Ignorance is bliss……… or not?

I received a phone call from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon. On the other end of the line was a lovely female voice calling from Charing Cross Hospital. Since my initial appointment with my consultant I have been waiting for an appointment to have, I guess you can kind of call it a pre-op laryngoscopy. He wants to have a look at my subglottig area to ‘assess the damage’.

The way the NHS works is that you kind of have to wait, like, ages and ages and ages for an appointment of any sort. I was rather overwhelmed by the fact that I was being ‘summond’ for this comming Monday – the phone call not even being a month! after the first appointment.

Aaaah forgetting is bliss. Or ignorance rather. These past few weeks I have been finding out so much about ISS and what it involves. What you have to deal with (like I didn’t know that befor….). And I don’t even mean the obvious; shortness of breath, sounding like being on the verge of needing an oxygen tent, being mistaken for Darth Vader who had been out partying three nights in a row….

I am talking about the more, let’s call them ‘discreet’ sides of this illness: the constant coughing, bringing up the phlegm which can at times sound like an old man bringing up the contents of his pulmonary tract (please pardon my being descriptive….I get it at times in the job so it’s the best analogy I have to offer). The fatigue that comes along with it (for the longest time I thought I was just a lazy cow – I finally have an excuse. Yay!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

For me personally what is the worst at the moment is being confronted with the medical path faced with this. Thinking I’d have a blissful 6-8 weeks of ignorance, it was quite suddenly brought back to my attention last Tuesday. I know this procedure on Monday is only a short one, but I am still nervous nonetheless.

I guess that comes with what happened during my last dilation – same old bog standart procedure as I had had countless times before. With the one difference that this time I came round from the anaesthetic with a right sided tension pneumo (translation: collapsed lung). I noticed straight away I was waking up differently than usual. I couldn’t really ‘wake up’. I had pain and difficutly breathing. I remember trying to sit up and coughing violently, thinking it would make things better. Luckily I was in the recovery room so staff was at hand straight away to identify the problem.

I was taken straight to ICU and had an xray taken. I got to see it: my lung was completely deflated, pushing my heart and aorta out to the left making it completely visible on the film. It impressed the doctors viewing it because they don’t see it quite so extensive that often, or so I was told (as you can see I don’t normally do things by half). And of course I had to have a chest tube placed. I have to say, as panicked as I was, the actual procedure was nowhere near as traumatic as I would have thought it was going to be. I had an excellent anaesthetist carrying it out. However once the anaesthetic had worn off it was quite painful to do anything, even breath deeply.

Breathing deeply: that first breath after the chest tube was shoved between my ribs into the pleural space, I have never felt a single breath as intensly as that one. Going from gasping like a fish on land to drawing in deeply… there are no words to actually describe that. Though ISS patients may have some idea of it considering we generally experience an instant relief after dilation procedures.

My time on ICU, painful as it was, was also quite fun (?!). I was ‘the bell of the ball’ so to speak. I constantly had members of the team chatting to me. They very much enjoyed to do so as they said they normally never got the chance considering that most patients they see tend to be unconcious. And while I am at it, some medication you get, particularly through the IV… All I can say is ‘life is good’ ๐Ÿ˜‰

The scary thing about it was that there was no evident cause as to why it happened. I was scanned and thankfully my trachea hadn’t ruptured. There only guess is that some alveoli of my lung burst during the jet ventilation, causing the tension pneumo. It is interesting how a simple procedure that you have had done countless times before, that should be a ‘piece of cake’ ended up with such a drastic complication. Hence my nervousness.

I think I have gone off in a bit of a tangent there… I am usually someone who loves to know the nitty gritty of medical issues, particularly my own (I think I will be a surgeon in my next life). And as mentioned, I have been finding things out, or better said, have been able to link things together more clearly. But, in all honesty, I sometimes think I would have preferred the state of ignorance towards it. I guess it’s the case with any chronic ailment, a double-edged sword between this all-possessing need to know as much as possible about it and wanting to play ostrich.

I think at the moment I would prefer being the ostrich rather than have the pending issues weaseling themselves into the forefront of my mind. I will know more on Monday I guess….

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