A Funny Old Week…

Good Afternoon OstoGuys’n’Girls…

…And what a glorious afternoon it is here in Cambridgeshire! The skies are blue, the sun is shining and the birds are singing their sweet song; I think its safe to say Spring is now officially upon us. Isn’t it lovely how the weather can hold such influence over our mood and how we feel within ourselves? Today, despite the events of last week, mentally I’m feeling pretty damn good even if I am struggling physically.

So, last week someone was most definitely looking down on me when I attended hospital for a routine outpatient appointment with my respiratory consultant. Last Monday (20th) I awoke from my slumber relatively early as my appointment was at 10am and it takes me a good 1 hour and 20 minutes to get to hospital from home. I felt nothing more than a little tired, bleary-eyed and a bit stiff from spending the entire Sunday painting the garden fences. Off I drove with a few yawns, parked up and headed to Starbucks to get the energy boost I needed. I took a slow walk through the hospital as my lungs are only capable of so much, supping my coffee as I dawdled. I signed in at clinic, was weighed and took a pew hoping the coffee would soon kick in. I was called in to Lung Function as I had a couple of tests to do which is standard when in the respiratory clinic; I absolutely HATE doing them as its extremely tiring and hard-work. I forced myself through those and then I had the 6 minute walk to do where I am connected to a ‘sats’ monitor and the BPM and O2 levels are recorded as I walk. I pushed myself hard, but only made it to the 4 minute mark as the severe breathlessness set in…..plus at the time, we thought the monitor had broken as it wouldn’t give any continuous readings, so I thought stuff this, I feel too shit to be killing myself for this.

I composed myself and went back in to the clinic to wait to be seen by my consultant. It was absolutely heaving; from previous appointments I knew it’d be roughly an hours wait. Within 5 minutes I started to feel really odd, something didn’t feel quite right; clinic has the climate of the tropics, but I started to shiver uncontrollably as if I was sat in the arctic circle naked. I came over feeling very sick and thirsty so, I explained to the nurse in clinic that I wouldn’t be able to have an x-ray as I didn’t have the energy to walk to radiography and that I desperately needed some water and a sick-bowl. She could tell I wasn’t right as she has known me since I was first diagnosed with lung disease at 15; by now my hands had gone bright blue, my heart rate was going like the clappers and I couldn’t get control of my breathing. From this point onwards I just seemed to go downhill so quickly, any energy remaining just drained out of my body and I just slumped. The nurse put me in to a wheelchair and then Richard (my husband) arrived – I had text him a little while ago asking him to come from work as I physically wouldn’t be able to make it back to my car because I had contemplated leaving clinic and just driving home to bed. Of course that was a stupid idea and I hate to think what would have happened if I had left quietly. My consultant was informed I wasn’t well and so urgently came out to see me, he took one look at me and said “We need to get you in, this isn’t right”. They did further ‘obs’ on me and my oxygen level had dropped to 86%, but more worrying was my temp at nearly 40 degrees C and heart rate at 160bpm! An ECG was performed there and then and I was then taken round to A&E; I was examined further and taken round to ‘resus’ where the shit really hit the fan. I was stripped in an attempt to cool me down – even though I felt flippin’ freezing – hooked-up to wires here there and everywhere, stabbed poked and prodded and had IV’s going in at an alarming rate. The blood test results soon came back and It became evident that I had a serious infection on board which was a bad case of sepsis. But, it also came to light that I was having an Adrenal Crisis because, after years of prednisolone, I no longer produce any (cortisol) hormones from my adrenal glands. This was basically my body crashing, struggling under the strain which in turn had heightened the infection. After an hour of IV fluids, steroids and antibiotics my body still hadn’t calmed and so I had a visit from the Intensive care unit team who explained that I may need to be sedated/ventilated if my lungs and heart wouldn’t stabilize. It was agreed that they would visit every couple of hours to assess the situation so no risks were taken. However, a little while later my body finally started to get things under control and later that afternoon I was sent to one of my second homes – the Respiratory ward.

Thankfully, I continued to respond well to treatment and was discharged Thursday evening with oral antibiotics to clear things up. With the adrenal insufficiency – another ailment to add to the list – I am now on life-long Hydrocortisone tablets 3 times a day and I have to carry and stock Solu-Cortef injections with me at all times in case of future crisis. I think it’s time for a bit of retail therapy to invest in a larger handbag to carry all my emergency ostomy supplies, injections, medications and oxygen in! I have to say I am feeling much more stable now I’m receiving the hormones my body has been desperately lacking. Looking back now I am so lucky that I was in the best place possible, it doesn’t bare thinking about had I have been anywhere else at that moment in time.
Rachel xxx

Have you experienced an Adrenal Crisis, or something similar you’d like to share? Contact me at rachel@stomawise.co.uk I’d love to hear your story!