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The Bad Day (Part 2)

I wake up a few hours later to the sound of the rain and hail bouncing off the windows. I have been asleep for just over 3 hours. It’s hard to believe. The ward is quieter now but still busy. A Doctor comes in with one of the clinical nurse specialists from the cardiac team and the ward manager. They pull the curtain across. This can’t be good. In hushed tones they tell me I’ve picked up another infection. C-Difficile. That explains the stomach acting up. As the Doctor describes the ailment, I glaze over a bit. Feeling sorry for myself I start to get frustrated, then annoyed. “Right, so what can we do to get rid of it?” I bark. “Another antibiotic,” she says. “A very strong one”, the Clinical Nurse Specialist adds. “We had the get the ok from Prof. Walsh.” The ward manager leans in to tell me that I will have to be isolated in a separate room. “Great. At least I’ll get my own TV!” All three of them smile as do I and the tension is lifted a bit. Thanking them as they leave, I lie back in the bed still grinning like an eejit at my quip. No matter how ill I am, the day that I lose my sense of humour will be the day that I’m in serious trouble.

Almost immediately I’m hooked up to the new weapons-grade antibiotic, more pain relief and sympathetic glances from the other men in the room. There is no doubt that I’m the youngest man in here, by some distance and at the moment at least, I am also the sickest. Michael, who still hasn’t gone home, asks how I am. “Not great,” I reply. “But it’s just a setback.” As I say this, I realise that I am trying to convince myself of the fact.

Drifting in and out of sleep, suddenly I feel an awful pain and upheaval in my stomach. I reach for the bell, but it’s too late. Whatever matter that was inside me is now all over the bed. It looks like something out of a burst radiator and smells like the Devil’s aftershave. Resigned to this I ring the bell and in comes the nurse. “Hi James, what’s the…oh…” One of the men on the ward chips in with a helpful “Jaysi !” as the nurse whips the curtain across. For the next 20 minutes or so, I am cleaned up, the bed is cleaned up, I get clean sheets and clean gowns. I sit in the chair, on an inco sheet in case of another disaster, watching the nurse and the 2 HCAs cleaning up my filth. Embarrassed, I try not to make eye contact. But this is worse than mere embarrassment, it’s humiliation. I sit awkwardly in the chair trying not to burst into tears. It feels like it’s just one thing after another. The surgeries, infections, weeks of hospitalisation, breathing issues, pain, the God-awful night in the Emergency Department and now this.

All my stuff is packed up, I get back into the newly disinfected bed and I am wheeled down to room 9. Isolation. The rain pounds off the windows as I’m settled into place. Oxygen hooked up. Drip reattached. Bell put within easy reach. The HCAs and nurse leave the room with words of assurance and I thank them. “Sorry for being a nuisance,” I say, voice cracking and starting to feel overwhelmed. “You’re grand, that’s our job and you are not a nuisance, you are just having a bad day,” She leaves on that note, the door remaining open just in case….

There has been a lot of bad days recently, this is just the latest and the worst. With no book or newspaper to distract me, I feel the tears starting to flow. I try to compose myself, be the adult that I am. But I can’t. This is like I am 6 years old again, in hospital, alone, in isolation, scared and distraught.  The tears won’t stop. Thankfully there is a box of tissues beside me otherwise I would drown in my own tears and snot. After a few minutes I start to calm down. Tears stain the hospital gown. I turn the TV on, just as a diversion. It’s still lashing rain outside…and now it’s dark…

Be Kind To Yourself

The articles contained in Jim Blog are written by Jim O’Brien, a 45 year-old adult with CHD. The opinions and views he provides reflect a real life account of his experiences and honest commentary on his life-long journey with CHD. Jim is a valued member of HCI and writes voluntarily for us. His views do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and values of HCI but we are delighted that he is contributing to a greater knowledge and understanding of what it is to live with congenital heart disease.

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