Friday, 12 August 2011

Crohnly the Lonely

The life of a Crohn's sufferer can entail a lot of hospital visits. Particularly bad flare-ups or complications may require anything from an overnight stay to weeks in end if hospital food and drips. These incarcerations in a ward aside, visits to see doctors, nurses, dietitians, and surgeons are also a regular occurrence and the aroma of bleach and cheap soap become a familiar scent. I regularly find myself checking my arms for decent veins as I'm so used to being jabbed with needles and can navigate my way around a hospital like nobodys business.
I don't know anyone who 'likes' hospitals. Staff (perhaps), but i've yet to meet a patient who enjoys spending long periods if time in one. Even regular visitors who secretly enjoy the attention, go out of their way to push the point that they feel otherwise. Sometimes annoyingly so.
One of my most memorably miserable visits to hospital was around June of last year. I was in a huge hospital miles from home and therefore not easily accessible for my family and friends. We were still in the midst of trying to solve the mystery that was my unbearable stomach pain, and my partner and I were in the process of trying to buy a house. Apparently the most stressful time of a couples life. This was nothing, I thought, compared to the pain and misery I was in health-wise.
Shortly before i'd been admitted for this latest visit, we had viewed a beautiful house which we'd instantly fallen in love with. It was perfect. Quiet area, huge rooms, unusual design, near friends and family (but not too near) and the major plus, within our budget. We made plans, pictured ourselves and the cat sitting around the dinner table, and i'd already pulled my freshly grown veg from our garden. I was so smitten with this house that I had the picture from the estate agents in my handbag and glanced at it of an evening to keep me going. The thought that soon i'd be mended and packing up my troubles and heading to my new pad.
This was sadly not to be, as that afternoon, my boyfriend phoned to break the news that following a call with the estate agent, we'd lost the house. I was utterly heartbroken, inconsolable. This was exacerbated by having already seen the on-call doctor who'd promptly informed me i'd not be going anywhere for at least a week, and that they were no further forward in finding a diagnosis. I was also one month away from bridesmaid duties at a friends wedding and was stressing out big-time i'd have to let her down. I was unbearably homesick and due to circumstances, faced a night with no visitors. I was lonely and stressed and confused and ILL and had just had some more gutting news. I cried. And cried and cried a LOT for that whole day.
A male nurse was in charge of my ward that day and did NOT have a clue how to approach me. In fact he went out of his way to avoid the blubbering wreck in the corner. I think my 'do not approach me' face gave him a major clue on the best course of action.
My friend called to see how I was, she was also disappointed about our house news as it would've meant moving closer to her too. For pretty much the entirety of the phone call I was sobbing like a fool. I cried solidly and sniffed and apologised profusely. After the call where i'd made a completely helpless friend feel awful, I continued to blub the night away.
Later that night two female nurses, on separate occasions both came and sat with me and let me spill out all my woes and worries and just listened. They were lovely and I was embarrassed but very grateful. Leaving me to snooze, the older of the two let slip that when they were changing shifts that male nurse from earlier, the one who had no clue how to approach me, had told them to keep an eye on me as I "might need a cuddle" :)

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