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Friday, June 13, 2014

If there's one thing I hate, it's those football-mad blokes who deliberately avoid using up their annual leave, and then, having been fine all week, promptly phone in sick on the day the World Cup starts. It makes my blood boil.

So anyway, I phoned in sick yesterday. I like to think I'm ahead of my time, and if there's one way to prove how forward-thinking you are, it's by refusing to wait until Friday the 13th, and spending Thursday the 12th in hospital.

Obviously I spend most of my days in hospital, but I'm not generally in A&E with people suggesting I might have had a stroke. But I digress...

Aside from the usual child-related exhaustion, I went to bed on Wednesday night feeling fine, but when I awoke yesterday morning and opened my eyes, I was aware of an immediate sense of dizziness. I got up and walked to the bathroom, which despite being in the east wing of our 2-bedroom flat, is not as far as you might think, and yet I genuinely thought I wasn’t going to make it. The world seemed to be spinning around like Kylie Minogue, and I could barely walk in a straight line down the hallway. By the time I reached the toilet, I felt so sick I almost threw up.

I headed for the nearest chair with a bucket, while Lisa went straight onto the NHS website, which confirmed that much like James Stewart and Kim Novak before me, I was currently appearing in this...

Which was surprising as I always thought I was more psycho. I’ve actually never had vertigo in my life (although I’ve been a bit unbalanced), and on initial impressions, I wasn’t a huge fan. Frankly it felt pretty awful.

Obviously, in situations like this, you need a good spin doctor, so I made an appointment with my GP for the afternoon, hoping that by then, the attack would have passed, and I’d be able to make it out of the door without falling over. I also took some Stugeron travel sickness tablets, as recommended by the NHS website, and then went back to my bed, which felt like it was floating around the room like a magic carpet.

The tablets eased my nausea, but did nothing for the dizziness, so in the afternoon Lisa’s Mum came round to mind the children, and with both driving and walking out of the question, I was forced to get a taxi to the surgery. Lisa came with me in case I felt unsteady, which is a bit like George Best helping you not to drink, and having settled me into the waiting room, she asked if I thought she was fatter than the other patients, and then popped off to Tesco’s for some chocolate-chip muffins.

I was eventually seen by my GP, who listened to my symptoms, carried out a number of coordination tests, and then told me she’d noticed that the left side of my mouth was sagging slightly, and asked me if that was normal. I didn’t really know what to say. Which was worrying, as her next question was to ask if I’d been struggling to find my words.

The upshot of it all was that she said I might have an inner ear problem, but that she felt uncomfortable with that as a diagnosis, and couldn’t rule out something else. So she decided to phone the hospital. We were asked to leave the room, and when we were called back in, she told me she’d spoken to the consultant, and they wanted to see me straight away.

I was given a letter (sealed, which made me slightly suspicious that I was being used as some kind of drugs mule), and told to go straight up to A&E. Which meant another £5 taxi ride. Frankly the cost of all this was making me feel dizzy.

At A&E, I waited half an hour before seeing the triage nurse, by which time Lisa had gone home to relieve her Mum, and after a blood pressure test and another short wait, I was led around to a different waiting area, from where I was told a doctor would call me. I sat there for an hour, which was actually quite a pleasant experience. The seats were rock-hard, but I felt so ‘out of it’ and so generally unwell that the moving scenery soon rocked me to sleep, and I dozed through the whole wait.

I was eventually called by a junior doctor called Elizabeth, who was young enough to be my daughter (but clearly far too polite), and she took me to a cubicle and told me to sit on the bed. Over the next 45 minutes, she basically did what my GP had done, only in far more detail. She carried out three times as many tests, asked me five times as many questions, and wrote down ten times as much information.

She then told me that during our conversation, she’d noticed that the left side of my face was more droopy than my right, and asked if that was normal. I didn’t want to make the mistake of saying nothing, so I said I wasn’t sure, and she added that it might not be significant, but there was definitely more of an indentation between my left cheek and my top lip, than on the right side, before adding that my mouth was wonky too.

It’s not every day you get accused of looking like Lembit Opik, so having apologised for being a cheeky girl, she said they’d do some more tests. She took some blood (nearly an armful), checked my blood pressure for the third time that day, and did various other checks, at which point she asked if I’d been struggling to find the right words. I said I didn’t think so, so she elaborated by asking me if my wife had told me at any point that day that I’d suddenly started talking nonsense.

I said no (which made yesterday quite unusual), and she informed me that the consultant would want to see me that evening, and might want to do a scan of my brain. Which was a shot in the arm for all those who say I need my head examined. She said they could do the scan that day, but it might mean me staying in overnight, so my first thought was to wonder how I was going to look cool on the ward without my summer nightshirt...

... but in the end I was able to put those thoughts (and my binoculars) to one side, as I waited for the consultant.

I was left for another hour, which I spent dozing and listening to the bloke in the next cubicle, who was ringing all his friends to say he had appendicitis, and would be having surgery in the morning. He was eventually seen by a consultant who told him he didn’t have appendicitis at all, and had probably strained a muscle playing cricket.

Personally I couldn’t get any mobile signal at all, so my family had no idea what was happening, but at around 8pm, the consultant finally arrived, and began a third round of tests, which, for the first time, included a tongue-twister. I was tempted to tell him that I can’t say 'slit lamp biomicroscopy' at the best of times, but I somehow passed that test, and by 8:30pm he was happy that there was nothing too sinister going on, and that I’m just naturally lop-sided and tongue-tied.

There was a slight concern that my original symptoms hadn't improved in more than twelve hours, but they concluded that in all probability, I have viral labyrinthitis. It's often associated with hearing loss, which I don't have, but despite that, they felt confident in the diagnosis...

... before telling me that if I start vomiting with extreme pain in the next 48 hours, it could be a brain tumour, and I should go straight back. That was 21 hours ago. So just 27 to go.


Phil's Mum said...

No wonder Lisa was a trifle concerned, especially as she could get no reply from your mobile!

David East said...

Mmmm.... trifle. Have said a little prayer for you too. Hope you don't mind.

Phil said...

Thanks, Dave. I'm praying for trifle too.

Phil's Mum said...

Could you both stop making fun of my comments!