and Baked Beans… yep I am always that predictable.
Even rarer I am even allowed to do my own medications. Next up is a visit from the Dietitian who basically has come up with a whole meal plan for me starting tomorrow of lots of foods I can eat … so I wont have the issue of one meal over and over again. Plus they have agreed to re-test my food allergens to confirm if any have changed.
So as I sit here filling out some forms drinking coffee, eating ginger biscuits catching up with some of the most awesome friends you can ever ask for, laughing about blue ice poles… it dawns on me I have been in this hospital for less than 4 hours and had more tests than sometimes I have in a week.
The concern they have had for the treatments, lack of care from my local hospital and the quality of life I have had the past year is evident.
Andy (the Consultant) is back and confirms that ENT is booked in tomorrow and they will want their own tests on things and then hes says something that truly makes me cry.
He makes a promise, a year ago I was hiking the world, training, laughing, being me after a year of pure hell. A year ago I was a different person to what I am now in some ways, hes promised that I will walk out of here with answers, with less medications and most of all, STABLE. As the reality is setting in that I will soon have my life back, the allergy nurse rocks up with her tray of needles. With a skin prick test, they first lay some tape on your arms, normally
this is the inside. but as I am covered in tattoos, they had to use my outer arm. A little drop of fluid and then prick it with a special needle. It really doesn’t hurt and once you have them all pricked, you wait about 15 minutes and check the results. This is mine about half way through.
So you can see a pretty busy day to begin with but knowing we will have all the results from the baseline tomorrow, have a load of tests good to go still and a lot more departments in the pipeline. We will have this solved and I will have my life back
All that is left for me tonight is to change into my PJ’s pop a movie on my iPad, curl up with some treats and chill.
People often count wealth or material goods as making them then lucky ones, me… I count the fact that I have this amazing team behind me, my friends, blue ice pops and a chance to do the things I miss.
Here’s to an awesome 2nd day…