I am ready to share my story. It’s a story that I never told in full, as it still conjures up much emotion.

10 years ago in early August of 2009, I experienced an odd tummy bug. I was concerned that Pepto Bismo didn’t work. In the past, it was very effective, but this time round, not so much.

I believe I consulted the NHS 24 website before attending A+E. I didn’t bother with my local GP, as it usually takes 1-2 weeks to see the better doctor of the whole practice. My stomach pain was immediate. I recall being seen by a nurse and a consultant at my local hospital. I had gone through a quick x-ray and was asked a questionnaire survey of my pain and health.

I was signed off as fine and given 2 bottles of Gaviscon, despite my evident pain. Knowing that Pepto Bismo and Gaviscon share similar remediation traits – you’ve guessed it, even Gaviscon didn’t work for me.

Throughout the rest of the day, I could not keep any food down. I didn’t sleep a wink that night. In fact, I couldn’t even go to work the next day. You see, I was working through the summer months to pay for seminary before the new academic term. Overnight, my back was weirdly shaped like a crooked question mark. I was hunched like Quasimodo… I just needed the ginger hair!

I think my Dad had let my workplace know that I needed to see the doctor.

I phoned my local GP during out-of-hours in the hope of seeing someone… like today! Upon calling the GP’s office around 7am, the receptionist was assertive that I had phoned an emergency out-of-hours line. I empathically agreed with her and I mentioned my painful symptoms and she shared them with an on-call doctor in the practice.

A minute later and I was advised to go to A+E immediately and that she would phone the hospital to inform them of my pending arrival. The receptionist asked me if I wanted an ambulance sent out. Knowing the condition of my fragile and painful stomach, I kindly refused and mentioned that my Mum would drive me up to the hospital, which is fortunately a 5-minute drive up the road. In my conscience, I thought it would be best to leave an ambulance for someone else in greater need. I also trust my Mum’s driving, which is slow but smooth. Fortunately, Mum still had time to spare before she was due to start her morning shift at work.

I was immediately taken in when I confirmed my name and personal details at the A+E desk, whilst bypassing around 5 other people waiting in the queue. I hopped on a medical gurney and I was seen by a consultant within minutes. God-incidentally, I arrived in time for morning rounds. I was in so much pain that I struggled to be a good patient. I also struggled to lay straight on my back as the pain was excruciating. Add to the mix that I was rather breathless, which didn’t help my nerves, faith and sanity. I honestly felt like I was breathing with one lung.

I confirmed my personal details and I shared my recent trip to the hospital earlier that week, as I know that would (should) be on my medical records. I heard mutterings of a bed being ordered for me and I was tagged when a bed was available for me. By this time, I was asked to change my clothes to the Gandhi-inspired hospital gown. I believe an x-ray and CT scan was arranged for me within the same hour. My medical stats were all over the place. I was put on an IV drip, which I think was a sodium chloride solution to replenish the lost body fluid and dehydration, due to my constant sickness. I remember being given morphine to relieve my pain.

Despite being tagged and confirming my name and personal details, I recall the consultant doctor addressing me as ‘friend’ which instilled a strange warmth within. I didn’t know him from Adam. I even considered him as my friend, after he ordered morphine to relieve my acute pain.

Edit: The D.O.A. on my admissions tag was dated Thursday 6th August 2009.

~Richard

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