It was this very weekend last year when the H1N1 virus was, unbeknown to me, spreading inside my body and attacking my lungs. For any of you who have already read the book, it’s the following few nights when I had very little sleep, and found myself having to sit or lay in odd positions and locations just to feel comfortable.
Being awake all night is lonely. It felt like I was the only person awake. It feels odd to be writing this at the very same desk that I laid my head on to get some sleep this time last year. In the same chair and with the very same view out of the window to my left.
I’m nervous and anxious at the moment. The worry of becoming ill again is enormous. I had a day off work sick last week due to waking up frozen to my core and shaking as I moved. That was very scary, but thankfully a few more hours of sleep and a hot bath soon kicked it to the kerb.
Tow and I are heading off to New York City again in a few days, to have the holiday that we should have had last year. It’s been difficult for me to get excited about it so far, but the excitement is now starting to build.
it’s that time of year again. It only feels like 5 minutes ago that I was preparing for Christmas last year, and also our trip to New York. That holiday wasn’t meant to be, and instead I became struck down with H1N1. I had my life saved by quick thinking medical staff at Hull Royal infirmary and then Glenfield Hospital.
Oddly, I don’t seems to recall seeing houses around mine having their trees and decorations being put up last year. I do vaguely remember our own decorations going up around the 10th December 2018, but these were all down and boxed away by the time I arrived home from hospital in January.
It’s safe to say that I’m getting nervous now. Tow and I are going on holiday to New York again this year. We’ve tried to not get as excited as last year, but the anxiety is now building, and I can’t control it. I think I’ll be washing my hands every 5 minutes now, and I wonder how frowned upon it would be for me to walk around wearing a gas mask for protection?
This is the very note I wrote on my wife’s iPad while located in Bay B in the ICU. I’d been removed from the ECMO machine only 24 hours earlier, and I thought the hospital were trying to harm me. These feelings were caused by the medication I was being given. I now know of course that the hospital were doing absolutely everything to save my life.
For me, this is the most shocking photograph of my ordeal. Here you can see the number of machines and equipment surrounding me, supporting my life and trying to make me better. The all-important ECMO machine is to my right. The equally as important ventilator is to my left.
Here’s the miracle device that kept me alive. The concept of ECMO has been around since the 80s. The procedures, technologies and associated treatments are still being tested and refined to try and make the survival rate as best as it can be. People all over the world are having their lives saved because of this.
This is the dual-direction ECMO cannula. It’s amazing to think that grey portion of this device was ALL inside my body, with only the two-prong’d portion outside. The grey part of the cannula was fed into the vein in my neck and pushed all the way into my heart to collect and deliver the blood. Amazing.
The devices you see here are called infusion pumps. Medication is placed in syringes and then put into the pump. The pump is programmed to push the medication into my body at a set interval/rate. On a number of occasions I thought a fatal dose of medication had been deliberately given to me.
This photograph shows me shortly after the physio staff helped me out of bed and sat me in the chair. It was comfortable for roughly 60 seconds, and the next 59 minutes sat in the chair was very uncomfortable and tiring. Note the red anti-slip socks that I mention in the book. I’m also still hooked to the ventilator via my neck. I HATED it when the pipe popped off. The hissing sound made me panic that my lungs were deflating!
This is the intubation tube that was put in my mouth and down my wind-pipe at Hull Royal Infirmary. It had been determined that I wasn’t getting enough oxygen by breathing on my own. ECMO would follow 24 hours later.