Week 13 of my training didn’t exactly go to plan. Last Monday I had an appointment planned with Helen Davis from think.believe.perform about the possibility of some sports psychology sessions in the lead up to my Lake Windermere swim. I know from experience that long swims are often as much about being strong mentally as they are physically, and I want to ensure that I have strategies and plans in place for if I begin to struggle during the swim. We discussed that one of the things we should work on is ‘what if’ scenarios for during the swim. On the same day I also tried to get a GP appointment for my abdominal pain but with no success. I decided not to swim on Monday night because my stomach pain was too bad.
On Tuesday I again, attempted to get a GP appointment and this time succeeded, the doctor decided they wanted to see me in person. It was the first time in months that I have had a face-to-face appointment with a doctor. She felt my stomach, wrote a letter, and sent me to the local A&E – not exactly where I wanted to spend my day. After waiting almost 5 hours in A&E I was seen by a doctor, admitted, and got sent to the Bay Tree Ward, which I later found out was a surgical ward. At which point I messaged Helen saying “what happens if you end up in hospital 6 weeks before the event and may need surgery…”
The next morning, I was seen by doctors and told that I needed antibiotics, an ultrasound and possibly a CT scan and I figured once I had, had them I would be let out the next day. I was kept nil by mouth on Wednesday whilst waiting for my scan, but they forgot to book me in so instead I stayed another day/night so that I could have the scan. I was eventually taken down early afternoon on Thursday for what I thought was an ultrasound, but it turned out to be a CT scan using contrast dye. I figured I should warn the radiographer that whenever I have had contrast dye in the past, I have had a seizure afterwards. Sadly, Thursday ended up no different. I managed to get through the scan but afterwards began to get an aura, so I was transferred to a bed where I ended up having a non-epileptic seizure (click the picture for info).
A little while later I was taken back to the ward and seen by the doctor who told me I had lots of little Gallstones and an infected Gallbladder that needed removing.
My first thought went to Windermere, was this going to mean I would be unfit to swim? was it the end of my swim challenge for 2020/2021? I explained to the consultant about my swim and told him that if he were to operate, he needed to do it in the next couple of days because otherwise I wouldn’t be fit to swim by 1stSeptember.
He put me on a powerful antibiotic to try and get rid of the infection so he could operate but about 30 minutes after the first dose of antibiotics I began to get very itchy, it felt like I had ants crawling all over me and I became incredibly agitated, something was wrong. I wasn’t sure what was going on or what was wrong with me, but I was itchy everywhere, so itchy that I got out of bed was wandering round the ward trying to scratch every inch of me and I even had the nurse help by using my hairbrush as a back scratcher! After a few minutes I felt faint so was helped back into bed and lay down for a couple of minutes, all of a sudden, I felt sick, sat bolt upright and proceeded to fill 3 sick bowls, after that I practically collapsed and I don’t remember much from the rest of the day! I was told it was clearly an allergic reaction. They changed my antibiotics and on Friday afternoon I was told I would be having surgery on Sunday, that gave me just under 5 weeks to recover from surgery and be back swimming and fit for Windermere. It was cutting it fine but since I have done most of the training and was confident in my ability, I thought it would still be possible. Windermere was on!
On Saturday I was once again nil by mouth in preparation for my surgery the next day. I was nervous but knowing my plan for after surgery in terms of Windermere I was more relaxed than I had been in days. That was until the surgeon threw me another curve ball and told me he wasn’t going to operate. It was an emotional rollercoaster and I felt lost, alone and completely broken at the prospect that this could mean my 2 way Windermere attempt was over before it had even started! Eventually, after lots of tears, thinking and encouragement from friends I agreed with the consultant that we would leave surgery until a few weeks AFTER my lake Windermere swim. Obviously, going into my Windermere swim whilst needing surgery is not what I hoped or planned for but sometimes we just have to make the best of a situation. I have been given an oral course of anti-biotics to try and clear the infection completely and I have been advised to try to stick to a low-fat diet (where possible) as it should reduce any inflammation in my Gallbladder and just to control any pain it causes with painkillers.
Knowing I am going to swim Windermere when I need surgery adds another thing to my box of ‘what if’ scenarios that I am trying to mentally prepare myself for. It means, I may be in pain not just from my CRPS and Fibromyalgia but also from the gallstones which adds another layer mentally. I need to focus and find ways to rid myself of any doubts that creep in because of my recent hospital stay and to be honest, I think it is and is going to affect me more mentally than it will physically.
With only a month to go all I can do is hope and pray that I will be ok on the day and complete the swim I have worked so hard towards.