Saturday, November 04, 2006

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 cafĂ© 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.


Anonymous said...

My goodness, this H child is obviously not being fed at home, or is just a little strange...!!

I'm glad you're ok, and the doctors finally worked out what was really wrong! I hope you're still doing well today :) Sending you lots of virtual hugs and love xxx

Anonymous said...

Em, if H was in fact an 'A' I would be convinced your mum worked at my 6 year old's school.. irrespective of the probable geographical discrepancy! :o)

I'm so glad it wasn't another pneumothorax but 'merely' a bit of 'cystic stuff' (of fibrosis fame! :o/)

Thinking of you.. sending love, hugs and smiles

Clare xx

Anonymous said...

Hi Em,
really look forward to, and enjoy reading each and every one of your blogs & am so glad you are out and about in this glorious winter sunshine! Much love to you and your family,
Pip X

Sasha said...

Your mum needs to write all about H in a Joyce Grenfell style! "And H, don't eat that!"
Ooooohhhhh for wintery sunshine. Do miss good old British seasons...just not the same when it is hot all year round.
Glad it wasn't another pneumothorax but yah boo hiss to missing Catherine Tate....hear the news series is pretty good! Bet you were well bovvered!
Sasha xxxxx

Anonymous said...

So glad your ok tiny poppet, so much love hugs and pink thoughts going your way...


Anonymous said...

sorry to hear about further dramas. the weather has just turned fbulous though, hasn't it?

wht's the story with your long line and only you accessing it? i'd be interested to know.

Anonymous said...

Hello m'dear!

I loved your account of the medical history taking. If only doctors would listen to themselves as they are asking such daft questions! Or even better: engage brain before speaking :D

I'm glad you found somewhere suitable for lunch - al fresco dining in the winter sunshine is lovely.

Hope you have a happy and relaxing weekend; a sparkler or two perhaps? :D

Best always,

~ James

Anonymous said...

Let us hope H doesn't get hold of a compass-could be nasty! That was a beautiful description of a scene i too was greeted with this very morn...crisp frost adorned my double glazed crappy student house style window elevating it to stained glass status :D i'm thinking of you lots Em, stay

Jac said...

Sorry to hear about the overnight always get up to mischief when I'm off-line for a couple of days! Hope the chest pain is much better now, and hope you don't have to endure any more impromptu admissions arranged by inept doctors ;-)

...and lmao of the boy who eats everything. Sure to be turned into a channel 5 documentary as some point!

Love and higs
jac xx

Anonymous said...

In the Waterstones Christmas catalogue there is a kids book called "The incredible book eating boy" You have so got to buy this for your Mum!

Anonymous said...

id loved to have seen you trying to keep a straight face as the three wise men tried to take your history good news that it wasnt that big p word < i cant spell > i think you should get your blog published enjoy reading it

misdee said...

You do make me laugh so so much. yes docs ask the most stupid questions, the best one being 'when is your transplant scheduled for?'

if only we knew!

H sounds a bit like my L. she likes to munch things. She sunk her teeth into the chrome side in John Lewis the other day, didnt leave any dents, this was after licking the glass, and attempting the chew the coat of the lady in front of us. Maybe i should ask your mum to introduce H to L lol.


Emmie said...

Oh bobble, just look what you go and do the minute my back is turned! Hurrumph :o| I'm suspecting this was actually an attempt to get me home again as when your lungs started misbehaving I had literally just arrived in Grenada. Well please tell them from me that I have come all this way to get your transplant going NOT in order to hear stories about misbehaviour. And yes I am pulling a very authoritative and disparaging face at them ;o)

As for H...I'd love to see him out here. He could have munched his way through the foot long millipede that scared the living daylights out of me yesterday evening in the kitchen hehe!

Love ya loads
Emma xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Anonymous said...


Pleased to hear that it wasn't another pneumothorax but just a "cyst".

Your lunch out sounds lovely.

ps did you catch up with "Catherine Tate"

Take Care

Anonymous said...

When I was telling my boss at my new job about my girlfriends 18 month wait for a lung transplant she seemed shocked and said well at least that wouldn't happen if she worked here cos we have BUPA cover...... Brilliant!!

Not on a par with the questions you got from people who have slaved away through 7 years of training to get where they are, but just goes to show how little knowledge people have about the transplant process!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Poppet,
sorry to hear you had another "overnight" - don't you just loving the lights on and off all night long and the constant noise! The only time I get migraine these days is when I have to stay in hospital. You know, doctors are marvellous and we couldn't manage without them but the daft questions sound oh so familiar. As an osteopath I know once said "lay people may not have the medical knowledge but they do know their own bodies" so it's good that we get listened to occasionally. So happy it was nothing serious this time and glad you are out and about again. Keep it that way!! especially with this glorious autumn weather, it's good for you to be in the sun enjoying life. Keep well pet.
all love, Janet

Anonymous said...

em! yet again you manage to turn a potentially quite nasty situation into something that makes me laugh out loud at my computer... i feel like there should be something wrong in that, but there so isn't! plus, seeing the humour has to help with keeping the sanity in said moments, no?

here's hoping its not one thats repeated anytime in the near future chick xxx

ps- i really want to meet this H! the child is a legend.

Anonymous said...

Well in the end that makes a funny story and ended in a lovely day. But those totally ridiculous questions should put the doctors to shame. Even we lay people can manage to work a few of those out! And the O2 delivery people should also be severely ashamed of themselves!
Lots of love,
Kate & Alice x x

klics04 said...

Loved your blog you have the knack of making everyone smile out of any situation. When Inga was little took her to hospital cos her long line was blocked, the doc there went to put the cef through, (it smells like tom cats wee!) I said do it slowly, he said I am a doctor you know, the cef went everywhere, he smelt lovely for the rest of his shift! Ingas look was smug and told you so. They mean well I suppose but most arent equipped with the knowledge of cf and the drugs. Look after yourself and keep the blogs coming. kevnles

Anonymous said...

Hi Emily,
just re-reading your blog. I must say that, apart from your obvious writing skills, there is definitely a poetic leaning there; your description of the view from the window is wonderful. I can see you are going to have a long career in writing, journalism or poetry.....The world's your oyster. Keep on keeping well and getting better every minute. Hope the good weather holds so you can get out and about a bit to change the scenery. Have a great afternoon, evening and night. All the best as ever, Janet

Anonymous said...

Popped in to see what mischief you'd been up to since my last visit...glad club med was only an overnighter and LOL the memories flooded back @ your long line not being touchable by anyone but you(you go girl!) tiz a precious thing a long line and well worth fighting to keep other's potentially manky mitts aff it!!!!...glad you got an understanding doc sweetie(they are out there!)
I think this H child has to of the same breed as my A!
(((BIG HUGS)))
Cat x

Anonymous said...

I clicked approve for friend and it isn't showing you on my list. Please do try again hun. *hugs*

-breath_seeker Kina-

Anonymous said...

Hi Emily I hadn't read your blogg for a while and as usual I have laughed and cried ,hope your feeling better after your scare .Love the shoes ,I just bought my daughter leopard skin heels which she says are the best shoes in the world so I know what you mean Anne