Tuesday May 23rd-Thursday May 25th
Heads up–about a thousand words of medical problems are coming up, including descriptions of needles and blood, both separately and together. Also doctors being terrible.
Well. Tuesday was a doozy.
I’d been feeling gross for the past two days, and I woke up on Tuesday morning feeling especially awful. I was really out of it–light-headed and confused. I’m pretty sure I passed out in my room, and I ended up running late to my exam. (For people who don’t know me/are reading this well into the future–I think I already mentioned this, but I have a heart condition that’s supposed to make people pass out a lot, except I basically never do. So this was unusual.) Since I was all confused, I forgot to take my morning medications and eat breakfast. By the time I got on campus, I wasn’t doing well. I was blinking away spots and stumbling along, clinging to the fence next to the sidewalk. I got pretty close to the building my exams are in, but I was lightheaded so I sat down on a little concrete bump. Someone came over and asked if I was feeling alright, and said to wait there and she would get me a glass of water.
Next thing I knew I was lying on the ground and she was asking me if I was okay.*
Sooo guess who got to find out what going to a Real Live U.K. Emergency Department is like! One of the people who ran over called 999**, and since it’s not normal for me to pass out, and I’ve been feeling pretty bad, I figured I probably should go ahead and go to the hospital. The ambulance didn’t take long to show up, and I managed to stand up and get in without falling over again. One thing that was interesting was that once I got into the ambulance, we stayed parked there for a fairly long time while the EMTs or paramedics (I don’t know what the difference is) did some basic medical stuff. I’m not sure if they do that in the U.S. too, since every time I’ve gone to the E.R. my parents have driven me. They stabbed my finger and checked my blood sugar. I wasn’t sure at first whether or not I’d taken my meds and eaten breakfast (I wouldn’t do one without the other) but my blood sugar was pretty low so it looked like I hadn’t. They made me eat this awful, nauseating glucose gel stuff from a tube to get my blood sugar up. Then we went to the hospital, which was called the Royal Infirmary according to a poster I saw.
Thus commenced a great deal of being stabbed with needles. (The final count was six.) At one point I bled all over the place when they stabbed me. That being said, I mostly spent my time sitting in chairs, and then later lying in a bed, because I think everyone could tell I wasn’t dying and I didn’t need to be taken care of immediately. It was pretty boring, because my phone had absolutely no reception in there so I didn’t really have any entertainment. (I also had to worry about a panicking mother, since I’d gotten one message to her before I got to the hospital, but then I couldn’t follow up with anything else to reassure her I wasn’t dead.)
They eventually fed me some toast, and they tried to find my medications to give them to me, but they didn’t have any in stock. All the tests they did on me came back fine. While the second fainting spell was most likely caused by lack of food and meds, no one really knows what caused the first one that got me so confused. They ended up giving me IV fluids, which was probably a good move since I think I was dehydrated. The doctor was a bit leery about releasing me, since I didn’t really have anyone who could keep an eye on me–I think my hallmates may have all moved out? I haven’t seen anyone in, like, a week. But all the tests were coming back normal, I felt a bit better, and there wasn’t much else they could do, so I finally got released. I got out at four, so assuming I passed out a bit after 9:30 (my exam was at 9:15, but like I said, I was running late) I was in there for about six and a half hours. I didn’t get home for almost another hour, because the bus took about 45 minutes, plus I stopped at the Sainsbury’s Local around the corner to get something to eat.
Since I smacked my head, and it still hurt when I left, I was sent home with a head injury care sheet. (I don’t think I’m concussed though.) I’m also under very strict instructions to go back to the emergency department if I pass out again, or even if I just keep coming really close.
When I went to check my email (after Skypeing my parents to assure them I wasn’t dead) I’d already been sent a copy of an Incident Report about me, plus an email from the Visiting Students Office checking in about my fainting and asking if I’d missed my exam. This was pretty helpful, because I’d spent a fair bit of my free time in the emergency department trying to figure out who the hell I should email about this and what I should say. It looks like it’s going to be a huge mess to sort this all out–and I don’t know if I’ll be well enough to take my last exam tomorrow since I still feel pretty bad–but I’m glad someone reached out right away.
So I thought hey, that was weird and annoying, but it was just an anomaly, right? Wrong. I passed out again on Wednesday, coming out of the shower. I’ll admit it took me a long time to talk myself into calling 999, but I finally decided that I should go, since the doctor had been awfully insistent that I come back if I fainted again. Honestly, I wish I’d talked myself out of it instead.
The ambulance people came into my room (which was awkward, since I’m behind on cleaning) and did all the testing stuff the other team did last time. I packed a bag full of stuff–since I figured I’d probably spend the whole day there again–and went off to the same emergency department and started to go through the same triage stuff. I even saw the doctor from yesterday!
But then it went south. Another doctor showed up. The politest description of him I can muster is “a condescending prick with bad hair”. He quickly decided I was a hysterical female who at best didn’t know how to take care of herself and at worst had an eating disorder. (I promise I don’t.) He proceeded to lecture me on how young women with low blood pressure (note that he only ever said “low blood pressure” and made no mention of my actual heart condition that involves a lot more than that) need to take good care of themselves and make sure to eat enough and be careful getting out of the shower. Like dude, come on, I’ve had low blood pressure for twenty-one years and this heart condition for six. I don’t know how I would have managed to survive for all that time if I didn’t already know this. I’m pretty sure he just straight up decided to ignore my heart condition, the fact that I never pass out from said heart condition so it’s weird that I fainted, the fact that the reason I didn’t get enough to eat yesterday was because I was stuck in the hospital, the fact that I ate breakfast about an hour before I passed out on Wednesday, and so on and so forth. (Also, he was weirdly insistent and pushy about testing if I was pregnant. What was up with that?) But honestly the most annoying thing was that he was explaining everything (condescendingly) to my doctor from yesterday, so now she’ll probably internalize everything he said and put it into practice when treating patients.
I deployed a variation on my Resting Murder Face, although I didn’t do the best job, as I was pretty upset. He discharged me after I was there for maybe an hour, and I made my way home. Except the one thing I’d forgotten when I packed my bag was bus fare, so I couldn’t take the bus. I could probably take a taxi–I didn’t have cash but I think some take credit cards–except I didn’t see any. So guess who had to walk three entire miles to get home! I’m so glad I wore my hiking boots, but it was still awful. I’d packed my bag pretty heavy, so I hurt my shoulders carrying it. I was incredibly sore when I got home, and I slept for the rest of the afternoon and evening, awakening for a few hours in the middle of the night to eat sandwiches.
Anyway, that’s what I get for saying to someone who was surveying patients that I hoped my stay in the emergency department on Wednesday would be shorter than Tuesday’s.
All of this being said, Thursday was the Actual Worst because that’s when a heat wave started and it got up to seventy-one degrees Fahrenheit. Disgusting!
*She ended up writing an Incident Report (I think it was required) and I got an emailed copy, so I can firmly say I was out for no more than a minute, tops.
**The emergency number here. Just in case you, like me, are crap at doing your research and, like, hypothetically aren’t actually 100% sure what the 911-equivalent here is until someone says it in front of you.