Let me pick up where we left off, back in October 2012…
To recap, my beloved Pearl had been taken ill on the roads of central London sparking a rescue mission by a lovely bunch of strangers. Due to the kindness of my new friends, Pearl and I made it home safely and the next day, Pearl’s supplier was phoned to see if a Scooter Engineer could come and diagnose her mystery illness. He arrived on Saturday morning (£87.50 callout charge – OUCH!!) and, following some tests, declared that he had “no idea”, referring Pearl to a specialist Scooter workshop to see if she could be fixed.
With Pearl out of action, I was relying heavily on my trusty car and my even trustier friends who were willing to heave, push, shove and lift not just me, but my shopping and various other bits and bobs. They quickly became adept at assembling my wheelchair with one friend exclaiming “it’s like a formula one pit stop!” (only she wasn’t as fast……).
All seemed to tick along nicely for a couple of weeks and we appeared to be on an even keel. Pearl was still out of action, with the Scooter Engineer trying to suss out what was wrong with her, and my foot (which you might remember was in plaster) appeared to be healing nicely. Whilst it was incredibly awkward not having Pearl, my friends and I were making it work (Cheese alert: I just can’t thank them enough).
Unfortunately things were about to become a bit more interesting. I started to feel rough but battled on for a day or so, thinking that it was the tail end of an infection that I had previously had – but how wrong was I? That Saturday evening I decided that the best thing to do was to visit my local A&E to get a course of oral antibiotics. Now this felt over-dramatic to me, but the parents were away for the weekend so TLC at home was out of the question and it would be the out-of-hours service anyway, so off I pootled down to A&E. Here I discovered that I was apparently NOT being a drama queen… After only a twenty minute wait I was called in by the triaging GP who agreed that my symptoms were due to a previous infection but did NOT agree with my proposed treatment plan of oral antibiotics. Claiming that I looked “rather poorly”, he took my observations and looking rather surprised, turned to me and said “you’re the most smiley, seriously unwell person I have ever met” – an accolade I received with pride! It was off to Resusc immediately as apparently a temperature of 41°C, a heart rate of 177 and a blood pressure of 90/60 are not good statistics to have. In short, I had developed a massive kidney infection and had developed sepsis. Oops!!
I then spent a joyous two-night sleepover in the NHS’ equivalent of a hotel (central London, nice view from the 14thfloor) whilst I received IV antibiotics and IV fluids (for your information – the ‘room service’ food wasn’t quite up to the standard of the Ritz) and was helped along the road to recovery by some incredibly caring and funny staff. Unfortunately for Dad, this particular hotel didn’t have a car park and he was less than impressed to get a £60 penalty while coming to visit.
Lesson #5 of life with Emily: There is no such thing as an even keel.
After two weeks of Doctor enforced recovery at “home” home with my parents, I was ready to return to London WITH A WORKING PEARL! The Scooter Engineer was still clueless but Daddy Steward had a chat with the owner of the Mobility Centre in Cromer (where mobility scooters outnumber seagulls) who instantly diagnosed a severe case of dodgy batteries, recommended immediate transplantation and provided the necessary organs. After some rigorous testing by Daddy Steward – involving a 58 year old man whizzing around the block for hours on a scooter barely big enough for his rugby playing frame (“his fat arse” according to Mummy Steward) – and generating much comment from intrigued neighbours, Pearl and I were good to go.
We were delighted to be reunited and resumed our adventures back in London where we whizzed around to our hearts content having many an adventure to and from lectures, perusing the aisles of Waitrose during lunch hours and the joys of the Kings Cross shopping mall every so often. Back to normal at last.
So whilst all that had been going on, I’d been making weekly trips to see my surgeon for a plaster change and wound check (NHS frequent flier miles were piling up!) as you may remember that I had a pressure sore on my right foot? Everyone seemed happy with my progress until we hit the very end of October and things got interesting once more.
My foot and ankle had swollen dramatically and a deeper probe revealed it hadn’t been healing properly under the scab. It had become infected and was generally rather “gungy” to use my Consultant’s favourite technical adjective. So it was yet another course of antibiotics, an MRI, and a “come back in a week”. A week later he gave the news that he needed to operate to debride the wound and remove a bit of prominent bone under the big toe joint. He said the incision would be small and it would allow the wound to heal better. That was Tuesday – “come back on Friday” he says cheerfully. Now I don’t know what you think a small incision looks like but punching a hole as big as a 50p piece right down to the big toe joint doesn’t fit my idea of small. He took part of the tendon as well, telling me that I didn’t really need it!
Fortunately all the faff and hassle has been worth it and has speeded up the healing process dramatically. Six weeks after surgery and thirteen weeks after first being put into a cast, I was free from plaster just in time for Christmas. Best present ever!! It’s still healing well as I write, but there is a way to go yet.
All in all, it’s been an eventful few months. I have nothing but positive things to say about my care. It really has been exemplary.
Lesson #6 of life with Emily: We moan a lot about the NHS, but it really is a privilege we take for granted despite all of its faults.
I have been blown away by the kindness, generosity and concern which has been shown to me by friends, family and complete strangers and am pleased to say that what had the potential to be one of the most difficult periods of life turned out to be one I can look back on and say:
Lesson #7 of life with Emily: The world is not a bad place to be.