When I woke this morning, I couldn’t move at all and was soon in such agony that I couldn’t help but cry out. I was lucky that the lady who had moved wards with me was concerned to see the difference in my physical condition and got the Sister straight away. I explained the situation to the Sister as best as I could: that I’d tried to warn staff that this would happen without adequate pain control but had been refused it and left immobile on my side, causing my joints to seize up. She wasn’t at all happy, especially since I was prescribed the IV Morphine and Oramorph, both of which she gave me straight away.
The pain relief helped a little but my joints were still locked up and needed a lot of assistance just to lift my head, get my arms moving and sit up. At this point, I was optimistic that once the pain was under control and my joints had loosened up a bit, things wouldn’t be so bad and I told them so. They said that they’d be happy to discharge me if I managed to eat some breakfast / lunch and take my oral medication that morning, knowing that I was due to see my Rheumy at Manchester the following morning. I was so eager not to stay another night that I wolfed down some toast and my tablets; if I had any discomfort, I wasn’t about to tell them.
Despite the main focus being my discharge now, I was still immobile. I had thought that the pain relief would help get my joints moving again, as is the case many a morning; it helped the majority of them, but I was aware that the pain in my left hip was particularly severe. After another hourly dose of Oramorph, the Sister and a nurse came to help me on my feet so that I could go to the bathroom and have a wash. They had offered a bedside bowl but I was convinced that not moving had caused this pain and was determined to give walking a go, really believing it would pass.
It was a real struggle; much worse than anything I have experienced for a number of years. As well as being agony, the hip felt extremely unstable and my leg shook and bowed at any attempt to bear weight on it. I think by that point the staff must have thought I was nuts, but I managed to do what I needed to do somehow and did feel better for it, even if I was starting to get increasingly concerned about my hip. My theory of loosening up and stretching my legs wasn’t working this time; in fact, the pain just seemed to be getting worse and I relied on IV Morphine and hourly Oramorph until it was time to be discharged later that afternoon.
People have told me it was wrong for the hospital to discharge me in this condition (and I was wrong to let them) but they had done their part and I just wanted to get to my own doctors in Manchester. It really didn’t seem that long to get through. They discharged me with my medications and a bottle of Oramorph to continue hourly and my friend came to pick me up with a wheelchair, as I was still unable to walk. Once home, I had to be carried up the stairs to bed, where I thought I would just get comfortable and sleep the night away before travelling to Manchester the next morning. I took the larger 4-hourly dose of Oramorph at 9.00pm and planned to wake at intervals to keep on top of the pain.
At 11.00pm I woke up in agony again; so much so that I had to ring my boyfriend downstairs to come and help me. I couldn’t have any pain relief for another two hours, could barely move and so, with the pain getting worse quite quickly, we rang the doctor for advice. It was obvious that I needed to get to a hospital but if we called an ambulance it would only take me locally and that would be pointless; to get to my own doctors in Manchester we would have to get there on our own and that seemed impossible.
Somehow, we managed to do it though.
Still in my pyjamas, my boyfriend and his mum managed to carry me down the stairs and into the car, clinging to my bottle of Oramorph – I was in tears with the pain and counting down the minutes to my next dose. I don’t remember much of the journey, but a couple of paramedics helped get me from the car and into the hospital.
The rest of my time in A&E is a bit of a blur because the pain was making me feel so faint. I do remember lying on the stretcher with a pot between my legs, as everyone and their mother came in to see if I’d managed to have a wee yet though (some things just stay with you!). I had numerous tests – xrays showed that the hip wasn’t dislocated, which was their first concern because my left leg was longer and turned inwards; there was a shadow around both hip joints and some slight ‘lines’ but no fractures. Apparently, they gave me an overdose of IV morphine but it did barely anything to take the pain away and I lay, crying out in pain, for hours, waiting for the next dose or for an epidural.
This was a scary time for me. Perhaps naively, I’d always believed that hospitals could get any level of pain under control quickly and easily, like miracle workers. To find that this was not the case was a huge shock. My boyfriend was very distressed to see me in such pain; at one point he got so upset that his mum had to take him out and reassure him. Apart from that, he stayed with me throughout the night and into the morning, when the pain relief finally started to take some effect – mainly sending me to sleep, but even that was a welcome break.
At some point in my sleep they must have transferred me to the Emergency Admissions Unit, which is where my nightmare was to start again.
But more about that tomorrow.