Yesterday was a really lovely day, which was a surprise at it stemmed from a potentially terrible evening the night before. Thursday evening, I was waiting for A to get home when a new bout of chest pains started up. Chest pains aren’t rare, and my lungs often get a bit cross and start niggling, but usually the pains move around or are spread over both lungs reassuring me that it is just general naughty behaviour rather than a specific problem. These pains however not only started quite rapidly but were concentrated all on the right hand side, and began to increase in strength to the point of taking my breath away. After an hour or two of continuous waves, we decided that the most sensible thing to do would be to go to A&E to get an X-ray to rule out a pneumothorax (I was fairly certain it wasn’t but have understandably been left somewhat wary after the summer’s episode). Thanks to my oxygen company finally delivering after 7 days without cylinders we didn’t have to call an ambulance so jumped in the car and made our own way there.
We arrived at A&E and were seem impressively quickly and I was X-rayed within half an hour. At this point however my smug feeling that I had definitely done the right thing began to wear off. The first doctor scrutinized my X-rays for ages, but was suspicious of a patch at the top of the right lung and wanted a registrar to take a look. Looking at my phone and seeing there was only an hour till Catherine Tate was on I begrudgingly agreed to sit and wait (I am such a good patient). He was then joined by another doctor, then by a third, and the three of them stood tutting at my X-ray for some time, before heading over to talk to me.
Now doctors in a general hospital always ask what to me seem like daft questions, however they must be forgiven as CF is a complex disease and unless you are a CF specialist why should you know. But there is a level of daftness before it gets slightly surreal, and we crossed the threshold to the extent that I began to look around the bed in search of hidden cameras. The first doctor wasn’t too bad with the questions (although he did approach me with an apologetic look at first and tell me that my lungs “looked pretty bad” to which I reminded him gently that was probably the reason I was listed for a double lung transplant) – he did ask me when my transplant would be but if I had a pound for everyone in the medical profession that had asked me that I would be a very rich lady. Then the slightly more senior doctor approached and started from scratch with a list of questions in order to take a full medical history. When he asked if I was normally fit and well (having already written down that I have end stage CF and am awaiting transplant) I had to swallow a smile, and out of the corner of my eye I watched A’s shoulders start to shake as I was then asked “do you smoke” (erm, no), which inexplicably lead on to, “are you trying for a baby” and when I confirmed I wasn’t, he wanted to know why not. At this point I couldn’t help sniggering which I tried to hurriedly disguise as a cough. A was not helping, as every time I moved my head to exclude him from me field of vision he mischievously moved back into it so I could see him laughing.
Laughter turned to tears however as after the Spanish inquisition was over, the trio decided I probably did have a small pneumothorax at the top of the right lung. Convinced they were wrong (the supposed pneumo was nowhere near where the pain was radiating from), when asked to stay the night for observation I retorted with “you’ll be lucky” and sat pouting with my arms folded whilst they laid out their evidence and suggested that it was the safest option. After some consideration, a phonecall to the Brompton, plus the vivid memory of the summers small pneumothorax developing into a massive tension one 24 hours later, I decided that I wasn’t brave enough to take the risk and walk out of the hospital, so sulkily agreed to stay. The night on the ward wasn’t that bad at all; I was thoroughly exhausted with the evening’s events and so slept reasonably well (full lights being turned on at 6.30am for blood pressure to be taken excluded). This early morning disturbance induced me into an unreasonable fit of ice-cold rage, so I sat scowling at the wall for the next hour. At 8am I grumpily decided to open the curtains and in flooded the most glorious sunshine. The windows were huge and stretched across the entire wall, and combined with being on the 5th floor gave me the most spectacular view. The sky was an unnaturally bright blue, with only a few clouds speckling it and the sun beaming brightly. A light mist was swirling around the soft rainbow of autumn trees, with steam gently rising from frosted rooftops. It sounds silly but I haven’t seen a view like that for ages, and it really did take my breath away.
Bad mood magically evaporated, I started doing IVs (left to my own devices after firmly explaining the night before that no one was allowed to access my long line except me) and suddenly found myself surrounded by 10 people, including doctors, nurses, med students (you can spot them a mile off as they are the ones busy trying to write down every single word uttered by anyone ever) and the head respiratory doctor. This guy turned out not only to have trained at the Brompton but to be what I deem a good doctor (i.e. he listened to me and then said those magic words “well you know better than me” - I like it when doctors say that). I may also be favourable towards him as he confirmed that this definitely was not a pneumothorax, it is merely a large cyst sitting at the top of the lung pretending to be one, and said I could go home. A picked me up, and in our delight at this not being a repeat of the summers frightening events, and in celebration of the beautiful sunshine we decided to find a café with outdoor seating and had a gorgeous lunch sitting out in the sparkling sunshine.
I shall leave you with the latest tales of H, the small boy who feels the need to devour everything in sight, brought to me last night by my mother came round to check that I was in fact ok (and not pretending to be whilst actually still lying incarcerated in hospital). Apparently lunchtime supervisors are now obliged to keep him in sight at all times, as when he disappears out of view he can generally be found gnawing on the shed at the back of the playground. Most amusing had to be Friday’s interruption during the “mental maths” lesson, which lead a tearful voice to proclaim “Miss! H asked to borrow my rubber to rub out question 5 and I gave it to him and now he’s eaten it!” The class has since been instructed to refrain from lending stationery to H from now on.