Christmas.

So I’ve not been a good blogger recently, and have let my blog slide a bit. But I do have a pretty good reason. I think anyway.

It’s been a manic few months. When I last updated in October things were looking pretty good in my life despite a lot of things going on and I was quite optimistic about things. Since then though, there’s been a few setbacks both with my own health, and Cookies. Since then though I’ve been back home twice. Once in November for my Nanny’s 70th birthday and then for Christmas. But along with the trips home came 2 different viruses that caused havoc with my chest, Cookie ending up on the verge of being resectioned and just a lot of things that have taken some getting over.

I went home for Nanny’s 70th birthday in November. She hadn’t a clue I was coming home and we had all been winding her up giving her reasons as to why I wasn’t coming home. We toyed with her a bit by putting up facebook status’s that only she could see saying things like I was unwell, that I was up to my eyes with things and basically trying to put her off my scent. But I’d blocked her from seeing my actual status’s saying I was coming home and was at the airport etc. She had said that the only thing she wanted for her birthday was that we would all be home for it, so we had been mean by making her think it wouldn’t happen! Little did she know! But as part of her Christmas/birthday present we had a photoshoot done with all the grandkids and got it printed for her. There’s 8 of us and it’s the first time we’ve all been together. It was a really symbolic day for me. I’m the eldest in the family, and there’s 5 years between me and Jessica, who is the next eldest. It was brilliant to see all my cousins. I hadn’t met my youngest cousin, Leah, so I really enjoyed meeting her. It was the first time I’d been home since my operation in July, so it was the first time the family had seen me without crutches. It meant I was able to run after the kids and throw them in the air and do airplanes with them. It really is the little things that make you realise just how lucky you are in life. For so long I couldn’t be the person I wanted to be because of the stupid hips, but now I can finally enjoy myself and my cousins.  Unfortunately though, I caught some kind of bug on the way home and ended up dosed to the eyeballs with the cold, which inevitably went straight to my chest and I ended up with pneumonia. That A&E trip was one of the ones that has left an imprint on me, and not for a good reason.

When you have brittle asthma, you tend to get treated a bit differently in A&E when you present with breathing difficulties. You’re generally brought into the resuscitation room (resus) and hooked up to monitors. Within about 10 minutes you’ve got doctors all around you, a neb going and several different people fighting to get some IV access. This time, I had the misfortune of bumping into a nurse in there that really doesn’t like me, and has told me it on several occasions. The best line she has come out with was “75% of R’s (consultant) patients have more psychological problems than physiological ones” or when I asked her if she had a problem with me got told “Our system has a note on it for all the patients who come a lot. We know when you’ve been to lots of different hospitals and when you are considered attention seeking.” Up until recently the problems I had with her though were just the things she said to me, but on this occasion it was a lot more. When I got to A&E, the triage nurse sent me through to resus. Ann (names protected etc) decided that I didn’t need to be in resus because I was hyperventilating and tried to get me moved to minors. Luckily whoever was in minors had sense and told her in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t happening. This was only the start of my problems that night. She put me in the very end bay in resus and ignored me for an hour. I jest you not. I saw no doctor, had no observations done, didn’t get a neb, anything. She would pop her head around the screen occasionally and tell me to slow my breathing down because I was hyperventilating and that I was making myself poorly. When I did finally get a neb written up by a doctor who passed me and saw how unwell I was becoming, she refused to give it to me because she believed all I needed was a paper bag. Shortly after this she moved out of resus and I was treated by a different nurse who immediately rang the chest team and got the A&E consultant to see me and I had gases done. In the hour that I had been waiting, my gases had become appalling. As it is my gases tend to be quite bad when I’m admitted, but when I get there and they start pumping me full of stuff, they start to sort themselves out. But because I’d been left for so long, they were really worried and had ICU come and assess me. It took 3x the normal amount of medications to stabilise me again and I was actually starting to get scared. That doesn’t happen often. Eventually I did start to stabilise enough to be moved to the wards on a monitored bed and saw my consultant that evening. I told him about my problems with this nurse, and from what he said, I’m not the first person to have had problems with her. Apparently the new psychologist on the chest team is going to be working with the A&E staff to improve the attitudes towards asthma. As a result of the way I was treated by that nurse, I decided that I was no longer going to attend that A&E because I couldn’t trust her to not do the same again. I was so much more poorly than I was when I arrived and it scared me. But it’s never good when as a severe asthmatic who does have to go to A&E a lot, that you are actually scared to go to A&E because you believe it will actually make you worse. I saw R in clinic a few weeks later and we decided one of the best ways to deal with the situation in the interim was to make me a care plan so that when I get to A&E, they have to treat me a specific way, and if that plan isn’t followed then he can get involved. When I attended A&E on NYE for an infective exacerbation of my asthma, that piece of paper was my saving grace. Granted that Ann* wasn’t there, but I was still seen and treated extremely well and quickly.

Which brings me on to Christmas! I was at home for Christmas this year. I was in Tenerife last year, so it was a bit of a different setting! But it was the first Christmas in five years that my grandparents were home for it. They have an apartment in Tenerife so spend a good part of the winter out there so it was lovely to have them home this year. While I was home I went up to Belfast to see some family and friends. I got to see Kathleen who is like my adopted Grandmother, (My grandma (dads mum) was Kathleen’s Matron of Honour at her wedding, and her husband and my granddad were best friends) Lorraine who I’ve known for as long as I can remember, Aunt Peggy, who was granddads only sister. It was extremely important that I got to see her though because she isn’t well and we don’t think she’s got a lot longer to live. It was an extremely difficult visit, but I made her smile a bit and I feel at peace now with her should the worst happen. I also saw my adopted big brother, Chris. I’ve probably already rambled somewhere else about Chris, so I’m not going to go into details, but he’s my big brother, best friend and awesome aspie! I got thoroughly spoilt this year, but to be honest, It was much more fun watching mum and TJ opening their presents. For the past few years we’ve not really been able to know what the best things to get mum are, but I really put thought into it this year and knew what she wanted. But she also had a stocking this year for the first time. When we were little babies, my aunt in Canada made us all personalised stockings so they’ve always been up at Christmas. But this year even the dog had one and mum didn’t. So we decided it wasn’t very fair that we all had stockings and mum didn’t. So we got one that you put a picture into of the person. I didn’t want to just print out a picture of mum and stick it in, that’s boring! So I got mum to show me how to use her sewing machine, and spent hours and hours learning how to use it. I stitched 4 pieces of fabric together and then used the glue gun to stick a piece of cardboard onto it, and then her picture onto that. That meant more to her than just sticking the picture in anyway, because she knows how long it took me to do it, so that was cool to be able to do. But we put loads of nice stuff into it like ribbons, lush stuff, chocolate and little bits and bobs. Mum got spoilt this year and it was fantastic to be able to do it.  This was a good christmas for me though, because I got to bring Billy home to meet the family. He got the ferry over on the 27th, so I went down to Dublin to pick him up and get him safely back to Monaghan. Unfortunately by this stage though I was loaded with yet another cold and felt like hell, but it was worth it to get to see Billy. He got to meet most of my family and thankfully he got on well with them all. It’s hard not to like him though! Unfortunately while he was over I was completely loaded with the cold and felt like crap for most of it, but I did try and get out of the house with him a bit. But he was really nice about it and didn’t mind just sitting in front of the fire with me. We got the ferry back on NYE because it was going to work out stupidly expensive to fly so we got the ferry to Holyhead, then I got the train back to Manchester via Chester and one of t’other stations in Manch. That was a difficult journey. I was feeling absolutely horrific and knew my chest was going to throw one at any moment. Billy got the train to his parents in Wales to help out at the bar so I was on my own which was not fun. As soon as i got home, I threw my PJ’s, phone charger and tablet into my bag and called an ambulance. Considering it was NYE, the ambulance was out in 10 mins and I was in resus in A&E being sorted within an hour of me calling it. Don’t get me wrong, I know that the hospitals are up shit creek at the minute, but I can’t fault the care I received! So I spent yet another NYE in hospital, and spent a few days on IV antibugs and Aminophylline. Still not feeling 100%, but definitely feeling better than I was! On top of that my consultant has finally agreed to give me some decent IV access and I’m having a PICC line put in.

Am quite optimistic about this year. I’m starting uni in September, I’m mobile and able to do so much more and I’ve got a fantastic boyfriend and best friend. Most people make New Years Resolutions, but I don’t understand why they have to be ones that start only on new year. And it’s not so much a resolution as just common sense for a lot of things. So I have aims that I want to achieve, and it’s not something I have a lot of choice in. It’s things that if I want to get better in myself, I have to do. So this year I want to loose 25kg, start uni, get my elective admissions sorted and get to the gym more.

So dear followers (if anyone actually reads this!), Here’s to 2015!

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