My plan for training the past week was to get back into swimming after my unplanned hospital visit and on Tuesday 3rd August. I got in the river and can’t explain how good it felt to be back in the open water. The plan was to swim from Houghton to Brampton and back, I said if I made it to Huntingdon (approx. 4km), I would be happy, if I got to Godmanchester (approx.7km) I would be really pleased and if I made it to Brampton I would be surprised and thrilled, if I made it all the way back to Houghton I would be gobsmacked.
The swim started really well, it’s not the most interesting stretch of river but several boats going past kept it interesting! I had a nice steady pace and rhythm going and Val seemed to be having a nice (but hot) paddle, after an hour or so I began to slow down, the pain in my side that I had from my Gallbladder the previous week had started to return and I began to struggle. We were meeting our friend, Alice, in Huntingdon so I was determined to get there and kept moving forwards, I stopped for something to eat and drink and at first, I said I would keep on to Godmanchester. However, after eating I doubted my ability to keep on to Godmanchester. We had a chat and in the end; I decided not to keep going forwards, instead to head back towards Houghton. As a result of my pain, we actually decided that Val and I would swim back towards Houghton but would stop for a break just 1.5km downstream in Hartford where we would meet Alice whom had gone home to get her car so she could drive us back to Houghton if I couldn’t swim any further.
The swim downstream was really pleasant and I hadn’t realised how fast the current actually was when I was swimming against it so we ended up getting to Hartford much quicker than we thought. Val and I had a decision to make; continue for a further 3km where there was no where we could exit the water easily or call it quits for the day and wait for Alice to pick us up and drive us to our kit in Houghton. I think I surprised both Val and myself; by saying outright no, I am stopping swimming.
Now, I thank God I did!
I was in a lot of pain and when Alice turned up with the car she drove me straight home before going to Houghton to get my wheelchair and kit because of the amount of pain I was in. When I got home I stood under the shower to take my wetsuit off and get the river off me for about a minute before putting my pjs on and flopping on my bed in absolute agony. I messaged one of my carers, and neighbour who came round straight away and between her and my mum they convinced me to call 999. Thankfully the paramedics arrived quickly, and I think as soon as they saw how much pain I was in they instantly knew I would be taking a trip to hospital. Both paramedics were lovely but to be honest I don’t remember much about how I got into the ambulance, only that my carer Sally and her lovely dog Alfie said bye to me!
We sat in the ambulance outside A&E for about an hour as there wasn’t room in the hospital for me. My pain was gradually getting worse and worse and I just remember wanting someone to knock me out. Eventually when I got into A&E I was completely exhausted but still in so much pain. I quickly had a canular inserted and despite the normal pain medication I have:
Pre-Gabalin, Amatryptaline, Zomorph, Ibroprofen and Paracetamol I was still in a significant amount of pain so was given some Oramorph, even after that I was STILL in pain so they added Diclofenac to the cocktail.
I ended up spending about 4 hours in the triage area in A&E before they transferred me back to Bay Tree Ward (where I was on my previous hospital stay). Once I got to the ward my pain had reduced a little and I actually knew roughly what was going on. I overheard someone else in the bay talking and recognised the voice, I quickly realised that I was actually not only on the same ward as before but the same bay and in the same bed! Also, that one of the ladies I was on the ward with last time was still there!
After some more Oramorph I did manage to get a couple of hours sleep but at about 3am I woke up suddenly with the most horrific, excruciating pain. I started screaming, continuously, for hours on end. I felt so bad and guilty screaming the bay down, I was given every kind of painkiller I could have but nothing helped. I don’t remember a great deal of the night but apparently, I had a duty doctor and anaesthetist visit me and was given something that did calm me down and give me some relief for a short period of time.
The next day kind of blurred together with the previous one but in the morning when I was visited by the doctors, I was told I would be taken for surgery. By this point I felt dreadful, I hadn’t eaten for over 24 hours and had only been having small sips of water, the only plus side was that I was in so much pain that I don’t remember very much of it! Eventually at about 2pm I was taken down for surgery, the surgeon, Dr Harris was the one that had discharged me a week earlier saying that the CT scan showed lots of little Gallstones but I didn’t care, I just wanted the pain gone.
It was a long a complex surgery and I spent a long time in recovery after the surgery. I was told that they almost sent me to the ITU but thankfully I ended up just back on the Bay Tree Ward. I was in quite a lot of pain still but thankfully it was a different type of pain to before.
The following day I was visited by Dr Harris whom had done my surgery and was told it was interesting and challenging and that I had one of the worst Gallbladders he had ever seen and I had a Gallstone the size of a ping-pong ball, which had completely blocked everything, hence the extreme pain.
Over the next few days I made very slow progress, my pain didn’t seem to be improving, I was struggling with breathing because of the positioning of the 2 drains I had in from the surgery and I just felt rotten. It was only once the drains were taken out that I began to improve, it was easier to breathe, easier and less painful to move and I finally started to be able to reduce the amount of Oramorph I was taking. On Friday I managed to get out of bed for the first time (with help), it was hard work and painful, but it was progress. I still spent most of the day in bed because I didn’t have anywhere else to sit in my bay. The nurses had removed the comfy chair next to my bed because with it there I couldn’t have my wheelchair next to me!
Saturday was even better, I was managing to get up and about a bit more and my dad came to visit me and took me down to the café to see my mum, which was absolutely lovely and desperately needed. Sunday was originally the day that I was supposed to be discharged but I was still having quite low oxygen levels and getting out of breath very easily. I also had the issue that when I was going to be discharged, I would be going to stay at my parents for a week to recover before going home, meaning I needed to sort a carer in Sawtry for a personal care call each day so they could help me get up, washed and dressed. Of course, the referral and discharge information could only go through on Monday – Fridays so despite beginning to feel better and ready to go home I had to stay in on Sunday night too.
On Monday I had one aim – to get home! Somehow this ended up being much more complicated than needed. I was pleased that I did manage to get up and have a shower and get dressed properly and it made me even more determined to get home. I was sitting waiting for hours for the hospital discharge team to organise my medications and getting home and as lunch came and went I got fed up of waiting and took things into my own hands. I managed to sort my care out myself and finally at about 6pm I got to go home to my parents to rest!
So, just like week 14, week 15s training was non-existent. Having surgery so close to Windermere has been a huge curveball and I am still unsure if I will be doing the swim on Wednesday 1st September, I won’t know until I get back in the water for the first time but I still want to do the swim and despite my huge surgery I am still very much planning to do the swim – fingers crossed everything will continue to move forwards and I continue to recover so I can still take on my fundraising challenge.
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