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Down, But Not Out!

My introduction blog left off on a really positive note…it’s funny how quickly things can change.

I had been feeling lethargic and had lost my appetite for a few weeks and I put it down to my new training program, which was very challenging and testing my limits. My energy was low because I was missing meals – not having an appetite or taste for food.

 

The weekend rolls around and I’m in bed all Sunday and Monday, very lethargic, experiencing night sweats and feeling like I was fighting a virus. Sunday night whilst watching TV, my lower back becomes unbearable in the sitting position and I go to bed with a heat pack on it. I continued to shake and shiver uncontrollably for what seemed like a long time. My ears were super sensitive to sounds on Monday and Tuesday was also spent at home but I was feeling better by the afternoon although still a bit hot in the back of my neck, like I had a mild temperature.

The evening comes and I wanted to get a good night sleep so I could go to work rested the next day. Usually I have Codral Cold & Flu tablets on hand but there were no night tablets left. All I had in the cabinet was another brand of cold & flu tablets – Nyal, and so took one of their night tablets. Pretty soon after my temperature was unbearable and a cold compress just did not do it. My breathing had been laboured since Sunday and with the fever I just felt so terrible that I called my husband (Matthew) in to the bedroom and said, “I think I need help.” While his suggestion to have a cold shower may have helped my fever, my instinct was to go to hospital right away. So Matthew says, “You have to get dressed.” To which I replied, “We’re leaving now, I’m not changing.” What’s the point in changing when I knew it wouldn’t just be a quick visit? After looking at myself in the mirror, I could tell something wasn’t right. My face and neck had started to break out in a rash. Allergic reaction?

So, in my dressing gown I slowly walked down the stairs on the arm of my wonderful husband, to the car and he drove me to the hospital about 15 minutes away. Matthew parked near the entrance and as we slowly walked toward the hospital doors, I could hardly keep my eyes open, all my energy was spent on putting one foot in front of the other. Thankfully my husband filled out all the forms and told me where to sign and I was in to see a doctor within 5 minutes – pretty good I thought.

The nurse wanted to take my blood pressure so I took off my dressing gown to reveal my arm, and then I saw that the rash had spread to my arms, chest, and abs. Later on it had spread down to my legs and even hands.  My husband brought in the Nyal tablet and we gave that to the nurse as we all thought I had had an allergic reaction to it.

Off to a hospital bed in EU and an oxygen mask placed over my mouth and a drip in my arm, blood taken and my temperature (39 degrees when admitted) and blood pressure monitored regularly. I felt in good hands.

Hubby then decides to take a photo and send it to our friends letting them know that I won’t be at work tomorrow!

After a while I was asked to give a urine sample. Hobbling ever so slowly, with my drip stand that was to become my best friend over the next four days, I did what I needed to and came back to bed.

For the next week I felt as if I had pins and needles behind my knees when I stood or walked around, and when the nurses put the tourniquet on my arm when they took blood, or when the blood pressure bag inflated, it’s usually uncomfortable, but now it was painful – the pins and needles again in my arm.

Initially, the EU doctor said I needed to have my gall bladder out. This, as you can imagine, was quite a shock to me and hubby! I was wondering how I was going to achieve comp ready shape by September without a gall bladder. I was assured this was possible as the liver would take over the function of the gall bladder. Still, at the time I was told this, Matthew had gone home for the night (there was nothing he could do by staying at the hospital and I wanted him to get a good sleep from what was left of that night), and I was alone. My mobile phone had little to no reception and I wanted to talk to Matthew so bad. I had a little cry at this stage, frustrated at being sick and possibly facing an operation. My message finally got through to Matthew and we talked on the phone. There was nothing to do but wait for the results of more tests.

My tummy was rumbling with hunger and my last meal a protein shake and Vital Greens for dinner – not much I know, but all that I could stomach. Hearing the news that I may need surgery, I was labelled, “Nil by Mouth’. Needless to say, I did not sleep that night as hunger pains kept me awake. At 2am in the morning, I pleaded with the nurse, “Is there anything you can give me?”, and thankfully, she gave me some glucose lollies that I could suck on. I had four lollies and decided to ration myself to one every 3 hours. They helped dull the hunger pain.

In the morning I was scheduled for an ultrasound on my gall bladder and liver and also a chest x-ray. The afternoon involved another ultrasound on my uterus which required a full bladder. As I was waiting for my appointment, a doctor approached my bed and asked if I was ok for them to trial a new ultrasound technique for the Emergency Unit. I said sure, I had nothing better to do and wanted to pass the time until my other ultrasound. So, picture the head Doc and his two protégées, both very eager to practice this new technique and to test their knowledge. They were looking at my gall bladder and liver area. The doctor was really nice and down-to-earth and called me an ‘Unusual Case.’ I soon felt like I was in an episode of ‘House’. One of the two nurses seemed very interested in showing the doctor that she was very capable and knowledgeable. During the procedure she asked me to hold my breath while she looked at my insides; I was glad when the doctor reminded her to remind me to ‘breathe away’ as she was intensely looking at what was on the screen. The other nurse was more aware of how the patient (me) was feeling as they were experimenting with this new technique and she apologised to me as she practiced finding the various things the doctor was pointing out. 

I must say that all the orderlies and staff at the hospital were amazing and kind and really helped me feel at ease – except the doctor that told me he wanted to take my gall bladder out. He scared me.

As the orderly dropped me and my bed outside the waiting room for my next ultrasound, I was praying that I would not have to wait long – I really needed to pee! As it happened, I did have to wait, and after ten minutes, I was sitting on the edge of the bed, drip in one arm, gripping the rails of my bed with the other and trying to sit in a position that took the strain off my bladder! As the lady who was to do my ultrasound walked past I said, “I don’t know how much longer I can hold on!” Thankfully she did my scan quick smart so I could relieve the pressure – OMG that is the best feeling – RELIEF!

So what did I have? I had a fever, viral infection, a UTI and an allergic reaction. So, upstairs I went to my own room (a very nice one at that) to spend a few nights hooked up to a drip and given my various medications.

Test results showed I had no gall stones and my liver was surrounded by fluid and was not working at its optimum. I had no abdominal pain and after talking to my sister, who has been a head nurse for many years, she confirmed what Matthew and I both felt, my gall bladder was fine. Thankfully, another doctor assigned to me specialising in gastroenterology also confirmed this. Yay – I could keep my gall bladder!

At this stage, I still had not eaten since the day before. It had been about 33 hours since my last solid meal and I was starving! After it was confirmed that I did not need surgery, the doctor said I could eat and ordered me some food as he left. My hubby took my parents out to dinner and an hour later, I was still waiting for a meal of my own. I hobbled out of my room, rolling my drip stand beside me to walk the hallway in the hopes of seeing my dinner arrive. One of the nurses saw me and asked if I had had my dinner yet. After finding out that I hadn’t and the kitchens were closed by now, he offered to make me some toast which I gratefully accepted. I hobbled back to my room eagerly awaiting my strawberry jam on toast. In he comes with an array of sandwiches, chocolate mousse, apple juice and fruit! I was in heaven – real food! He scrounged up what he could find in the nurses kitchen and brought it to me, now wasn’t that really thoughtful? Ah, I slept better that night with food in my tummy, even though I was getting up every two hours to pee.

 Although I was very happy to be allowed to eat, every time I did I would feel nauseous and so I was given medication and later on, tablets to counter this.

So, after three days I was hoping to go home, that is until my head and neck became excruciatingly painful from lying down in bed so long. Although the viral infection may have had something to do with it also as I had been to the chiropractor twice in the last two weeks and my neck was still sore and stiff in certain spots.

To avoid lying down in bed, and to get some sort of exercise or movement in my body, I, along with other patients, would take our drip stand and wheel it up and down the hallway. There was a window at each end of the hallway, and it was like a circuit class – albeit a very slow one! Once you arrived at one window, you did your squats or calf raises and I even did some tricep dips, and as I walked along to the other window, I would do bicep curls with the arm not wheeling the drip stand. One of the windows in the morning had the sun streaming through and it was so wonderful to stand there and be bathed in the warmth and light of the sun. Even though I could see the outside world, I couldn’t be a part of it, but I was consolidated standing in the sunlight and feeling like I was outside, not stuck in hospital.

The manager of the ward came to see me to see if he could discharge me and when he saw the pain I was in with my head and neck, he dashed my hopes of leaving that night - although it was for the best. The panadol they gave me for the pain didn’t dent it one bit, so my first experience with morphine was nigh. I had the lowest dose possible and that night, I had the best sleep I have had in a long time. It wasn’t long until I could feel the morphine relaxing me and easing the pain away. Soon after my injection, I had a surprise visit from my mother-in-law. I tried as hard as I could to carry on a conversation and be hospitable but I was too out of it. I was grateful when my mother-in-law told me that I did not have to speak.

My doctor ordered a CT scan just to make sure all was ok and thankfully, it was. The report said that I had “a lot of grey matter” which Matthew thought was hilarious.

That night, I could finally go home and spend one night with my husband before he jetted off to Europe for work for the next two weeks.

Glad to have had some time with Matthew before he left, comforting to have my parents here looking after me and feeding me so well, grateful to slowly regaining my health, grateful for a wonderful health system, appreciative of the doctors, nurses, orderlies and staff at the hospital, thankful for my good friends and family who care for me.

I know there are times when you’re ill that you can push through your illness and continue to train. For now, I have chosen to rest until I feel recovered enough to get back into training. I have always said at the beginning of my journey, my health is the most important thing. I am off all supplements to give my liver a break whilst it’s repairing. I feel good, my appetite is back and my energy is improving every day. Health first, training second. Without my health, there is no training.

I hope you all are in good health and enjoying your training and on track to achieve your goals. My journey had a little hick-up, but I’ll be back, and maybe this time around I will do things a little differently, trust my instincts a little more. Watch this space.

Health and Happiness!

 

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Rena Phillips (Left)

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  1. Re: “Our highest potential lies in the realm of no ego.”

    Hey thanks Lauryn! :-)It's all a learning experience and I'm so glad I have people like Maria, Lindy...

    -- Rena Phillips

  2. Re: “Our highest potential lies in the realm of no ego.”

    That was really refreshing to read!! :)I love my yoga too, but I can really relate to pushing yourself...

    -- Lauryn Dina Meredith

  3. Re: Down, But Not Out!

    Thank you Liz! :-) I went on my Pilates Reformer today, the first time in three weeks that I have done...

    -- Rena Phillips

  4. Re: Down, But Not Out!

    Take care of yourself Rena! You are absolutely right 'health first, training second.' It's great that...

    -- Liz Hynd

  5. Re: Down, But Not Out!

    Thanks Maria! :-) I'm on the mend and still have my sights set on competing. You have a great week also...

    -- Rena Phillips

  6. Re: Down, But Not Out!

    Hope you are starting to feel better Rena... Have a great rest of the week...

    -- Maria McCarter