A hospital stay during a pandemic

I was unfortunate enough to end up in A&E in October. I hadn't anticipated it, but my GP said my headache sounded like it could be a bleed on the brain, and sent me straight there. I was seen quickly and processed through to the AMU unit where I was given a bed for the night. The communication was pretty poor to be honest, and I didn't realise I was staying on the ward until around 9pm, at which point I asked if I could have some food as I'd been in the hospital since 4.00pm.

hospital sandwich

I'm not a fan of a tuna sandwich, but wolfed it down. At this point I still didn't really know why I was being admitted. I was informed at around 10pm that I would be having a lumbar puncture at some point in the night, but they couldn't be sure what sort of time. I was brought a toothbrush, some toothpaste and an eye mask for sleeping, as I hadn't brought anything into hospital with me at all.

double mask

I figured it was worth trying to get some sleep. I was nervous because I didn't know if the other ladies on the ward had Covid, and I hadn't been informed of the result of my test either. I also hadn't been informed whether or not I should keep the face mask on, so I figured I should stay on the side of caution and leave it on. It did make sleeping rather interesting, with an eye mask and also a face mask. To be honest, I got very little sleep. One of the elderly patients had dementia and didn't understand where she was. She cried out 'help' every 20 minutes or so, which made sleeping impossible! At 3.30am the doctors came in to do the lumbar puncture, along with a student nurse who wanted to see how it was done. It didn't really hurt, I just made sure I breathed slowly through it whilst they stuck the giant needle in! 

hospital ward at night

One of the things I felt most sad about from my night on the ward was that the other ladies were all so alone. There were five of us in total, one blind lady, one deaf lady, a woman with dementia and another who was having irregularities with her heart. No-one was allowed any visitors and none of them had an advocate for them or their care. It was difficult to experience as someone who was able to take myself off to the toilet and eat my own food. The lady next to me told me that she hadn't seen her husband in nearly 8 months. They had been married 75 years, but he'd been taken into care. Due to the pandemic, she hadn't seen him since and you could tell just how heartbroken she was about it.

Hospital sleepover kit

When morning came, I'd had around 30 minutes of broken sleep and my headache was unsurprisingly worse than ever! I still didn't really know why I was being kept in, but I was told the doctor would see me on his rounds later that day. The nursing staff were amazing. How they manage to keep going is beyond me. One nurse mentioned they are not allowed to bring their own drink bottles in, so they are all drinking far less than they should at the moment, which made me sad. Food was delicious, and pudding was treacle pudding which is one of my favourite ever things to eat. The doctors did their rounds, but mine never came back to chat to me. I passed the time mainly lying still and wondering if I should be grateful that I was having some time alone!

hospital treacle sponge

Late afternoon came along, and suddenly a doctor appeared with injections to put into my head. She started by saying "I am sure this has been explained to you, but I will just go over it again". No one had spoken to me, so I had no idea I was going to have injections into my head at some point! The doctor explained that once the injections were done, I would be able to go home, so I didn't hesitate in agreeing to them. The first one was uncomfortable, but ok. The second one seemed fine, but the second she took the needle out, I went totally lightheaded and very nearly passed out. She had to tip my bed so that my legs were up in the air, and said I gave her a fright! Not long after that, I was able to go home, with absolutely no idea what they had treated me for, or why I had spent time overnight in hospital. My discharge paperwork stated that I had occipital neuralgia, which I had to google to find out what it was.

The headache certainly hadn't gone, but it wasn't quite as intense as when I had been sent to A&E. I assumed that I was just to contact my GP if I needed any further advice. My stay in hospital was in October, when COVID cases were low. I was lucky that for the most part, I felt safe. I was sad that the communication was so poor that I didn't have any clue why I was being kept in, or when I would be allowed to leave. Overall, I was so frustrated for the other patients on my ward, who had no-one to stand up for them and question what was being done and why. It's so difficult when you have no one to ask the questions that you forget to!