I found a few poems this week, poems that I had written whilst I was very ill. It was oddly cathartic reading over them and realising how far I’ve come, it’s only just dawning on me how close I was to death. It’s odd…a few months ago I was just a human. A shell with a beating heart. But now I’m actually living. I keep having little moments that bring me back to that feeling when I was lying on the bed, it’s as if my brain keeps replaying it, to remind me of what I’ve overcome, and how strong I really am. I keep remembering how I felt when my bowel ruptured, that paralysing sense of terror that ran through my whole body. I’d always told myself “I’d be brilliant in a situation like that” but when it really happens, things completely change. I often wonder what would have happened had I not been at home that evening, had my mum and dad not heard my screams, had Matthew been staying over. So many factors could have changed the outcome, so I’m so glad it happened like it did. When I wrote my blog before, it felt too raw to write everything down in minute detail, but now there is a little distance, I feel I am ready to write how truly terrified I was, purely for my own benefit.
I feel I remember more now, than I did at the time, although I don’t remember the pain as such, it’s as if I’m watching myself, as if I’m standing in the corner of my bedroom watching everything happen, unable to help myself. It’s 12am and I’ve yet to fall asleep, I have the constant feeling as though I need to go to the loo, as if my bladder is very full. I remember having the feeling that something wasn’t right, but a combination of it being late and having two years of professional doctors telling me “it’s just IBS” “it’s all a part of being a teenage girl” left me ignoring my instincts. My stomach pains started getting worse, so I limped to the kitchen to get a hot water bottle and some paracetamol, I felt as if I was full. My bladder felt fit to burst, yet every time I tried to go to the toilet, nothing would come of it. I made my way back to bed and continued to rock myself from side to side, trying to ease the pain. 1am passed, then 2am, then suddenly everything started to speed up. That full feeling suddenly exploded, it felt as though someone had reached inside me and were trying to pull out anything they layed their hands on. I somehow managed to get onto my hands and knees, all the while trying to keep quiet as to not wake my brother. I think this is the point that my body took over, without registering anything, I Began shouting for my Mum, I don’t remember thinking about shouting, it just came out, as if somewhere in my subconscious I was telling myself “this is serious”. I remember her looking at me and getting the phone, I remember looking at my Dads face and being frightened by how terrified he looked. It was then that I began to shake, I know now that this was my body going into shock, but at the time I was perplexed; why was my body doing these things? I wasn’t in control of myself anymore, nature was taking over. I remember my teeth chattering so violently I thought I was going to break them, I remember I couldn’t lay still no matter how hard I tried, I remember the paramedics coming in, I remember my blood pressure being taken and I remember my Mum on top of me, trying to keep my quivering body still, so they could place a canula in my hand. I remember the terror I felt at how sore I was, I remember asking repeatedly “why am I shaking, why am I shaking?” I remember throwing up, and throwing up again, I remember being wrapped in a blanket, strapped to a wheelchair and being wheeled outside to the ambulance. I remember them closing the doors and I remember panicking because I could no longer see my Mum. I remember being strapped into the stretcher and being unable to lay still, I remember asking the paramedic to take the pain away, but he couldn’t. My blood pressure was so low, if they were to give me any more medication, they would have prematurely sent me to my grave. Its now that things begin to slow down, you know those scenes in movies, where athletes start breathing, and you can hear their heart beat. I had one of these moments. I started to concentrate on my breathing, slowing it down to match the sound of the monitors beating in the ambulance. In, out, in, out. Just. Keep. Breathing. In, out. I remember the pain in my stomach, but I felt it everywhere. It was screaming in my ears, it was as though someone was pushing a hot poker through my stomach and out of my back, but then sliding the poker back and forth. I felt it in my chest next, as I was wheeled into a&e, my breathing became harder, someone had moved that hot poker up into my rib cage, they were weaving it between my ribs and tightening and tightening it. Imagine trying to take a breathe but having only a third of your lungs to use; this is how it felt. Next, my shoulder took the hit. By now, my ruptured bowel had had some time to cause damage. Air bubbles were escaping, traveling up my diaphragm and I was feeling it in my shoulder. I repeatedly told the nurses “my shoulder hurts, why does my shoulder hurt?” it was then that they knew it was serious. This was called referred pain, and it was awful. The next bout of agony came when multiple people tried multiple times to insert multiple canulas. But my blood pressure was just too low, my veins had begun to collapse, my body was giving up on me. My temperature was spiking at 40 degrees but I was absolutely freezing, I repeatedly asked for blankets, but they knew not to give me any, my body was trying it’s hardest to cool itself down. I remember begging them to stop piercing my skin with needles, they tried around 10 times to place a canula, but there was no vein to be found, each time they tried to push saline through the line, I would scream in agony, begging and pleading them to stop touching me, stop piercing me, stop hurting me and just make the pain go away. They were all trying their hardest to make me feel better, but in doing so, I felt worse. After giving me fluids they gave me what felt like gallons of morphine. It literally numbed everything, I didn’t feel, I couldn’t think, I had no concentration whatsoever. It was then that I thought I was going to die, I wondered if I was strong enough to make it through surgery, I wondered if my body would be able to handle the anaesthetic or the 6 hours of laying flat on a table while surgeons opened me up and pulled my insides out. It happened again here, that slow, movie-like breathing. I could feel my heart beating everywhere, in the palms of my hands, in my thighs, I even felt it in my tongue. This was it, life or death. I remember feeling quietly terrified, I hate crying in front of people, but the tears came regardless. They prepped me for surgery, explained what was going to happen and sent me off to sleep. The rest, they say, is history.
I often replay this story in my mind, it reminds me of how close I came to death and how much I put my body through. When I was 16 a doctor told me that IBS was just IBS. I needed to “learn to live with it, and find a way to deal with the pain” this doctor couldn’t have been more wrong, but I did what I was told. For almost 3 years I was a ticking time bomb. Literally waiting to explode. I endured far too many hours, days, nights, weeks of excruciating pain, but I’ve come out the other end as a stronger person. It’s because of these doctors that I now know to never ignore my instinct again. Yes, I did cheat death, but now I have all the more reason to make sure I live every moment of my life to the fullest.
wake up with a smile and go after life…Live it, enjoy it, taste it, smell it, feel it.