It is interesting how a trauma or potentially bad news can snap one into focus. It has the liberating effect of pushing all the not so important things right to the back of the queue. It’s like life seems to gain this unexpected yet welcomed clarity.
I suddenly started feeling unwell on Wednesday 16th March. It wasn’t a chronically unwell feeling; just more a feeling of deep fatigue and latent nausea. Not enough to make me physically vomit but unpleasant enough.
These symptoms carried on and became more acute over the next few days. Friday early morning was the first time I vomited. Nothing like being bent over the ol' porcelain heaving away at 3am in the morning. Anyway, that helped me get back to sleep for a few more hours.
That day I focussed on getting my fluid intake up and tried to get some electrolytes back into me as well. However, what I did notice is that my urine was a really dark colour even after having about 2 litres of water over a 10 hr period. I’d have expected it to be quite a bit lighter - especially as I wasn’t dehydrated.
My wife and I decided it would probably be a good idea to talk to a doctor just in case, seeing as after 3 days I wasn’t improving at all but possibly getting a bit worse. A call to NHS 111 got me an appointment at an urgent treatment centre for the Saturday morning and it took the doctor 2 mins to see that I was jaundice. Yellow colour on my skin and the whites of my eyes. A very helpful doctor, but I didn’t like that he seemed fairly concerned and keen for me to be seen by more specialist doctors immediately. I tried my best to push the dark thoughts away that were beginning to rush in.
So off I went to hospital with my wife. They were expecting us thankfully so it didn’t take long before I’d had some needles shoved in me and a whole raft of blood samples taken and sent off for testing. I hate needles and have to find a distraction of sorts to take my mind off the needle being pushed up my vein. This means I usually try to strike up a conversation with the nurse or doctor. Albeit it a helpful distraction these conversations can also end up being connection moments. Moments that remind us that we are all a bunch of humans trying our best to walk through this life and find what really matters.
And boy what a reminder it’s been for me. An unexpected reset moment of sorts. One where I was pulled out of my usual context and then spending big chunks of time in hospital waiting rooms, having bloods taken, ultrasound specialists doing their thing and being questioned, poked and prodded to see if we could find some clue as to what’s up. It turns out my liver had suddenly decided to have a bit of a skirmish with something. We’ll never really know for sure what the cause was but it all seems to point to a recent course of antibiotics I’d had.
I’d been running my life hard for a long time. Too long. Way longer than I realised. Not so much physically but certainly my inner life. I’d been growing more and more stressed and anxious and it had taken its toll. More of a toll than I’d realised. Or possibly more accurately: More than I’d chosen to notice and truly pay honest attention too. I think in some ways I wasn’t sure how to stop. I felt stuck. I felt stuck and not sure how to become unstuck. Then something like this happens and almost mercifully it gets you unstuck all by itself without you even trying.
Thank god this episode didn’t turn out to be more serious than it could have been but this relatively short (but intense) ordeal provided a way out. A way back to myself. A way to gain some much needed perspective again.
What a gift.
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